Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rajma - Easy Northern Indian food for the whole family!

Rajma - Easy Northern Indian food for the whole family!

If you love the tastes of Northern Indian food, you will love this easy recipe! It's hearty, healthy, and kid-friendly. You can leave it in a crockpot and eat it when you're ready. This dish is similar to a Mexican chili, but with Indian flavors and spices.
Recipe © 2016 John Gabriel Arends
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes (regular pot) or 3 plus hours in a crockpot

Ingredients:
3 cans of kidney beans (other beans may be subsituted)
1 lb of chicken (optional, other meat may be substituted)
3 Tbsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp ground garlic
3 Tbsp chopped red onion or shallots (optional)
3 tsp salt
3 heaping tsp of rajma masala powder (MDH brand is a good one)
2 tsp ground cayene
2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin

Crockpot Preparation:
  1. Put all ingredients in a crockpot. 
  2. Add water until it comes just up to the top of the other ingredients 
  3. Slow cook for at least 2-3 hours. Longer cooking will bring out more flavor and a thicker consistency. (Add more water if you want to leave it in longer.) 
  4. Optionally, serve with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. 
Regular Preparation:
  1. Put all ingredients in a pot. 
  2. Add water until it comes just up to the top of the other ingredients 
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure nothing burns on the bottom 
  4. Continue cooking until any meat is thoroughly cooked. Longer cooking will bring out more flavor and a thicker consistency. (You may need to add more water if you want to leave for a long time.) 
  5. Optionally, serve with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. 
Notes: 
  • If you do have access to all of the spices or powders mentioned above, you can still try the recipe with other by substituting similar spices. You can get a generic Indian curry and other spices at most grocery stores, and that is acceptable. (Do not try Thai curry as a substitute, however.) 
  • If you don't want this recipe to be spicy hot, simply leave out the cayenne powder. You will still have a very tasty meal that everyone can enjoy. To make this recipe extremely spicy, add more cayenne or other chiles—fresh or dried. We also like to serve Dallay Khorsani Pickles on the side.
If you enjoy this Rajma recipe, be sure to check out all of our other spicy Himalayan recipes here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spicy Memes for Chileheads

We have begun a series of humorous memes related to the love of chiles, hot sauce, and spicy food. If you're a chilehead, you will surely enjoy this humor! Check back often as we add new, funny graphics to this post.

Great hot sauce covers a multitude of culinary sins

Food is really just a vehicle for hot sauce to get to my face!

When there's no room for ketchup because of all the hot sauce...
When there is no more hot sauce... :(

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Spicy Spelling: Is It Chile, Chili, Chillie, or Chilly?

Spicy Spelling: Chile, Chili, Chillie, Chilly, or Pepper?

We frequently get asked—and confronted—about the correct spellings and proper terminology for the beloved chile. Or is it a pepper? Over the centuries, vast arrays of spellings have developed for the Capsicum genus of plants and their spicy fruit pods. If you've ever wondered about this, read on.

How do you spell that?
If you're like us, you've probably seen several of these spelling variations: chile, chili, chillie, chile, chili, chilly, and perhaps others as well. So which is it?

Many arguments have been made as to why one is better than the other. The arguments often boil down to whichever spelling a person grew up seeing the most frequently. All of them have their roots in the word chil from the Aztec, Nahuatl languageThe spelling was later changed by Spanish-speaking Mexicans to "chile" and later to "chili" in the United States,1 according to the late expert Jean Andrews. (The United Kingdom has it's own version, spelled "chilli.") The first known usage of the term in English goes back to at least 1604.2 

The National Chile Pepper Institute has issued a statement that the term "chile" refers to the Capsicum plant or the fruit from the plant while the term "chili" refers to a culinary dish consisting of a meat, beans, tomatoes and chile powder.3

Some people argue that you cannot spell it as "chile" because that is the name of a country. However, that argument doesn't hold up well. After all, each year Americans alone consume over 730,000,000 pounds of turkey4—and that doesn't seem to be a problem for the nation of Turkey. Similarly, the vast amounts of dishes called china hasn't been a problem for the nation of China. Just by context alone, if someone is eating, growing, cooking, buying or selling a chile or a turkey, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the statement is not referring to an entire country!

Webster's and Oxford dictionaries both list chili, chile, and several other spellings as acceptable variations.

Confused Christopher Columbus and the chile
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
So now that you understand the variations of the spelling of chile, why do people call them peppers or chile peppers? It all started when, "in 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue"—in search of the spices of Asia, namely, black pepper. To be clear, he was searching for the black pepper that is found in shakers next to salt on nearly every table in Western nations. When he arrived at the shores of North America, he believed he had arrived in India. And when the natives offered him their beloved chil, he thought he had found the black pepper he was searching for. This misunderstanding led to the distribution of Capsicum (chiles) back to Europe under the name of "pepper."5 In today's world, in which we understand that Capsicum is clearly not the same thing as pepper from the Piper genus, we have to clarify that difference by saying "chile pepper."

In today's increasingly global society, the use of certain terms may be an indicator of cultural heritage. People from the Western world (influenced by Columbus) may be more likely to refer to Capsicum in English as peppers (for example, jalapeño peppers and ghost peppers), whereas people from other backgrounds might be more likely to refer to them as chiles (for example, Thai chiles and ghost chiles). While this may not be one hundred percent accurate, we generally have found this to be true, especially between Americans and Asians.

By the way, are you sure you're using the term Capsicum correctly?
Bell Peppers are known as capsicum in some countries If you are confused by the way we've used the word "Capsicum," that may also give an indication to what part of the world in which you live or where your were raised. Scientifically speaking, Capsicum refers to an entire genus of plants that we have come to know as chiles or peppers. However, if you were raised in certain countries with a British influence on English (for example, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore or New Zealand), "capsicum" has come to refer to one specific type of chile that has no fiery heat. This specific cultivar of Capsicum annuum is known as the "Bell Pepper" in countries influenced by the United States' English.

Conclusion
At Himalaya Hot, we love the plants and spicy fruits of Capsicum—no matter the way you spell it. We are fond of the spelling "chile," and we prefer "chile" over "pepper." But our main passion is to spread a love for all things spicy—especially Bhutanese/Himalayan chiles and spicy foods. We will accept any variation, so long as it helps people share appreciation for one of the most exciting foods that God created on the earth.

References
1. http://articles.latimes.com/2000/nov/19/local/me-54396
2. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chilli
3. http://www.chilepepperinstitute.org/faqs.php
4. http://extension.illinois.edu/turkey/turkey_facts.cfm
5. Fleetwood, J. (2006). Red hot! A Cook's Encyclopedia of Fire and Spice. London: Hermes House.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Keep Calm and Curry On T-shirts!

If you love spicy food, chances are that you really love curry. We sure do! We are constantly cooking up Indian, Nepali, and Thai curries. (Check out our Maharaja Curry recipe...)

We are so excited to introduce our new T-shirt designs, featuring an ornate, hand-drawn elephant and the words, "Keep Calm and Curry On" (a pun based on the popular British saying, "Keep Calm and Carry On.")

Our shirts are available in both men's and women's cuts and in a variety of colors.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Cook Maharaja Curry



This rich, spicy recipe (meaning “King’s Dish”) will transport your taste buds straight to India.
Recipe © 2016 John Gabriel Arends
Servings: 4-5
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb meat or paneer of your choice (lamb or chicken recommended)
4 shallots cut lengthwise (½ red onion may be substituted)
7-10 large cloves of garlic, finely crushed
2 Tbsp ginger root, finely crushed, of similar amount to the garlic
2 whole bay leaves
1/4 cup oil (coconut recommended)
3 tsp salt, or to taste
3 tsp Cumin powder
2 tsp Coriander powder
1 tsp meat masala powder
1 tsp generic Indian curry powder or turmeric
Red chile powder or fresh chiles to taste
4 Tbsp butter
⅔ cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp tomato paste

Preparation:

  1. Fry shallots, ginger, and garlic in oil until they become slightly brown.
  2. Mix salt and spices with a little bit of water to make a paste out of the spices. 
  3. Fry the spice paste with the other ingredients until they become thick like a gravy or paste. 
  4. Add the butter and heavy cream to the other ingredients. Cook until the oil starts to separate from the other ingredients.
  5. Add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add meat or paneer and stir frequently until cooked.
Notes
  • If you do have access to all of the spices or powders mentioned above, you can still try the recipe with other by substituting similar spices. You can get a generic Indian curry and cumin at most grocery stores, and that is acceptable. (Do not try Thai curry as a substitute, however.)
  • If you don't want this recipe to be spicy hot, simply leave out the chile powder. You will still have a very tasty meal that everyone can enjoy.
  • To make this recipe extremely spicy, we encourage you to try adding dried Bhut Jolokia chiles or fresh Dallay Khorsani while you cook. We also like to serve Dallay Khorsani Pickles on the side.
If you enjoy this Maharaja Curry recipe, be sure to check out all of our other spicy Himalayan recipes here.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Easy Jalapeño Poppers with Bacon

This is an easy way to make jalapeño poppers (stuffed peppers), but you’ll find it to be quicker and tastier than most others you’ve had before. If you have more time, be sure to check out our recipe for Epic Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers.

Three different varieties of our chiles stuffed with cheese = Delicious!
Recipe © 2016 John Gabriel Arends
Servings: 20
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
10 large jalapeños
5 slices of bacon
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese or blue cheese
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 mushrooms, minced (optional)

Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 325° (Fahrenheit) and let cream cheese sit out at room temperature.
  2. In a pan, fry the bacon and set aside to cool.
  3. Fry the mushrooms in the bacon grease for about 1-2 minutes on high heat. Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute. 
  4. Chop the bacon finely, then mix the bacon, mushrooms, and garlic together with all of the cheeses in a bowl. (Hint: if the cream cheese is too stiff to mix, warm it slightly in a microwave or in the oven.)
  5. Slice the jalapeños in half. Fill each half with a generous mound of the cheesy mixture. 
  6. Place on a baking pan, with the cheese side facing up, and bake at 325° (Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes.
Notes
For less spice: If you are serving guests who are not able to eat very spicy foods, we recommend scraping out the seeds and the white-ish membrane covering the inside walls of the peppers before cooking. This will significantly reduce the heat level. You might also consider using a milder type of chile, such as an Anaheim, Poblano, or a no-heat varities of sweet peppers and bell peppers.

For more spice: Try making the same recipe with a hotter type of chile, such as a habanero. Also, consider adding powder from spicier chiles into the cheese mixture.

Epic Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

This is one of the most tasty ways we know to prepare chile peppers. These aren’t just appetizers—these are a meal! If you are in a hurry and want something easier, check out our recipe for Easy Jalapeño Poppers with Bacon

Recipe ©2016 John Gabriel Arends
Servings: 10
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes


Ingredients:
10 large jalapeños (or other large chile pepper)
10 slices of maple bacon
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese or blue cheese
3 Tbsp butter
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 mushrooms

Preparation:
  1. Put the cream cheese and other cheeses in a large mixing bowl. Let it sit out in room temperature so that the cream cheese softens slightly while you make other preparations. 
  2. Preheat your barbecue grill outdoors (preferred) or preheat your oven at 325° (Fahrenheit) 
  3. Melt butter in a pan, and fry the garlic in the butter until fragrant and lightly browned. Pour the hot butter and garlic in with the cheese and mix thoroughly. 
  4. Slice the ends off of the jalapeños (the stem side), and core out a whole in the center of the pepper. (For more spice, mix these seeds into the cheese. For less spice, just discard them.) 
  5. Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture as full as possible. Finally, cut a piece of mushroom to stuff into the end of the whole in the pepper. This will help prevent the cheese from leaking out when you cook the poppers. 
  6. Wrap each jalapeño in one whole piece of bacon. We highly recommend maple bacon, but any bacon will work. Be sure that you cover the sliced end of the pepper so that all of that cheese stays inside! Wrap the bacon in such a way that you can “tuck” the end back under itself so that the bacon won’t unravel. If your peppers are especially large, you may choose to wrap them in two pieces of bacon. 
  7. Place the bacon-wrapped peppers on your grill or in your oven. Turn them as necessary, and take them out once the bacon is fully cooked. 
  8. Very important: Let the poppers cool for at least 10 minutes. The inside is filled with boiling hot cheese, and you will scorch your mouth badly if you bite in too soon. 
Notes
You can use any chile peppers with this recipe. Jalapeños are the most popular for poppers in the USA, but we have enjoyed them with many different types.

If you would like to make the recipe spicier, try adding your favorite hot sauce or hot pepper powder into the cheese mixture! You will be pleasantly surprised!



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How to Save Your Own Chile Pepper Seeds!

Have you ever seen or tasted an amazing chile and wished you could grow it yourself? We certainly have—and that's a huge reason Himalaya Hot began (click to learn more about our story). It is a very simple process to save your own seeds, and we want to give you the steps!

1. Find a ripe chile pepper
Jalapeño peppers from our garden at varied stages of ripeness
You can save seeds from nearly any fresh chile pod! For best results, you will need to find a pepper that is fully ripe. Most chile peppers start growing with a green color, but then they change to another color, such as red, orange, yellow or even other more exotic colors. For example, the jalapeño pepper is usually picked while it is still green and sold that way, but if it had been allowed to stay on the plant longer, it would have eventually turned red. Seeds from most unripe chile peppers will not be mature enough to grow anything. You can also save seeds from dried chiles, and in rare occasions you can even rescue a seed from a spice mix. It will not work to save seeds from smoked chiles. It will also not usually work to save seeds from frozen chiles or any that have been preserved in liquid.

Bhutanese Dallay Khorsani
2. Remove the seeds
Seeds for all chiles are found on the inside of the fruit (pod). You will need to cut open the pod to get to the seeds. You can then use your knife or fingers—with gloves—to scrape the seeds out.

3. Dry the seeds
You can immediately plant the seeds if you are ready (see our Chile Growing Guide). However, if you are not ready to plant them immediately, you will need to dry them to let most of the moisture out. Spread the seeds out on a paper plate, napkin, or newspaper and let them dry at room temperature for about 7-14 days. If this step is skipped, the seeds will rot from moisture. If the seeds can bend, they may still need more drying time.

4. Store the seeds
Seeds drying on a paper towel
You can store the seeds in any container that is free from moisture. We use small plastic or paper envelopes. Be sure to write the name of the chile variety on the container so that you can remember what they are! Store the seeds in a cool, dry, dark place. (Refrigeration is fine, but freezing may ruin your seeds, as the small amount of moisture inside will expand and burst the delicate cells of the seed.) Properly stored seeds will remain viable for many years. We have heard reports of properly stored seeds remaining viable for 15 years.

When you are ready to grow your own chiles from these seeds, check out our Complete Seed Starting and Chile Growing Guide!


Important notes!
  • Please use gloves when saving seeds. We are crazy chileheads with extremely high heat tolerance, and we eat the hottest chiles in the world whole (see John eating one here). Even if you are like John and routinely eat chiles with 1,000,000+ scoville heat units, gloves are important! John has learned this the hard way many times! The first time was because he was too macho to use gloves when saving seeds from superhots, and the other times were from forgetting to bring gloves. The heat chemical in chiles can stay on your skin for a long time after you touch the seeds, and it can burn your eyes and other parts of your body. It can also burn other people you may touch. This is extremely important if you are around children or use contact lenses!
  • Have a plan to separate and identify different varieties. If you are dedicated enough to save seeds from one kind of pepper, you will soon find yourself saving more! It is very important to have a system to separate different kinds of seeds if you are drying many at once, and it is important to also label them clearly. We recommend using very separate paper cups/plates and writing on them. There is nothing more frustrating than having "mystery" seeds because you mixed them up.
  • Inform/warn others about your seeds. Our first time drying seeds, we had carefully arranged six different varieties to dry—and they were all extremely rare Bhutanese varieties. The next time we came in to the room, we found that someone had turned on a fan which blew all of the seeds onto the floor! It was a terrible mess, and we lost many precious seeds. So be sure to let you family and friends know not to disturb your seeds. Also be sure to warn them if there are children around.
That's all it takes to save your own seeds! We hope you find this helpful! Let us know if you have any questions!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Free Bhutan Desktop Calendars

Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Bhutan
If you love Bhutan as much as we do, you will definitely want to check out the free desktop calendars that are now being made available at yellow.bt! This is a new website curated by the Royal Office for Media. Each month they release a beautiful photo of Bhutan's Royal Family, along with a very convenient calendar featuring both English and Dzongkha dates. Calendars are available for all different screen sizes and resolutions, including tablets and mobile devices.

We hope you'll check this out! We've been using the calendars for all of 2015, and we cannot wait for each month's calendar in 2016. It's a great conversation starter as people ask you about what is on your screen. It also is a reminder for us to pray daily for blessings on this wonderful nation and this amazing Royal Family.