Thursday, February 2, 2012

Open Sesame - A master key

In my kitchen I tend to keep certain spice blends and pastes which work as building blocks to a variety of dishes, one such paste is a blend of fresh red chillies, shallots, garlic and sesame.

The beauty of this paste is that it can stand alone as a chutney/spread for breads, diluted with a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil or sour cream it can be used as dipping sauce for vegetables or pita wedges. I also use it a base flavouring for making Indian Chinese dishes like Manchurian or Szechuan / Sichuan sauce or Hot and sour soup. It works exceptionally well to flavour a Laksa soup or Mee Goreng. I add it to the potato stuffing for making Aloo or mixed vegetable parathas or throw in a spoon or two of the paste to fresh yoghurt to make a raita. I add the paste to zing up my fajitas or as a base for Indian style paneer pizza………….as you can see this paste is like a chameleon – it blends in well with many a dish!

I tend to make double batches and freeze the paste in multiple little baby food size jars so that I can thaw out a jar or two as and when I need it. The paste does not use oil or have chemical preservatives, so it may not last more than a week in the refridgerator (but a mini jar has never lasted that long). However, if you want to extend the life of the paste add oil that has been heated to a smoking point and cooled to the paste, additionally you may add citric acid crystals to increase its life, but it adds to much of a sour taste to the paste which can leave a bitter after taste when heated.

This paste is fiery, so use it judiciously.

Red Chilli Sesame Paste

Ingredients3-4 oz/100 gms fresh red chillies, chopped
½ cup shallots, roughly chopped
¼ cup peeled garlic, chopped
2 tbsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Juice of 1-2 limes/lemons
Salt to taste

MethodLightly toast sesame seeds and allow to cool (sesame will sputter out of the pan if the flame is high). Chop red chillies, de-seed if you want the paste to be milder (wear a glove while doing this) and roughly chop shallots and garlic. Blend together chillies, garlic, shallots and sesame to a smooth paste using little water. Add the lime juice and salt.
If you want to prolong the life of the paste add 4 oz of heated and cooled oil (any oil – vegetable, peanut or sesame).


This recipe has been submitted for the event, Cooking with Whole Foods [CWF] : Sesame seeds created by Kiran of Sumadhura and hosted by Revathi of Kaarasaaram.

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