Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Smell Spring

As if the Spring Gods didn't appreciate my calling this spring 'lousy', they faught back with a GORGEOUS sunny day that made up for all the gray days we've had. And I'm not retaliating!

Saturday morning started with going to the gym early(for a weekend) in the morning. Having a warm day outside suddenly made me realize I needed to shed the layers...yeah, all of them! Just as I was feeling delighted about the early morning gym activity, my husband suggested visiting the Old Town Saturday Market. There couldn't have been a better way to spend the rest of the day!

Old Town is by far one of my most favorite places to take a stroll, window/otherwise shop, listen to live music and have authentic Mexican food with a big glass of margarita! It's the best cultural experience you can have around here. The Saturday Market is a buzzing gathering of artists and food vendors presenting various items such as hand blown glass, hand made candles, painted tiles, jewelry and home style food.

One of the many beautiful restaurants in Old Town 

The Market
We reached the market around noon after taking our own sweet time to get ready. Most people had retreated to one of the restaurants to cool off with a drink. We chose to have food from the vendors in the market - a very homely bean burrito and a refreshing fruit cup. I went for a mixed fruit cup including watermelon, cucumber, pineapple, jicama (very smiliar to the Kandamul we used to get during summers in India) and magoes and my hubby went for a mango cup. The fruits were absolutely fresh and juicy and were topped with pico de gallo seasoning and juice from a whole lime. YUM! 

Fresh fruit cups - fruits + pico de gallo seasoning + lime juice. To die for!
Some of the items being sold were too beautiful to pass and we ended up buying a beautifully hand painted wooden set of wine holders. The vendor was glad to finally meet 'Indians from India' and not from his home country or the U.S. and gave us a special discount :D.

Wooden hand painted wine holders with some mother of pearls embedded
After a great meal, we relaxed on cool grass watching the hustle and bustle, visited the small stores featuring some unique items, watched a live folk dance performance and made our last stop at Hot Licks . Rows and rows of hot sauce bottles and nothing else! They had every possible flavor in hot sauce imaginable. Pretty hot, huh? The owners/helpers were very informative and gave us some good suggestions.

The largest selection of hot sauces in San Diego!
This was a great find as I was looking for some interesting chili flavors for an upcoming Hot Chili & Salsa Cookoff at work. I ended up buying quite a few varieties of peppers and hot sauces including Cayenne, De Arbol, Ancho, Chipotle, Serrano, Jalapeno and Habanero-Mango!

My hot purchases!
I tried each powder and sauce carefully to know the flavors. I was very very careful  while tasting of course as I've made the mistake of getting burnt by habanero once. With all the excitement about these sauces and powders, I fished for something to make using atleast one of them. There were some carrots in the fridge which were perfect to make one of my favorite summer pickles. This pickle is super simple and very zesty and refreshing. My mom used to make these simple pickles with cool summer veggies such as carrots and cucumbers. I gave them a slightly different taste by using non-Indian peppers and hot sauce. This is a great condiment and can be stored in the fridge for upto 2 weeks.

Carrot pickle

Gajarache Lonache/Gajar Achar/Carrot Pickle

4-5 Fresh carrots
1 Teaspoon mustard seeds - coarsely ground
De Arbol chili powder (Dave's Gourmet brand) - go by your tolerance
Chipotle-Habanero pepper sauce (Arizona Gunslinger brand) - again, go by your tolerance
1/4 Teaspoon turmeric powder
Pinch of asafoetida
1 Lime juice
1 Teaspoon vinegar - I used Chili vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil - you can use vegetable or mustard oil
1.5-2 Tablespoons Salt
  • Cut carrots into small strips about 2" long.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and keep the pickle in sunlight for a day. The heat helps soften the carrots and takes away the moisture. The de arbol chili powder added heat while the chipotle-habanero was more smokey than just hot.
  • Keep covered overnight and it's ready to eat. Don't you love when it's so simple!
Some notes on this:
  • Use enough oil to coat the carrots.
  • This is a pickle, so don't get scared by the amount of salt needed. Salt will act as a preservative.
  • The traditional pickle is made with Indian red chili powder. The two chilies I used worked really well!
  • The pickle I made is still marinating, but this whole day process gets all those flavors into the carrots which taste great the next day.
  • And lastly, you can always adjust the amounts of each ingredient per your liking. I like vinegar taste, but you can skip it completely. You can try different peppers for heat.
Happy Spring (finally)!


Sharan said...

Hehe I love how our post ideas are similar!twin minds think alike

snehal said...

Did you also visit one of the markets??


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