Pol Sambol (Sri Lanka Coconut Sambol)

1/2 fresh coconut ,grated (about 1/2 lb), (or 1/3 lb frozen grated coconut)
6 small red dried chili peppers (or 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 small Bombay onions or 1 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon Maldive fish chips (optional)
Juice of 1 lime

Using a large mortar and pestle (or working in batches in a smaller mortar and pestle), grind the dried red chilies with the salt and sugar into a fine paste until there are no chili seeds visible in the paste.

Then, add the Maldive fish chips (optional), and grind a little more.
Next, add the freshly shredded coconut to combine with the paste. The whole idea at this stage is to get the coconut to absorb the flavor and get the color of the chili paste.

Finely, add the diced red onions. Grind a couple more minutes until obtaining a paste with enough texture.

Add the juice of the lime, mix well, and serve

Lunu Miris (Sri Lankan Sambol)

1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon crushed mild red pepper
1 tablespoon umbalakada (smoked and dried Maldives fish)
2 teaspoons lime juice

Place all the ingredients except the lime juice in a mortar and, using a pestle, crush them.

Pound the ingredients to develop their flavor.

Add salt to taste.

Add the lime juice and mix well with the pestle, pounding the mixture well.

Notes: One of the most popular ways of eating lunu miri is alongside kiribath, a simple coconut milk and white rice dish served in squares, diamonds or with the rice rounded into a mound and flattened. Lunu miris is also commonly eaten with roti, while the dish most Sri Lankan tourists will remember is lunu miris served with is egg hoppers, or appam, a bowl-shaped fried coconut and rice crepe that is commonly eaten for breakfast and is a street food favorite. Its bold and hot flavors pair well as a meat marinade, is a topping for grilled fish or roasted veggies, can be used as a mix-in for soups and stews, and as an appetizer with a side of flatbread or raw veggies.

Lunu miris can be made in only five minutes and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or frozen for a month and still retain its freshness.

Vegetable Pulao and Raita

You will need: (* – Refer notes)

Rice (Basmati or similar long-grained) – 2 cups
Ghee (clarified butter)* – 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
Whole spices like cinnamon stick , cloves, cardamom and black pepper corns**
Onion – 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Vegetables like carrots, peas and green beans – 1 cup (total)
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water – 3 cups
Cashew nuts and raisins for garnish (optional)

Wash the rice in water. Drain well and keep aside***.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a thick bottomed vessel (I use a pressure cooker). Add the whole spices and allow it to sputter and become fragrant.

Add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn translucent.
Add the vegetables and saute for a minute.

Add 3 cups water****. Add enough salt and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the washed rice and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix well and check seasoning.

Cover and cook till done.

If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium high till you hear a whistle, lower the heat and cook for 5 more minutes. Else, cover the vessel with a heavy lid and cook till done.
This dish can easily be cooked in a rice cooker too. Do the sauteing in a pan and transfer to the rice cooker along with rice, water and lemon juice.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the remaining ghee and fry the cashew nuts and raisins till golden.

To serve, fluff pulao well, garnish with nuts and serve hot with raita or your favorite curry.

Notes:

* Substitute with oil, if ghee is not available or you are extremely health conscious!

** For 2 cups of rice, I use a 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, 2-3 pods of cardamom and 3-4 black pepper corns.

*** The washed rice can be roasted in a little ghee. I usually skip this step (read the title!) and it turns out okay.

****Typically, the Basmati rice I use, needs 1.5 cups of water per cup of rice. Some rice types may need up to 2 cups of water. This information is usually available on the rice packet.

Now on to the raita. The following is the recipe for a simple tomato and onion raita with a surprise garnish!

You will need:

Thick yogurt – 1 cup
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato – 1 small, de-seeded and finely chopped
Green chillies – 2, chopped
Grapes – for garnish (the surprise!)

Whip yogurt well with a fork or whisk.

Add onions, tomatoes and green chillies.

Season with salt.

Garnish with green or red grapes cut in half. This is kind of a family tradition at our house. I playfully added a couple of grapes to raita one day and my husband was hooked! It adds a playful sweetness.

You can use cilantro and mint leaves also for garnish.

You can add finely chopped cucumbers and carrots to the raita too. Don’t forget to de-seed the cucumbers.

Tomato Rice with Cucumber-Carrot Raita

Rice – 2 cups (any long grained or fluffy white rice variety)
Water – 3.5-4 cups or enough to cook the rice
Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Whole dry red chilies – 3
Curry leaves – a few
Onion – 6-8 small shallots or 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
Tomato – 3, chopped
Green chilies – 1-2
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp and coriander powder – 1 tsp; or sambar powder* – 1 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves – for garnish (optional)
Roasted peanuts or cashew nuts – for garnish (optional)

Notes: * – Sambar powder adds a unique flavor to this rice. It is easily available at International grocery stores here. If not available, use a combination of red chili and coriander powders.

Cucumber-Carrot Raita:

Yogurt – 1 cup
Cucumber – 1/2 cup, de-seeded and chopped
Carrot – 1/2 cup, chopped
Green chili – 1, chopped
Salt – 1/2 tsp
How to:

Tomato Rice:

Prepare rice as usual. Fluff with a fork or spoon and keep aside.
Heat oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds, whole red chilies and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the onions and green chilies, and saute till the onions are translucent.
Add the ginger and garlic paste and saute well till the raw smell is gone.
Add the masala powders and saute for a few seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Add salt to taste. Cover and let the tomatoes cook.
Open the lid and mash the tomatoes lightly with a spoon. The consistency should be that of a thick gravy so as to coat the rice well, but not too watery.
Add the cooked rice. Mix well, taking care not to mash the rice.
Garnish with the nuts and cilantro. Serve hot with raita or chutney.

Cucumber-Carrot Raita:

Take the yogurt in a bowl and beat well with a fork or whisk. Use a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it, if desired.
Add the chopped cucumber, carrot and green chili and salt. Mix well and serve chilled.

Raita can be made with onions and tomatoes too.

Coconut-Mint Chutney

You will need:

Oil – 1 tbsp
Mint leaves – a medium bunch
Cilantro leaves – a small bunch
Coconut – 1 cup, grated or shredded
Small red onions or shallots – 5-6, halved
Ginger – 2-in piece, roughly chopped
Garlic – 2 pods, crushed (optional)
Whole red chilies – 1-2 (as per heat level required)
Small green chilies – 1-2 (as per heat level required)
Salt – as per taste
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water

For tempering:

Oil – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few sprigs
Urad dal (split black lentils) – 1 tsp

How to:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add the whole red chilies, shallots, ginger, garlic, green chilies, and the herbs. Saute lightly on medium heat till the leaves are wilted.

Add the coconut and saute for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, grind this mixture with a little water. Add salt to taste and stir in the lemon juice.

Heat 2 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan. Add the tempering ingredients. When the urad dal turns golden, mix in the chutney and serve.

This is an excellent accompaniment for Indian breakfast like dosas, idlis or parathas and other savory snacks.

Trio of Chutneys (Coconut, Tomato, and Green)

For Coconut Chutney:
Shredded coconut (fresh) – 1 cup
Green chili – 1-2
Ginger – 1″ piece
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Roasted gram dal – 1 tbsp
Tamarind – a dime-sized ball (or use ½ tsp tamarind paste)
Salt – to taste

For Tomato Chutney:
Oil – 2 tbsp
Red onions – 1 small, roughly chopped
Tomato – 2 large, roughly chopped
Garlic – 1 clove
Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
Red chili powder – 1-2 tsp
Sugar – a pinch
Salt – to taste

For Green Chutney:
Shredded coconut (fresh) – 1 cup
Green chili – 1-2
Ginger – 1″ piece
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Roasted gram dal – 1 tbsp
Tamarind – a dime-sized ball (or use ½ tsp tamarind paste)
Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup, packed
Mint leaves – 8-10
Salt – to taste

For tadka seasoning:
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1½ tbsp
Roasted gram dal – 2 tbsp
Dried red chilies – 6
Curry leaves – 1 sprig (optional)
Shallots – 2 tbsp, thinly sliced (optional)

Coconut chutney: Grind all the ingredients together adding very little water as needed. If required, you can thin the chutney after grinding with more water. Do not add a lot of water at the beginning or you will not be able to grind the ingredients properly. Remove chutney to a bowl.

Tomato chutney: Heat oil in a skillet. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilies. Saute until onions are soft. Then add the tomatoes and red chili powder, and cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy.

Cool this mixture slightly and blend with a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Remove to a bowl.

Green chutney: Grind all the ingredients together adding very little water as needed. If required, you can thin the chutney after grinding with more water. Do not add a lot of water at the beginning or you will not be able to grind the ingredients properly. Remove chutney to a bowl.

Tadka/Seasoning: Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add tadka ingredients and fry until the mustard seeds pop, the urad dal becomes reddish brown, and the shallots are golden brown. Divide the prepared tadka and pour over the three prepared chutneys before serving. Serve chutneys with idlis, dosa, upma, and other breakfast/tiffin dishes.

Store leftover chutneys covered in the fridge for 1-2 days, though the tomato chutney may keep for a couple more days.

Green Mango Pachadi

1 large, unripe mango, peeled and diced (with the crunch and consistency of a Granny Smith apple)
1 cup fresh/frozen grated coconut (do not use dried or sweetened coconut)
2 green Thai chili peppers (not seeded), diced (may substitute serrano chile peppers)
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (may substitute Greek-style yogurt)
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
10 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon hing (asafetida)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine the mango, coconut and green Thai chili peppers in a high-powered blender; pulse to reduce the mixture to very small pieces. Add a little of the water; pulse just long enough to achieve a slightly grainy, batterlike consistency. Transfer to a large bowl; whisk in the yogurt and water until thoroughly incorporated.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seed and toast briefly; it will crackle and pop almost immediately. Then add the curry leaves and the cumin, turmeric and hing, stirring to keep those ingredients from scorching. Remove from the heat.

Pour the spice mixture into the mango-yogurt mixture in the bowl, then add the salt, whisking to blend. Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

VARIATION: If green mango is unavailable, the pachadi can be made with diced shallots and halved cherry tomatoes, kernels of corn or diced cucumber. Simply omit the mango and coconut, and garnish with a chiffonade of fresh cilantro.

Source: Adapted from Vikram Sunderam, executive chef at Rasika in the District.

Coconut Chutney

1/4 cup chana dal (split chickpeas; see headnote)
5 tablespoons finely shredded fresh/frozen unsweetened coconut (see headnote)
2 small green Thai chili peppers, stemmed
2 tablespoons minced fresh peeled ginger root
10 fresh/frozen curry leaves (see headnote)
3 to 4 tablespoons room-temperature water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon hing (asafetida; see headnote)

Toast the chana dal in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned. Let cool.

Combine the coconut, green Thai chilies, ginger, 5 of the curry leaves and the toasted chana dal in a high-powered blender. Run until finely chopped, then, with the motor running, add the water (as needed) and lemon juice; puree briefly to form a spoonable chutney with a slightly grainy texture. It should be pale green. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mustard seed, which will start to crackle and pop almost immediately. Quickly add the hing and the remaining 5 curry leaves; stir-fry just until the leaves crisp up, then immediately pour the mustard-seed mixture on top of the coconut chutney (like a garnish).

Serve right away.

Source: Adapted from Ananda Poojary, owner of Woodlands in Langley Park.

Cantaloupe Chutney

1 cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons ghee
2 dried red chilis broken in two or can use dried red chili flakes to your taste
6 cardamom pods, peeled and crushed
4 cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1/2 cup jaggery or brown sugar
1/2 cup blanched and sliced almonds, toasted
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup honey
1 cup yellow raisins
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped rough

Crush the cardamom and cloves in a mortar and pestle and set aside. Toast almonds in a non stick pan under medium low heat and set aside.

Heat ghee in a pan under medium heat. Put in red chilis, cardamom, cloves and ginger. Fry for 30 seconds. Next add in jaggery and almonds and mix all around for 15 seconds. Throw in cantaloupe and rest of ingredients in pan. Mix well and bring to a boil. Taste for more chili and add flakes accordingly. The chutney should be sweet but with a spicy kick at the end. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until chutney is syrupy.
Puree coursely in blender to make it spreadable.

Green Tomato Chutney

1 tablespoon canola oil
4 green tomatoes, chopped
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger, grated
8 green chilis (more or less to your taste)
water
1 bunch of basil leaves
handful of cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt
1 cup yogurt (or more to your taste)

Heat oil in a pan under medium heat. Put in hing, cumin seed, mustard seed and shake up pan. Add in the urad dal. When the mustard seeds start to pop and the urad dal is turning golden, throw in the fenugreek seeds. Fry for a few seconds until they turn brown (if you fry these guys too much they taste super bitter). An alternative to frying these seeds is to roast them separately and powder them in a coffee grinder. You can then sprinkle this mixture when you throw in the tomatoes.

Throw in the onions and fry a few minutes. Mix in the turmeric and fry the onions until they are translucent. Mix in the garlic, ginger and chilis. Stir well and add in the tomatoes and salt. Cook the tomatoes until they are soft ~ 20 minutes. If the pan is dry, add in some water. You can also cover with a lid to cook faster.

Spoon the tomato mixture into a blender and puree with the basil, cilantro, sugar, lemon juice and salt. Add more chilis if you want it to be spicier. Transfer mixture to a bowl and mix in yogurt to your taste.

Serve as a side with roti or rice.

Coconut Chutney

2 cups of frozen fresh coconut (can also use desiccated)
half a bunch of cilantro (can include some of the stem with the leaves)
2 tablespoons roasted chana dal
3 small green chilis (to taste and can use jalapeno)
1 teaspoon of tamarind extract
juice of 1 lime
1 inch ginger, grated
1/2 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons yogurt
salt to taste

For tempering:
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seed
pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1/2 teaspoon urad dal (optional)
3 curry leaves
1 dried red chili (optional)

Blend all of the ingredients, except for the yogurt and tempering items. You will have to add some water a little at a time though. You want to add as little water as possible to get it blended. Once all blended, mix in the yogurt.

In a small pan, heat the oil at medium heat and toss in mustard seeds, hing and urad dal. Once the mustard seeds start popping and urad dal starts to brown, add the curry leaves and coat with oil. Immediately pour over the chutney.

If you refrigerate, the chutney will become kind of solid so you may have to add a little water to bring it back to the right consistency.

Gooseberry Thokku

1 pound red and green gooseberries, sliced in half
2 tablespoons vegetable, peanut or sesame oil
1 big pinch hing or asafetida
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chili powder
jaggery or brown sugar – optional*
salt to taste

In a pan, heat oil under medium heat. Add in the hing and black mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in the fenugreek seeds until they just start to turn golden brown but not dark brown – should be 15-30 seconds. Quickly add in turmeric and then gooseberries. Give everything a good stir and let the gooseberries cook until they start to become soft and mushy – 10-15 minutes.

Add in the red chili powder and salt and cook until the gooseberries are completely broken down and thicken into a chutney-like consistency – about 10-15 minutes.

Cool and then transfer to a glass jar. Keep in the refrigerator and use up to a few weeks.

Note: you can add some sugar while cooking if your gooseberries are super sour or tart.

Thokku is a spicy condiment halfway between a chutney and pickle that you usually eat mixed with hot rice or served on the side of idli or dosa. It can last for a few weeks and is very versatile so you can have it with most anything – with cheese & crackers, on a sandwich, mixed into noodles, etc. It can be made from a variety of different sour or tart fruits like cranberries, tomato and green mango.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Tamarind Dressing

2 large heirloom tomatoes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 thai chili peppers, red and yellow color
2 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves, fresh
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder, freshly ground + extra if needed
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons dark brown sugar or jaggery crushed
1/4 teaspoon toasted coriander powder, freshly ground (see notes above)
100mL cup water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes

Thinly slice the heirloom tomatoes and arrange them on a serving platter. Add the cherry tomatoes over them.
Slice the chili peppers lengthwise in half and arrange them over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the tomatoes.

Take a 500mL mason jar or glass jar with a lid. Add all the ingredients from the tamarind to the olive oil. Close the jar tight with its lid and then shake vigorously until it forms an emulsion. Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper.
Drizzle enough dressing over the salad and sprinkle with the Maldon sea salt flakes and/or pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Coconut-Cilantro Chutney

6 ounces fresh coconut, grated or chopped
1 bunch cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 green Thai chili peppers
1 inch ginger root, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
3/4 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Place the lid and pulse until the ingredients are completely combined in a smooth paste. You might need to occasionally stir the ingredients. You can also add a little more water to thin the chutney out, but remember to taste and adjust the salt and lime juice quantities, if necessary.

Transfer to a serving dish and let it sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator for the flavors to come together. Serve fresh.

To store, refrigerate the chutney in an airtight container for up to a week. It can also be frozen for up to 3 weeks in a freezer-safe airtight container; just thaw it completely before serving, but do not microwave.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney and Cucumber Raita

Cilantro-mint chutney:

1 cup packed mint leaves, fresh
1 cup packed cilantro, leaves
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled, julienned
2 thai green chili peppers
1 lime
1/4 cup water, chilled
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

Place the mint, cilantro, ginger, chili into a blender (or a jar if you’re using an immersion blender), Squeeze the lime juice and add the water and salt. Blend until the ingredients for a smooth paste. You might need to add a little more water to the paste or occasionally stir the ingredients to get them moving in the blender.

Once this chutney is prepared you can use it immediately or refrigerate it in an airtight container. You can also freeze this for for a few days. (Note: the vibrant color does tend to become a little darker after a few days of storage but the it is still good to use and eat)

Cucumber mint raita:
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup water, chilled (* if you want the raita thinner add more water but remember to adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste preferences)
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 cups cucumber, peeled and grated
1 thai chili pepper, cut into thin slices for garnish

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, water, salt and pepper until the ingredients are completely combined. Keep this yogurt base aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Squeeze the grated cucumber for any excess liquid. You can save the liquid and use it to for something else (I either drink it or use it in chilled juices).

There are two ways to prepare the raita.

a) The first method is for the “parfait style”. You can prepare about 4-6 (5-6 ounce) glass jars with this method. Layer the bottom of one jar, half-way with the yogurt base. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of the grated cucumber above and layer with more yogurt base until you’re about half an inch from the top of the jar. Layer with 2 generous tablespoons of the cilantro-mint chutney and garnish with a few of the sliced chilies and a little left over grated cucumber. Prepare the rest of the jars using this method. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

b)The second method is to mix 1/2 cup of the cilantro-mint chutney prepared earlier with the yogurt base and the cucumber in a large mixing bowl. Garnish with the thinly sliced chilies. You can serve it immediately or cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled.

Pumpkin Raita

2 cups grated pumpkin
1 thai green chili pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 cups plain non-fat greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2-3 curry leaves, dried or fresh

Place the grated pumpkin in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a lid and microwave for 3-4 minutes until the pumpkin is completely tender. Keep aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl add the pumpkin, chili pepper, onion, cilantro, mint, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients with a fork and taste to make sure the amount of salt and pepper is enough. Transfer the mixture to a clean serving dish. Cover and refrigerate the raita for 1-2 hours until chilled.

Before serving, heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium high flame till it gets slightly smoky. Immediately reduce the flame to low and carefully add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. The seeds will begin to spurt and the leaves will brown in the hot oil. Cook till the seeds stop spurting and pour the entire contents while hot on top of the chilled raita. Serve immediately.

Grilled Pineapple Raita

1 3-pound ripe pineapple
Olive oil or vegetable oil for brushing the pineapple slices
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup chilled water (see note)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 serrano chile, minced (deseeded if you want it less hot)
3 tablespoons julienned mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground red chile powder

Instructions: Prepare the pineapple by trimming off the top and the base. Then trim the sides and discard the outer thick skin. Using a small paring knife, remove any eyes (the brown hard spiny spots). Then cut the pineapple into six ½-inch thick slices; using a small paring knife cut the central woody core and discard. Wrap and save the remaining pineapple for use in another recipe (or just eat it).

Brush a grill pan with a little oil and put the heat on high. Alternatively, heat a gas grill on high and brush the grates with oil. When the surface is hot, brush the pineapple slices with a little oil on each side and place them carefully on the hot surface. Grill the pineapple slices on each side for about 1½ to 2 minutes, until each side is caramelized. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes, before chopping. Once the pineapple has cooled, chop the slices into coarse chunks and set aside until ready to use.

Place the yogurt in a large bowl and add the water, followed by the salt and pepper. Mix well; adjust the seasoning as necessary. Fold in the pineapple and serrano chile, along with half the mint and half the cilantro leaves. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep covered in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to cool and help the flavors meld.

While the raita is resting in the refrigerator, heat a small dry skillet on high heat. Add the cumin seeds to the hot skillet and toast until the seeds just start to turn brown and release their aroma. Immediately transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.

Garnish the raita with the remaining mint and cilantro and the toasted ground cumin seeds and chile powder. Serve chilled. The raita will last about 2 to 3 days refrigerated.

Note: The amount of water might vary slightly depending on how thick or thin the yogurt is. The ideal consistency should be like a thin custard.

Note: while you can serve this with Indian food, this is also a wonderful accompaniment to barbecued meat and grilled vegetables, and it goes well with flatbread and rice.

Bourbon Barbecue Glaze

For the Bourbon BBQ Glaze:
1 cup BBQ sauce, homemade or store-bought
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey

Make the glaze while the meatloaf bakes: Add glaze ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until mixture forms big bubbles and is thick enough to coat the back of a spatula or spoon. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Notes: originally a glaze for meatloaf, but probably good on anything.

Fried Chili Paste

10 dried red chilies
3 red chilies (seeded and cut into pieces)
5 shallots (peeled)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (80ml)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Break dried chilies in half and squeeze out the seeds. Soak in hot water for 30 minutes to soften. Drain.

Blend dried chilies, red chilies, and shallots with ¼ cup (60ml) water until smooth.

Heat vegetable oil in a medium size saucepan over low heat. Add blended chili paste, salt, and sugar. Stir continuously until chili paste darkens and oil separates. This will take about 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove and store in a jar.