Wednesday, May 29, 2013

flour less cherry clafoutis, making most of the cherry season....


Cherry clafoutis happens when you want to dirty your hands pitting cherries. Otherwise you just pop them in your mouth and spit the stones on a newspaper kept in the tray. I read somewhere that old fashioned cherry clafoutis was made using whole cherries with the stone, I was tempted to bake them whole this time, but I love my teeth more than I am lazy. Having said that, I read that purists believe the stone (the pits) release a wonderful rich flavor to the baked dessert. I have to try that sometime when I bake individual servings.

Cherry clafoutis (pronounced klafooti) is basically a baked pancake like custard that puffs up beautifully and collapses a little when taken out of the oven and is served warm. Although we like it at room temperature too, some people like it chilled as well. Since all warm custards are easy to make and serve to large gatherings, I used to bake clafoutis with black grapes, sliced pear or even halved plum, it was done mostly in microwave and served warm. The reason for fruit clafoutis was, with many dishes that were made for guests, I had no space for a chilled dessert in the refrigerator. Warm custards were easy and everyone liked them. Even Mithi used to like but her portion used to be more of egg custard with pureed fruit.


We have been eating cherries by the buckets literally. Phalsa is my most favorite berry of the season but I can't stop myself from buying a box of cherries if the cherries are fresh and dark ones. Juicy and plump, most suitable to just keep snacking on them all the time. Well, I don't keep eating them all the time because I simply forget I have them because these need to be refrigerated else most of them will start rotting within a couple of days. It's only when we sit together we gobble them up one by one like used to do with peanuts in winters. Mango has been being sidelined royally as we can't eat too many fruits, only the two of us. Cherries this season have been the best I have seen till now, and the cheapest too. Or may be I have started going out more and seeing more, earlier it was only a weekly affair to go look for vegetables and fruits.


I baked a flour less cherry clafoutis this time, the way I used to make Mithi's egg custards. There was a time she used to like it so much I made it almost everyday and never measured ingredients. This time I had to, as I planned to write the recipe here. But don't worry if the ratio is a little skewed or the texture of your nut flour not right. The clafoutis will still taste great.

ingredients...
(about 12 small servings)

full fat milk 1 cup
malai or heavy cream 1/4 cup ( I always use malai, you can replace it with butter 2 tbsp)
sago pearls or sago flour 1/4 cup
almonds 1/4 cup
quarters or smaller bits of walnuts 1/4 cup
sugar 1/4 cup ( I used a little lesser)
half a pod of vanilla bean
a generous pinch of salt
large eggs 3
dark cherries as required or about half a kilo pitted

procedure...

Powder the sugar with scissor cut vanilla bean. Now add the sago pearls in the same blender and powder it along with the sugar. Add the nuts too and powder every thing together. I use a mixie so adding them one by one results in finer texture, you can use your own trusted machine and trusted method.

Whisk the eggs in a deep bowl, add the milk and cream and whisk till smooth. Add the sugar and nuts powder and whisk well. Keep aside.

Grease you tart pan or a simple metal pan lightly and arrange the cherries in one single layer. You can use 2 smaller pans or several individual servings, like I did this time. The cherries need not be in one single layer in this case, I placed a dozen cherries in each of these cups. Use ramekins or small bowls, these are Chinese teacups.


Pour the batter over cherries and bake in preheated oven at 160 C for 25 minutes or till fluffed up and looks set in the middle. A knife should come out clean or almost clean as adding sago makes it a little sticky.

Take out, let it cool to comfortable temperature to eat. It is best served warm, usually dusted with powdered sugar but I don't bother with that.

One thing to note if you are planning to have the leftovers the next day, or to serve the clafouti the next day. It tastes a little eggy when cold, so it's always better to serve it warm. Somehow the vanilla and cherry flavors shine when the clafouti is warm and the eggyness takes over when these aromatic flavors are arrested at colder temperature. So warm clafouti is a tradition for a reason I feel.


One of those warm desserts you wont mind having in Indian summers.

Monday, May 27, 2013

chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and feta salad with garlic and rosemary infused olive oil : a quick spring salad is suitable for the scorching heat we are living in...


Chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese make a nice summery salad for the Delhi type summers believe me.

Yes it's just too hot here in Delhi and raw or cold food feels much much better than anything warm or hot. Smoothies, buttermilk flavored with herbs and loads of aam panna and thandai are being made. But we do feel hungry and some solid food is stirred up once in a while. Actually once a day on most weekdays. One of those days when I had some boiled chickpeas in the fridge, this chilled salad looked like a good lunch. Plucked some fresh romaine lettuce from the garden which I am saving in the scorching sun with my life. With a sprinkler in my hands though :-)

The cherry tomatoes are also from the garden, plucked a couple of weeks ago but they keep quite well when they are plucked after ripening on the vine. You see it is more of a garden salad for me, I would have liked some chopped pineapples in this salad too for a strange reason. No, I love pineapples any which way, that is enough of a reason.

I would have included some walnuts to this salad too, but I had been munching on some walnuts since morning so skipped adding them. I can easily go overboard with nuts if I start adding them to my main meals often, so I just keep them for in between munching if required.

ingredients...

boiled chickpeas (in water and salt) 1 cup
halved cherry tomatoes 1/2 cup
chopped sun dried cherry tomatoes 1 tbsp
feta cheese 2 tbsp
garlic and rosemary infused extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp or to taste **
balsamic vinegar 2-3 drops

** The garlic and rosemary infused oil is very easy to make. Just pour a cup of extra virgin olive oil into an oven proof glass bowl or measuring mug (so it is easy to pour into a jar later), add about half a cup of peeled garlic cloves and a tbsp of dry rosemary leaves, keep into a moderately hot oven (120 C) for about an hour. Cool and transfer in a glass jar. This infused oil keeps well for about 2-3 months.



procedure for the salad...

Tear the lettuce leaves and line the serving bowl or plate with them. Reserve the basal parts to be tossed up in the salad.

Now mix everything up and toss together. Feta cheese can be sprinkled later in small blob over the tossed up salad or toss it with everything else so it gets mushy and coats the chickpeas well. Any way you like it.

It is an amazing mix of textures and flavors, something I always want to have in my food. Such meals are immensely satiating as you don't feel like having a dozen side dishes to feel different flavors and the sensory pleasure that textures provide.

Add walnuts or any nuts you prefer if you want, I skipped as I already had my day's quota of nuts. We can't overdo nuts in scorching Indian summers. Also, walnuts in summers might give you rashes in the palate if you overdo them. Some sunflower seeds would also be nice with it.

If you don;t get romaine lettuce in your part of the world, just use any fresh greens or herbs you want, fresh fenugreek leaves will be wonderful in this salad. As would be a mix of mint and coriander greens.

You don't have to sweat for finding the right kind of greens for a quick simple salad for a hot summer lunch right? Other ingredients would be common pantry staples and a few you get during the weekly vegetable shopping spree.

Enjoy more salads for meals in summers, stay hydrated and stay fresh.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

a spicy curry with ridge gourd and lamb mince : seasonal vegetables are best to beat the heat...


Yes, even if you eat some meat, the gourd family of seasonal vegetables will keep the system cool and help cleansing as well. This ridge gourd and lamb mince curry scramble is our way to eat a good meal that tastes rich but is light on the system. We have not been eating meats much in this heat as you don't feel like eating anything heavy. Just some iced teas that I keep having on room temperature too, many yogurt based raw recipes and many sprouts based salads are taken as small meals through the day. We just can't have 2 or 3 large meals during Indian summers, the way I do in winters instinctively  just 2 large meals. It is so draining we need to keep having small refreshing meals throughout the day, even if it is a bowl of cucumber and carrot sticks on my work desk.

Ridge gourd is a good source of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble type, and is moderately rich in calcium and phosphorous, other minerals are very low. According to Ayurveda it is a cooling and cleansing type vegetable very good for summers.


To proceed with this vegetable you need to peel it diligently. The hard edges are peeled off first to remove the wiry veins on the vegetable, then the skin is peeled off using a potato peeler. I would suggest not peeling too deep if the gourd is tender, but if you get only mature gourds you have no option to remover the skin completely.

The process is easy once the ridge gourd is cleaned. slice lengthwise first and then cut in semi circles or cubes of required size.

ingredients...
(2-4 servings depending on side dishes served)
lamb mince or mutton mince 250 gm
ridge gourd peeled and sliced 6 cups (600 gm)
chopped green chilies 1 tbsp or to taste
chopped garlic 1 tbsp
chopped red onions 1/2 cup
black pepper powder 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
garam masala powder 1/2 tsp ( I use a strong special home made garam masala)
cumin seeds 1 tsp
mustard oil (or any oil of preference) 1 tbsp
salt to taste

procedure...

Heat oil in a pan, tip in the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter.

Add the chopped green chilies, garlic and red onions. Fry for just a minute and add the turmeric powder and chopped ridge gourd. Mix well and add salt too. Keep stirring on medium heat till the ridge gourd starts wilting.

Add the mince, and the remaining powdered spices , mix well and cook covered on low heat. Stir after every 5 minutes, adding a little water if required. I never required any water to be added in this curry, you might like it a little thinner, add water in that case. Takes about 25 minutes of simmering to be completely cooked.

Take off heat once cooked, adjust seasoning and serve hot with chapatis or plain boiled rice.

This one is made using lamb mince, the same recipe comes out well with mutton mince as well, you might want adjust the spicing for both.

This curry scramble is a nice way to break the monotony of cold summer meals or light khichdi type meals that people mostly prefer. It is spicy, it has meat, very nourishing and still light on the system. Just perfect for summers.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Celery, tomatoes, onion and paneer curried scramble...


Celery keeps me happy till it grows in the garden. I grow it from seeds and it takes ages to germinate but when it grows well, it grows really well. Mostly the stalks are thinner than those available in the market, but it is packed with flavor. I add it in egg scrambles, in lentil soups and in my smoothies but since this is not something I like as much as good old coriander greens, I probably wouldn't like a pesto or chutney made with it, if I want to consume this wonderful healthy herb in larger amounts.

I make tofu or paneer scramble with it, a scone with celery, paneer and crushed peppercorns is an old favorite and I keep repeating this combination for paneer scrambles and curries too. One day when the husband said if I have posted this recipe on the blog or not, as he had been taking this to his lunch box quite often these days and lining it, I had to check if I have. How simpler things get neglected for the more pretentious ones. No more I thought and here it is..

ingredients...
(serves 2, takes about 10 minutes to cook)
paneer 150 gm (home made is better)
finely chopped celery stalk and leaves (1 cup
diced onions 1/2 cup
chopped tomatoes 3/4 cup
crushed pepper corns 1 tbsp
paprika powder 1/2 tsp or to taste
ghee or butter 1 tbsp
salt to taste

procedure...

Heat the ghee in a a pan and tip in the chopped onions and celery together. Saute for 2 minutes and then add the tomatoes and salt and pepper.

Stir and cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Add paprika and crushed peppercorns and mix well.

Scramble the paneer by hands and add to the cooking mixture, stir and mix well and add a cup of water, simmer the curry for about 5 minutes.

This curried scramble tastes good hot or cold. It can be a one pot soup meal if made thinner with more added tomatoes but a curry for chapatis is also good this way. You might like to add some cooked pasta, boiled pearl barley or just some leftover cold rice to make it a wholesome meal.

You could use chicken mince if you like or mutton or lamb mince if you have some time to slow cook this curried scramble, you can't go wrong with such use of celery.


Friday, May 17, 2013

flour less cake with dark chocolate, fresh cherries, balsamic poached strawberries and loads of love...butter cream icing with hint of coffee | gluten free cake...


Flour less cakes are so easy to put together most new home bakers don't realise. Flour just provides body to the cake and the actual flavors are brought in by other ingredients. Yes the airy and porous character comes from white flour but if you have been away from white flour for as long as me you would love the nuttiness of the whole wheat flour and the rustic character provided by Ragi in the cakes. Nut meals are great substitute for cakes especially if you are baking a dark chocolate cake. I have been baking loaf style flour less cakes for the husband but I realised I haven't posted the recipe yet when some friends asked me for the recipe. I had baked this cake and iced it minimally with coffee flavored butter cream for a very dear friend of mine Varsha Tiwary who writes Wholsome Options.

The cake with dark chocolate and coffee was planned keeping in mind Varsha's favorite flavors but I was pleasantly surprised to see her kids Adi and Ana loving it, being excited for the cake while I 'iced' the cake in front of them on demand. They wanted to see it happening. We know how kids love cakes and beautiful looking cakes all the more. I had planned a beautiful cake with a chocolate lacy collar, but as the cake was taken to her place along with lace collar drawn on butter paper strips, it all melted in Delhi heat and couldn't stick to the sides. But who cares when there is so much excitement...

Talking about flour less cakes, they are easier when you aim for rich chocolate in the cake more than fluffiness. I make a lemon cake with almond meal as well and that turns out fairly fluffy. That recipe will be shared later sometime. I just wanted to communicate that flour less cakes are no scary monsters to handle.

Actually I was taken aback when a lady Chef of a five star establishment recently was asking a group of us bloggers and home bakers whether we bake flour less cakes. As if it was some rocket science and we didn't have an idea of rocket fuel. I was miffed at this question and was amused secretly when the flour less cake arrived at dessert time. The cake was so offensively eggy that no one had it after a couple of spoonfuls. But that is another story.

Look at this cake, the picture taken by my cellphone camera as I forgot to carry my camera to Varsha's place. Two excited kids around a casually dressed up cake makes you believe in real food being much much better than the artificial colour of cartoon faced or theme cakes.


Coming to the recipe, I have been baking this Torta Caprese many times with small variations and love the result every time I do it. Here is how I did it this time...

ingredients...

dark chocolate 500 gm (any brand you like, darker the better)
almonds and walnuts mixed 150 gm
sugar 100 gm
vanilla bean 1
(you could use vanilla powder or real vanilla extract too, but you need good vanilla, not essence)
butter 100 gm
cocoa powder 1/3 cup
eggs 5 large



procedure...

  • Powder the sugar along with chopped or scissor cut vanilla bean. 
  • Powder the nuts together in the same mixer. Keep aside.
  • Chop the dark chocolate in small bits, I had kept the dark chocolate slab at room temperature for a day and it cut like pumpkin, Delhi summers I tell you.
  • Line the baking tins with parchment paper, keeping a margin above the tin rim so you can pull out the cake easily. No need to grease it.


Melt the chocolate and butter together in double boiler. Whisk together along with cocoa powder till smooth and shiny.

Break the eggs in a separate bowl, whisk lightly. Add the lightly whisked eggs one by one, add the powdered vanilla and sugar and whisk them all together. It will be a dark dark gooey mix.

Add the nut powder to the batter now. I normally sieve it into the bowl so any small bits are prevented form going into the batter. I personally don't like nut bits in a nut flour cake. Whisk together again, but not too much.

Pour into the lined baking tin, I baked a 7 inch diameter round cake and a small 5 inch thinner cake for the husband. You can use any convenient size of tin or bake several small cakes or cupcakes.


Bake at 170 degree C for 40 minutes on the middle rack, keep checking the cake after 30 minutes if your tin is large and height of the cake is lesser. The margins should look dried up and the center of the cake should rise and get firm. The skewer test doesn't work with this cake as the large amount of dark chocolate keeps it gooey even when the cake is cooked. You will see  a few cracks on the surface too.

Take the cake out and let it cool. The center will come to level and you can try loosening the edges by lifting the parchment edge. Invert the cake in a plate when cool and peel off the parchment very carefully.


Let it cool completely before applying the butter cream icing.

Ingredients for butter cream icing..

butter at room temperature 100 gm (salted or unsalted white, whatever available, white butter is preferred when the cakes is fruity)
powdered sugar 3-4 tbsp or more if you feel
instant coffee powder 1.5 tsp dissolved in 2 tsp hot water

procedure...

Whisk the butter with a wire whisk until completely creamed and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and whip again to imbibe. Add the coffee and incorporate again by more whipping.

Cover the cake from all sides using this butter cream.

To decorate I used dark cherries. I knew kids would love it and it will still be an adult cake. I melted 1/3 cup of dark chocolate in  cup and coated the cherries in it before arranging them on the base margin. On the cake margin the cherries sit by themselves owing to the butter cream consistency. Though the butter cream started turning soft and melting owing to the higher room temperature...Delhi summers again.

I had poached some strawberries with balsamic vinegar to soak the cake with, butter cream icing was done after I realised the kids were expecting an iced cake :-)

So I just poured the poached balsamic strawberries around the center cherry. The kids swooned and I felt immense pleasure at seeing kids in today's environment swooning for something so simple, real and wholesome. Wholesome options for everyone I say.


I had also made a dark chocolate collar for the cake, but transportation and then the decoration in front of curious kids left the collar melting sticky. It couldn't transfer on the butter cream icing. You would see a small part or the cake's margin with smudged collar. No one cared.


The cake was cut lovingly...


Was enjoyed by all. Pictures were shared with more friends and then came the request to share the recipe. More than the recipe the togetherness, the pleasure and some great time spent giggling, yapping incessantly and then some shopping too....


The balsamic poached strawberries were a perfect foil to round off the dark chocolate flavors with mild sweetness. The icing was also very mild sweet, hint of coffee to just like a faint whiff.

The flavors rounded off well.

And this whole exercise was pure bliss, immense therapy for me. Trust me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

mixed millets pongal : a savory cereal breakfast recipe...


I have been on a roll with millets. There is so much good taste hidden in those small pearls and all these millets take on flavors so well. I have been experimenting with all kinds of millets available for a long time now, earlier it used to be only the recipes that were made at my parental home, but now I make cakesquiches, pies and even dumplings with millet flours, sourdough breads, rolls and flat breads are common. I know how happy my grandmother would have been seeing me using all these millets and alternative grains. I miss her so much when I experiment with traditional foods. Always get reminded of how she used to enjoy cooking such things.

Talking of spreading love through cooking and sharing food, a reader who became a dear friend over the years I have been blogging started experimenting with millets seeing my various recipes here on this blog. And she would come back to me whenever she would try a new millet. It is a pleasure to see a family adopting the indigenous grains by reading this blog.

Some time ago she found a new organic brand that had a mixed millets pack and she thought of sending that to me. How generous of her, she even sent me a pack of sesame oil from Chennai. This pack had some 4-5 types of millets. Sama, kodo, ragi, amaranth I can recognize. This mix can be soaked and blended to make a fermented batter for dosa or idli, but after being in love with sama ke chawal, I was thinking more of a pongal.


I discussed pongal with her which somehow I like with the traditional mung and rice more but millet experiments were not as successful till now. I used to not like the dryness the millets brought to the pongal. See my first trial with yellow split mung and this mixed millet that feels dry, though the taste was as good. It had a lot of fried cashew but once the cashew is mixed into the pongal, it looses the crunch and nuttiness. I corrected that too later in my recipe.


She told me to make the pongal thinner so it is creamier and that's how my mixed millet pongal recipe became exactly the way we like. It never occurred to me that a thinner pongal would be great just like I love thinner khichdi. I did a few changes in the tempering from the traditional recipe as per my taste and requirements.

I cooked it in a pan so it took about 40 minutes total to cook, using pressure cooker will be good to save time but the pongal might become too mushy for your liking.


ingredients....

(for 4-6 breakfast servings or as many meal servings with side dishes)
split mung with skin 1 cup
ginger 1/2 inch piece or to taste
mixed millet or sama ke chawal 3/4 cup
broken cashew nuts 1/2 cup
ghee 2 tbsp
black pepper corns 2 tsp or to taste
curry leaves about 15 springs
broken dry red chilies 2-3 or to taste
salt to taste

procedure...

Boil the washed split mung with skin with 3 cups of water and salt to taste in a large deep pan. I cooked it in a traditional Indian deghchi. The lentil will boil and froth, keep stirring in between so it doesn't spill over.

Make a coarse paste of half of the curry leaves and ginger or just chop them finely and add to the boiling lentil mixture.

Add washed mixed millets (or sama if using) after 15 minutes and keep simmering the mixture for about 15 minutes more. Add water if required and cook till the grains get cooked the way you like. Turn off the heat and keep covered till you prepare for the tempering.

Heat ghee in a small deep pan and tip in the broken red chilies. Add  the broken cashew in to it and fry till they turn pink. Add the remaining curry leaves and the black pepper corns to the same pan and fry for about 30 seconds or till it gets fragrant. Pour half of this tempering over the cooked pongal.


Mix well, serve in individual bowls and pour a spoonful of the tempering in each bowl and serve immediately.


We licked our bowls clean this time. Literally.

The leftovers tasted great too. Just reheated in microwave and had for a quick meal with cucumber raita. I loved this millet mix and felt blessed for such a lovely thoughtful gift from N.

Gratitude for all the love I anmblessed with. Gratitude for all the love this blog gets from you readers. Many of you consider me like family and that is a very humbling feeling trust me.

Incidentally, pongal is a temple food and prasad in many temples in south India.
What better way would I get to express my gratitude than sharing a healthy a temple food?

Friday, May 3, 2013

how to make sun dried tomatoes at home ...



Sun dried cherry tomatoes are a delight to have in the pantry. Sun dried Roma, plum or heirloom tomatoes have a different taste and texture and all of them can effectively be sun dried easily if you keep a few things in mind. Pick the best quality of tomatoes available and dehydrate them as fast as possible, sun drying is best if you get enough sun and microwave is your best friend otherwise.

Sun dried tomatoes or simply dehydrated tomatoes are a condiment I use in many ways. It is versatile and very very useful to have in the pantry. Toss up some in your egg scramble with some herbs and mushrooms or just blend it with plain hummus, the zing is unmistakable and so very rich and nourishing. Yes, the wide range of carotenoids (alpha- and beta- carotene, leutene and lycopene) remains intact even if you sun dry them or cook them. Cooking the tomatoes with healthy fats makes the availability of these carotenoids better as they are fat soluble.

Tomato peels should not be discarded as they contribute to the carotenoid content of tomatoes and make it bio available to the human gut(according to a study from Marseille, France) ~ source 

Tomato skin also holds most of the flavonols as well, so it is sensible to not discard the skin most of the times.

As always, I grow tomatoes every year and get a good crop, both heirloom variety and cherry tomatoes and sun dry the extra. Some is distributed to friends and some I keep using here and there.


I have been getting requests from friends and readers for posting the procedure to sun dry the tomatoes.  There is nothing complicated in the procedure as I dehydrate them both in sun as well in my microwave oven. I updated the simple steps in my facebook page update last year but somehow a few friends burnt it in the microwave and someone who tried drying them in sun the tomatoes got fungus infested. Now that can be really discouraging if you are doing it for the first time.

So here is the procedure in detail ...

If you get good sun in summers like most parts of India, it is good to use is a sun dry the tomatoes. For the desi tomatoes (Indian heirloom tomatoes), just quarter them, squish them to remove the seeds and arrange them in a porous plate cut side up. I use a bamboo platter I bought from basket weaver at Trade fair.


Be careful to remove all the green whitish pith that is just beneath the stalk. This pith has alkaloids (Solanine) that are not suitable for human consumption. You must be aware why nightshades are not suited for some people who are sensitive to these alkaloids. Removing the white pith is good for everything you do with tomatoes. See in the picture (top right in the collage above) how the green stalks/crowns and pith are removed. (FYI. green tomatoes also are rich in the harmful alkaloid, so it's better not to consume green tomatoes and let them ripen before consumption)

After removing the seeds you end up with a large bowl of seeds and some juice. I strain the juice and use for making a spiced up juice or adding it to soups or daal or Bloody Mary for a Sunday brunch**.


Back to the quartered, emptied tomatoes for drying. Now just keep this plate out in the sun or a sunny windowsill and let them dry. It might take 2-3 or 4 days to completely dry and become leathery and curled. See this picture...


But, some people experienced a few problems, I am addressing them one by one...

Problem number one ~ the hot Indian summers have humid night mostly and sun drying takes about 3-4 days. You need to keep the drying tomatoes indoors and cover it, and that causes fungal growth within a single night sometimes. Keep the half dry tomatoes in the fridge overnight (uncovered) so it keeps dehydrating and stays at a cool temperature nit allowing any fungal growth.

Problem number two ~ Indian summers are dusty as well and a moist cut tomato lying in the open attracts a lot of dust and small insects too sometimes. It is better to cover the tomatoes with a netted contraption so no dust or small insects are attracted to you precious work. I hang this bamboo platter of mine on the clothesline with the help of a contraption like this picture.


Just 5 pieces of cotton rope tied up at both ends, the upper end clipped on the clothesline and the basket or platter propped inside the lower part. And covering this contraption is easier as I just hang a cotton dupatta (thin muslin stole) over it.


Problem number three ~ If you sun dry a large amount of tomatoes, pickling them in Olive oil is quite expensive and the choices of it's usage are fewer. I dehydrate a couple kilos every year and never soak them in olive oil and just store them dry in an airtight container and refrigerate. This gives you a choice to use them in any cuisine you wish and in whatever way possible.

There is no salt in these sun dried tomatoes as well so you have full control over what to do with them. I cut them using a scissor and add to a pasta dish like this or a pasta style pearl barley like this or this griddle focaccia

Cherry tomatoes I have mostly used for savory muffins, eggs scrambles, some stir fries with fish or vegetables etc. 

See this pink salmon scramble dish, this polenta with stir fried vegetables, this roasted eggplant mash, this guacamole with sun dried cherry tomatoes, this quick soda bread with sun dried cherry tomatoes, this double textured egg scramble with sun dried cherry tomatoes and this frittata with sun dried cherry tomatoes too.

Here is how to prepare the cherry tomatoes for sun drying. Halved, pith removed and arranged cut side up on the same plate...

The seeds need not be removed in this case as there will be very little left after you remove the seeds from cherry tomatoes. Also, the seeds and the pulp has more taste in case of cherry tomatoes.


Here is my last years' stock of sun dried cherry tomatoes, dry, unsalted and plain. Use just as you please. Make Indian alu tamatar or daal in pressure cooker or toss them up in a pasta or a bread. This last years stash was dried in the microwave.



I have been using them for so many of my recipes. See this pink salmon scramble dishthis polenta with stir fried vegetables, this roasted eggplant mashthis guacamole with sun dried cherry tomatoesthis quick soda bread with sun dried cherry tomatoesthis double textured egg scramble with sun dried cherry tomatoes and this frittata with sun dried cherry tomatoes too.

And see how I make a Bloody Mary using the tomato juice that I saved after cutting the heirloom tomatoes for drying.



Now a quick list of things to do when you are 'sun drying' (technically dehydrating) them in microwave oven.

Cut and prepare the tomatoes as above.

Arrange them all cut side up in a microwave safe plate.

Set the oven at lowest power setting or wattage and run it for 30 minutes at a time. Take care that at any point of time the tomatoes shouldn't get hot, they should just remain warm throughout. You can check them after 5 minutes and then after 10 minutes again if the setting chosen by you is not heating up the tomatoes.

If the lowest power setting in your microwave oven heats up the tomatoes, it's better to warm it up for 10 minutes or so and then repeat the process for 4-5 times or till the tomatoes are completely dry.

Take care that even after dehydrating the tomatoes by any of the process chosen, they might contain some moisture. So keep them uncovered in the fridge for sometime so they get dehydrated further, then pack them in an airtight container and refrigerate or give away to friends.

If you plan to pickle them in olive oil, you can allow a little moisture in the dried tomatoes. Keep them submerged in oil in that case. Seasoning is also optional, add salt and garlic or more herbs if required.

Please do let me know if this post is useful for you. Your feedback is very instrumental in motivating me to keep updating the blog with information and recipes.

Cheers...