A lot of Chinese recipes involve a perfect balance of sweet and sour tastes. Sweet and sour vegetable (usually carrots as in this recipe) is a very popular dish on the menus of many Indian restaurants offering Chinese fare. Naturally, the first time I ever had this was in a restaurant and I have to confess I quite liked it. At some point, much later, I found a recipe for "Sweet and Sour Carrots" in one of my cookbooks and I was rather surprised (shocked was more like it) to see that the ingredients included cornstarch and tomato ketchup! My feeling is that most people would either like it or not and very few people would have an ambiguous feeling about this dish.
I have since discovered that cornstarch is used as a binder and thickener in Chinese cooking but ketchup is about as close to being Chinese as I am!! Now that I know what goes into this dish, I tend to make it less often only because I don't think there's much nutrition in cooking some carrot, onion and bell pepper in what is basically a soya-tomato ketchup flavoured cornstarch thickened sauce. This dish is usually not at all spicy but I prefer to add a bit of "fire" to it as I feel this tastes better.
I don't mean to put any one off this recipe with my description and let me assure you, I wouldn't be posting it here if it wasn't reasonably good. I had promised this recipe in my last post and here's my version adapted from The Vegetarian Menu Cookbook by Vasantha Moorthy. You may also use a mix of vegetables in place of carrots for a different but equally tasty preparation.
1/4 kg carrots
2 small green bell peppers
2 small onions
2 tbsp oil (not sesame seed oil)
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsps tomato ketchup
1 tbsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp red chilli sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
salt to taste
a couple of tbsps of spring onion greens
Method: Peel/ scrape the carrots and slice them into 1/2" thick roundels. If your carrot is thick/ fat, cut the carrot lengthwise and then slice into 1/2 " pieces. Steam cook, microwave or boil in lightly salted ware till just done. Dice the onion into slightly big pieces (I cut each onion half into 4). Dice the bell peppers into a similar size. Keep aside.
Heat the oil, add the onion and sauté on high heat for a couple of minutes till it turns pink. Add the bell pepper and sauté till soft. Now add the cooked carrot, salt and pepper and stir for a couple of minutes.
In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch, red chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, vinegar, sugar and about 1/4 a cup of water, till smooth. Pour this into the vegetables, stirring throughout, and allow to cook (on medium heat) for about 3 to 5 minutes till it thickens a bit. If you feel the mixture is too thick, add a little more water and cook for another minute.
Pour into a serving dish and garnish with chopped spring onion greens. This recipe serves 3 or 4.
Serve with noodles or fried rice.
On an aside, I have moved a little further with re-arranging my blog and there's now a horizontal menu bar which should make this site a little more reader friendly. All the link should be working. I would very much appreciate being told in case any of the linksdo not open up. Thanks.