Wednesday, 12 January 2011

the chicken skewers last night were a touch hot....

Reading two teaspoons of crushed fresh chillies, I thought, nah, why that doesn't look so much - just bung a bit more in.  Luckily our new au-pair says she likes spicy food, and actually meant it, wasn't just being polite.  It nearly took the roof off my mouth. 

But unlike the disastrous goan curry, you could taste the ginger, garlic and coriander nicely.

Which was something I guess.

And it got the thumbs up from, yes you guessed it, my husband.  So all good there.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

OK so after the New Year's Eve feast....

So...the goan curry was a bit of a let down.  I say a bit of a let down - it should have been marvellous - Chicken Xacuti aka Spicy Chicken in thick sauce - has mine and husband's names all over it....

God it was dreadful.

It was hot, and that's about all I can say.  Despite the myriad of spices in the recipe (which I stuck to faithfully), it was hot and that was all.  Sour hot, not even that nice hot with a great depth of flavour.  Nothing.

So I was banned from cooking ANYTHING FROM THAT BOOK for a while.

But here we are, 11 days later, and I'm having another go.  Admittedly, I've kind of made some changes to that great grilled lamb chops recipe (doing the first stage of the marinade and leaving out all the yoghurt which didn't bbq so well), and I'm doing it with chicken but hey ho, I'm back on the book.

Strangely, for a man who doesn't like curried veg, the okra got the thumbs up from my husband - caveated with "but don't go cooking it every time we have a curry"...

So here's the okra recipe

Bhindi Pyaz (Crispy Okra with Onions)
500g okra
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 onions (chopped)
4-6 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed

Soak the okra in a bowl of lightly salted water for about 5 minutes

Now trim away the stem just above the ridge, then slice the okra into miniature wheels.

Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until browned.  Add the chillies and fry for about 2 minutes, or until they are pale green.  Add the cumin seeds and fry for about 30 seconds, then add the okra and season with salt.  Stir well and cook, stirring frequently to prevent the okrea from sticking to the pan, for about 8 minutes or until done.

So tonight's dish will be as follows:

4 medium sized chicken breasts, cubed
2 teaspoons garlic paste
2 teaspoons ginger paste
1 large teaspoon chilli paste
1 tablespoon hot curry powder (I make my own containing powdered dried chillies, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, ground cardamom)
A good slug of oil
A good squeeze of lemon juice (about 2 lemons worth)

Mix all ingredients together and then add the chicken cubes.  Coat in the marinade and leave for a minimum of 3 hours.
thread onto bamboo skewers and then cook under a very hot grill, turning to ensure even cooking.

More tomorrow!  We'll have been in Joburg for a year and will be bbqing so lots to add.

Friday, 31 December 2010

The New Year's Eve feast - part 1!

So have finally settled on the menu for tonight's New Year's Eve feast for the two of us oldies staying at home with the kids!

Starting with Adraki Chaamp (aka ginger flavoured chops), followed by Chicken Xacuti (spicy chicken in thick sauce) with simple boiled rice, Bhindi Pyaz (crispy okra with onions) and roti.  I'm cheating (possibly) with the roti and hav some bought from our wonderful local Indian spice shop (they are home-made there though!).

So, the Adraki Chaamp:

1kg lamb chops

For the first marinade
4 tablespoons unripe papaya paste
1 tablespoon red chilli paste
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon vgetable oil
salt to season

For the second marinade
250ml natural yoghurt, whisked
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon garlic paste
4 tablespoons ginger paste
1 x 6cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
3 x tablespoons vegetable oil

To make the first marinade, combine all ingredients in a shallow dish and season with salt.  Place the chops in a shallow dish, cover evenly with the marinade and allow to to marinate in the fridge for 6 hours (I prefer to put the chops and the marinade in a sealed bag in the fridge, but only because we're short on space!)

To make the second marinade, combine all ingredients in a shallow dish and mix well.  Season with salt.  remove the meat from the first marinade, wiping off any excess liquid, and add the meat to the second marinade.  Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for a further 3 hours.

Grill the chops over hot coals or under a hot grill for about 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked.  Serve hot.

So far, we're at the first marinade stage with the chops in a bag in the fridge. 

Thursday, 30 December 2010

So, a brief history of Indian food, from Pushpesh Pant

The foods of India are as significant to its civilization as its majestic monuments, art and literature.  Indian food has taken on influences from as far afield as central Asia, southeast Asia and Turkey.  The Europeans, too, have left an indelible imprint on Indian cuisine and introduced ingredients that are now widely used alongside native foods.  These influxes of exotic produce, new crops and cooking techniques introduced by traders, pilgrims and soldiers have comgined to create a unique and dazzlingly varied cuisine.

The story of the world's love affair with Indian food dates back to the first millenium when an ancient Greek envoy described sugar cane as "Indian bamboo filled with honey".  Arab traders were later lured to India's Malabar coast in the southwest by a wealth of aromatic pepper, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.  It was also the lucrative spice trade that drew the Portuges explorer Vasco da Gama to India in 1498.  At that time the spices were worth many times their weight in gold and the expenses incurred on Gama's expedition were recovered several ties over by the quantities he took back with him.  It is estimated that one of his shipments alone consisted of 1,500 tons of pepper, twenty-eight tons of ginger, eight tons of cinnamon and seven tons of cloves.  And, while India's spices attracted Europeans to the area, the tradeers brought with them the culinary secrets of leavened bred, baking and noodles.  In return, the Indians introduced the Europeans to the joys of curry, mangoes and chutney.

More later...

an admin-y type post


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Maspatotia or Fish roasted in banana leaves

So....a little mustardey was the verdict around the dinner table.  And the instructions from the husband - don't curry fish.  Ever.

The recipe - dead easy although I'd change it a little (but that's just me)

800g firm white fish fillets (we actually used East Coast soles that were languishing at the back of the freezer)
4 green chillies, slit in half lengthways and de-seeded
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon mustard oil
3 banana leaves (or 3 pieces of foil)

Process the chillies, mustard seeds and mustard oil together in a blender, or if you prefer to exercise your arm muscles, a pestle and mortar (I chose the latter, need a bit of toning).  Spread over the fish and set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Wrap the fish in softened banana leaves and tie with kitchen twine to form parcels.  If using foil, wrap the fish and fold the foil under on one side and at each end.

Dry fry the parcels over a high heat for 3 minutes each side (or roast in the oven for 15 minutes if you prefer).

In all honesty, I'd probably substitute half the mustard seeds for a more aromatic spice - ginger or garlic perhaps.  And I'd probably add in something a little more fragrant - cardamom, a touch of cinnamon - the recipe tends towards sourness a little with the mustard seeds and oil.  But it's a very easy recipe to try, and let's face it, if dinner's a wipeout, you can always order in!

More about the regions later.

A little more about the book....

It's a feat - 815 pages thick and weighing in at approx 1.5kg, I'm needing strong arms to lift it - actually that's a lie - it's sitting open on the desk in the study most of the time as I stop to flick through the pages as I walk by...

Printed on that sort of notepapery kind of paper - not the glossy kind you get in most cookery books now, this is a real working cookery book - some great colour photographs in which most of the dishes are labelled, but it's a proper cooks cookbook - not one that you have on your shelf to look fancy, but you never use (you know which ones those are...).

Just a few words from the Introduction - you'll get the brief history of Indian food in all its glory tomorrow but for today

"For many people Indian cuisine is synonymous with the food of the Mughal shah, the illustrious rulers of most of India fom the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.  And, while it is true that a wonderful gastronomic revival took place during their reign - bringing us famous dishes such as korma and biryani - it must be remembered that there is far, far more to Incian food than curries alone."

Tonight's delight is Maspatotia (fish roasted in banana leaves).  The receipe allows to use foil instead, which I will.  I could search for banana leaves but that's for another day.