Category Archives: Dinners

Veronica’s South Indian Chicken Curry

So this is a basic version of a go-to recipe – robust, tasty, easy to make, and quite the staple with rice, chappattis, naans, parathas …

  • 2 chicken breasts, in pieces
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned, pureed
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
  • chili powder – to taste, depending on how spicy you want the curry
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • salt
  • Coconut milk, as required
Coriander seeds and powder
Coriander seeds and powder
  1. In hot oil, saute the fennel, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. When aromatic, add the chopped onion and fry till lightly browned.
  2. Add the ginger-garlic paste, fry.
  3. Add the turmeric, chili, coriander and cumin powders, fry to a paste.
  4. Add the tomato puree, keep stirring for a few minutes, till cooked.
  5. Add salt and the chicken pieces, cook till done, usually about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut milk, give it a good stir and a simmer.
  7. Done.

Pix borrowed from the web, as usual, with thanks.

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Pam’s Masala for Curries

Mona brought with her a small bottle of masala powder and produced magic in the kitchen.

This was her mother, Pam’s, basic masala powder, made fresh every year, which she   sent to her daughters in Dubai and Shanghai.

The curries are to die for.

Masala for Chicken and Meat Curries

  • 1/2 kg dry chilies
  • 1/2 kg (dhaniya) coriander seeds
  • 50g mustard seeds
  • 50g cumin seeds
  • 50g fennel seeds
  • 50g black pepper seeds
  • 50g methi seeds
  • 50g chukka (dry ginger)
  • 1” piece asafoetida powder
  • 1 tbsp channa dhal
  • 1 tbsp thoovar dhal
  • 2” piece haldi
  1. Roast briefly, about 10 minutes, separately, on a low flame.
  2. Cool.
  3. Blend to a powder. Sieve and store in an airtight jar
  • Add garam masala powder for chicken and meat curries.
  • For fish curry, add chili and turmeric powders to the above.

Recipe for Chicken Curry with the above Masala

  • 1 chicken breast in pieces
  • Big onion, sliced
  • a little fennel
  • a little cumin
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 piece cinnamon
  • few cardamon
  • Ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tomato, skinned, chopped
  • Turmeric powder
  • Coriander powder
  • Cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp of Pam’s masala powder
  • 100 ml coconut milk diluted with 50 ml water
  1. Fry onion,  fennel, jeera, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.
  2. Add ginger garlic paste, fry.
  3. Add  tomato, fry.
  4. Add haldi, coriander and cumin powders and Pam’s masala powder.
  5. Cook to a paste.
  6. Add chicken pieces and a little bit of hot water.
  7. When chicken is half cooked, add mixture of coconut milk and water.
  8. Cook till done.

Pix off the web, with thanks.

Sango’s Multi-Seed Bread

So met Sango again, after a couple of years and she’s down 20kg, bursting with energy, glowing skin … thanks to a strict discipline of intermittent fasting. This is one of her fave recipes that’s helped her on her way to what she is today.

IMG_9528

  • 1 cup/125 gms sunflower seeds (or a mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup / 90gm flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup/ 65 gms almonds, soaked 6 hours, peeled and chopped (or a mix of almond, macadamia and brazil nuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (or a mix of almond powder and oats, any ratio works, keeping the weight the same)
  • 2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons psyllium seed husk
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt ( 1 1/2 if coarse)
  • 3 tablespoons melted ghee or virgin coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups/ 350 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I added date syrup which was less sweet)
  • OPTIONAL, YOU CAN THROW IN SOME CHOPPED DRIED FRUIT LIKE FIGs, CRANBERRIES, SULTANAS, PRUNEs … if you want it slightly sweet. About half a cup, max.
  1. Preheat oven to 350F / 175 C for 20 minutes.
  2. Place all dry ingredients EXCEPT CHIA SEEDS in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the melted ghee or coconut oil and maple syrup to the water. Use half this mixture to soak the chia seeds.
  4. Add the remaining half to the dry ingredients and amalgamate well.
  5. Now add the chia seeds plus its liquid.
  6. The dough will be quite thick. If dry to the touch, an additional 2 tablespoons water can be added.
  7. Lightly grease a silicon baking tray, 9.5 x 4 inch (can be slightly smaller or bigger by an inch or two).
  8. Pack the dough tightly into loaf pan. Pack in tightly with the back of closed fist. Smoothen surface. Cover with cling film and rest for at least 2 hours, up to a maximum of 8 hours, in a cool place. If overnight, best leave it the refrigerator.
  9. Place in the centre of the oven and bake 20 to 30 minutes (bear in mind that heating can vary oven to oven).
  10. Remove without turning off the oven, pull down the sides of the silicon pan and turn the loaf upside down onto a baking tray and return to oven.
  11. Bake an additional 30 to 45 minutes. When done, it should sound hollow when tapped .
  12. Cool before slicing.
  13. Cut into slices and individually pack, if freezing.
  14. Stays in the fridge for four days and best eaten within 8 days when frozen.

 

Kumari’s (quick) beetroot (a side dish)

I saw her grating, stirring, tasting and serving – all in a few minutes. This was it.

beetrood

  • Beetroot, grated
  • green chili (as required), de-seeded and sliced OR one or two dried red chilies OR a dash of chili powder
  • I tomato, chopped
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • Juice of lemon – to taste
  • salt
  1. In a splash of oil, toss in the fresh chili or dried chili or chili powder, if using.
  2. Stir a bit and add chopped onion.
  3. Stir fry till the onion is translucent, add chopped tomatoes and continue stir frying.
  4. When a paste forms, add the beetroot, stir till just cooked, add salt.
  5. Dress with fresh lemon juice before serving.

Healthy, and terrific with either rice, chappatis or wraps.

Pix from the net, with thanks.

Sangeeta’s Quinoa, Chia & Flaxseed crusted Chicken

Another from Sango’s kitchen, table, imagination, research, cookbook …

  • 200 gms chicken breast boneless
Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 8.24.39 AM
chicken fillet
Marinade
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp Coleman’s double superfine mustard powder,  into a paste with 1 tbsp cold water
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely grated
  • finely chopped herb of your choice, basil or coriander
Crust  
  • 2 tbsp quinoa raw, whole
  • 2 tbsp chia seed raw, whole
  • 2 tbsp flax seed raw, whole
Grind the above very coarse together – best to start with the flax seeds before adding the quinoa and chia.
  • 2  tbsp almond meal
  • 3 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dehydrated cheese flakes (optional)
Mix all the above four dry ingredients together.
  • 2 to 3 tbsp cold pressed oil
  • 20 gms butter (optional)
  • 1 whole egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water
  1. Slice the chicken breast in half, lengthwise, so it is thinner and will cook quicker.
  2. Place between two sheets of cling film and use a meat hammer to beat it out to make it a little more thinner. The ideal thickness should be 1/2 an inch. Marinate a minimum of 2 hours up to overnight, in the fridge.
  3. Heat a pan and add 2 tbsp of any cold pressed oil.
  4. Take the chicken out of the marinade and hold up so the excess marinade is removed.
  5. Dip in the beaten egg, and again drain of excess egg wash.
  6. Place gently on the dry crumb mixture, coating both sides.
  7. Just before putting it into the hot pan, add 20 gms of butter (optional) to the heated oil, and as it melts and amalgamates with the oil, place the crumbed chicken gently into the pan, lower heat and keep the pan closed , flip the side gently and cook till both sides are a golden brown.

Pix off the web, and with thanks.

Sangeeta’s Beet Hummus

I have the very very good fortune of knowing gifted, intuitive cooks who – apart from being close friends – are willing to share recipes, thoughts, innovations, suggestions.

Sangeeta is one such, and one of my dearest treasures is the handwritten cookbook she gifted me over 30 years ago.

Now a passionate advocate of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and healthy eating, Sangeeta continues to experiment and tweak, and this hummus recipe is the first of many to come (I hope) from her current kitchen.

  • Half a cup of chickpeas, soaked overnight (none of the canned stuff)
  • Salt
  • half a sliced onion
  • 2 pearls sliced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sesame seeds, roasted and soaked for at least an hour
  • Beetroot,
  • Whole garlic
  • Italian seasoning
  • pickled lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cook the chickpeas on low heat in plenty of water, adding a little salt halfway through. Keep skimming the top of water to remove any grey foam.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf to the water.
  3. Roast beets in oven with the whole garlic, salt and some Italian seasoning, covered, for the first 20 minutes and then open, so it caramelizes a bit.
  4. Once everything has cooled down, blend the lot with some pickled lemon ( I chuck  them in some salt and leave  them to pickle for about 2 weeks … tastes good in so many things).
  5. Adjust seasoning and serve drizzled with olive oil.

Served it with crudites, wholewheat pita grilled with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper and chicken kebabs.

Thanks much Sango, as always !

Sylvia’s Poached Chicken

With Syl’s recipes, the making is as easy as the reading.

Thanks much.

  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts
  • Garlic paste or ginger-garlic paste
  • whatever herbs you have lying around
  • tiny amount of salt and pepper (just for the flavour)
  • few peppercorns
  • a bay leaf
  • few cloves
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • boiling water, to cover and a bit
  1. Marinate the chicken with garlic, herbs and salt and pepper for as long as you can but one hour is just fine.
  2. Place the chicken, peppercorns, bay leaf and cloves in a frying pan, pour boiling water over and place on a stove. Add the stock powder, let the water come to a boil for a minute.
  3. Turn off the heat, leave the chicken in the pan till the water cools.
  4. Now you have poached chicken that’s not dry. And you can use the cooking liquid as stock or a base for chicken soup.

Pix borrowed off the net, as usual, with thanks.

Pam’s stir-fried Paneer

Another light, easily made dish. Stir fry, serve.

Paneer is a fresh cheese from South Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent. It is unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer or curd cheese, made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar or any other food acids.

malai-paneer-cubes-355

  • paneer, cubed
  • a bit of oil
  • whole jeera (cumin)
  • pinch of sugar
  • green capsicum, cubed
  • 1 big onion, cubed
  • salt
  1. Heat oil in a wok, add the cumin/jeera and when it sputters, add the capsicum and onion and stir fry till just about done.
  2. Add the paneer, sugar and salt and give it a bit of a toss till flavours are blended.

Great with chappattis or rice.

Thanks Pam.

Pix borrowed off the net.

 

Kuko’s Grilled Peppers

I know this sounds like a no-brainer … but when served piping hot, with meat and salad on a cold Gurgaon evening, music playing, wine in hand and catching up with old friends after yonks, it was delicious beyond belief.

  • Green, red and yellow peppers, sliced, de-seeded, pith removed
  • olive oil
  • crushed garlic
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper
  1. Marinate all of the above for a couple of hours.
  2. Grill in a pre-heated oven, over a surface sprayed lightly with olive oil.
  3. Turn over once after a few minutes, grill till just done, not limp.

This can be made with yellow and green zucchini as well.

Pix off the web, with thanks.

Kuko’s Broccoli-Date-Pomegranate Salad

Another winner from the Kuko table !

Source and mix. Serve.

  • Broccoli florets, steamed
  • Pitted dates, sliced
  • pomegranate arils
  • toasted almond slivers
  • honey mustard dressing

Honey mustard dressing

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  1. Mix vinegar, mustard powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dijon and honey in a bowl.
  2. Whisk  to combine, stream in the olive oil.
  3. Once combined and emulsified, taste, adjust salt, honey or vinegar as necessary.

Recipe for the dressing from http://violetmeyer.com/honey-mustard-dressing/

‘Kitchadi’ elevated to a party dish !

Lentil and rice based Indian comfort food – heartwarming, nourishing, filling and especially for those days when you don’t have much stuff at home or want to finish bits and bobs of vegetables.

We usually make it on Mondays, when supplies are low, we haven’t yet been grocery shopping and I want to spend as little time as possible even thinking about a meal.

These amounts serve 6 people.

With a little experimentation (steaming instead of cooking), it turned out looking pretty good, fit for a party !!

IMG_7121

  • 1 cup masoor dhal
  • 1 big tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp hing or asephoetida
  • 1 big onion, chopped

Pressure cook the above with some water – just above the level of the ingredients. When done, strain the dhal, tomatoes and onion, keep aside and save the cooking water.

  • 1 brinjal, diced
  • 1 raw banana, diced
  • murunga leaves
  • any left over vegetables, all diced
  • 1 big onion, diced

In hot oil, sputter mustard, add onion and stir fry till brown. Add all the vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes till done. Keep aside.

  • 1 1/2 cup Ponni or Basmati (or both mixed) rice

Cook the rice. Just as the water is almost absorbed into the rice, add the cooked vegetables and the dhal mixture along with the saved cooking water.

Cover and cook till done.

If steamed in a rice cooker, it can be upturned and served like a cake in the pictures.

  • Mustard
  • Urud dhal
  • curry leaves
  • murunga leaves

Sputter the mustard first, then add the urud dhal, then the curry leaves and finally a whole bunch of murunga leaves. Use this as a garnish any which way.

Pix of ingredients off the web, with thanks.

Kuko’s Celery Soup

Continuing the Kuko kitchen legacy … an absolutely delicious soup in its simplicity.

  • Celery, chopped
  • 2 big onions, chopped
  • garlic, crushed
  • chicken stock
  • dash of cream
  • 1 boiled potato (optional) for a thicker soup
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tbsp port wine
  1. In olive oil, saute the celery, onion and garlic. If using the potato, add. Cool. Blend. Strain.
  2. Return to heat with the stock mixed in. As it simmers, add the cream, sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Take off the heat and swirl in the port or whatever wine is on hand.

Pix off the web, with thanks.

Veronica’s well-loved ‘Ayam Kuning’ aka ‘Yellow Chicken’

Veron is an ace in all dishes Indonesian and this was a particular hit with my niece, visiting from university and interested in trying out different dishes.

This one is for you, Pooj !

  • 5 chicken drumsticks
  • a 2″piece of fresh ginger
  • a 3″ piece of fresh turmeric
  • a 2″ piece of galangal
  • 1 stem of lemon grass
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 7 shallots
  • 4 candlenuts (or macadamia nuts)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. Blend all ingredients except chicken to a fine paste, ideally with no water.
  2. Rub the paste into the chicken, add a bit of water if too dry. Marinate a while.
  3. Boil, cool, refrigerate till required, ideally overnight.
  4. Fry the chicken pieces the next day.

The chicken pieces, once boiled, can be stored up to a month in the fridge, after boiling and cooling.

Candlenut or aleurites moluccanus is a flowering tree in the spurge family, also known as candleberry, Indian walnut, kemiri, varnish tree, nuez de la India, buah keras, or kukui nut tree. The nut is often used cooked in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine, where it is called kemiri in Indonesian or buah keras in Malay. On the island of Java in Indonesia, it is used to make a thick sauce that is eaten with vegetables and rice. In the Philippines, the fruit and tree are traditionally known as lumbang

Wikipedia

Galangal, also known as Siamese ginger, is a member of the ginger family – Zingiberaceae. Its skin is smoother and paler than ginger root’s, the interior ranges from white to yellow to pink, and its flavor is stronger and more astringent.

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2014/01/22/what-is-galangal-and-how-do-i-use-it/

Pictures from the web, with thanks.

Kuko’s Mutton in Cream

So, spending a night with old friends in Gurgaon, after years and years, and there’s this splendid dinner served piping hot on a cold December night.

Old friends, terrific food, music, wine and much reminiscing …

This dish was particularly delicious.

  • Mutton with bone, cubed
  • garlic paste
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • oregano, or mixed Italian herbs, thyme …
  • salt and pepper
  • brown sugar
  • red wine
  • dash of cream
  • caramelised onions
  1. Marinate the meat overnight in a mixture of garlic paste, red wine vinegar, olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper and a bit of brown sugar.
  2. Pressure cook and when done, add a dash of red wine and the cream. Adjust the salt and pepper.
  3. Garnish with caramelised onions before serving.

This same dish can be made with chicken instead of meat.

Pix from the Net, with thanks.

Kuko’s (Indian) twist on a salad dressing

To give regular salad dressing a bite …

… sputter in olive oil, some mustard seeds, curry leaves and a couple of dry red chilies.

Mix this into the vinaigrette and lift with the addition of a couple of tablespoons of fresh orange juice.

juice_PNG7192

Goes brilliantly with grated carrots.

Pix off the web, with thanks, as always.

Christmas is Coming ! (1)

Festive times and festive evenings draw near and people on social media have now discovered the most indulgent dessert ever and they just can’t seem to get enough of it! The gluttonous red wine chocolate brownie is now red hot on social media …
 Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-5-17-57-pm

  • 200g plain chocolate
  • 170g salted butter
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 250 ml caster sugar
  • 75g light brown soft sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee
  • cocoa or white icing sugar, to dust
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3.
  2. Grease and line a rectangular baking tray.
  3. Melt plain chocolate with salted butter over a pan of boiling water.
  4. Add wine, caster sugar, light brown soft sugar,  plain flour,  beaten eggs, vanilla extract and instant coffee.
  5. Bake the mixture for 30-40 minutes in the oven.
  6. Leave to cool down and remove from the tray.
  7. Dust the brownies with cocoa or white icing sugar and voila!

From : http://www.ibtimes.co.in/why-this-chocolate-pudding-most-indulgent-dessert-ever-705023

And another !!

Red Wine Brownies with Drunken Cranberries

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-5-30-10-pm

  • ¾ cup red wine
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), plus extra for greasing
  • 6 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate (I used half and half)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, mix the red wine and cranberries together and allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour or until the cranberries look plumped.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Grease and flour an 8 x 8″ pan.
  4. Mix flour and sea salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl over boiling water, heat the butter and chocolate until just melted and mixed together.
  6. Remove from the bowl from the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time. (If the bowl seems very hot, you may want to let it cool for about 5 minutes before adding the eggs).
  7. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and mix, then add the flour and mix well.
  8. Mix in the red wine and cranberries. Fold in walnuts, if using.
  9. Pour the mixture in the baking pan and bake for about 50 – 55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out with only crumbs.
  10. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan about about 25 – 30 minutes, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

Can’t wait to try them !

From : cookienameddesire.com, Amanda Powell

Apricots. Apricots. Apricots.

The fruit is everywhere, warm, orange, gold, offering all kinds of suggestions.

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Sauces. Appetizers. On the side.

Three recipes I haven’t yet tried. Sound delicious though.

As an accompaniment, from Alon Shaya, Executive Chef and Owner of Shaya in New Orleans.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-12-59-40-pm

  1. Stir together :
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp orange juice

2. Whisk in

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water

3. Set aside.

4. Chop into 2 cm pieces :

  • 3 apricots
  • 2 tomatoes

5. Toss with the prepared dressing (above). Sprinkle with 2 tbsp sesame seeds and serve with grilled fish.

As a sauce, from Eric Banh, Executive Chef @ Ba Bar in Seattle.screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-1-00-45-pm

  • 2 cups diced, fresh apricots
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  1. Cook the above over medium heat for about 10 minutes, till the alcohol evaporates and the sauce thickens.
  2. Transfer to a blender and puree till smooth.
  3. Drizzle over roasted vegetables, grilled bread or baked chicken.

As an appetizer, from Jason Hotchkiss, Director of Culinary Operations @ the Patio Group on Goldfinch in San Diego.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-1-21-49-pm

  • 6 fresh apricots, halved
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • shredded basil
  • chopped cucumber
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  1. Drizzle the cut sides of the apricots with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill over high heat, flesh side down for about 2 minutes or until charred.
  3. Cool. Cut into wedges. Arrange, top with the feta, basil, cucumber and lemon juice.

None of this is mine, neither the recipes not the photographs. All borrowed – with thanks – from print and the internet !

Kumari’s chicken

On a visit to Chennai last week, Mum’s helper, Kumari, brought this steaming dish of chicken to the table. It was delicious with a paratha and a pat of ghee !

  • Chicken, in pieces
  • 1 big onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 (or more, as per taste) tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp or so ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2″ cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • turmeric powder
  • chili powder
  •  salt
  1. In hot oil, fry cinnamon, cloves and fennel. Add onions and saute till golden.
  2. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the aromas are released.
  3. Add tomatoes and curry leaves and fry to a liquid-y paste.
  4. Add the chicken, turmeric and chili powders and salt.
  5. Add a splash of hot water, as required, cover and cook till done.

This same recipe, with the addition of mint and lemon juice (and in a larger quantity) can be used to make a biryani.

Pix borrowed off the web.

Selvi’s Chicken Curry with Broad Beans

One of the nicest chicken dishes I’ve had in a while. The addition of  beans – avarakkai in Tamil, aka Indian broad beans – elevates the dish to a satisfying level.

Its delicious, filling and different; all it needs is a dish of piping hot rice or a couple of hot chapattis off the tawa.

  • 1/2  kg chicken, in pieces
  • 200g seeds of the broad beans (or from a tin of butter beans)
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 big onion, diced
  • ginger-garlic paste
  • a 1″ piece of cinnamon
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • turmerdic powder
  • chili powder
  • a pinch of garam masala powder
  • salt
  • a squeeze of lemon juice or a spoon of yoghurt (optional)

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-5-20-11-pm

  1. In hot oil, fry the onion till golden. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the aroma fills the room.
  2. Add tomatoes, fry to a paste.
  3. Add chicken, potatoes, beans, cook a bit and then add the turmeric, chili and garam masala powders and the salt. Add a bit of water, cover and cook till chicken and potatoes are done.
  4. Add the lemon juice or yoghurt – as per taste.

Pix borrowed off the web.

 

Sweet Paul’s Famous Feta & Lemon Dip

Came across this first in his cookbook and then online – will be trying it out very soon. Looks and sounds terrific.

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This is the most blogged, tweeted, and pinned recipe I have ever created. It’s also one of the simplest recipes ever. Just a few ingredients, 2 minutes in the food processor, and voila, you have the most amazing dip. I’ve even used it as a topping for baked chicken or white fish.

– Paul Lowe

Serves 4

  • 7 ounces feta cheese (about 1 cup crumbled)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
  • 1–2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Crudités, chips, toasts, or pita crisps, for serving
  1. Place the feta, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil in a blender and whir until combined but still slightly chunky. It’s dense, so you may need to stir it with a fork once or twice. Taste, and if it’s too salty add more lemon juice.
  2. Spoon into a serving bowl, drizzle with a little oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of pepper flakes and some lemon zest.
  3. Serve with crudités, chips, toasts or pita crisps.

 

Thanks Paul !

http://www.sweetpaulmag.com/food/lemon-and-feta-dip

Patates Bravas by Navzer

A tapas dish from Spain, this is Navzer’s version, served on a cold Vancouver evening, quite the shining star among an abundance of delish platters.

  • potatoes with skin, in small pieces, or small potatoes halved
  • olive oil
  • mayonnaise
  • any hot sauce
  • paprika or crushed red chili flakes
  • chopped garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tomato, pureed
  • dash of ketchup
  • chorizo or spicy Italian sausages, chopped, pan fried and kept aside
  1. Boil potatoes in a pan of salted water, till almost done.
  2. Drain and cool.
  3. Toss the potatoes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, bake for 35 minutes till browned, edges crisp.
  4. Separately, mix 3 tbsp mayo, hot sauce to taste, paprika, chopped garlic, lemon juice and pureed tomato along with a dash of ketchup (for tang).
  5. When the potatoes are slightly cooled, toss with the sauce/dressing and stir in the fried sausages.

Good both hot and cold, absolutely delicious in fact.

Images off the web, with thanks.

Elsie’s Brinjal ‘meykewerti’ (in Malayalam, a vegetable dish)

All-types-of-Brinjal

  • brinjals (aubergines) of any kind, cut in thinnish long wedges
  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • 1 heaped tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • 1 big or 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup tamarind water (soak tamarind pulp in hot water for a bit, and extract clear tamarind water)
  • a couple of spoonfuls fresh grated coconut
  1. In hot oil, fry the onion till glassy. Add the ginger-garlic paste and chili powder and cook till the ‘raw’ smell evaporates.
  2. Add the tomato and salt and cook to a paste.
  3. Add the brinjal pieces and the tamarind water and cook till just done.
  4. Garnish with grated coconut.

Images borrowed from the web.

Elsie’s Prawn Curry

Another dish, south Indian, and easy to make (along the lines of the egg curry … with a couple of omissions and additions).

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • prawns, cleaned, de-veined, shelled
  • 1 big big onion or 2 small small onions (I love the sound of this !!), chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, crushed
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 green chili, seeded and sliced (can increase or decrease according to taste and this is balanced by the chili powder added later)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 piece cokum
  • 2 small tomatoes or 1 big one, chopped
  • salt
  • coconut milk
  • fresh coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish
  • 1/4 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)                     )
  • red chili powder, according to taste             )
  • 2 heaped tbsp coriander powder                   ) mix into a paste with a bit of water,
  • 1 tsp vinegar                                                        ) keep aside

MAIN-prawns

  1. In hot oil fry the onion, ginger, garlic, chili and curry leaves, and brown on low heat, stirring all the while till the ‘raw’ smell disappears.
  2. Add the paste and keep stirring and frying, again till the ‘raw’ smell evaporates. Add the tomatoes and salt (the salt makes the tomatoes cook faster), and cook well to desired consistency, adding water in spoonfuls to ensure the paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the cokum and coconut milk, cook a bit and add the prawns and cook gently and carefully till just done. Do not overcook the prawns.
  4. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Images borrowed from the web, with thanks.

 

Elsie’s Egg Curry

So, another friend is visiting and I have mined her trove of easy-home-food recipes in an attempt to coax Mum into eating …

… because when I try Mum’s recipes, they are never up to par as far as she is concerned. Mona suggested I don’t even try to replicate her recipes, but offer different ones instead, so they remain new and fresh … and there’s nothing to compare them to. Smart lady !!

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  • 4 eggs, boiled, or 4 egg whites made into an omelette with chopped tomato, onion, green chili, coriander, salt and pepper – and cut into squares
  • 1 each – cardamom, clove and a small stick of cinnamon
  • 1 big big onion or 2 small small onions (I love the sound of this !!), chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, crushed
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 green chili, seeded and sliced (can increase or decrease according to taste and this is balanced by the chili powder added later)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 small tomatoes or 1 big one, chopped
  • salt
  • coconut milk
  • fresh coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish
  • 1/4 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)                     )
  • red chili powder, according to taste             )
  • 2 heaped tbsp coriander powder                   ) mix into a paste with a bit of water,
  • a pinch of garam masala (optional)             ) keep aside
  • 1 tsp vinegar                                                        )
  1. In hot oil sputter the cardamom, clove, and cinnamon stick.
  2. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chili and curry leaves and brown on low heat, stirring all the while till the ‘raw’ smell disappears.
  3. Add the paste and keep stirring and frying, again till the ‘raw’ smell evaporates. Add the tomatoes and salt (the salt makes the tomatoes cook faster), and cook well to desired consistency, adding water in spoonfuls to ensure the paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the coconut milk, cook a bit and spoon the boiled egg halves or omelet squares into the gravy.
  5. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Images borrowed from the web, with thanks.

Sweet Summer Kale Salad

Discovered in Kitsilano, Vancouver, this salad and dressing was outstanding ; the kale elevated by the sharp contrasts between the piquant, nutty and sweet accents.

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  • Kale
  • Chopped apples
  • Cranberries
  • Almonds

Dressing

  • olive oil
  • orange juice
  • balsamic vinegar
  • shallots, diced
  • garlic, diced
  • honey
  • red chilies
  • oregano
  • sea salt
  • pepper

Most pictures borrowed from the web.

Elizabeth’s Sardine Curry

David and Elizabeth have been endlessly kind, preparing different kinds of food to entice Mum into eating.

Sardines, suggested David, a curry of sardines, the easiest thing to make. I had not heard of sardine curry, and the next thing I knew was Elizabeth had made and sent across two versions, one spicier than the other. It was delicious. David said this was the standby dish in their home, the last resort almost when one was out of ideas or when guests landed up unexpectedly.

Thank you Elizabeth, for painstakingly writing out the recipe.

It is reproduced below exactly as she wrote it.

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  • I can sardines in Tomato sauce ( bones removed,  retain the sauce)
  • 1 radish (sliced and fry with 1tsp oil on high heat)
  • 1 brinjal cubed
  • 3 to 4 strands long beans cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 potato cubed
  • 1 big onion sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic split into half
  • 1piece ginger and 5 cloves garlic (coarsely pounded)
  • 2 tomatoes quartered
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asaphoetida)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1tsp fish curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • lime sized tamarind lump mixed with 3 tbsp water and the liquid extracted
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 green chili de-seeded and split
  • 2 cups water or more if needed
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 sprigs of coriander leaves chopped for garnish

Heat oil in a pan .
Fry the mustard seeds till they sputter, then the fenugreek seeds.
Add the onions, curry leaves, green chili and garlic and fry till the onions are slightly brown.
Add the pounded ginger – garlic and sauté for 1 minute till fragrant.
Add all the curry powders and the sauce from the sardine and saute for 2 min.
Add potato, water and salt to taste.
Once potato is 3/4 cooked, add the vegetables and tomatoes.
When the vegetables are cooked add in the tamarind juice and let it boil for 2 more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Garnish with coriander leaves

NOTE: drumstick /Raw banana also can be added.

Photograph by Elizabeth and David.

Mum’s Mango Chutney which turned out to be Dad’s recipe

There is this accompaniment – a mango chutney or chamandi as it is known in Malayalam – which was and is a household favourite, to die for.

So, with Mum at home, we decided to revive old traditions and boy oh boy, did it vanish in seconds !

  • 2 raw green mangoes (the sourer and rawer the better) skinned and chopped into smallish bits
  • Some dried red chilies, stir fried in a dash of oil
  • A knob of ginger
  • Salt
  • Curry leaves
  • A splash of coconut oil
  • Fresh grated coconut

Blend the lot (except the coconut oil) together to a fine paste, then add the coconut oil and give it another whirr.

Its OMG all the way. And in the process, learned a bit of family lore – it was Dad’s recipe all along. Mum would prepare the ingredients (and quantities) and his greatest joy was in the blending before the eating.

Brilliant with rice, dosas … as an accompaniment to South Indian dishes.

All photos borrowed from the net, with thanks.

 

 

Mulled Apple Juice

During Lent, and for those who abstain, this one was googled off the net and went down a treat.

Dinner for 10 and many refraining from alcohol, so it was chaas (spiced buttermilk) or fresh tender coconut water with chia seeds and mint or mulled apple juice.

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  • 1 liter apple juice
  • strips of orange peel
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • sugar or honey to sweeten – if required
  • more orange peel to garnish
  1. Simmer the apple juice with orange peel, cinnamon and cloves for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Sweeten if required.
  3. Serve warm, garnishing individual glasses with a twist or orange peel and a stick of cinnamon.

Recipe and picture from BBC GoodFood.

Kumari’s Mutton & Drumstick Curry

Kumari, Mum’s helper, brought a gift of six fresh, bright green murungakas – as they are called in Tamil – with the injunction, complete with recipe, that I was to take it to Singapore and cook it for Mum, with mutton.The murungas had been gathered from her garden, and from the tree across the wall, from her neighbour’s garden.

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Murungai is the fruit of the Moringa oleifera tree (family Moringaceae) and its long thin seed pods resemble drumsticks, hence the name.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 1.57.08 PMMoringa leaves are popular in South Indian cooking, containing as it does, all of the essential amino acids – the building blocks of proteins. But this is the first time I had heard of the seed pods being cooked with meat and it sounded interesting and I gave it a try. It was delicious.

 

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  • 1 1/2 kilos of mutton, cleaned and cubed
  • 2 big onions, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 to 1 1/2 drumsticks, fresh, in 2 1/2″ lengths
  • Garam masala powder or 1/2″ of broken cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 3 pods cardamom, a scant teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 to 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • Chili powder
  • Dhaniya (coriander) powder
  • Haldi (turmeric) powder
  • Salt
  1. Boil the drumstick pieces in a little water mixed with salt and turmeric powder, till just done, still firm. Keep aside.
  2. In hot oil (in a pressure cooker) sputter the garam masala and as the fragrance is released, add the onion and fry.
  3. When translucent, add the ginger-garlic paste, fry till aromatic. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry to a paste.
  4. Add the mutton and the powders, stir well, add a bit of water and pressure cook till just done.
  5. Open, add the cooked drumstick pieces and the coconut milk and give it a swirl. Let it heat up and dish out and serve with steaming hot basmati rice.

Murunga leaves (moringa in both Tagalog and Bahasa Indonesia / Malay) are particularly good for health and googled images provide details.

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This is one dish that will return to the table. Definitely. Apart from the various made with the leaves.

Images googled off the net, with thanks.

Dahi vadas aka dumplings in spiced yoghurt a la South India

Delish beyond belief. Now craving South Indian cuisine.

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  • curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch knob ginger
  • 2 green chilies (or more, according to taste)
  •  2 handfuls urud dhal, washed, cleaned and soaked for 6 hours or overnight in water
  1. Grind all of the above with minimum water added, adding it judiciously and a little at a time to get a batter that is thick and not runny, yet smoothly ground.
  2. Mix in salt
  3. Heat oil in a wok over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, drop rounded spoonfuls into the oil and fry till a golden brown, turning them over to even the browning. This will take a few minutes as the inside of the vadas or dumplings need to be cooked as well. Perhaps about 8 minutes ?
  4. Remove from the water, gently squeeze them till a bit dry and arrange in a dish.
  5. Drain on absorbent paper, then soak them in warm water for about 5 minutes. This will draw out the excess oil.
  • Yogurt
  • Water
  • Grated ginger
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt
  1. Whisk yogurt and water to a thick yet runny consistency, add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour over the dumplings.
  3. Tarka with urud dal, curry leaves, asephoetida (hing) powder – a pinch, mustard seeds and dried red chili.
  4. Remove from the heat and ad 1/2 tsp red chili powder into the hot oil.
  5. Pour over the yoghurt-vada mixture in dish.
  6. Garnish with plenty of chopped coriander.

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To die for.

Rice Dishes

Tried out a number of easy rice dishes, all good, all quickly done. You could either use a rice cooker or make it in a pan.

CoconutMilk

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SONY DSC

Coconut Rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • big onions, chopped
  • green chili
  • cinnamon stick, broken
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt
  1. Sputter the cinnamon stick in hot oil, add the chopped onion and green chili and brown.
  2. Add basmati rice, then the salt, mix well.
  3. Mix the coconut milk and water, add and cook till just done.
  4. Tarka with mustard seeds, urud dal, dry red chilies, curry leaves.

 

Mushroom Rice

  • Big onions, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • 1 star anise
  • lots of sliced button mushrooms
  • chicken stock
  • green peas
  • lots of coriander leaves
  • salt
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups warm water

 

  1. Sputter the star anise in hot oil, add the chopped onion and green chili and brown.
  2. As it turns golden, add the mushrooms and peas and stir till just turned colour. Add basmati rice, then the salt, mix well.
  3. Add the coriander leaves and the chicken stock (either as liquid stock with the water, in which case adjust the amount of water accordingly, or crumble the stock cube into the rice).
  4. Add the water and cook till just done.

 

Mint Rice

  • Oil
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Green chilies
  • Cloves
  • Big onions, chopped fine
  • lots of fresh, chopped mint leaves
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice, washed, drained
  • 2 3/4 cups warm water
  1. Sputter the cloves in hot oil, add cumin and fennel. Then add the chopped onion and green chili and brown.
  2. As it turns golden, add lots of chopped mint and keep stirring till brown. Add basmati rice, then the salt, mix well.
  3. Add the water and cook till just done.

Pictures off the net, and thanks for the loan.

Murgh Methi Malai aka Chicken with Cream and Methi

This chicken dish was done in a very short time. The fresh fenugreek leaves made all the difference, I think, compared to the dried ones. Whatever the reason, this one is a winner.

  • 500g chicken breasts or thighs, cubed
  • 3 big onions, on the smaller side
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch knob of ginger
  • 2 or 3 green chilies
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) or a cup of chopped fresh leaves
  • 1 cup yoghurt, hung in muslin to get the thick curd
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 bay leaf

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  1. Grind the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies to a paste.
  2. Sputter the bay leaf in hot oil in a wok, add the ground mixture and keep stirring as you fry it over a medium flame till just brown.
  3. Add the chicken and saute for about 8 minutes, then add the yoghurt and a little warm water and cook for about 15 minutes or till done.
  4. Add the kasuri methi, pepper, garam masala and salt. Stir well, cook a bit more.
  5. Add the cream, swirl, and cook just a bit more.

Gosh, this was delish ! Went superbly with both naans and/or fragrant mint rice. Kudos to Mona, again.

Prawn Aglio Olio

Mona has been turning them out, dish after dish, and here’s the latest.

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  • Spaghetti, cooked al dente in salted water with a dash of olive oil, reserve a bit of the water
  • Prawns, marinated for 10 minutes with oregano, black pepper, salt and a dash of lime juice (optional)
  • Red chilies, sliced
  • garlic, finely diced
  • shallots, sliced
  • fresh basil, sliced
  • salt
  1. In hot oil, over high heat, stir fry the prawns and sliced chilies till just done; keep aside.
  2. Add more oil to the pan, saute the garlic and shallots till golden, taking care they don’t blacken.
  3. Add the cooked spaghetti and salt as required.
  4. Add the prawns and chopped fresh basil, toss lightly, adding a bit of the reserved water if too dry.
  5. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and some more crushed black pepper, serve immediately.

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm ….

Saturday Lunch

When family visits, its food, drink and long conversations well into the afternoon.

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Menu :

  • Bubbly
  • Roast chicken with pumpkin and sweet potatoes
  • Blanched asparagus spears with brussel sprouts and diced prosciutto
  • Greek Salad (a variation)

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The leaves were fresh and crisp, the avocado just right. Added pomegranate arils, cubed feta, sliced button mushrooms and quartered cherry tomatoes. And kalamata olives, black and green. With a dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of raspberry vinaigrette.

 

Mona’s Pumpkin with Black-eyed Beans

Another of her simple superlatives … great with plain rice.

South Indian to the core, and lovely.

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  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • a handful of fresh grated coconut
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 or 2 green chilies, deseeded
  • 1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)

Grind the above ingredients to a fine paste.

  • black-eyed beans
  • red pumpkin, skinned, cubed
  • haldi (turmeric powder)
  • 1 green chilie, halved
  • 1 tsp sambhar powder
  • salt

For the tarka / garnish

  • oil
  • dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • curry leaves
  1. Pressure cook the black eyed beans with the haldi, green chili and the sambhar powder (2 whistles).
  2. Remove the lid, add the raw pumpkin, salt as required and the ground paste. Simmer on a low flame for about 10 minutes till the vegetable is cooked.
  3. Tarka (sputter the garnish ingredients in hot oil, pour over the dish) and serve.

Mona’s Fish Curry with Raw Mango

My sister in law is visiting, she is one of those gifted people, intuitive and instinctive around food (like Syl, Jen and Kalpana) and everything she makes is simple and superlative.

This is her South Indian fish curry, whipped up in no time.

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  • 1 kg mackerel   (aka tenggiri, batang … ), cleaned, sliced and each slice quartered
  • 4 or 5 Kashmiri dry red chilies                      )
  • 1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek)                              ) roast and
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds                          ) grind to a fine
  • 1 heaped tsp jeera (cumin seeds)                ) powder
  • 2 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 fresh green chilies, sliced
  • 2 tsp ginger, in thin strips
  • 2 tsp garlic, in thin strips
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes, pureed
  • a pinch of haldi (turmeric powder)
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste in half cup water
  • 1 green mango, skinned, cubed
  • coconut milk
  • salt

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  1. In hot oil, fry the sliced onion, curry leaves and green chilies to a light brown.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic, continue frying.
  3. Add pureed tomatoes with the pinch of haldi, continue frying.
  4. Add the roasted powdered mixture and the coriander powder.
  5. Continue frying well on a low fire, ensuring the paste does not turn a dark brown.
  6. Add the diced mango, the fish, the tamarind paste/water and bring to a boil; immediately lower the flame and simmer for about 10 minutes or till the fish is just done.
  7. Add the coconut milk and salt and simmer another 5 minutes.

Thanks Mona, it was like old times and the curry brought back memories.

 

A Beer Marinade for Chicken

Rooting around for something different, to marinate 3 chicken legs overnight for a quick lunch with a salad. Nothing much in the fridge, except the beer, and a few onions.

Came out pretty well, except tried to pan fry instead of grilling it and that didn’t cook the chicken, so turned everything into a pressure cooker and gave it a couple of minutes after the whistle.

That did the job and the marinade came out as a thick sauce which was pretty darn good.

IMG_0906Marinade

  • 1 big onion, chopped fine
  • parsley, chopped fine
  • few cloves garlic, minced
  • splash of olive oil
  • sea salt
  • cumin powder
  • chili flakes
  • a can of beer

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Prawn Barley Risotto with Chili Gremolata

Here’s another one, part of the weekly mission to source and try out ‘something new’, something different. This was interesting and the addition of a fresh fig salad both brightened and lightened the density of the risotto.

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  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • peeled, medium king prawns
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • arugula
  • 160g labne

Chili Gremolata

  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 fresh long red chili, seeded, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
  1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan on a high heat, cook onion and garlic till soft. Add barley, cook, stirring till coated.
  2. Add stock, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for a half hour, or till the barley is almost tender.
  3. Add prawns, simmer uncovered till the barley is tender, liquid absorbed. Add parmesan and arugula, stir to combine.
  4. Mix the gremolata ingredients in a bowl, serve risotto topped with labne and the gremolata.

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Notes

Didn’t have labne, so gave that a miss.

The gremolata would do well with a dash of salt and the spicier the chili, the better the piquancy and contrast.

Didn’t mix the arugula into the hot barley mixture – didn’t want it wilted or soggy – so a salad, with arugula, served on the side worked better.

And as for the salad, used whatever was on hand – fresh figs, mixed salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, olives, avocado …

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Watermelon Steak Salad

On a visit to Vancouver a few weeks ago, I had a phenomenal Tuna Watermelon Salad at the Fable Kitchen in Kitsilano, with chunks of seared tuna tossed with feta, cucumber, egg, anchovy and guanciale (cured meat from Italy, prepared from pork jowl).

I came across another watermelon salad recipe and it was pretty good. (I can add the seared tuna when I learn how to sear tuna !)

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  • arugula
  • pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
  • red onion, finely chopped
  • unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • fresh mint, chopped
  • goat’s cheese
  • pita wedges, to serve
  • a whole watermelon

Dressing

  • a dash of Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • a dash of caster sugar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. Mix the ingredients for the dressing, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix arugula, olives, seeds, onion, pistachios and mint, set aside.
  3. With the skin on, cut 2.5 cm slices from the mid section of the watermelon, slice the skin off to make watermelon ‘steaks’, pick out and discard seeds.
  4. Crumble the goat’s cheese, add to the arugula mixture, add dressing, toss.
  5. Place a watermelon steak on each plate, top with arugula mixture, serve with the pita wedges.

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Roasted Pear and Apple Roquefort Salad

This one’s a winner – saw the recipe somewhere and remembered to try it out. Light, and satisfying. Prepare earlier, assemble before serving.

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  • 2 pears and 2 apples, cored, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
  • Olive oil, as required
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • arugula
  • 60g proscuitto, sliced
  • 60 g crushed pistachios
  • 60g Roquefort or other blue cheese, crumbled

Prepare the Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 120g Roquefort or other blue cheese
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  1. Roast the fruit first. Toss the slices with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven till tender. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender/food processor, blend till smooth. Refrigerate. (Extra dressing can be used later as a dip.)
  3. Divide the arugula between 4 plates, stack the rings of roasted fruit in the middle, alternating between apple and pear, arrange proscuitto around the fruit. Drizzle dressing over the salad, sprinkle the pistachios and crumble the blue cheese over it all. Ready to go !

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Grilled Fruit with a Palm-sugar-Rum syrup

Came across this recipe, haven’t tried it out but sounds delicious.

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  • 2 bananas, unpeeled, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 slices pineapple, peeled, cored
  • 2 mangoes, unpeeled, sliced to obtain 4 cheeks

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup gula melaka or palm sugar, chopped small
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp dark rum

Garnish

  • Roasted peanuts
  • Mint leaves
  1. Heat a ridged grill pan, spray lightly with canola oil, heat to smoking.
  2. Place banana halves, cut side down in pan, leave undisturbed till sear marks form. Remove.
  3. Repeat with mango cheeks, followed by the pineapple slices.
  4. Carefully remove skin from grilled bananas and mango cheeks.
  5. Make the syrup by boiling the palm sugar and water, stirring to dissolve all lumps, then adding the rum. Keep aside.
  6. To serve, arrange fruit, drizzle with syrup, garnish with roasted peanuts and a sprig of mint.

Pix off the web, will upload the ‘done’ dish when its made, should be good.

Indonesian Vegetable ‘Urap’

This is an easily repeatable dish – brings a different flavour to the table and the vegetable. Very interesting.

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  • 500g winged beans, washed, sliced crosswise in 0.5 cm pieces
  • 300g cabbage, sliced in 1 cm pieces
  • 3 large red chilies, sliced
  • 4 or 5 bird’s eye chilies, sliced                                                             )
  • 5 to 6 shallots or 1 small purple onion                                            )
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, chopped                                                               ) ground to
  • 50g kencur or galangal, washed, skin removed, chopped      ) a paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar                                                                                                )
  • 1tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 pairs kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 250g freshly grated coconut
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add sliced beans and cook for 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon to a colander, rinse under running water to stop the cooking, let the beans drain.
  2. Bring the water back to a boil, drop in sliced cabbage, cook for 4 minutes, drain into a colander, set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan, add ground spice mixture and kaffir leaves. On medium heat, stir fry for about 5 minutes, don’t let it burn. Add the grated coconut and stir to coat it with the spice mixture, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt, give the mixture another stir. Remove and discard the kaffir lime leaves.
  4. In a large bowl, lightly toss the winged beans, cabbage  and coconut mixture before serving. Good with rice and other dishes.

Recipe from The Straits Times, pix off the web. Tried it, came out well.

Phil’s Seafood BBQ

Fresh from start to finish : from wet market to grill !

It was a very early a.m. wake up, to get to the wet market as the stalls were opening and the fish unloaded … Tekka, stirring to gleaming scales and slippery heaps on the one side, vegetables being unpacked in another, eggs heaped, chicken/s diced, curry pastes in packets, meat prepared as chops, mince, cubes or for a stir-fry; the commerce and energy of food and food preparation on a Wednesday morning.

So as Phil inspected sea bass, king prawns, crab, salmon and more, moving from stall to stall, I got fresh salad leaves, some tempe and tahu from the busy, no-time-to-talk mother of two (the old grandmother packed them up for me, hands trembling, but careful and punctilious in her work), and then a couple of dozen organic, low cholesterol eggs, fragrant basil and a pomegranate.

Watching the vendor weigh and clean the fish was watching performance art of precision and detail : scaling and gutting the fish, the careful removal of fins, the drying and the packing, even as he beautifully sliced salmon for another customer and laid them in a perfect fan-shaped wedge on the scales.

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The wine was poured and the coals flared and settled to a heat.

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The fish was wrapped in a banana leaf, the prawns de-veined, the squid cleaned and skewered, and left-over grilled salmon was converted into a fried rice with toasted seaweed and sesame seeds.

And a salad was assembled : arugula, oak leaf lettuce and sliced fennel, pomegranate arils, crumbled feta, sliced mushroom and sunflower seeds, tossed with raspberry vinaigrette. And salt. And pepper. And a dash of freshly pressed avocado oil.

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Photographs : Anita Thomas

Elizabeth’s & David’s Biryani in a Rice Cooker

Elizabeth kindly shared her biryani recipe – most interesting as the rice was cooked in coconut milk instead of water. It was utterly delish and needed no accompaniment other than a raita … perhaps not even that !

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CoconutMilk saffron_strands

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  • 2 cups basmati rice, cleaned
  • 2 ½ cups coconut milk ( use the ‘first’ milk and add water to dilute, or 1 to 1 1/2 cups of concentrate diluted to the specified amount)
  • 1 kg chicken, in pieces, skinned, cleaned
  • 3 to 4 tbsp ghee
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder / haldi
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
  • 3 star anise
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 green chilies, seeded, slit
  • 4 big onions, sliced thin, separated
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 4 tbsp ginger garlic paste (from a 3” piece of ginger & 10 cloves garlic)
  • Handful mint leaves, chopped
  • Handful coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  • pinch of saffron (optional) in 1 tbsp water, kept aside
  • big onions, sliced thin and fried crisp                    )
  • chopped coriander                                                        )      for garnish
  • hard boiled eggs                                                             )
  1. Place rice in the rice cooker, add the coconut milk and set it aside to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat ghee, add cinnamon, star anise, cloves and bay leaves, sauté for a minute.
  3. Add onions, green chili and a dash of salt, sauté till half cooked.
  4. Add ginger garlic paste, sauté 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, mint, coriander and sauté all till soft.
  5. Add turmeric and chili powders, salt, continue sautéing for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken, sauté for 3 minutes, then add half a cup of water and cook the chicken till half done, gravy thick.
  7. Add this mixture to rice, mix well, taste for salt. Cook till done.
  8. Sprinkle the saffron mixture and lime juice, fluff up the rice.
  9. Garnish and serve.

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All images borrowed from the net.

Elizabeth, David, thank you for this !

A Cleansing Crunch of a Salad

Beetroot, Carrot, Sprouted Mung Bean and Mint Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

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Some days you just feel your palate need a cleansing crunch and this salad is perfect for it. I just happened to have the ingredients on hand and hoped it would work – and it did.

  • I medium sized beetroot cut in thin strips – as close to julienne as you can be bothered with
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup sprouted mung beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves torn up a bit

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1 tsp Dijon style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 generous tsp olive oil
  • a squeeze of lime
  1. Lightly cook the beetroot in a small saucepan with a little water. You want to retain the crunch. Cool. (The beetroot can be left uncooked as well, depending on your preference. You may choose to grate the beetroot so it’s quite fine and doesn’t require cooking).
  2. Mix all the salad vegetables together in a bowl.
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients together.
  4. Combine the two.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste … and it’s ready.

Bon Appetit

This is to kick off the memories : Paris 2009 with friends : a holiday of the senses, an effervescence of food, an exploration of haute cuisine, gastro-tourism, Michelin stars, Michelin guides and just plain ordinary eating.

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The compact, businesslike (soon to be rated Michelin discovery) Le Gaigne in the Marais quarter (third arrondissement) makes a persuasive case to the purse; it is a reason to dress up for some fine dining, and best of all, is just around the corner. Preceded by the ritual of trying on outfits, shared make-up and compliments, the five course Le Menu Dégustation, each paired with a wine and exquisitely served on slabs of black slate, is both delightful and a trifle disappointing. The seafood starter in a shot glass – Verrine de Coquillages en gelée, mousse et coulis de Céléris – is not unpleasant and deserves mention if only for the layered, pureed, spinach; and the braised endives with ham or Millefeuilles d’Endives étuvées et véritable jambon de Paris de M. Leguel, is an out and out winner, a mélange of the sweet, the sour and the piquant.

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The closely packed tables are enveloped in a buzz of conversation, rising and falling in a miscellany of accents. The food is local, organic and fresh, and if organic is unavailable, ‘alternatively produced’ replacements are substituted, where possible. Chef Mikael Gaignon is young and known, having worked in two Pierre Gagnaire restaurants and this, Le Gaigne, is his first restaurant as patron. Given the prices are not Michelin star prices, it certainly offers value for money – and the wines are superbly matched.

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Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Tel : 01.40.75.08.75), opened as a tea room in the 1930’s  at a time when women were not allowed to enter cafés (an exclusive domain of men) and soon became hugely successful with the ladies of Paris. Today, a brand unto itself, it is famous worldwide for its pastries and double-decker macaroons (of which 15,000 are sold everyday according to their website). These legendary macaroons featured in a scene between Marie-Antoinette and Ambassador Mercy in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

Originally founded in 1862 as a bakery, it was burnt down in the Paris Commune uprising of 1871 and rebuilt as a pastry shop. It came into its own in 1930 when Desfontaines, the grandson, came up with the idea of sticking two macaroon shells together with creamy ganache (a whipped filling of chocolate and cream), reinventing the macaroon originally introduced by Catherine de’ Medici to France in the 16th century.

The celadon interiors and the waiting in line is an experience in itself, almost like being caught in a boudoir web within a time warp. Brunch has a very ‘ladies who lunch’ feel to it, made inelegant by recalcitrant swiveling seats which make it hard to look graceful, much less balance a china cup of tea delicately. Depending on your taste, the macaroon is either a fantastic melt-in-your-mouth experience, or not quite all that it is cracked up to be.

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Ladurée macaroon boxes are available from their counter at the Charles de Gaulle airport (should you want to take some home) and it is recommended that the macaroons be eaten within three to four days.

Le Trumilou (84 Quai de L’Hotel de Ville, Tel : 01.42.77.63.98,) will be remembered for a perfect meal on a sunny autumn day, a Sunday lunch of escargots lusciously awash in butter and garlic, chilled Sancerre, foaming Leffe, canard pruneaux (duck with prunes), ris veau (veal sweetbread), oeuf a la neige (floating islands) and tarte aux pommes, apple tarts, warm and melting.

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dsc07351It will be remembered as a quintessential French bistrot experience; traditional farm fare and dishes lovingly cooked for hours … and warm sidewalk café crèmes served in the sun, fueling hours of insouciant banter; and your table’s giddy, infectious good humor snags the attention of the man at the adjacent table (ostensibly reading a French translation of Dan Brown’s latest offering) … all this, followed by a siesta on the banks of the Seine on a sunny afternoon.

Le Baiser Salé aka The Salty Kiss (58 Rue des Lombards, Tel : 01.42. 33. 37. 71) is for the nights, for the atmosphere and the perfect evening of jazz, (no fancy wannabe jazz bar in an upstart slick street); this is cellar and decrepit loft, knee to knee in appreciation with other music lovers. A jazz festival is on, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino, salsa, merengue, R & B, fusion … and tonight is mellifluous and the mojitos, margaritas and 1664’s enhance the sweetly evocative articulations of sax and bass guitar.

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For a quick dinner before the show, or between shows, nip across to La P’tit Cantine (22 Rue des Lombardes, Tel : 01.42. 71. 44. 48) for a decent meal of meat and wine.

Le Connétable (55 Rue des Archives, Tel : 01.42. 77. 41. 40) is a chance encounter turned good. The bread is fresh and crusty, the Côtes du Rhône deeply red and invigorating, and the conversation is about men. Pork filet mignons in a Roquefort sauce, veal medallions, rump steaks in (green pepper) saus poivre vert, celery puréed with butter and cream … unpretentious food and robust wine.

Known for its local artists and chanson music (a la Edith Piaf); tonight, in the cellar-cave below, three painfully young men sing French a cappella, gentle croons, warbles and a harmony that has the young audience rapt. Berets are doffed; a battered saucepan is passed around for coins.

Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli, Tel : 01. 42. 60. 82. 00) is the renowned Parisian gourmet teahouse in the elegant style of the Belle Époque era, designed by the French architect Edouard-Jean Niermans. An institution since its inception, it is known both for its clientele (aristocracy, fashion designers, authors, philosophers et al) as for its Mont Blanc gateau and hot chocolate (closely guarded century old proprietary recipes). The famous Mont Blanc – as well as most of their gateaux – have all been consumed by the end of the day, so if the intent is to eat, get there before teatime. The queues are long and so is the waiting time. The house special, the African Hot Chocolate, is worth every second of the patient wait and the sorbets are richly satisfying, beyond any imagination.

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Restaurant Le 404 (69 Rue des Gravilliers, Tel : 01.44.71.57.81) Le 404 restaurant … exhibits all the vibrant flavours and colours of North Africa. Retrofitted into a 16th century building, 404’s interior is all Berber with pouf seating, exposed beams and stones, tooled leather, authentic artifacts. … The menu features all the dishes … from that part of the world: couscous, tagines, grilled meats, skewered things. The wine list features some unusual Mahgrebi bottles … Grab a drink at Andy Wahloo’s, the sibling bar next door – everybody does, and ‘everybody’ includes show-biz and celebrities.

The evening is an sensory extravaganza; the warm glow of Moroccan lanterns, suspended, lamps and candles holders of iron fretwork dispersing flickering light on dishes heaped with Middle Eastern fare, meat, pigeon, chicken, semolina, pickled lemons, nuts, dates, figs, raisins; the fragrance of spices – cumin, coriander, saffron, chiles, ginger, cinnamon, paprika; a décor of earthen hues, the murmur of conversation, the hiss and sizzle from the stove, the pop of a champagne cork … epicurean hedonism.

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Our last dinner in Paris, Le 404 remains burnished in the memory as a golden experience, beginning with the first mojito, redolent with fresh mint. Chilled Chablis follows with fava beans & olives, Mechoui Maison (roasted shoulder of lamb), pastilla pigeon plat (wild pigeon in pastry), tagine poulet citron (chicken with preserved lemon and olives) and the couscous 7 legumes. And to end a meal of meals, salade d’oranges et fleur d’ orange and pastilla dattes (pastry with dates) accompanied by fresh, aromatic coffee.

Le Pain Quotidien, 18-20, Rue de Archives, Tel :  1 44 54 03 07, is a quiet delight, part of a global chain that first opened in Brussels in 1990. Bakery and communal table; breakfast, lunch, brunch (organic where possible, with vegan and vegetarian options) and simple boulangerie fare – soups, salads, tartines, homemade pastries, handmade organic bread – artisanal dishes, community eating at a long wooden trestle table.

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No gastronomic journey is complete without a nod to junk food and the Googrill beef and chicken burgers at Quality Hamburger Restaurant (63 Boulevard Saint Michel, Tel : 01.42. 71. 44. 48) … ils sont délicieux, elles sont parfaits.

Bon appétit, says the garçon, placing the bottle of Sancerre on the table, gently.

And so we do, meal after meal after glorious meal.

Jen’s Raw Papaya ‘Subzi’ with Mustard

don’t ask for proportions … the regular, like we do our indian sabjis, but it has to be mustard-y … so the ground mustard paste … be generous !
its quite delicious

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  • raw papaya, cut in thin, small slices
  • urud dal (urud dal explained)
  • hing (asephoetida)
  • mustard seeds
  • green chilis, slit (de-seeded if you want less fire in the dish)
  • 1 dried red chili
  • a bit of water
  • salt
  • ground mustard seeds or the kasundi mustard sauce
  • chopped coriander
  • juliennes of fresh ginger, for garnish
  1. add the urud dal and hing to hot oil
  2. then add mustard seeds, slit green chili and 1 dried red chili
  3. when it stops sputtering, add the papaya and a little water and salt and cook till the water dries up/papaya is cooked(it should retain its bite, not become pulpy)
  4. now add the ground mustard seeds OR prepared mustard (kasundi) and chopped coriander

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Notes :

Mustard powder : do you just grind the seeds or do you soak them first and grind with green chili and salt to a paste ?

soak it, not too long and grind it with or with the chili and salt for a one time use. i guess if you want to store it, then some vinegar and salt makes sense. ask a bengali … they do a fresh grind very often … i am not the expert.

Grinding a fresh green chili with soaked mustard takes some of the bitterness away – from my Bengali sister in law.

Dinner : Light & Delicious

A bit of this and that, some kebabs, hummus, guacamole and pita wedges, and of course, roasted aubergine. A glass of white, a tossed salad and fresh Banganapalli mangoes to finish …

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Youngsters for dinner, and they want it light and they’d prefer it healthy so Mediterranean it is, with a dash of Indian (the  bhaingan bharta instead of baba ghanoush) and for a bit of variety, pita wedges mixed with wedges of garlic nan, tossed with a bit of olive oil, and grilled with a sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano …

Fusion with a twist !!

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And for the salad, chicory to offset the mandarin oranges, toasted pine nuts for the crunch amidst the mesclun.

The mangoes : rich, sweet, sublime. Always a win over the alphonsos (India) and the harumanises (Indonesia) !!

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Photograph of the mangoes from http://www.samagri.com.

Nasi Tumpeng : A Birthday Celebration

A birthday and a surprise : Nasi Tumpeng.

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A birthday gift (and surprise from Veronica), a celebratory dinner. Nasi Tumpeng, the elaborate rice dish from Indonesia, painstakingly made with love.

The rice – uduk rice tinged yellow with turmeric – is moulded by a cone-shaped woven bamboo container and occupies center stage on a tampah or round woven bamboo plate layered with a banana leaf. An assortment of Indonesian dishes form the base.

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Tonight, it is quail eggs, urap or vegetables (sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), meat kebabs wrapped in seaweed strips, telur pindang or  boiled marble eggs, ayam goreng or fried chicken, a spicy sambal, chicken fritters or perkedel, sliced boiled eggs.

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And on the side, a gravy of diced potatoes, snow peas and tofu.

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According to Wiki, there is a philosophical meaning to every part of a traditional tumpeng. Folklore in Java and Bali draw parallels between the cone-shaped tumpeng (a mystic symbol of life) and ecosystems. The various side dishes and vegetables represent life and harmony in nature. The height of the cone symbolizes the greatness of Allah, and the food at the base of the cone symbolizes nature’s abundance. The yellow tinge in the rice symbolizes wealth and high morals.

The authentic tumpeng should contain at least one animal meat to represent a land animal, fish to represent sea creatures and egg to represent winged beasts. Vegetables represent food provided by the plant kingdom.

Whenever there is a reason to give thanks – a wedding, birthday, anniversary or new year – the tumpeng is the dish, with the rice representing gold and the many dishes surrounding it indicating a bounty of food and luck.

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And so the birthday was celebrated, with love and gratitude.

Thank you Veron. It was delicious and it was deeply appreciated.

 

The May 8 Dinner : For the support group …

IMG_4900When itsIMG_4883 a small sit-down dinner, one that is formal, and one seeks to choose, cook and serve with care … in the menu and the presentation, for flavour and ingredients, for the new and the interesting; this, then was how it went (sourced from the net), plated, assembled, tested, tasted and modified at the time of cooking, as all were new recipes, untried.

 

 

 

 

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The Menu
  • Champagne, wines, single malts
  • Starters
    Mini Caprese Bites
    Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
    Bagel Crisps with Blue Cheese and Lime/Date relish from the Nilgiri Biosphere
  • Pasta – Antipasto Style Penne
    Greek Style Picnic Salad
    Marinated Salmon with Mango-Kiwi Relish
    Grilled Chicken a la Veronica
    Charred green beans
  • Dessert
  • Spiced Grapes in a Port Dessert Sauce
    Chocolate with Honeycomb from the Nilgiri Biosphere
  • And after
  • Tea : Tippy oolong, white or broken orange pekoe from the Nilgiri Biosphere
    Coffee : Arabica, ground with 5% chicory, also from the Nilgiri Biosphere

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  • Mini Caprese Bites

10 – 14 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, sliced in thirds
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
6 fresh basil leaves, sliced
Marinade – 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
dash of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

  1. Thread 1 slice of mozzarella with half a grape tomato on either side of it.
  2. Layer in dish, pour marinade over it, scatter sliced basil over.
  3. Dust with more salt and pepper.

I used pink Himalayan salt and a raspberry balsamic.

IMG_4902And this is why you should test before you stride forth confidently. I sourced the freshest Mexican  jalapeños from the wet market. The hands were on fire by the time the peppers were halved and cleaned.

One had to immerse them (hands, not jalapeños) into a bowl of ice to cool them down, rub oil on them, blow on them and hop around for a bit before returning to the dish.

A wry helper suggested we actually grill the pepper with its stuffing before we served it pre-dinner, so we did and then our mouths were on fire !! So rather than have our guests choking and charging for ice and water, we changed the recipe, substituted the  jalapeños for wedges of baguette, same stuffing. A much tamer alternative, not so exciting, but well received nonetheless.

  • Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

2 center-cut bacon slices
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (about 1/2 cup)
4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened (about 1/2 cup)
1 ounce extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small garlic clove, minced
14 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped seeded tomato

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels. Crumble . Combine crumbled bacon, cheeses, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a bowl, stirring well to combine.
  3. Divide cheese mixture evenly to fill the pepper halves. Place peppers, cheese sides up, on grill rack or grill grate coated with cooking spray.
  4. Cover and grill peppers 8 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned.
  5. Place peppers on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro and tomato.

Note: If making these peppers for a party, stuff, cover and chill. Grill just before guests arrive.

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  • Marinated Salmon with Mango-Kiwi Relish

4 six oz Salmon fillets (1” thick)

cooking spray
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce For Relish
1 tsp olive oil

Relish

1/2 cup diced peeled mango
1/4 tsp black pepper 1/2 cup cubed peeled kiwi
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1/4 cup fresh orange juice

  1. Combine honey, soy sauce, olive oil and pepper, add fish, marinate 10 min, turning occasionally.
  2. Heat grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove fish, discard marinade, coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish, cook 5 min each side or till the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
    For relish, combine ingredients, serve over fish.

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  • Greek style picnic salad

2 cups uncooked white rice (I used organic brown Thai jasmine rice)
1 cup boiling water
3⁄4 cup sun-dried tomato, packed without oil
1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 cups spinach (about 8 ounces) (used much less)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
1⁄4 cup kalamata olives, chopped and pitted
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 (15 1/2 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (garbanzo beans)
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
10 lemon wedges (optional)

  1. Cook rice, cool to room temperature; set aside.
    While rice cooks, combine boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and cut into 1-inch pieces. (I didn’t soak the tomatoes in water, used them as they were, chopped, for a sweet crunch)
  2. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until spinach wilts. (Didn’t do this either, just dressed them with a vinaigrette of olive oil, salt and pepper and stirred into the salad)
  3. Combine rice, tomatoes, spinach, cheese, and next 5 ingredients (through chickpeas).
  4. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss gently to coat.
  5. Sprinkle with nuts; serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

I left out the lemon (it was tart enough with the olives and the feta), added chopped basil, pomegranate arils and some toasted sunflower seeds.

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  • Pasta – Antipasto Style Penne

1 medium red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, seeds and membrane removed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/3 cup refrigerated pesto
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped, crisped on a baking sheet
1 (7-ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained and chopped
1 (6-ounce) jar marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 8 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel and chop bell pepper; place in a large bowl. Stir in olives, pesto, prosciutto, tomatoes, and artichokes.

3. Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Add cooked pasta and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to bell pepper mixture, and toss gently to combine. Spoon about 1 cup pasta mixture into each of 6 bowls, and sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons remaining cheese and 2 teaspoons pine nuts.

Forgot the Parmigiano-Reggiano but was still delish.

  • Pan charred green beans (4 to 6)

2 lbs green beans
1-2 tablespoon olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat beans)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (or to taste)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Wash, dry well, and trim green beans.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Ensure all the beans are evenly coated and spread them out into 1 layer.
  5. Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and somewhat shriveled.
  6. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  7. Sprinkle with Parmesan and a dash of lemon juice.

As per recipe, a delicious counterpoint.

  • Grilled Chicken a la Veronica

I didn’t do this, Veron did, a simple dish of drumsticks tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and pickled Egyptian limes and roasted to perfection.

  • Spiced Grapes in a Port Dessert Sauce

1 cup ruby port
2 tablespoons sugar
1 inch strip lemon rind
1 star anise
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
  3. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Remove lemon rind and anise; discard.
  5. Add vinegar and pepper to wine mixture; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 10 minutes).
  6. Remove from heat; stir in grapes.
  7. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

A dream of a dessert, the port was freshly purchased from Duty Free (!), the grapes were plump, purple and juicy. I replaced the vinegar with the raspberry balsamic and served it over vanilla ice cream, with a sprinkling of ground cloves (thanks Syl, for the suggestion).

Dark Chocolate with Honeycomb from the Nilgiri Biosphere

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