Tag Archives: Home

Shikanji – Homemade Lemonade

Traditional Indian lemonade, this is a summer favourite … and with current sweltering days and soaring temperatures … a welcome relief !

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Shikanji
  • 1.2 litres of water
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • black salt to taste
  • Pepper powder, to taste
  • A pinch of powdered cumin or ginger or chaat masala spice blend
  • Mint or basil, to garnish

 

Gently heat water and sugar together, stirring to dissolve.

In a jug, mix the lemon juice, powdered black salt, powdered pepper and sugar water and stir well. Chill in the fridge.

Flavour with a hint of cumin or ginger (powders) or a pinch of the chaat masala spice blend (available in stores).

Serve over ice, garnished with mint or basil.

Aaaaah !

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Pix off the web, as always, with thanks.

A Green and Delish Breakfast

So, no grains. Nothing acidic. Light yet filling. Tasty.

This is entirely Veron’s creation and it was so good, so good.

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Boiled eggs, halved. Yolk discarded.

Avocado into guacamole sans tomatoes (and it tasted better).

Organic kale chopped, freshened with a simple olive oil/lemon juice/salt/pepper dressing.

Roasted pine nuts.

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And for those who wanted grains and yolk, a different version. Wholemeal walnut bread. The yolks atop the guacamole.

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Try it for that sense of total well-being after the meal !

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.

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.

 

Authentic Indian ‘Curry’ Powder

So Mum has moved to Singapore and is being cared for. She has been very unwell and weak, and the mandate is to feed her but she is picky, picky, picky. Mealtimes, and she becomes mutinous, begins arguing, turns her face away, refuses to eat.

Vasu, her helper, has got into the cooking act and she gave me this recipe – a wonder taste enhancer – that goes well with anything, she says, it boosts flavour adding bite and piquancy to any Indian dish, vegetarian or otherwise.

So we tried Mum’s Kerala Fish Curry with cokum and she added a teaspoonful of this powder while it was cooking, and hallelujah, Mum is eating again !

Here is the recipe, with a bottle in reserve !

  • 1/4 kg dry red chilies
  • 1/4 kg coriander seeds (dhaniya)
  • 100g black pepper corns
  • 100 g cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 100g chana dhal (split Bengal gram)
  • 4 tsp hing (asaphoetida)
  • 50g methi seeds (fenugreek)
  • 100g haldi powder (turmeric)

Lightly dry roast (though Vasu says that’s not required) and blend to a fine powder. What she does insist, though, is that it be ground in an industrial grinder, like the ones available in the lanes of Chennai, but that is nigh impossible in Singapore, so the mixie it is !

Pix sourced from the web, and with thanks.

Vasu’s Coconut Chutney

Simple, and whipped up in a flash.

In India, and breakfast is all things South Indian, which means dosas, idlis … and today, adais for breakfast. I watched her deftly prepare the accompaniment, and here is the how.

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  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 pod garlic
  • bit of fresh ginger, one and a half times the size of the garlic pod
  • 4 sprigs coriander leaves, with stem
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp tamarind

Blend all of the above together into a thick paste.

Tarka : In a teaspoon (or a bit more) of hot oil, sputter jeera seeds, mustard and a few curry leaves and pour over the ground mixture.

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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.

When in Vancouver …

Crackers a la Tenaz – pre-wine, from what’s available in the fridge and garden, and on the table

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Crisp herb crackers, topped with a garlic cheese spread, sprinkled with mixed nuts and chia seeds, then layered with a slather of spicy red pepper jelly (so good, so fresh from the farms and greenhouses of Fraser Valley) and topped with a bright sprig of mint (so green and minty, it has to be the air of British Columbia).

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IMG_5820A lovely end to a gorgeously cold and sunny day.

A light lunch before Golf !

A reprise of an earlier meal, but better each time, and the pictures speak for themselves !!

Grilled Salmon

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Mango & Kiwi Salad

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Herbed Mozarella with Beef tomatoes and Basil

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Mango Sorbet

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Photographs by A Thomas except pix of mango sorbet, borrowed from http://www.babble.com

Rainy Days & Mondays

‘Adda’ – steamed (banana leaf) rice pancakes with coconut and jaggery : in memory of school days, rainy days and Mondays …

Coming home from school on a Mumbai rainy day, having sloshed through all the puddles in our Duckback raincoats and gumboots, you entered the house hoping to get the aroma of something delicious Mum might have prepared to ‘warm us up’.

Mum wasn’t an extravagant cook (I have no idea how she managed the budget to clothe, feed and school all six of us) but she was a heart and soul cook. I say ‘was’ – she doesn’t cook anymore at 93.

As you entered the house to the usual tirade … take off your wet clothes, I’ve told you time and time again not to walk through puddles, you’ll get sick, and besides it’s dangerous, didn’t you read about the child you fell into a manhole and drowned, I don’t know when you will learn … you would sniff the air enquiringly : was it bhajjias ? Fluffy onion and carrot were my favourite.

Was it sheera ? Mum’s version was not as sticky and ghee laden, but more like a sweet upma – not my favourite, but a staple nonetheless. Was it bread wada (excitement mounting) ? The deep fried old bread foldovers with potato stuffing that our neighbour Aunty Nair introduced us to, and were to die for.

Hopes are pinned on the delectable Mallu concoction Avval Vallaicha : beaten rice flakes, roasted to a light crisp, along with grated coconut, jaggery and a hint of cardamom … but more likely it will be sukhiyan – boiled moong with a grated coconut and jaggery mixture deep fried with a batter coating (probably more nutritious but more boring).

Whatever it was it was gobbled up with delight along with a cup of milky tea and the hope of seconds, usually thwarted by the standard instruction leave some for the others.

Damn!

‘Adda’ – steamed (banana leaves) brown rice pancakes with a coconut and jaggery filling

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  • 1 cup brown rice flour {puttu podi)
  • Boiling water to mix
  • Banana leaves washed and prepared by running them over a hot flame, and cut into 8″ lengths without the rib.
  • 1/2 a grated coconut
  • 1 cup grated or powdered jaggery
  • a pinch of cardamom powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
  1. Mix the grated coconut and the jaggery and keep aside.
  2. Place the rice flour in a mixing bowl. Add boiling water to the powder a bit at a time to make a pliable dough. Its important that the water is very hot – you can use a wooden spoon to mix, but traditionally it is done by hand.
  3. Once the dough is ready, place a large lemon-sized ball directly onto the banana leaf and tap the dough, with your fingers, to spread it into a slightly elongated circle. A small bowl of water to dip your fingers into is handy to help spread  the dough  evenly on the leaf.
  4. Place a generous spoonful of the jaggery and grated coconut mixture into the centre of the flattened dough, staying away from the edges as they will have to be sealed.

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5. Fold the leaf over and use your fingers to pat the edges of the dough, gently sealing each parcel.

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6. You will now have a your banana leaf parcel ready for steaming. Prepare the remainder of the dough and mixture similarly.

7. In a large steamer, line the parcels upright with open edge facing the top (to avoid water seeping into the parcel). Close steamer and steam for about 10 minutes.

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8. Allow to cool slightly before removing the parcels onto a plate to serve. The leaf peels away easily to leave the brown rice pancake or adda ready to eat.

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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.

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.

Pantry Checklists : Veg and Vegan

This one I stumbled upon, from link to link to link,  a useful checklist, if you need one. Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 6.16.50 pm

V e g e t a r i a n  &  V e g a n  P a n t r y  C h e c k l i s t

Grains & Seeds

Brown Rice High in fibre and low GI, and rich in selenium which reduces risk of cancer and heart disease.

Regular Rolled Oats Lowers bad cholesterol, helps lower blood pressure, is filling and stabilises blood sugar.

Buckwheat groats A great budget friendly pantry staple. Soak overnight with your favourite dairy free milk and turn it into a healthy bircher muesli for breakfast the next morning. Toasted buckwheat is fantastic sprinkled over salads too. Buckwheat is gluten free and higher in protein than rice, millet and corn.

Polenta A slow releasing carb with low GI, it contains a good range of vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin A and zinc. Firm polenta is a great gluten free base for a range of toppings (such as caramelised onions and mushroom) and also makes fantastic chips.

Black Rice High in antioxidants. So high in fact that a spoonful of black rice contains more antioxidants than the same serve of blueberries. Use in place of white rice, for sushi and even burgers.

Sunflower seeds Toasted sunflower sprinkled over salads add a lovely crunch and are also high in vitamin E and contain compounds that can assist in lowering cholesterol.

Quinoa – White, Red or Black A complete protein – important for vegetarians and vegans. High in fibre and iron. Great in a variety of uses from salads, burgers … can even be used as a rice replacement in risottos.

Millet  Millet is a great gluten free, easily digestible grain, high in iron, protein and fibre. It is also quite cheap too (much cheaper than quinoa). Great in salads and  makes a mean veggie burger too.

Pumpkin Seeds Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds in salads. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and are high in zinc.

Barley Can be used in a variety of ways from salads, as a rice replacement in risottos and in soups. Nutritious and high in fibre, can assist in lowering cholesterol and is apparently helpful for postmenopausal women.

Sesame Seeds Toasted sesame seeds are a great addition to salads and stir fries. They are also a great source of calcium, protein, and iron. Sesame seeds are also a wonderful source of copper which is beneficial for anyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Chia Seeds Chia Seeds are a great high quality protein, they are also high in fibre and antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. They are also a wonderful egg replacement for vegan bakers!

Beans & Lentils

Chickpeas High in fibre : 2 cups of chickpeas are all that is required each day to meet your daily fibre requirements. Chickpeas are also iron rich and filling. Use in salads, stir fries, and of course chickpeas are the basis of everyone’s favourite dip – hummus.

Black Beans High in fibre, antioxidants and protein, black beans are an extremely rich source of the trace mineral molybdenum. Molybdenum assists with breaking down and detoxifying sulfites found in foods like salads and wines.

Kidney Beans Fantastic in stews, high in vitamin K which is good for the brain and nervous system. And like all beans are high in fibre.

Lentils High in protein and fibre. Use in salads and soups.

Cannelloni beans A wonderfully creamy bean, cannelloni beans are low GI, high in fibre and antioxidants and at home in everything from salads, stews to soups.

Nuts

Almonds Use to make your own dairy free milk. Toasted flaked almonds are also a great addition to salads.

Cashews Great roasted and added to granola.

Pistachios Pistachios are high in B6, which is wonderful for the nervous system. Pistachios also contain two carotenoids, called lutein and zeaxanthin, which are not found in most nuts and function as protective antioxidants, defending tissues from damage from free radicals.

Hazelnuts Hazelnuts are incredibly high in folate and are packed with B vitamins. They are wonderful, toasted, sprinkled over salads.

Flours

Chickpea (Besan) flour Makes a fantastic gluten free flour, great for a whole variety of uses from crepes, crackers and even pasta.

Almond meal (or almond flour) makes the most fantastic gluten free cakes.

Wholemeal Flour Wholemeal (also called whole wheat) flour is a great, healthier replacement for regular white flour. It has a slightly nuttier flavour and is denser than regular white flour.

Sweeteners

Honey Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Used by the ancient Egyptians for medicinal purposes. Also good for sore throats.

Brown Rice Syrup Has a low GI of 25 compared to the 64 of regular white sugar. Brown rice syrup is made from fermented brown rice which breaks down the starch in the grains, then the liquid is removed and heated until it reaches a syrup-like consistency.

Pure Maple Syrup A fantastic alternative to sugar. Containing over 54 antioxidants, maple syrup also features high levels of zinc and manganese – wonderful for the heart and boosting the immune system.

Oils

Olive oil  Reserve extra virgin olive oil for dressings and finishing off a dish. Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation.

Coconut Oil  Has a high heat point, so can be used in stir fries or for frying. Also anti fungal, antibacterial and antiviral. Said to be great for bloating!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar An old remedy to help improve digestion, it is also said to help lower glucose levels.

Condiments

Balsamic Vinegar Originating in Italy, Balsamic vinegar is a wonderfully thick syrupy vinegar that is a wonderful antioxidant. It was also an ancient remedy for headaches!

Soy sauce Wonderful in stir fries, soy also adds a fantastic depth of flavour in a range of vegetarian dishes. Try adding a little soy next time in place of salt and taste the difference!

White Miso Great for soups and in salad dressings or marinades. Miso contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and also restores beneficial probiotics to the intestines.

Tahini Wonderfully high in calcium- perfect if you are on a dairy free diet. Also rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron.

Canned Goods

Tomatoes Tinned tomatoes are wonderful in stews and soups,  also handy for quick pasta sauces.

Coconut Milk Place a tin in the refrigerator overnight and scoop out the thick cream on top and use as a dairy free cream. Coconut milk is also wonderful in curries and soups.

From Delicious Everyday – a vegetarian food blog with a collection of vegetarian recipes for everyday life. The recipes focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and celebrate fresh, healthy whole foods.

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.

 

Rocket Pesto a la Syl

Rocket was growing in wild profusion in the garden bed. One of the few things growing in any sort of profusion in our veggie patch at Rema Rainbow Valley, Panchakshipura, Tamil Nadu. IMG_4964 (1)So I thought I’d find a good use for it – beyond a salad.

IMG_4969 (1)I had eaten rocket pesto before but never tried to make it, or indeed any sort of pesto.

Had time on my hands and a renewed interest in trying out new recipes. So I looked on line for a recipe and came upon one by Jamie Oliver. As only Jamie does he encourages you to play with the ingredients and so I did. His ingredients, my quantities.

Recipe loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe, sourced from the Net.

  • 2 tightly packed cups freshly picked and washed rocket leaves (stems and all)
  • 15 cloves garlic (small Indian variety – probably use 6-8 of the fat ones you get in Australia)
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts chopped up a bit (next time I make this I’m going to increase it to 3/4 cup or 1 cup)
  • extra virgin oil as needed. I used 3 or 4 generous slugs
  • Juice of half lemon (in the absence of lemons I used juice of a whole lime)
  • 4 tbsp grated Gran Padano parmesan (the last of my stock)
  • Salt and pepper to tasteIMG_4965 (1)
  1. Place the rocket leaves and add a couple of generous slugs of olive oil in a blender’s jar. Blend.
  2. Separately, (or do this first) blend together the garlic cloves and walnuts.
  3. Combine the two blended mixtures.
  4. Add lime/lemon juice, grated parmesan, salt to taste and pepper, if using. I didn’t – the rocket was very peppery.
  5. Add a bit more olive oil if you like – I did.
  6. Mix well, enjoy.

I gave our gardener Govindappa a taste of the pesto.IMG_4968 (1) Normally he has very finicky tastes for anything but good South Indian food. He savoured this one, gave it the tick of approval.

He likened the slightly bitter taste of the rocket to bitter gourd and remarked it must be good for diabetics and for controlling blood pressure. Maybe it is!

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.

IMG_4911

  • 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.

IMG_4908

  • 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.

IMG_4909

  • 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

IMG_4916

Breakfast Muesli : Recipe for Syl

Is the one you are referring to ?

‘… which I had it at your place a 100 years ago …’

dried-apricots How-to-Make-Flax-Powder th blueberries Granola-Pumpkin-NEW coconut oil

Muesli

  • ½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup wheat flakes
  • 1 cup barley flakes
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cups dried apple slices, halved
  • 1/3 cup dessicated coconut (optional)

Mix all together, store in an airtight container.

IMG_4934 (2)Some additions : when serving, add a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, powdered flaxseeds, a few almonds, some fresh blueberries, a tablespoon of pomegranate arils, chopped banana (if you like) and a handful of those millet flakes that are so crisp and crunchy.

Pix from the net.

Delicate, yet filling Chicken Soup

Chicken soup can be quite bland but this one has some oomph to it. I made it last weekend while we stayed over at some friends home in the Barossa (South Australia). You make it in two stages but it’s really simple.

Makes 4 Man serves or 6 for smaller helpings (as recommended for right living!)

One large organic chook (I bought mine at the famed Schultz Butcher’s in Angaston)

4-5 large pods of garlic pounded to a paste

1/2 a small onion also chopped and pounded to a paste

1/2 tsp salt flakes

1 tsp coarse ground pepper

Small dash of olive oil

Rosemary sprig

First Stage : Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Pat the chook dry and massage this marinade all over and into the cavity. Leave for couple of hours. If longer, stick it in the fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Before putting the chook into pre-heated oven, drizzle a very small amount of olive oil over it (in a roasting dish) and cook for 35 – 40 minutes. Check from the 20 minute mark onwards to ensure it is not browning too much. Lower the heat if required. Remove when mildy browned and before the meat starts drying out.

Stage 2 : This is where we cheat a bit.

2 litres of store bought chicken stock.

I leek sliced (white part only)

1 large potato peeled and cubed

1 tbsp olive oil

Freshly milled black pepper (a few generous twists of the grinder)

250gms Brussels sprouts finely sliced (or use spinach instead)

In a large casserole dish gently saute the leeks in olive oil. When wilted and starting to get brown edges, add the pepper, potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil and let allow to simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Set aside until ready to serve.

To serve : Carve approximately 200 gms of chicken breast meat (discarding the skin) per serve of soup. Bring the soup/stock back to the simmer, toss in the sliced Brussels sprouts and give them 3 minutes to cook through. Add the chicken pieces to the soup and stir very gently until the chicken is warmed through.

Serve in warmed bowls and pass around some finely chopped parsley on the side.

Enjoy !

There is usually enough chicken (dark meat) leftover for sandwiches the next day.

Tortilla Hotdog

One of the most satisfying ‘lunches’ on the food programme.

The nutritionist asked me what I would like to eat and when she suggested sausages, I practically prostrated with gratitude. And a whole wheat tortilla, she said.

Got big, fat, juicy chicken-baked apple sausages (and she could even out the calories somewhere else during the day), grilled them, doused them with zingy mustard, smothered them with grilled onion rings and wrapped the whole lot up in a hot tortilla.

Bliss comes in many forms, especially when you finally feel you are not ‘dieting’ or ‘re- balancing’ !!

The Dalia Dosa

Bursting with health !

Whole wheat, broken up, she said, do you get it in Singapore ? Hmm, I do get the ‘dalia‘ I replied and she said, perfect. Though dalia is normally eaten at night because it is ‘light’, I would prefer that you had it in the morning because I believe it is better absorbed when taken for breakfast. So :

godumadosaimagecopyrighted4

Dalia, soaked for a few hours or overnight, ground to a batter

chopped tomatoes

chopped onions

couple of pods garlic, crushed

fresh green chili, to taste, chopped

curry leaves in slivers

a dose of hing or asephoetida

salt

chopped coriander to garnish

  1. Mix everything except the coriander into the dalia batter.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan, add half a teaspoon of olive oil, pour in batter and make a savoury dalia pancake – brown lightly on both sides. It cooks faster if briefly covered with a lid, much like an omelet.

Garnish, and enjoy hot, either by itself or with a tomato-onion chutney.

Dalia, as it is known in India, is also known as bulgur elsewhere in the world. Thanks, Ms Dalal.
Picture borrowed from http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/?p=401

Jen’s Upside-Down Orange Almond Cake – for those ‘cheat’ days / meals

” … and that lady who does the cheeses and preserves, (syl might recall) had some preserved whole oranges … so tiny they are prob mandarins or qumquat … but they were divine to look at and taste and i made up this upside down orange almond cake that turned out so completely divine but devilishly hi-cal.”

mandarinDSC00640pnkw

ok the recipe is really simple and am sure you’ll get some preserved mandarins.

so

100 gms butter

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, separated

mix them well together, add some of the syrup from the preserve

add a cup of almond meal with a tsp baking powder (i did 3/4 cup almond meal n 1/4 cup flour)

pour in some grenadine or cointreau for good measure

beat the whites stiff, fold into batter

in a loaf tin, ( mine is approx 3.5″ x 8″) greased and dusted, (additionally, layer the bottom with grease paper – that prevents the oranges from burning) huddle the oranges at the bottom of the tin, pour in the batter and they will fill the gaps and hold the oranges together.

bake according to your oven, but mine was 200 deg till it rose, then 170 till it was done. took about 55 mins i think.

when cooled, turn it over so the oranges are on top.

if serving as dessert, i think whipped cream would be great, but it was  good on its own and seemed right to have it while it was lukewarm.

enjoy

Picture borrowed from http://neckredrecipes.blogspot.sg/2009/05/mandarin-whisky-marmalade.html

Indonesian ‘sambal’ grilled Fish

This has to be one of the easiest and most delish of fish dishes !
  • Marinate fish fillets with salt and a fair bit of coriander powder (I used mackarel).
  • Pound garlic, green or red chilies and shallots into a coarse paste.
  • Pan fry the fish in minimum oil, remove, add the ground mixture and fry a bit. Return the fish to the pan, toss & saute, and voila … ready to eat.

A Light Grilled Fish

The programme calls for 200g of any fish, and one of the gang shared her recipe, with her trademark throw-it-together-depending-on-what’s-in-the-refrigerator.
  • Douse 200gms of Basa (fish) fillet in a coriander, lemongrass and shallot paste moistened with Meyer lemon (off my tree) juice, and a skimpy dribble of olive oil.
  • Grill.

I could have another 200gms!

From a newspaper : This Chinese fruit has age-shrouded origins but experts judge it to be a Mandarin-lemon hybrid. With dark yellow skin and flesh when ripe, it is tart but sweeter than a regular lemon, with an orange blossom note to its aroma. These are lemons with added complexity.

Preparing yourself for a new food programme

Having recently embarked on a new food regime to re-balance and recalibrate one’s metabolism for optimal functioning, we had to undergo a week of preparing the body – a kind of cleansing or detox. Here are the fundamentals.

8 – 10 glasses of water a day.

6.15 a.m. : One glass of water before coffee

Green tea, twice a day

2 cups of vegetable salads every day

  • Use low fat salad dressings like vinegerettes, salsa, herbs, no/low oil dressings
  • Use onions, tomatoes, radish, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, capsicum / coloured bell peppers, sprouts, salad leaves

200ml of milk and 100gm yoghurt every day

Cooked dishes

Use low fat bases like tomato-onion, spice, coriander-mint or vinegar based gravies.           No high fat bases with almonds, cashews, cream, coconut, cheese, other nuts and/or garnishes like raisins, extra ghee etc .

  • Breakfast is HEAVY and dinner is LIGHT
  • Salad with every breakfast – bigger, heavier vegetables
  • Salad with every dinner – using salad leaves

Non-Vegetarian

  • Chicken – only lean cuts – no skin and fat, no organ meats.
  • Fish – fatty fishes like king fish, pomfret, sardines etc, NO shell fishes – prawns, mussels, crabs, lobsters etc
  • No Red meat

Grilled/Tandoori chicken and fish are excellent ways to cook

Do not overcook, do not use butter or other fats to bast, cook or marinate the meat.         Use a tsp of oil as an option.

Good Fats

Include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and virgin olive oil or cold pressed flax seed oil

Calcium : Very important – do not have with a meal, or with tea or coffee

Wild Olives

Wild olives, anybody ?

Wild Olives

One of the Gangof480 mailed this picture with the message : In my yard. Aren’t they pretty? I am going to have a crack at pickling them. Must be a recipe on google.

How lucky is she to step into her yard to pick this bounty as and when ? Or even to sit in the patio, sipping a coffee, with this view ?

There are plenty of recipes for pickling olives, one of the gang found this recipe on Green Prophet.

Olives are eaten with almost every meal in the Middle East, sometimes even at breakfast. Organically grown olives are the most delicious. Dried and salty or plump and succulent, glowing in gem-like green, black, brown, and purple, olives … some people like their olives hot with fiery chilis. Some prefer them tangy with preserved lemons, or mellowed with bay leaves. You can pickle and season fresh olives by the kilo if you want, and it’s not hard. You will need a knife or a hard rock, and a mason jar or any other large jar with a tight-fitting lid.

It’s in autumn that olives are harvested and appear in the markets. The olives marinate in plain salt brine, changed daily, for a week. During that time their original bitterness will leach out into the water. In the following 4-8 weeks, they marinate in fresh brine and seasonings.

  • 1 kilo fresh olives
  • water
  • salt

After a week, you will need:

  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • chili peppers to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Optional: oregano, thyme, rosemary, grains of black pepper, allspice

Rinse the olives, drain. Discard spoiled ones.

Either cut three slits in each olive or crush them with a clean rock, a few at a time. If crushing, only press hard enough to crack them open, not mash them.

Put the olives in the jar.  Cover them with water. Make sure there are none floating – weigh them down with a small saucer or drape a clean recycled plastic bag over the surface of the water to keep them under.

Change the water every 24 hours. Do this for a week.

The olives will lose their bright color as their bitterness leaches out. When the olives are uniformly darker, taste them to judge if they’re ready for brining. If they’re still bitter, soak them and change the water for another few days.

Once the olives are ready, drain them and put them in a large bowl while washing out their jar.

Make a brine. This is:

10 grams of salt for every 100 ml. of water or  7 tablespoons of salt per half-cup of water.

Mix well. Replace the olives in the clean jar. Pour the brine over all. Add herbs and spices to taste. Cover the olives with plenty of olive oil to exclude air and prevent spoilage. Close the jar. Leave it alone for a month, then taste an olive every week or so till you’re satisfied.

Always remove olives for serving with a clean, dry spoon. Keep the majority in their brine and seasonings – they will only improve.