Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jicama(Hee Ka ma) cutlets with Broccoli - a heart healthy, green cutlet

With the weather warming up substantially and week days a blur of work and more work, I fell into a rare saturday afternoon, post lunch siesta last weekend. The groceries for the week were not yet shopped for but the body just refused to get up and do anything at all and I succumbed to the call of sleep. It doesn't happen regularly, if I sleep in the afternoons, I get up heavier in the head and clogged in mind and feel lazier than I did before. It also makes me toss and turn late into the night and messes up the routine badly. But then again, there are days where I just can't fight the urge to lie down after the brunch and this was one of those weekends. And when I sleep, I dream, mostly they are dreams I wake up happy about but sometimes they are nightmares (or daymares if there is something like that :-))

Now if you are thinking I am next going to talk about my visits to the shrink and effects of dreams/nightmares, you are totally wrong. First off, I don't go to the shrink and secondly these are harmless, harmless, everyday sort of dreams that everybody gets once in a while :-). This particular one though left me shaken and that is why I thought I would share it with you.
It was something of the sort of Alice in Wonderland (did I mention that masterpiece by Lewis Carroll as one of my favorite books? not so much the movie they made with Johny Depp) afternoon, perfect for lying down under a tree with warm sun rays striking your body, with a book in hand and go to the dreamland, only I ended up in my local Indian grocery store :-). As I do every time I visit the store, I first go to the fresh produce section and pick up all kinds of greens, veggies and fruits along with herbs and chilies. Ouch, that is where the problem was, while the store seemed to be full of fresh vegetables, there were no chilies to be found anywhere. I marched up & down 3 times before determining that they didn't indeed have chilies and thought I would go to the other indian store in the vicinity. Since I had already purchased enough vegetables to last me the week (and some more), I went straight to the place where they store green chilies, cilantro etc.

Again to my horror there were no chilies and no empty baskets either, I would have atleast consoled myself that someone had bought all the chilies just before I came and the store guy would replenish it in no time but all the baskets seemed to be full of something but other than green chilies. Not wanting to think about the world of 'no-chilies', I went & asked the lady at the counter if they had reorganized and kept chilies else where and was told that there was a ban on green chilies for the area and they wouldn't be getting any atleast for another 3-4 weeks. My family tells me that I take after my paternal ajji (grandmother) who was a spice lover and green chilies for me are like the best form of spiciness in life. They are my best friends in the kitchen, for all my savory dishes, green chilies go in some form or other (roasted, chopped, cut, ground etc) and imagining a sojourn in the kitchen without these tiny, shiny, green objects just makes me sad. Here is the sadder and more frightening part of the story, I wasn't sleeping anymore and hence wasn't dreaming, not even day dreaming. I had actually gone to the store (after I got up from the afternoon siesta ofcourse) for my weekly grocery shopping and was told that green chilies had gotten into some problems and won't be available for a few weeks :-((. Total bummer.
I ended up picking up a handful of serano peppers (peppers are thicker skinned, much less sharp in their spiciness and I don't typically use them in my south indian cooking :-(). I have been counting the days which seem to be going really slow so far. If any of you are in seattle area and know of a store you have seen carrying regular Thai chilies, would you mind dropping me a line on the blog with the store location? I think I am already in withdrawal from the absence of green chilies in my life, miss them so much.

As I felt cheated without the green chilies, I ended up buying a very foreign (from Central America) vegetable, rather tuber/root called Jicama. If you have been to San Jose (San Hose), you already know how to say the name of this tuber, it is 'Hee ca ma' and not 'Ji ca ma'. I brought it and there it sat on the counter for an entire week before I could get my hands on it. That is one of the beauties of this tuber, it is hardy & sturdy and doesn't go bad on you easily. Amma looked at it suspiciously, asked me for the name and stayed clear from it. She tends to stick to known vegetables in the kitchen which is pretty much limited to potatoes, brinjal/egg plants, beerakayi and a few others. The week whizzed by and I tried to deal with 'no green chilies' by throwing myself deeper into work. Weekend happened again and when I still couldn't find green chilies, I decided to clean up the counter top, refrigerator, pantry etc to take my agitated mind off of 'green chili' thought - cleaning, scrubbing seems to help and found the jicamas (oh I forgot to mention the tiny detail right, I bought not just one but two of them :-)) sitting there feeling totally ignored and unloved.
I have eaten jicama before, cut into thin strips and added to salads and I love the crunchiness it provides and the unassuming taste that lends itself into a pot full of salad ingredients. But with inlaws at home who don't really care for a salad, I had to quickly think of an alternative way to use them. They are tubers and starchy like potatoes. What comes to your mind when I say potatoes - yep, fries, cutlets would be on the top of the list for all spud lovers. My family is no exception, starting from the oldest to the youngest, everyone loves potatoes. I decided to sneak in jicama in some of the most favorite potato recipes and viola they were a huge hit too. And serano peppers didn't disappoint me as I ground them (a little more than I would have if they were Thai chilies), lending a beautiful sharpness and balancing the bland jicama in a yummy cutlet. I also added a bunch of broccoli florets to make it very heart healthy and green :-). Here I present my jicama-serano-broccoli cutlet and some baked jicama fries that nobody in the family guessed was not made of potatoes.
This root is known for many health benefits. The raw jicama resembles kholrabi sans the unmistakable cabbage smell & taste. It is rich in fiber infused with inulin, which has zero calories and doesn't metabolize in the body. Inulin promotes bone health by increasing absorption of calcium. With a very low glycemic index, it is great for diabetic recipes. It can be eaten raw or cooked and tastes absolutely delicious.
I had a half of french bread that was 4 days old and had turned hard, cut that into cubes and run them in the blender to make my own bread crumbs.

For those of you who really care about me :-): I am doing ok without the green chilies. For all the drama I make in their absence, I have actually fallen in love with the serano peppers. They hold their shape when you add them to the dal towards the end and are not too spicy to bite into. I might try other peppers like anaheim, haberno and others if the ban on chilies continues. Will tell you all how they turn out in my recipes and any tips.

What do you need to make Jicama-Broccoli cutlets? 
2 cups grated jicama
2 cups steamed/cooked broccoli (about 12-14 florets)
1/4 cup tightly packed mint leaves
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup bread crumbs
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2-3 green chilies (adjust to taste)
2-3 Tsp oil (I used cooking spray)
How do you make Jicama-Broccoli cutlets? 
  • Separate broccoli into florets and boil them in 2 cups water and a pinch of salt for 10 minutes or until they are soft. 
  • Drain the water (use this for any gravy you are making or in mixing roti dough), let the broccoli cool down
  • Wash, peel jicama and grate it (use the largest holes on the grater, this gives the crunch when you eat cutlets). 
  • Take green chilies, salt and mint leaves in a blender and pulse it to a semi smooth paste. 
  • Add cooked broccoli and pusle until it is shredded completely and mixes with the mint-chili paste. 
  • Add 3/4 cup bread crumbs and give it a whirl. 
  • Take the mixture onto a plate, add grated jicama, chopped onion and mix everything together into a lump. 
  • Taste and adjust salt or spices as needed. 
  • Heat a flat griddle, spray it with oil or cooking spray. 
  • Take golf sized balls out of the mixture, flatten into a pattice (or any shape you desire), dredge it in the remaining bread crumbs. 
  • Put it on the hot griddle, reduce heat to medium and cook until the under side is light brown. 
  • Flip them over, spray oil all around and cook until both sides are light brown (if you like them crispier, cook them further until they turn dark brown)
  • Take them out and serve them with any chutney, sauce or ketchup. 
How do you make Jicama fries? 
  • Wash, peel jicama and slice them into 1/2 inch thick pieces. 
  • Cut the pieces lengthwise into strips 
  • Mix 1 Tsp all purpose flour, 1/2 Tsp corn flour, 1/4 Tsp red chili powder, 1/2 Tsp salt, 1/8 Tsp asafoetida and 1 tsp of crushed kasoori methi. 
  • Pre heat oven to 400F, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. 
  • Put the jicama pieces into the flour mix and move them around to give a light coating of the mixture. 
  • Arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, turning them over once midways. 
  • Switch off and enjoy the crunchy, spicy fries. 
  • Fries take longer than regular potato fries, take them out (about 50 mins) when they have reached the desired crunchiness. 
  • Jicama by itself is a mildly sweet tuber and blends well with any spice. 


Jyothi Vinod said...

Enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ohio and cannot find green chillies in any of the Indian stores either.

NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful weekend recipe. it has lot of food values as well taste also and looks very attractive. thanks for the creative wonderful dish. very tasty indeed.

Nagashree said...

Oh, then it is a much bigger problem than just Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Didn't find green chillies since last 2 weeks in a nearby indian store in connecticut as well. Owner said it could take at least 1 month or even 6 months.

Pranav Raymond said...

Nice to know about this healthy diet..
This kind of food are really healthy, I will try to include this food in my diet plan by consulting my dietitian, thank you for sharing this...