Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chard Bhujia


Chard, or mangold - as it is called here, is a vegetable which grows in Germany too. And it being summers we are getting it at local markets everywhere. Otherwise half of the things that you find in the markets are not grown here, as the climate does not allow it.
On seeing fresh and crispy mangold in the market, I quickly bought 1 kg of it and used it on two consequtive days making two different recipes, both of which turned out good.
One very easy but lovely recipe is the simple Indian Bhaji. Last year was the first time that I made chard in an Indian style, otherwise I always made it with spaghetti, which was delicious too. But last year I had bought this variety from someone selling organic demeter vegetables and very spontaneously decided to make it like a bhujia as we call it at home, or as I remember it from my childhood days in Calcutta - Bhaji, fried shortly in rapeseed oil, and it had turned out so good.
Making and above all eating it gave me one of the feelings I get from some Indian dishes which make me feel so close to home, or should I say, to my childhood! This was a very good compensation for "muli ki bhujiya", both my mom and my grandmother used to make and I just loved it, and which I cannot make here as it is very difficult to get radishes with leaves.


While making chard bhaji this time, impulsive as I am, I did a small experiment, which was only half an experiment, as I felt good about it turning out right. Although, I had become doubtfull, after tasting it in the beginning. Read on to see what happened...


Ingredients:

3 Mangold / Chard (roughly 500 - 700 g, more than a pound)
1-2 tbsp Rapeseed oil (canola oil)
1 pinch asafpetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp freshly ground fenugreek seeds (the spontaneous experiment!)
1 middle sized onion, cut into thin stripes
1 small clove garlic (optional)
1/4 th tsp chilli powder
1 medium tomato
1/3 rd tsp Amchur /Mango powder( optionally lemon juice)
salt to taste
(be careful with its use, as just like spinach, the volume of chard reduces a lot at the end)


Method:
  • Clean the chard thoroughly of sand and gritt and chop into thin stripes, including the stem
  • Heat oil in a sautè pan or a wok (Kadhai) and let the cumin seeds splutter, add hing and ground fenugreek seeds and turmeric and stir once*
  • Immediately add onion, garlic and coriander powder, stir further till onion is golden brown
  • add the chard to it and chilli powder and reduce heat towards low
  • cook covered, stirring in between
  • Add the chopped tomatoe and Amchur and salt as per requirement. Cook till done
  • Serve warm with daal and rice or roti (Indian flatbread)
*add the spices along with the onion garlic and ginger, if cooking this type of Indian dish for the first time, as one needs to be careful not to burn the spices.

We ate it with Arhar daal and chawal (rice) for dinner and it was throughly enjoyable. Rishab, my son, finished off his plate and left behind only the tomatoes and some pieces of onion (as expected!). That made me especially happy.
Now coming back to the experiment, just when I had added some oil into the pan, I opened the cupboard to take out something and saw this bottle of fenugreek seeds and felt like adding it to the bhaji I was preparing. So, I quickly ground some seeds in the cofee mill - my spice mill, and used it for the recipe. Initially, when I had just started cooking the chard I tasted it and was a bit surprised at the bitter taste of fenugreek seeds which I could taste distinctly. But, then I felt that it just needed some time to cook and absorb some moisture and I was right, thankfully!
The bhujiya was very pleasant and enjoyable just because of the flavours of fenugreek and the nutty flavour of rapeseed oil, which reminds me distinctly of mustard oil, both being quite similar in taste.

Now, I am aware of all the controversies which surround rape seed oil or canola oil or for that matter mustard oil in India because of their erusic acid content and its harmful effects. But, I see the matter a bit differently. Mustard oil, which is quite similar to Rapeseed oil in its constituents, the proportions may be different, and flavour, is being used since ages in India and in my opinion these are one of the healthiest plant oils for cooking purposes, next only to olive oil. A ver interesting article on this is here.
What makes cold pressed virgin rape seed oil so good is that it by nature contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, in very good proportions just like mustard oil and is one of very good plant sources of Omega 3 fatty acids as it can be used regularly for cookig food. One needs to store it in airtight containers in a dark and cool spot, just like olive oil and if possible in dark bottles. That prevents the oil to loose its goodness, i.e., prevent damage caused otherwise by sunlight or heat and oxygen, which all lead to rancidity.
If you want to cook or shallow fry or sauté with the oil, it is very good, but for deep frying one should use oils with a high smoke point, like sunflower oil or peanut oil, as these do not degrade so easily into toxins at higher temperatures, which are produced while heating oil, which in turn depends on the the degree of saturation in the fatty acids in the respective oils.
To put it in short, I consider a good quality virgin (cold pressed) rape seed or mustard oil a very good cooking medium for ones health, if used appropriately and in moderation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fenugreek Puris


This is another creation of mine which is a result of my fenugreeek fever! - Thanks to Redchillies event! ;)
After making puris the last time (fenugreeek fever) successfully, I felt like making them again and my family agreed readily too. As, this might be the last time that I make puris this year. So, this time i trie the idea i had in my mind of adding kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves, into the dough. This is something I have tried a number of times with paranthas, but never with puris. Well, I make them only once a year, if at all.

This time I had made the dough a bit softer, which made it more difficult to roll them out as easily like the last time. Typically the puri dough contains some oil and is stiffer than a roti dough, both were not the case this time. But, these were no less delicious than we made the last time, and we relished them to the full. Rishab was munching on them just like that.

Methi Puri

Ingredients:


2 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat atta ( I used whole wheat flour and whole grain missa atta* in the ratio 2/3 and 1/3)
1/5 tsp turmeric
2-3 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp ajwain
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rapeseed oil (I left it out)
1 pinch red chilli powder
water
* whole grain Missa Atta: whole channa (with skin) and whole barley in rougly 2:1 proportions.

Method:
see my last post on Urd daal puris for details
  • mix all the ingredients for puri thoroughly
  • add water slowly and knead into a stiff dough and keep aside for 20 to 30 minutes
  • heat about 600 ml of oil in a wok or deep frying pan for frying the puris on high heat, reduce to about medium-high later, if required
  • In the meantime make small round balls out of the dough
  • flatten them with your fingertips using some oil and roll out round, uniform and thin puris with a rolling pin and using drops of oil when required on a clean and smooth surface
  • deep fry in hot oil and take out with a skimmer and let drip on two layers of kitchen roll before serving
Aloo subzi

Ingredients:
4 large potatoes, boiled with skin from the day before, peeled and cut into small pieces or as per taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large pinch crushed asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 pinch red chilli powder
1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil
salt to taste

Method:
  • heat oil in a fry pan and add cumin and asafoestida, sothat they splutter, stir once
  • Immidiately add the chopped onion and ginger, stir
  • add turmeric and coriander seeds powder and sautè everything till onion are golden brown in colour
  • Add the potatoes and stir fry, adding the chilli powder and salt after a while as well, till done
  • serve with rotis, paranthas or puris
Guten Appetit! As you would say it here, or to put it simply: ENJOY!

This is my second entry to Redchillies' Herb mania- Fenugreek!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Creamy Strawberry and Chocolate Icecream


Rishab, my son, loves sweets and chocolates. His clear answer this year for the type of cake he wanted for his birthday party was a chocolate cake . But a few weeks back we got to know, or realise, that he might be lactose intolerant. Some checkups still need to be done, but, as advised by his gastroenterologist, we are giving him a lactose free diet. That means I have to exclude anything which contains any type of milk or milk products, unless it has been made lactose free (through lactase enzyme).
That also means no icecreams for him. I found one packet of lactose free icecream, but after tasting its artificial flavours, I was quite apprehensive of buying them again. Of course, my son didn't mind it. Anything sweet is always good!

Well, after seeing so many icecream recipes at different blogs I felt I should also make some on my own, as I found lactose free creams as well in the market. Now, all I needed was a good recipe which can be made easily, without requiring any icecream maker, and I found a delicious recipe at Meeta's "What's For Lunch, Honey?"
On asking him, if he wanted a chocolate icecream, he immediately said "yes!". Not surprisingly, as he is not allowed to eat chocolates right now as most of them contain milk or milk products and I haven't tried dark chocolates, but for the longer run, I'll have to figure out something.
Though, now I felt that he deserved a chocolate icecream as he has been so cooperative, never complaining about all the changes that I have made in his diet plan, worst of all at the kindergarten.
So, this was my first trial at making icecream, for which I took this simple but tempting recipe of a "Dark Chocolate Icecream" at Meeta's What's For Lunch, Honey?

I have modified it sligthly to make it lactose free and used strawberries instead of raspberries.
Ingredients:

250 ml soya cream (17% fat)
120 ml lactose free heavy cream
5 tablespoons (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
140g ( about 2/3 cup) fine sugar
250g (2 cups) strawberries


Method:
  • Whisk together all the ingredients,except for the strawberries, in a saucepan.
  • Puree the strawberries and pass through a fine sieve.
  • Bring the cocoa-cream mixture to a rolling boil while frequently whisking in between.
  • Remove from heat, add the puried strawberries and mix. Cover the saucepan for approx. 10 minutes.
  • With an ice-cream maker (detailed instructions given at WFLH):
    • Place the mixture in the fridge an chill completely for 24 hours.
    • Allow the mixture to churn and freeze until smooth and creamy, as per the instructions of the manufacturer.
  • Without an ice-cream maker (that is how I did it):
    • Pour the ice-cream mixture into a flat steel box with a lid. Once the mixture has cooled down, put it at -15 °C in the freezer for about an hour.
    • Take out and whisk everything shortly and thoroughly with a hand blender.
    • Put it back in the freezer and repeat the process after every hour, until it begins to thicken on the edges of the tin. Decrease the time to 45 minutes if required.
    • Once it is smooth, creamy and frozen it is ready to be served.
NOTE: Depending upon the temperature of the freezer whisking may be more frequently required.

Rishab enjoyed the icecream fully. He got two small scoops of the icecream and finished every bit of it and wanted more strawberries for it, which I gave him a bit surprised though, that he actually wanted to eat the icecream along with the fruits.
Me and hubby ate some as well and found it quite delicious. It had a rich chocolately flavour and this slightly tangy flavour of the fruits, as described by Meeta in the recipe. Strawberries also have this fruity sourness along with being sweet, just like raspeberries, which also makes them so delicious.
I must also mention that I could not continue to blend the icecream every 45 minutes till the end after it had begun to harden on the edges, as it was already time to go to bed, but it tuned out soft enough, I felt, that was quite good for the fact that I didn't have an icecream maker.

This is going to be my last minute entry to "Fruit Fair", this months MBP, being hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Puri Aloo: Indian fried bread with spicy potato curry


Puri Aloo. Just the name of it makes my mouth water. The memories of the lovely street food of Uttar Pradesh and many other places where we accompanied our parents on pilgrimages. The steaming hot puffed balls of puri and daal-katchauris, fried at many places in ghee, and the flavours of spicey mathwan aloo ki sabzi. Served with hot mixed- or mango pickes and Indian style onion, tomato and cucumber salad. What else can you ask for! It was total bliss for me and my sisters as children. We enjoyed these meals to the full. My mom made them at home too, though on occasions like some festivals which we always looked forward to, not only becaue of the food , but the food was always the big attraction!

It is summer time here and I had been wanting to fullfill my craving for fried Indian food, be it pakoras or puris before the summers are over. I have made pakoras already this summer and now it was time to make puris as well. As in the winters you can't open the windows like you can now and none of us at home like the fried and oily smell in the house, which is not healthy either. I had bought a bottle of sunflower oil just for this purpose and kept it aside, so that I can be spontaneous enough for frying. But, somehow my craving for it wasn't as big.
Not until I saw these beautiful puris on Jai and Bees Jugalbandi and the lovely combination with aloo bhaji , or mathwan aloo as I know them from my home. And the use of nigella seeds in the puri and the idea of kneading the urad daal into the dough was as great. Now, why spend hours filling the katchauri when it is that easy to make them so delicious. I knew, I had to make them that very day. I guess, had it not been for Zlamushka's monthy event, I would have probably never noticed this recipe.
Their recipe called for soaking the urad daal for some time, but I had no time for that, as it was already afternoon. But then, I remembered that my sister had told me about her making urd daal katchauris by grinding the skinned urd daal in her coffee mill which had turned out great. So, I had my solution to the problem.

So, here it goes, my version of the lovely recipe from Jugalbandi which I modified slightly as it was required and partly on a whim...

Ingredients:

Urd daal Puri:

1/2 cup skinned black gram, ground into a fine powder with a coffee mill /dry grinder
2 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat atta ( I used whole wheat flour and whole grain missa atta* in the ratio 2/3 and 1/3)
1/5 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
1 tsp ajwain (as a replacement for nigella seeds, which I don't have right now and couldn't find them locally here)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 pinch red chilli powder
water

* whole grain Missa Atta: whole channa (with skin) and whole barley in rougly 2:1 proportions, My father got it grounded from the local mill right in front of him, got them double packed in small packets and gave them to me before we left India.

Method:
  • mix all the ingredients for puri thoroughly
  • add water slowly and knead into a stiff dough and keep aside for 20 to 30 minutes
  • heat about 600 ml of oil in a wok or deep frying pan for frying the puris on high heat, reduce to about medium-high later, if required
  • In the meantime make small round balls out of the dough
  • flatten them with your fingertips using some oil and roll out round, uniform and thin puris with a rolling pin and using drops of oil when required on a clean and smooth surface
  • deep fry in hot oil and take out with a skimmer and let drip on two layers of kitchen roll before serving
  • Eat when still warm
  • If made in advance, store in an airtight container and warm slightly before eating on a pan or in the microwave for a few seconds

How to get the puris right :
  • If the oil is not hot enough, the puris will not puff up.
  • To promote a uniform puffing of puris, keep the skimmer on top of the puri in oil as soon as it comes up on the surface, especially when using a ceramic or electric cooktop.
  • turn it around as soon as it puffs up and take out after a few seconds
  • if the oil is too hot the puris will become brown too fast
  • here a video on making puris at about.com
Mathwan Aloo (Aloo Bhaji):

4-5 large potatoes, washed, scrubbed clean and boiled (I used a floury potato variety)
2 tbsp oil or ghee (I used both)
1 tsp ajwain (mustard seeds were then on my list of things to buy from the Indian shop)
1 large pinch crushed asafoetida
1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1 inch (2 cm) piece ginger, scraped and grated
1/2 cup natural yoghurt (I used soya yoghurt)
1 pinch red chilli powder
1 tsp salt

Method:
  • boil and peel the potatoes when still hot. Wash them once quickly in cold water before peeling them
  • heat oil+ or ghee in a deep saucepan, add ajwain, it should immediately start spluttering (check if the oil is hot enough by first adding one seed into the oil), add asafoetida, ground fenugreek seeds, ground coriander seeds and grated ginger, stir to still they start smelling good (be quick and careful not to burn them!)
  • add potatoes and crush them lightly with the wooden spoon or spatula and stir to coat them with the spices
  • add the yoghurt and stir further
  • add fenugreek, chilli powder, salt and water, and cook on low heat till the potatoes take the flavour of the spices
  • serve with hot puris and as per choice with sides like achaar and chutneys
This was a lovely combination. The flavour of kasuri methi in the aloo gave it a very good "pepp", as we call it here - "liveliness" is one good translation. It was a good decision and the gentle flavour of methi seeds also added to the flavour. Now, this is something I have learned from my mom, who regularly used ground meethi seeds in daals.
Now, if I have a favorite Indian leafy vegetable then it is Fenugreek, methi as it is called in Hindi. And my liking for it has grown with time as it is imossible to get it here in any form except as Kasuri Methi (a variety of dried Fenugreek). Well, better than nothing. I stuffed myslef with Methi when I went to India this year. But I still crave for the flavour of fresh methi. Next year I plan to try out growing my own methi in my kitchen garden, but then that is another chapter of the book, as these summers are slowly coming to an end and the sun God has been playing games, or should I say peek-a-boo with us this time much too often.

So, I keep a good stock of Kasuri methi in my pantry. Lately I had been seeing the bottle every time I would open the door and realised that I hadn't used it since a while, but it was never the right moment to use it. But, thanks to the Fenugreek herb mania at Redchillies I read about a few days ago, it is on my mind all the time and I am discovering new ways to use dried Fenugreek and the seeds in many dishes, like here too.

So, this is my entry for Redchillies' Herb mania- Fenugreek!

And of course also to Zlamushka's monthly event Tried and Tasted where the blog of the month is none other than Jai and Bee's Jugalbandi.

Monday, August 18, 2008

When hubby cooks.....

....spaghetti with tomato sauce!
I had an appointment with the doctor for my son. It was late in the afternoon. Since hubby came home earlier than us, he started cooking his favorite dish which he is of the opinion nobody can cook better!
Since I don't exactly know the proportions, I 'll write down all that I could figure out while sneaking from behind and partly because he asked me for the ingredients ;-) !
Ingredients:

1/3 packet of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (1 packet=500 g)
1 tsp salt
water for cooking the noodles

Tomato Sauce:
olive oil, lots of it! (~3-4 tbsp)
1-2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, chopped finely
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 box Igloo frozen 8-Kräuter chopped herbs
1/4 box Igloo frozen chopped parsely
1 tbsp capers along with a few tsp brine
salt, to taste
a 1 inch (2-3 cm) piece of parmesan, grated

Method:
  • Bring water to a boil and add salt and noodles. Stir in between. Cook till done (al denté, or as per taste). Pour out the water and wash them shortly with cold water and if the sauce is not already ready, add a little olive oil to coat the noodle with oil to prevent from sticking.
  • Fry the garlic for short in olive oil and add the chopped tomatoes and stir
  • add the tomato paste and stir. Cook till everything has become homogenous
  • add the frozen herbs, the capers and salt to taste and stir
  • Either mix the sauce with the noodle or serve separately garnished with grated parmesan, as per choice.
Since we have a 3 year old, who can make a big drama if he does not get to see the noodle pure, without anything, we always keep things, whenever possible, separate and mix in our own plates later!
The noodle were very well done. A quickfix which was also tasty! The only thing I missed was the pinch of sugar. They say here that tomatoes always need a pinch of sugar to enhance their taste, and I feel it is quite true.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunny Corn muffins !


I think, I'm not overdoing it when I say these were the best muffins I ever made and ate.
The combination of corn and coconut made this simple recipe into something so special!

I dedicate this recipe to my dear Advik, my nephew, who needs a gluten- and dairy free diet.
He was about 7 months old when I first met him. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. So sweet and chubby with large black eyes. It was so much fun playing with him. All you had to do was stand in front of him and do something funny or stupid and he would start giggling, moving his whole body with excitement! And I still remember so well, when I would sing him a lullaby, instead of falling asleep he would look startled with wide eyes and lift up his head to listen! So, I usually had to stop singing, lest I may make him totally awake. :)
But, time flies and he is going to be 7 now. I was so surprised last month to realise that he is already so old. "Seven!", I thought. And since about three years he is on this diet and it has not been easy for his mom, my sister, to take on this challange, which it still proves to be for her, when you have to exclude anything from their daily diet plan which does not clearly indicate to be or is not obviously diary- and gluten free.
Since we live so far apart, living on two different continents, across the ocean, I wanted to be a part of it in some way and I thought of making and finding recipes which are gluten and dairy free. So, from now onwards, every now and then, you will see such recipes without gluten and dairy on my blog. Thanks to the internet and the blogging trend, I already have a couple of good sources for such recipes. And I would surely appreciate, if you have tips for me in this regard.

So, here goes the recipe of these mouthwatering and flavourful corn muffins:

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes (in preheated oven)
Oven temp.: 160°C convection (180°C electric)
Makes 6 muffins
(To make 12, double the quantities)


Ingredients:

Wet ingredients:
125 ml hot milk (soya milk)
1 tbsp vinegar (any variety)
80 g cornmeal (gluten-free)
1 egg (optionally correction: 3 tbsp applesauce)
60 g sugar
60 ml oil

Dry ingredients:
60 g cornstarch(or any gluten-free edible starch)
2 tsp cream of tartar baking powder (56% cream of tartar; gluten-free)
50 g grated dessicated coconut
50 g raisins
50 g dried soft apricots, quartered

Method:
  • Soak the corn meal in hot milk in a large bowl for half an hour, keeping it warm
  • In the mean time mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside
  • Place muffin liners in the muffin tins
  • Preheat convection oven to 160 °C (electric : 180°C)
  • Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir shortly just to mix, don't mix for long!
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix quickly just to wet all the ingredients
  • Fill the muffin tins with the batter using a tablespoon and place in the preheated oven
  • Bake for 20 minutes, check if baked through and then take out immediately
  • Don't leave in the oven for too long!
Note: To make it eggless, replace the quantity of egg with applesauce, roughly 3 tbsp for each egg. This is a standard procedure with wheat muffins. I haven't tried it with these ones.

They are best eaten when still warm. I did not use any flavouring agents like vanilla or any other aroma, as the aroma of coconut and the combination with corn made it unnecessary.
You can take any filling you want. Fresh fruits like apricots, peeches or even dried plums would be great.
Although, on the next day, I just poured one or two tbsp water over them and microwaved them for 15 secons for each muffin and they were great to eat! The reason they get too dry is the cornmeal which does not swell enough and dries up with time. Have to optimise it a little bit more with regard to the soaking of the cornmeal. Maybe I should let the cornmeal soak in the hot milk on the stove and add more milk maybe next time.
Hubby, like so often, refused to eat it initially, looking very sceptically "corn muffins...?!". But, I know him better now, after I offered a small piece of the hot muffin to him, he was all for it ("Ya, gib mal her!" translates to something like: yeah, give me one!) and ate two of these straight away! :D

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tofu stirfry

Last week I very spontaneously bought tofu from my local market, which offers very good organic tofu. Now, it's actually been ages that I have made tofu. Usually I have problems with frying it as it breaks into pieces or sticks to the pan (I've stopped using any non-stick pans). But, this time I knew I had to be careful with the temperatures to get it right, as I had an awakening while making paneer the last time! :) . So, I just checked the fridge for the other ingredients - the vegetables, and got going....

Ingredients:

1 packet (250 g) Tofu, cut into squares and pat dried with a kitchen roll
10 florets Broccoli
2 small carrrots, cut into small and thin slices
12 pieces crimini Mushrooms, quartered
1 small green bell pepper, cut into small and thin slices
a few scallions, cut into rings, along with the fresh green parts
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
3 cm piece ginger, scraped and finely grated
1 tsp fresh whole green pepper seeds
a few tbsp oil
soy sauce
sherry vinegar (it was an expensive but excellent replacement for rice vinegar)
2 tbsp corn starch (or any edible starch)
1/2 cup water (divided)
1/2 tsp shrimp paste (optional)

Method:
  • Fry the tofu pieces on medium heat till they get a light yellowish tinge on one side, turn them around to fry both the sides, add some soy sauce and a few drops of sherry vinegar, stir gently and take out of the pan and keep warm
  • Blanch, or just cook for short in some water, the carrots and broccoli.
  • Stir fry green bellpeppers, scallion rings, and the carrots and broccoli in some oil on high heat. Add some soy sauce and a dash of vinegar, stir and take out and keep warm
  • Stir fry the garlic and ginger and mushrooms, on high heat until they get a crispy brown colour
  • Add the reremaining vegetables back to it and stir gently. Add some more soy sauce, if required
  • Add some soy sauce, vinegar and a few tbsp water to corn starch in a small bowl to mix and them add rest of the water tp make a thin soupy mixture, add shrimp paste to it
  • Add this to the pan and let cook covered, first on high heat and reduce heat immidiately to low, stir once gently and cover for another 2 minutes
  • Serve with warm rice amd some chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
This turned out quite good, better than I had expected and left us all quite satisfied after the meal. And although shrimp paste is not a typical ingredient of chinese food, it was not at all out of place and added very much to the taste, but can be easily left out as well.
One thing I plan to try out in the future is the fermented black bean curd. I'm learning!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Woodland Strawberries

Wild strawberries in my garden

Just for the memories....
Frageria vesca, called woodland- or wild strawberry, is a variety of small strawberries, which are very aromatic and strongly flavoured, but are not very fleshy, partly because of their small size. They don't always turn completely red or only partly red when ripe, but still have a very pleasant and a mildly sweet taste.
A friend of mine gave me this "Wald-Erdbeere", as it is called in German, when she came to visit me about two years ago in autumn. Initially I thought it to be the same as some other variety, whose berries looked a bit different than the typical strawberries and although they were very aromatic, didn't taste as good.
But, the next year, when the strawberries grew, I enjoyed eating these and this time Rishab too!



want to eat some too?!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thai Chicken in Red curry


Both myself and Chonu, my hubby, we love Thai food. After having eaten a couple of times at some Restaurants I also started cooking these dishes myself at home. Earlier, when we did not have any restrictions on the hotness of the sauce, I used generous amounts of these packaged curry pastes. And we found them not bad at all. They do not contain any preservatives or colours or any flavour enhancers et cetera. And still, they give the food a very authetic Thai flavour. One does notice the difference in the freshness between a good Restaurant curry, I admit, but still not to such an extent. In fact, this Thai friend, living here in Germany, told me that she likes to use them too - although, I guess more out of need than choice.
I still use these curry pastes, to avoid making things too complicated, but despite that, I cannot use these pastes like before, as that makes the curry we make too hot for my son to be able to eat and enjoy them. Earlier I used half of the paste each time for both of us, now it is not more than a teaspoon of the total, which is almost 1/10th of the whole quantity. But, it still adds to the wonderful flavours of the curry. So, I usually keep at least one packet of these pastes in stock in my pantry. But, otherwise I try to use as many fresh ingredients for the curry as possible.

For last Friday we had already planned a few days before that we will be eating Thai style chicken. And the desire to make it became even stronger after I saw a post on My Cooking Hut, a food blog, yesterday with some beautiful pictures and delicious recipes from someone who is a Malaysian. Her post on a prawn curry was the inspiration for this recipe.
The chicken turned out so good. Sometimes I feel the clarity of thought and a relaxed mind at that moment is so important to get good results while cooking too. Rather than a hurriedly prepared meal. I personally get into trouble when I have to prepare something in a hurry and I loose this feeling which usually guides me while cooking. Then I prefer sticking to the food I grew up eating, which I could prepare with my (concious) brain shut off!
So, here it goes, a simple but very tasty recipe:

Ingredients:


3 filets Chicken, washed, pat dried and cut into thin stripes

Chicken Marinade:
fish sauce and
a pinch of ground curcuma
1/2 tbsp dried coriander powder (optional - I'm just so fanatic about it!)
1 tbsp lime/lemon juice (added later, had forgotten to add this!)

Onion paste:
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 small garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 inch (about 3 cm) ginger, chopped coarsely
1 tsp lime juice

1 can of coconut mik, shaken before opening
2 cups green beans (French beans), chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped into thin slices
fish sauce, to taste

1 tsp Kaang Pa Country Style Red Curry Paste (Lobo)
1 lemon grass, cut into long pieces and the white part crushed
5-6 kaffir lime leaves, chopped or leaves slit on both sides of the mid-vain
1/2 lime (or lemon), the juice
1/2 tbsp dried coriander powder (optional)
1 cup cabbage, chopped

1 tomato, chopped
10 sprigs Thai basil leaves, washed and pat dried

2 tbsp coriander leves (cilantro), chopped, to garnish

Method.
  • Marinate chicken : chicken pieces+ fish sauce+ turmeric+lime juice
  • Make into a fine paste: onion, garlic and ginger with lime juice using an electric chopper/ food processor
  • In a sauté pan or wok cook the beans and carrots in a few tbsps of coconut milk on medium heat till done, add a dash of fish sauce or to taste, if required add water, and set aside
  • Again add a few tbsps of coconut milk in the pan and cook the chicken, stirring in between on medium heat till the chicken is done, adding more coconut milk, if required, and letting the coconut milk to dry up and turn golden brown. Take out and mix with the cooked vegetables
  • Add some more coconut milk to the pan and fry the onion paste with the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, the red curry paste, first on high heat and then, when the paste starts to get a bit dry, on low heat for a further two minutes , stirring continuously
  • Add the chopped cabbage and a little more coconut milk stirring further
  • Add the chicken and vegetables backinto the pan, stir and add the remaining cocnut milk and all the other ingredients except for the Thai basil and cilantro garnish and simmer for further two mintes.
  • Switch off heat and add Thai basil and leave covered for a minute, mix
  • Serve garnished with cilantro
Now, my red curry does not as red, as I have taken very little of the paste and no red chillies for it, but it tasted so delicious! When it comes to Thai or any south Asian food, I'm all for it!