For many people, cooking a food that belongs to a particular country or ethnicity can be really intimidating.
Latin, Asian, French, Spanish, Italian, German… they all have specific ingredients and methods of cooking. Can you find the ingredients? Where? Is it a trek across town, or is it a special aisle at your grocery store? And once you have the ingredients, what do you do with them? Do you need special equipment or cooking methods?
I love the challenge, and I love to cook other culture’s foods (although, to be fair, my British background isn’t one of the most exciting cuisines in the world). I love wondering through spice shops sniffing the brightly-coloured bins and imagining what I could make with the contents.
I’m lucky enough to have a very close family member who comes from a South Asian background, so she’s on speed dial every time I have a yen to cook some Indian food (aloo gobi is my fave). But if you, like me, still find this particular cuisine a bit intimidating, then help is at hand.
I recently got to try out a line of Indian shortcut sauces. Sharwood’s has been cooking up Indian sauces for over 100 years, so I’m going to assume they know what they’re doing.
This is a quick and easy appetizer idea you could whip up for a party, or as the beginning of a meal. It’s a play on a chutney–a simple, slightly spicy, flavourful dip that you can serve alongside papadums. If you’re not familiar with them, papadums are thin, crispy flatbreads, chip-like, usually made from lentil or chickpea flour. They’re great for scooping up this dip. Bonus–they are gluten free!
Instead of using some of the more traditional Indian spices in this recipe, like garam masala, cardamom, coriander, tamarind, chilis or fresh ginger, I took a shortcut and used a couple tablespoons of Sharwood’s Madras Cooking sauce. You can add more or less based on the amount of heat you want in your dip.
Yum on a Papadum
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 2 tbsps Sharwood’s Madras Cooking Sauce
- 2 tbsps lime juice
- fresh coriander or chives
- Cut the onion in half, length-wise, and then slice in thin half-rounds. You could use a mandolin for this. In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over low heat, and then add the onions. Cook them slowly for about 15 minutes over low heat, until they are caramelized. They will release liquid as they cook, but if you get worried about the pot getting too dry, you can add a tablespoon of white wine.
- While the onions are caramelizing, deseed and chop up the bell pepper in to 1/2″ chunks. When the onions are soft, fragrant and golden, add the garlic and stir well. Then add the bell pepper. Stir well, and cook down for about another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomato paste and the madras sauce, stir well, and cook another 5 minutes. Lastly, add the lime juice, stir well, and cook for about a minute. Pour into a bowl, and garnish with chopped, fresh herbs.
- To make papadum: remove from package, and place in your microwave on a paper towel. Microwave for one minute, or until the papadum is puffed and crispy. Break into pieces and serve with the dip.
h/t to Eschelle for naming this one!