Friday, August 10, 2012

Anaheim Ain't Just About Disneyland. Chilies With Peanuts.

   Quick. Think Anaheim. What comes to mind? The Angels? The Ducks? Disneyland? Knotts Berry Farm? The OC? The Real Housewives? For me, you say Anaheim, I say chilies. I may have said it, but until a few months back I never ate them. Anaheim chilies that is.
   For the last couple of weeks I haven't been doing much cooking. I've been grabbing whatever passes by, eating whenever and following along on the typical  path of someone with a parent in the hospital. My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a month ago and so far we've been on an up and down roller coaster of information, disinformation, fantasy and truth. Her surgery went well, but she was rushed to the emergency room 2 weeks ago with fluid on the lung. After some crazy self-diagnosis which had me calling hospice on her recommend, and then a talk with the real doctors who said "no, she was not dying just then" and was in fact very treatable, things simmered down. Cooler heads prevailed. Elvis had not left the building.

   Having been down to Cancerland myself 23 years ago, my experience has actually come in handy here. I've been able to explain to her what's going on, what people are saying, why they're doing the tests they're doing, what the results mean and just being a general cancer concierge. She's got a whole lot more information, and is doing a whole lot better. She came home from the hospital today and things are getting somewhat back to normal at my parents house.
   Meanwhile back at our place I'm trying to get my stove fired up and running again. We turned in our TV pilot before this hospitalization so it's time to get cooking again. In a month that's been full of the bitter and the sweet, nothing seemed like a better recipe to share than Anaheim Chilies with Peanuts.

Anaheim Chilies With Peanuts

Here's What You Need:

6 large Anaheim chilies
4 Tbs of vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)
1/2 cup of roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
8 large shallots
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
10 fresh curry leaves (if you have them)
1 red onion finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 Tbs tamarind pulp or lemon juice
A 1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 Tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chilies broken into pieces
3/4 sp of salt

 Here's What To Do:
Wash and seed the chiles, and chop them into rings.

In a small skillet dry roast the sesame seeds, coriander and cumin seeds for about 5 minutes.
Take them off the fire and let them cool.
Place the roasted seeds into a food processor along with the peanuts, red chilies, ginger, shallots, and 1/2 cup of water. Mix it all into a paste.

Heat a skillet, wok or kadhai and when it's hot, add in the 4 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot, toss in the mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add your curry leaves (if you've got them).
Stir everything around for about a minute then add in the onions.
Saute the onions until they turn a light brown.

Add in the turmeric.

Then toss in the sliced peppers. Cook them down for about 5 minutes.

Cook the Anaheim chilies down until they start to soften then add in the peanut spice paste.

Cook the peanut paste down for another 5 minutes then add in 1 cup of water.
Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or so.
In a small bowl, mix together the tamarind pulp and 1/2 cup of water.
Add that to the mixture in the pan along with the salt and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Let the chilies cook until they're softened. Check them for seasoning and serve them up.

   These Anaheim chilies make a great side dish to add to any Indian meal. They have a bitter sweet flavor with a touch of warmth. There are not a lot of American dishes that can be characterized as "bitter", but it's one of the five basic tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. People generally hear bitter and they run, but when on the plate mixed with other flavors, it's dynamite. So next time you see the word Anaheim, pick up some of these chilies and give this a try. Go bold.

  I also want to thank everyone who's taken the time to ask about my mom, and what's going on here. I know a lot of you have dealt with similar situations and it's always great to get the benefit of everyone's experience I am immensely grateful.

 Coming up next a big bunch of produce from the neighbors and the dessert that goes with it. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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