This recipe is based very closely on Julie Sanhi's cookbook Moghul Microwave, which adapts Indian recipes for microwave use. I have been using it intensively for years, and have actually reverse engineered many of her recipes, (such as her mattar paneer) which are quite good, for the stove top since I find that many are both easier and come out better using conventional methods. I have continued to make a few in the microwave. I find that it does really well with fish dishes and eggplant (less stirring means less breaking up), and makes okra far better than other methods -- crisp and with no slime. I tried making these candied pecans on the stovetop and it was a disaster, so it was back to the microwave. I vary the spice mixture considerably from what she uses, and you can vary it further still.
Spiced candied pecans
- 8 ounces shelled pecan halves, roasted (toast for about 5 minutes in a 250 degree oven if not yet toasted)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon pareve margarine (substitute butter if you don't care whether or not these are pareve)
- spice mixture (see below), about 2-4 teaspoons
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Stir together the sugar, water and margerine in a microwave-save casserole, cover with paper towel, and zap on high for 4 minutes (until it is a syrup.)
- Immediately add the spice mixture and the baking soda and stir well to combine.
- Stir in the pecans and coat well with the mixture, and immediately pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Separate the nuts as much as you can.
- Let cool and break apart any clumps. Stored in a covered container, it keeps for a few weeks at room temperature and ages in the freezer.
- These make a great snack with drinks, and are really nice in a number of salads -- a Vietnamese red cabbage slaw recipe to follow soon.
- Makes about three cups.
Spice mixture: I generally take 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon whole cuminseed, 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seed, 1/2 teaspoon ajwain, and 1-4 dried red chilies and whirl them in a coffee grinder reserved for spices until they are ground. I use the entire amount in the recipe. Decrease the peppercorns and omit the chilies if you don't want it spicy. You can use the equivalent amount of ground spices, but you will find it hard to find ground ajwain, which adds a nice funky thyme-like aroma. You could try using garam masala, a Northern Indian spice mix used to finish off dishes, or ras al hanout, a Moroccan equivalent. For pastrami pecans, you can try equal amounts of peppercorns, coriander seed, and mustard seed, though dry roast these in a skillet first.