know I have delayed announcing the winner of the giveaway of a copy of The PondicherryKitchen by Lourdes Tirouvanziam-Louis. This is a lovely cookbook with traditional recipes from Pondicherry cuisine. I'm happy to announce that the lucky winner of the book is Archana Vijay. I’ll be getting in touch with you soon so look out for an e-mail from me.
Now that announced the winner, we’ll get to the other part of this post. If you know me weel, you'll know that I don’t particularly relish shopping, whether it is for clothes, shoes or groceries. The only kind of shopping that I really enjoy is for books, and I’m not sure whether it is the browsing through the books or the actual purchase that makes me happier.
I do however enjoy my trips to the local market for our regular quota of vegetables and fruit, especially during this part of the year. There’s an excitement waiting to see what produce has arrived, including those that are not usually available in our markets. Every season seems to bring some new variety of vegetable and fruit. There used to be a time, not so long ago, when I could not dream of buying things like basil, celery, herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage, zucchini, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, leeks, Brussels sprouts, Kiwi fruit, galangal, to mention a few. Nowadays, I take a lot of them for granted because they are easily available though many are still quite expensive because though some of them are grown in India, many are imported.
This year, I have been seeing salad leaves like rocket/ arugula and some kinds of lettuce, and Jalapeños (pronounced hah-lah-PEH-nyoh) ! Lettuce is not something we’re very fond of as despite being vegetarians, Indians rarely eat vegetables raw and eating raw vegetable salads is a recent trend borrowed from elsewhere.
Having blogged food for something like 5 years now, I am able to recognise and identify a lot of food produce that I have never seen before. So when I saw the slightly plump triangular deep green chillies, I recognised them as Jalapeños, and knew I was buying some so long as they didn’t burn a hole in my purse.
For those who are not very familiar with Jalapeños, they are thick skinned and a moderately hot variety of Mexican green chillies (also known as huachinango and chile gordo ) which become “hotter” as they turn colour and become red. A smoked and dried Jalapeño is called “Chipotle”.
They get their name from the town where they were initially grown in Mexico, in a town called Xalapa. The ancient Aztecs were supposedly the first to use jalapenos, not for eating but by drying and smoking them!
I understand that Jalapeños cannot be dried because they are so thick and fleshy tthat they will rot before they dry out. They can however be used fresh like most chillies, smoked and dried or pickled by themselves or in combination with other vegetables.
I have reserved some of my Jalapeños so that I can hopefully raise some plants from them. The rest I made into a vinegar based Western style pickle. I don’t usually like vinegary stuff, but I decided to try it this time. It turned out much, much better that I expected and it’s good to serve on the side with Mexican food like Nachos or Tacos, Chinese style food or in sandwiches.
This pickle requires very little work and its made in one pan, putting all the ingredients into it! The recipe that follows is a just a guideline of sorts, so feel free to adjust quantities to suit your taste.
Pickled Jalapeños, Onions & Carrots
1 large/ 2 small carrots, sliced into roundels
1 large onion, chopped into 16 pieces
1 1/2” long piece of ginger, sliced thinly
2 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
3 tbsp honey
Salt to taste
Put all the ingredients into a non-reactive saucepan (because of the vinegar) and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Turn down the heat and simmer till the Jalapeños have change from deep green to an olive green in colour. Turn the heat off and allow it to cool.
Transfer to a sterile bottle. They will keep for some time refrigerated. This recipe makes one medium size jar of pickles.