Gastronomic tours with Swiss Cheese

[philiptellis] I love food, and I like writing about food. Follow me as I follow my nose, seeking out gastronomic delicacies wherever I find myself

Monday, July 31, 2017

Mango Salsa

In India, Mangoes are considered the king of fruit. We had a couple of mango trees in our backyard when I was growing up, but I liked climbing the trees far more than I liked eating the mangoes, mainly because I'm someone who likes my fruit crunchy.

Many years later, at a little bistro in Paris that S & I ended up at quite by accident, we tasted a most excellent Mango Salsa as a side for Duck Confit. We tried to reproduce that salsa and this is what we came up with...


  • 1 ripe mango (it needs to be sweet, in the US this is sometimes considered overripe)
  • 1 small shallot (optional, skip if you don't like the taste of raw shallots)
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp cilantro seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Roast the cilantro seeds in a pan on medium-low heat until you can smell the aroma
  2. Transfer the cilantro seeds to a mortar to cool
  3. Dice the mango into a salad mixing bowl (instructions available here)
  4. Add chilli flakes to the mango
  5. Dice the shallot (instructions here) and add to the mango
  6. Chop up the cilantro leaves and add to the mango
  7. Now crush the roasted cilantro seeds with the mortar & pestle. You can use the back of a spoon on your cutting board as well, but that's harder. Do NOT turn it to a powder.
  8. Add the crushed cilantro seeds to the mango
  9. Add lemon juice
  10. Toss & serve

This salsa goes well with spicy tacos or a fatty dish like duck confit. Even great on its own. They have a little spice of their own, but are mostly sweet, and the freshness of the cilantro and mango provides a great accent for the rest of your meal.

Veggie Spice Rub (Tacos or a Side Dish)

This is a spice rub I use for veggies that act as the main ingredient in tacos. In particular, chickpeas, cauliflower, beets and other firm veggies that will stand up to a bake. You could probably use it for chicken as well.


  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds (optional)
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp paprika or chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice (depends on your taste)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (do NOT use extra virgin olive oil as it has a low smoke point)
  • 1 tbsp water


  1. Roast the cumin and coriander seeds on a pan on low-medium heat until you can smell the oils
  2. Transfer to a spice or coffee grinder and grind them to a powder. (You can also use an old fashioned mortar and pestle, but that's more work)
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together
  4. Add the lime/lemon juice and olive oil and mix to form a paste
  5. Add water to adjust consistency and mix

I use this with canned chickpeas, canned black beans, cauliflower florets, sliced beets, brussels sprouts. Mix them into the spice bowl to coat evenly. Let stand for about 15 minutes, and then roast in the oven at 400℉. Adjust the amount of spice used uniformly based on the quantity of veggies you use.

The veggies are great on tacos with the standard add ons (lettuce, cilantro, sour cream & salsa), and also as a side dish for a larger meal.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Lemon Rice

S & I really like lemon rice with daal. She generally does the daal, and I make the lemon rice. I've gone through a few iterations before ending up with this version.


  • 1½ cup rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I use grapeseed)
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
  • 1 tsp urad daal (skinned & split, not whole)
  • ¼ cup peanuts (skin removed, blanched)
  • 3 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies sliced into thin circles
  • ¼ inch ginger root minced
  • 2-3 dried red sambar chillies
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Zest of ½ lemon


  1. Heat the oil in a medium (3-4 quart/litre) saucepan
  2. Add peanuts and fry until golden brown
  3. While the peanuts are frying, wash rice, drain well and set aside
  4. Take peanuts out and set aside
  5. Add mustard seeds to oil and fry until they start sputtering
  6. Add jeera (cumin) seeds and fry for about 30 seconds
  7. At this point, heat up 1½ cups of water in the microwave for 1.5 minutes
  8. Add urad daal to the frying mixture and fry until it starts to turn brown
  9. Add green chillies, ginger, red chillies and curry leaves and fry for a minute
  10. Add turmeric powder and mix well, fry for 10 seconds
  11. Add the washed and drained rice and mix well with the spices and turmeric, fry for a minute
  12. Add the hot water to this rice, and let the whole mix come to a common temperature, then slowly add in the rest of the water
  13. Add the peanuts back in, the lemon zest and a third of the lemon juice
  14. Add salt and stir it up
  15. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on medium-low until almost all the water has drained (steam will reduce, but you'll still be able to tilt the pan and the rice will move slowly
  16. Turn off the heat and let the rice continue to cook in its steam for 2-3 minutes more
  17. Take off the lid and add in the rest of the lemon juice and mix gently taking care not to break the rice
The lemon rice is now ready to eat. Enjoy with daal, curd, pickle, papad or anything else.