Saturday, July 20, 2013

Creamy Jalapeño Salsa: Krazy Good Green Sauce

This is a creamy jalapeño salsa.

El Regio and El Pollo Rico in Austin, Texas are two Monterrey (that's Nuevo León, México Monterrey) style rotisserie chicken places. They serve this krazy good green sauce there. Theirs is just boiled jalapeños blended with oil and some salt, but mine has a couple of extra ingredients.

Here is my version: (makes a little over 1 cup):

8-9 jalapeños
1 clove garlic
1 tbs or so lime juice
1/2 cup or so oil (light tasting oil*)
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Put jalapeños in a pot of water and boil for about 20 minutes until they are soft. Remove them from the water. Stick the clove of garlic in the hot water for a few minutes, then remove it. This is a trick to take the sharp edge off of the garlic by cooking it very slightly. Allow your jalapeños to cool completely, then using gloves, remove the stems and seeds with your hands.

Add all off the ingredients except oil to a blender. Turn on blender and grind jalapeños for a moment, then slowly drizzle in the oil till you have a beautiful green emulsification.

This sauce thickens a bit once you refrigerate it, so don't make it too thick to start out with. It should still be a bit liquidy when you take it out of the fridge, not a solid.

OPTION: Alternatively, roast your jalapaños under a broiler/on the stove/on the grill. Allow to cool and remove the stems, seeds, and most of the skin. Use the charred jalapeños and proceed with the rest of the recipe. This yields a slightly smoky green sauce flecked with black charred bits for color. It's very delicious.

*I like sunflower oil for this. I am sure El Regio and El Pollo Rico use soybean oil. For heart healthy oils, a light olive oil works, too. But avoid a strongly flavored olive oil or it will be overpowering in the salsa and give it a strange undertaste. 

Salsa de chile de árbol (Árbol chile salsa)

This is a very spicy salsa that goes well with chicken, goat, or beef. Recipe makes about 2 cups.


7 roma tomatoes cut in half.
2 cloves of garlic. Wrap these in a pouch made of foil
1 bag of chile de árbol (80 gram bag, better for you if you can find a bag of already "limpios" or cleaned chiles, but if not, the will have the stems and seeds which you must clean)
1/2 tsp Knorr Suiza powder (caldo de pollo), 1/4 of a stock cube, or 1/2 tsp Chicken Better than Bouillon
1 tsp of salt or to taste
1 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 tbs light tasting oil for roasting the tomatoes and frying the chiles

Take your halved tomatoes and rub them in oil, place them with your garlic wrapped in a foil pouch on a roasting sheet and roast at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

While your tomatoes and garlic are roasting, clean your chiles by removing the stems and seeds. That's if you didn't get a bag of chile de árbol "limpios" (already stemmed and seeded).

In a deep pan, heat 1-2 tbs oil. When hot, stir your dried chiles around until the start to puff up and change color. Take care not to burn. You can turn off the flame after a minute, and keep stirring, and they will fry nicely to the perfect color. Pour them onto a plate and keep aside. If you keep them in the hot pan, they will continue to cook for a few moments and can blacken and burn. So, it is better to transfer them to a plate. Keep aside to cool.

When your tomatoes are nicely soft and roasted, set aside to cool.

Dump the tomatoes, garlic, your chicken flavoring, and chiles in a blender. You may need to add 1/4 cup or so of water. Pulse gently so as to leave the chile ground but in visible chile flakes. Stir in the salt, lime juice, and sugar, and pulse again gently. Taste and adjust salt, sugar, or lime juice if necessary. Keep in a jar for up to 2 weeks.

Spicy Urad or Maash Daal Fry (hulled split black lentils)

*In some regions of the Hindi/Urdu speaking world, these are called urad or urid daal. In other regions, these are called maash ki daal. In Punjabi, these are maa di daal. The skin of this lentil is black, but once they are hulled or skinned, they are white. This is the same daal you use for daal makhni, without its skin. It is known as being very filling and heavy on the stomach. The hing (asafetida), lime juice, and the ginger shards in the recipe are supposed to counteract the heavy, gas inducing qualities of this daal. :D This recipe yields a tangy, spicy daal that contains dried red chiles, green chiles added at two stages, and ground red chile powder. You can reduce or amplify the amount of chiles as per your preference. I'd say this comes out medium-hot based on my taste.

To prepare the lentils:

For this recipe you need 1 cup of hulled split black lentils. Wash them well and soak them in water for 1 hour. Discard the soaking water, and add them to a pot in several inches of water. Allow the water to boil. Skim the starchy foam from the top of the water. Lower the heat and boil on med-low flame for 17-20 mins (test at 17 mins) until lentils are completely tender but not falling apart. Strain the lentils and set them aside.

Strained boiled maash ki daal.

The masala:

1/4 cup oil
1 pinch asafetida hing
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4 whole long dried red chiles
1 purple onion finely chopped (lemon sized Indian onion, if it is a larger American purple onion, use half of it)
2 fresh green chiles chopped finely
1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste
1 tomato finely chopped or 1/2 cup fresh tomato puree
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp cumin powder (zeera)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbs lime juice (or to taste, I prefer a strong lime flavor)
salt to taste (about 1 tsp)

The masala.

For garnish:
chopped fresh cilantro (1/4 cup or so)
1-2 chopped fresh green chiles
optionally, matchstick ginger shards (about 1/2 inch sliced)

Heat oil in pot. When hot, add in hing and allow to sizzle. Stir in dried red chiles and cumin seeds. Watch for red chile skin color to darken a bit, then toss in the onions. Cook onions until they are looking golden and brown around the edges (+/- 7 mins). (Pro tip: If your onions look brown around the edges but raw and white in the middle straight away, turn down the flame.) Add in chopped green chiles. Add in garlic-ginger paste. Allow garlic-ginger to turn golden. Toss in tomatoes. Stir for a few moments, then add in all of the powdered masala except for the garam masala. Add in salt. Stir until the water is mostly dried up from the tomatoes and the oil has risen to the top of this masala. Turn off the heat. Add in garam masala. The masala is done. Now, add in the prepared lentils that you have kept aside. Stir gently so that they do not fall apart or become clumpy. Mix well. Now squeeze in/pour in your lime juice and half of the cilantro and some of the fresh matchstick ginger slices. Once again, stir gently. Transfer to a serving dish and add the remainder of the cilantro and the other garnishes.

A close up look: each grain of daal is separate.

Serve with hot puris, whole wheat roti, or corn flour roti (makkai ki roti).

OPTIONS: You can use this same recipe for hulled split moong ki daal. Follow all the same instructions, except boil on low for a full 20 mins during the lentil preparation stage. Some people find maash/urad daal too heavy on the stomach, so you could optionally make this lighter by mixing 1/2 cup moong and 1/2 cup urad daal if this is the case for you.