Snow is not a frequent occurrence in our city and when it does make an appearance, things come to a complete standstill. We got such an occasion recently and all the offices and schools in our city closed down and we got an opportunity to enjoy one day of snow break.Since driving was not advised, I was forced to manage with the stuff I had at hand. So when I found myself in the kitchen, either making something or planning for the rest of the day I happily congratulated myself for stocking everything and on being able to manage for a couple of days, if not more, without a run to the grocery store. That is until..... I discovered that I was running low on salt of all things.....I could not believe it..I searched high and low in my pantry sure that the additional container of salt that I always keep in my pantry was just behind that one pack of poha or peanuts...but no such luck. I really was running low on salt...what a nightmare !
I always keep a spare container of salt in my pantry, apparently the one time I have failed to replenish it, turned out to be the one time I could not go out and replenish it either....pah ! So for the entire day and half of the next that I could not get salt, I used what I had as if the grains of salt were made of gold. I measured and remeasured the salt while using it and saw to it that not even one grain spilled out and got wasted. What happened?....well luckily for me the salt did last, although I had to come up with some creative solutions like using salt only on the part of the idli batter that I was using immediately and leaving the rest of the batter unsalted.The next evening when the roads were open again, I headed to the grocery the first chance I got, to pick up salt. The moral of the story....... if you are expecting a snow storm avoid the mistake I made and keep your pantry well stocked with vital ingredients like salt. :-)
Now moving on from possible culinary disaster to vegetarian chili, which is one of my favorites and is perfect for the chilly wintry days we are currently experiencing. I tried this variation with pinto beans just for a change and thoroughly enjoyed it. Give this a try when you are looking for something hearty, wholesome and spicy...
Ingredients and Method to make Vegetarian Chili with Pinto beans
2 medium yellow onions (cut fine)
2 large green bell pepper (capsicum) (remove seeds and cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 1/2 cup pinto beans dry (soaked overnight)
2 large tomatoes (cut fine)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional) (or according to taste)
1 tbsp oil
Soak dry pinto beans with plenty of water and a pinch of soda ( the soda is optional) overnight.
Rinse the soaked beans in fresh water and place in a large heavy bottomed pan with fresh water and simmer until cooked. Keep aside
Alternatively pressure cook the soaked beans with fresh water until soft but not mushy. Keep aside.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil add onions and saute until transparent.
Add tomatoes and saute until tomatoes are soft and mushy.
Add dry powders, bay leaves and stir for a few seconds.
Add green bell pepper and water as required and cook until bell peppers are half cooked.
To this add the cooked pinto beans , water as required and simmer the entire mixture together with salt to taste for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
Served hot with cornbread to make a complete meal.
You can use equal quantities of red kidney beans (rajma) instead of pinto beans and proceed with the rest of the recipe in the same manner.
If you like really very spicy chili you can add half or one full jalapeno to make it more spicy.
This chili is off to My Legume Love Affair, the seventh helping being hosted by Srivalli and originally started by Susan