Cooking is love made visible- you agree? I was not always interested in cooking, neither do boredom nor passing my time led me to the kitchen- it’s the colours, the spices, the taste and the aroma that attracted me towards the kitchen. Like all the kids, I too had curious mind loaded with questions and imagination. A little girl sitting on kitchen platform would add mustard seeds in the hot oil and notice how it splutters all over. How when you add little water at a time to a dry flour would turn it into thick smooth dough. All these little genius things and ideas made me hooked in the kitchen. Bombarding questions to maa- why you add garam massala in the end, why you garnish every subji with coriander leaves, why you add cumin in some dishes while mustard in some....with a smile she would patiently answer all my questions...and that’s how I got my basics right and strong.
That was a recap...a recap to the kitchen where I grew up helping my mom! Today I love my kitchen-I feel it is the heart of every home. Cooking is creating something new, something delicious but for someone else and cooking from scratch is an achievement. Buying preservatives loaded canned food or sauces is not my idea. Pasta sauce cooked in red wine, roasted bell pepper sauce, hummus, pani puri are some of the best things that I prepared from scratch.
Pasta is once a weekly affair for us and trying out different flavours is always welcomed. We tried pesto sandwich a week before and even though I loved the taste of basil in pesto sauce I still wanted to give it some Indian touch. It was then when Red Chilli Pesto Sauce was discovered. In simple words it is the blend of red chilli chutney and the regular pesto.
Handful of dry red chillies are soaked overnight, the other day it is grinded with the bunch of fresh basil leaves and olive oil. Little parmesan cheese, oregano, black pepper and lemon juice are used to give the perfect climax to this sauce.
1 and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
12 dry red chillies
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Remove the seeds and soak red chillies in half a cup of water overnight.
On a slow flame dry roast the pine nuts.
In the grinder or a food processor grind everything together to a fine paste.
You can also use almonds in place of pine nuts. I have tried it taste good.
I have used black pepper powder, red chilli powder and dried red chillies thus this pesto sauce is very spicy and hot. Adjust the heat as per your taste; feel free to remove any chillies.
You can also add vegetables like bellpeppers, onions in the final pasta dish.
Just boil any pasta of your choice and add in dollops of this sauce on it.
This goes well as a spread for your sandwiches, toastier, Frankie or rolls.
Try it as a dip for crackers, chips or nachos.
You can also use this as a marinate for tandori dishes- be it paneer, potatoes or meat.