Feb 28, 2009

Think Spice..Think Pepper..

Do you know which is the third most added ingredient to recipes? Yes it is 'The King of Spices - Pepper' with water and salt leading the race. Do you believe that it was once so valuable that it was used as currency? 

Looking back to the history of peppercorns...

Peppercorns are the seed berries of the Piper nigrum (piper being Latin for plant, and nigrum meaning black) vine, originating on the Malabar coast of India. Peppercorns are not only the oldest used spice, but also the most widely-used. Today, pepper, known as the King of Spices and the Master Spice, still accounts for one-fourth of the world's spice trade.

Some medicinal and household uses of pepper include...

Although always prized as a flavor-enhancing spice, the peppercorn first gained fame for medicinal purposes as a digestive stimulant and expectorant. Its hot and pungent flavor causes the membranes inside the nose and throat to exude a lubricating secretion, helpful to those in respiratory distress as an aid to cough up offending phlegm and mucus. Pepper was also used in an external ointment to relieve skin afflictions and hives. Black pepper is also an effective deterrant to insects. A solution of one-half teaspoon freshly ground pepper to one quart of warm water sprayed on plants can be toxic to ants, potato bugs, silverfish, and even roaches and moths. A sprinkling of ground pepper will also deter insect paths in non-garden areas.

Tips for storage of Pepper..

Store whole peppercorns in a sealed container in a cool, dry place up to one year. Ground pepper begins to lose flavor after about four months, so if you do not use a lot of pepper, avoid those huge cans. Brined peppercorns need to be refrigerated after opening and used within a month. 
Water-packed peppercorns have the shortest shelf life after opening they should refrigerated and used within one week.

(courtesy:Wikipedia, About.com)

Did you know that peppercorns come in black, white, green, red and pink in color? For more info read this..

You must be wondering why I am raving about this Master Spice Pepper.

Yes I am hosting this month's edition of Think Spice initially started by dear Sunita.

Here are some guidelines..

Post any dish featuring pepper as the main spice. Pepper can be used in any form (finely powdered, freshly ground or whole) and any variety of pepper can be used. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian posts are welcome. Multiple entries and old entries are accepted unless you add a link to this page. Uses and other Information about pepper can also be included in the post.

Post it on your blog anytime between March 1st and March 31st and please link back to this announcement and also to Sunita's Think Spice post.Feel free to use the logo.

Email me your entry with your name, picture of any size, recipe name and permalink to the recipe to divyablogs(at)gmail(dot)com . if you do not own a blog, send me your name, recipe, and picture. I will include it in the roundup. 

Now get your peppergrinders ready and start cooking!!

Feb 22, 2009

Lemon rasam and a Thank You note!

You must all be wondering where I disappeared for ages! It took me sometime to come back to normal after our visit to India. I had the chance to learn many new dishes from my mom and my mother-in-law during my trip. Hopefully I will be trying them all soon and posting them here. The weather in California has been cold during the past week which is quite abnormal during this time of the year.. This lemon rasam is perfect for such a weather and it is quite simple and easy to make..It is an ultimate comfort food and can be whipped up in minutes.


Cooked Toor Dhall - 1/2 cup
Tomato - 1 finely chopped
Green chillies - 2
Ginger - 1 inch
Lemon juice - from 1 medium sized lemon
Salt or to taste
Few sprigs of coriander leaves

For the tempering

Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Ghee - 1 teaspoon


Chop tomatoes finely, also chop green chillies and ginger.

In a heavy bottomed pan, on medium heat, add 2 cups of water, chopped tomatoes, green chillies and ginger. Allow it to boil for about 5 minutes or till the tomatoes turn tender. Add turmeric, pepper powder and salt. Add coriander leaves. Finally add the cooked dhall and let it simmer for about 3 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and mix well. Take care not to add the lemon juice while the rasam is still on heat. This makes the rasam turn bitter.

In a small pan do the tempering with ghee, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Add the tempering to the rasam and stir well.

Serve hot with rice and curry of your choice.

This rasam is a simple dish to make on lazy nights for dinner. Hence I am sending this to Recipes for the rest of us - Dinner hosted at dear Siri's Place and started by Ramki

And coming to the thank you note, I know it is too late to thank my dear friend Siri for sending me this valuable gift for winning MBP:Cheese. It was a pleasant surprise to get the gift when i received all my mails after our return from India. It was an amazing book - "The Well Decorated Cake' by Toba Garrett. Thanks a lot Siri and thanks again to all my dear blogger friends who voted for me!

Feb 2, 2009

Egg Bhurji

This is a simple recipe to make and relish with ease. It uses the most simple ingredients. It is versatile and can be had by itself, or as a side with rice and curry, or as a wrap with chapathis or tortillas or even as a sandwich with bread. i make this when I run out of time or vegetables.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

Eggs - 2
Onion - 1
Tomato - 1
Turmeric - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder - 1/4 Teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 1 teaspoon
Fresh Coriander leaves- Chopped 2 Tablespoons
Oil - 1 Tablespoon
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter - 1 tablespoon


Chop the onions and tomatoes finely. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and add the oil. Add the chopped onion followed by chopped tomatoes and saute until it turns translucent. Add in the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and mix well.
Break the Eggs and pour into the pan directly. Stir briskly. Add the coriander leaves butter and mix well.
Remove from heat and serve warm.

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