Balti a - z of vegetables

Yield: 1 info sheet

Measure Ingredient
6 ounces Vegetable weighed AFTER preparation.

Aubergine. Wash, then halve and discard the central pith and seeds.

Dice, retaining the skin. Boil steam or microwave to tender.

Broccoli or Calabrese Wash and remove leaves and bottom of stalk. Cut into small florets and cut the stalk into small chunks. Boil, steam or microwave till tender.

Carrots Discard tops and tails, wash then pare and cut into strips, rounds or cubes. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Celery Cut off the pithy base, and the leaves, wash then cut the sticks into bite-sized pieces. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Chilli Chilli heat tolerance levels vary from person to person from nil to unlimited. On average, one hottish chilli per single portion is enough. Wash it, destalk it and chop it into narrow rings or slices, or keep it whole. You may discard the seeds, but that's a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater! It is the seeds which provide the heat, and contrary to some misinformation, they do not cause indigestion to those used to them.

Chillies need no prior boiling, steaming or microwaving. Simply add to the recipe of your choice at the stage after the spices, garlic and onion are fried, or as individual recipes direct.

Green Beans Runner beans, snap beans, French or Kenyan beans are all fleshy pods, usually green but sometimes purple or yellow. to use them, top, tail (and, in the case of runner beans, destring) them and then cut into strips, or crosswise. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Karela A knobby long, cylindrical pointed green gourd, very bitter indeed and an acquired taste. Wash, discard the top and tail and dice into bite-sized pieces. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Lotus Root. A rather extraordinary perforated root, indigenous to and very popular in Baltistan and Kashmir. Peel off skin, wash & cut as required. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Mangetout (Snow pea) The whole thing is eaten after topping and tailing. it can be eaten raw, but being flat and relitively small, it makes a perfect Balti stir-fry subject. Alternatively boil, steam or microwave to tender. Marrow Halve, remove the central seedy mush and the hard skin, and cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Mushrooms There are literally hundreds of species of these edible fungi to choose from. All have distinctive flavours, but are handled in the same way. Peel only if they really need it then wash and pat dry. Add raw to the Balti recipe of your choice towards the end of the cooking time. (Mushrooms _can_ stand long cooking, but are best for flavour after just a few minutes.) To make one portion of Balti Mushrooms, stir-fry 6 oz mushrooms in 1 tb ghee for 2-3 mins then flavour with a Balti spice base of your choice.

Okra (Ladies fingers, Bindi) They can be eaten raw, but once cut ooze sap, so cut just before cooking and eat at once. The microwave provides excellent results, steaming is all right, but boiling creates sap. Best of all, in my view, is a stir-fry. To stir-fry, wash 8oz okra thoroughly and put aside until just before you need to cook it. Cut off the stalk (and tip if necessary) And cut the okra into ¾" pieces at the last possible minute. Stir-fry in 1 tb of ghee or vegetable oil until cooked to your liking. Flavour at once with a Balti Spice base of your choice, or add immediately to your chosen Balti dish.

Parsnip - see potato.

Peas. Whether using fresh or frozen peas, boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Peppers Also known as Bell pepper, capsicums, paprika, pimentos. Cut off the stem end, remove seeds and pithy ribs. Cut into chosen shapes and sizes. The red, orange and yellow stand up to prolonged cooking rather better than the green which tends to go rather grey. to counter this, you can blanch, steam or microwave the pre-cut pepper, softening it and heating it sufficiently to be added at a relatively late stage of cooking. Alternatively omit the softening stage and add it after the fry-up of the spices, garlic, onion & masala paste stages in your chosen Balti curry.

Potato (and Parsnip Turnip etc) Scrub, clean and peel old potatoes only. Dice large ones into roughly equal bite-sized cubes, small ones can be halved or left whole. Boil, steam or microwave to tender, around 10-15 mins depending on the type and size of piece.

Alternatively deep fry the chunks.

Spinach Remove the thick stalks. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Sweet Potato and Yam Cook as potatoes Sweetcorn Can be eaten raw, but light short boiling converts the starch to sugar.

Remove leaves and strings from the cobs then cut the grains off the cob. Boil, steam or microwave to tender.

Tomatoes Tomatoes need no pre-cooking. Remove stalks and wash, if fresh, or strain canned tomatoes. Simply chop up and add to your chosen recipe at almost any stage after the initial dry-up.

Submitted By IAN HOARE On 05-09-95

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