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August 11, 1999
Adding Desi Zest To American Fare
Zubin Mehta, the renowned philharmonic conductor, often carries chillies with him when he travels. Though Bombay-born Mehta has lived in Austria, America and Israel for nearly five decades, he craves for spicy food -- and by adding a few crushed chillies, he is able to turn an Italian minced meat dish into something of an Indian treat.
Many Indian Americans, who want to try American dishes for a change, use Mehta's example. Not that they carry chillies but many use Indian spices and chillies to enhance the flavor of traditional American dishes.
"I am tired of eating curried Indian food every day," says Anjali Sastri, a New York based ad-executive. "I want to try different types of cuisine at home, for example Italian cuisine, but I find them too bland many times. Naturally my Indian spices come handy." Her American friends enjoy her creations too.
Anjali certainly is not alone in wanting to add zest to American dishes. "Ask any Indian who has tried the pizza," says Rochelle Mendonca, a teacher, who loves to add "character" to her food. "The first thing they do is to reach for the container with crushed red pepper."
Below are a few dishes that are enriched by a dash of Indian spices.
Mushroom Potato Salad With Desi Spices
1 pound small potatoes, cut into small pieces
Preparation time and cooking time: 40 minutes
In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with adequate amount of cold water and boil over low flame for about 10 minutes or till the potatoes have become soft. Drain and transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In the preheated broiler, place the mushrooms in a bowl; add one tablespoon oil and crushed chillies, mix well. Cook for about five minutes, after turning the mushrooms once or twice. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine pepper strips and remaining oil. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies, and cook for about 2 minutes over low flame.
Add the pepper and mushroom mixture to potatoes, along with jeera seeds, coriander leaves, beans, vinegar and salt.
These yummy, spicy pancakes could be served with zesty tomato salsa (add several green chillies if you want to make it really hot) or with sambhar -- or for that matter with your favorite pickle.
2 cups of finely shredded zucchini
Preparation and cooking time, about 50 minutes
Sprinkle zucchini with salt and let it stand for 8-10 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat for about a minute, add corn and cook for about 4 minutes or until the corn has become brown. Let cool for several minutes.
Squeeze out the moisture from the zucchini, transfer to a bowl, stir in beaten eggs, flour, pepper or chillies, coriander or mint, baking powder, green chillies, jeera powder and corn. Blend well.
Coat the skillet with vegetable spray, and keep over medium low heat. Add quarter cup batter to make one pan cake. Cook for about 2 minutes, turn side and cook for another two minutes -- or till the pancake has become golden.
Transfer the pancake to a heatproof platter and keep in the oven. Add more spray and cook the next pancake.
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