If there is a blizzard raging outside your cabin then dear Lord I hope you have a hot pot of tamarind-infused pepper water simmering on your stovetop! Who needs cheap canned chili when you have pepper water? Well unless it’s Elk Chili with Adobe Peppers of course of course.
But back to this savory rasam-like broth. This Anglo-Indian spicy “Soup” is unlike any bland Americanized broth soup you have ever had in your life. One thing about Americans; We just love our bland foods. Mashed potatoes, Chicken McWhoppers etc. When my wanderlust led me to the shores of southern India days before the global pandemic the flavors of Tamil Nadu awoke my culinary palette. And honestly, my taste buds have never slept since then. This morning back here in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California, we are blessed with an early morning mountain blizzard. That led to five hundred calories burned shoveling snow before ten a.m. That soon led to shoving basically Indian breakfast lentil dumplings, or Idli’s at my face and has me remembering the streets of Kammanahalli.
Four feet of snow outside the windows of your cabin? I really, really hope you have a working snow blower! Last week drought-stricken southern California was blessed with our first-ever blizzard warning and our family was thrilled! A week at home with our pets, snowshoeing the neighborhood, cooking delicious Indian meals three times a day from scratch, board games and reading books? Sign me up! I may not drive my car until April!
But back to that four feet of snow building up in the yard, covering the Eucalyptus tree and we can’t even see our neighbor’s eccentric orange truck across the street. I’ve never lived somewhere where we had a modern working snow blower in my life until now. Three years ago we bought a brand new snowblower after our thirty-year-old snowblower went to heaven. Of course, then we had barely any snow for three winters as California suffered through a terrible drought. I may have lived in the mountain communities my entire life but when I was growing up we never ever had one working snowblower. My hoarder father usually had at least three hand-me-down snow blowers in the garage gathering dust and spider webs but rarely was one of them working. One thing about snowblowers; They break, constantly! The tracks come off the wheels, the shear pins break off the auger, and if you don’t service your snow blower at the end of the winter you may end up with a clogged carburetor. See why most of my life I never got to experience the beauty and the thrills of a working snowblower?
Keto cocktail hour with organic ice
A day chock full of snow blowing might make happy hour come early. It’s five o clock somewhere, right? Make sure your Eskimo bartender makes you a keto margarita with organic ice. (That would be snow) National margarita day might have been last Wednesday but it’s Anglo-Indian pepper water and margarita night in our household on this snowy Sunday evening!
Many Indian chefs will insist you drink a cup of pepper water after a meal to aid digestion. I insist on filling my thermos with this tamarind pepper water and hiking to a top of a mountain in three feet of snow. Because when you have four feet of fresh snow, one must go snowshoeing, right? What else is the hyper chipmunk-hungry mountaineer to do?
If you don’t feel like drinking a big cup of hot tamarind chicken juice after your filling Indian meal then another way to cleanse your body and soul is to do the blizzard challenge. But first, obviously, you need a blizzard. Then you need to strip down, yes even your shoes, and jump in the nearest snow bank. Trust me, it’s invigorating and I felt great afterward! That might sound like fake news but I swear I actually enjoyed it.
After I dug out my long hidden away summertime beach wear, squeezed my wintertime butter chicken ass into it and jumped in a refreshing four-foot-tall snow bank, I was so ready for some Kerala-style Tamarind Pepper Water!
Kerala-Style Tamarind Pepper Water
1/2 of a red onion, diced
1 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon coriander
4 dried red Chinese chiles
1 heaping teaspoon of ground pepper
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
10 curry leaves
In the ghee roast the curry leaves and set the curry leaves aside for later. Add in the onions until dark brown. Crumble the red chilis by hand and mix them in until dark brown. Add the minced garlic, ginger, coriander and the tomato pieces with half a cup of water. Stir fry in the pepper and the chicken stock. Add the tamarind paste, mustard seeds and the salt. Crumble the curry leaves into the pepper water and serve.