Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making a good seafood choice on the iPhone and an award

Things have been busy and I have hardly found time to go blog surfing. Will be visiting all your blogs sooner than later hopefully. This is not going to be a post on food, but rather to mention a few things which I want to finally get done with.

First:
Seafood Watch (Montery Bay Aquarium) has come up with an application for the iPhone or iPhone touch where you can quickly go through the recommendations on seafood and make a good (environment friendly) choice anywhere at a restaurant or while shopping for fish.
You can also get the recommendations if you have a mobile phone with an Internet connection. Online pocket guides are available at mobile.seafoodwatch.org.

Now coming to an award I have got from two wonderful bloggers:

Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes
and
Ramya of Ramya's Kitchen Corner


Thanks a ton! It does feel good to get appreciated for one's efforts at blogging. Thanks a lot for having thought of me!

Now it is time that I also pass it on as this award has been sitting unnoticed for a bit too long.
Now here I need to mention that it is not very clear to me what the idea behind this award is. (A Refreshing Blog- see update at bottom)
Wonder if "lemonade" represents something, I don't know of?
Anybody who can help?
But, at the same time, I feel the main purpose of these awards is to tell the other (blogger), yes, I like/love your work, an appreciation. So, this is how I pass it on to my fellow bloggers:


Anudivya of ...and a little bit more...

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen

Curry leaf of Experiments, Emotions, Experiences with food

Deesha of Vegetable Platter

N&A of Delectably Yours

Soma of eCurry

Sowmya of Creative Saga

Sunshinemom of Tongueticklers

Swapna of Cooking With Swapna

It is a lot of fun to be blogging just because of you all.
Now, before I publish this I must mention that I'm a bad case of dementia! :D
So, I would like to pass on the "lemonade" to all those who pass by and leave a comment and make my day! Thanks a lot!

Update: Anudiya clarified that the lemonade equals "refreshing". And yes, that makes sense. WOW! That sounds even more wonderful! So, once again Thanks a lot!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cranberry Chutney

a bowl of chutney in snow on our terrace

I have been using cranberries since a long time now and liked them right from the beginning. But, these were always packed dried cranberries. Cranberries don't grow in Germany, though I had once heard of a pilot project to grow them in Mecklenburg Vorpommern once. Don't know what happened of it. I was surprised when I saw fresh cranberries at REWE for the first time this time, where I went to after a long time and just couldn't resist buying them. Although, who knows, maybe I never noticed them before I got to see such lovely dishes being made with them on different blogs.

When I bought these fresh cranberries I wanted to make a nice tart with it like here at Doghill Kitchen. But somehow none of us was in a mood to eat anything sweet after having gorged on all those Christmas cakes and cookies for so long, so I dropped the idea. Instead, I decided to make a chutney, after having seen others make some too.
Cranberry and Fig Chutney (Relish)

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Ingredients:
250 g cranberries, cut into halves or quartered
2 inch piece ginger, grated
150 g dried figs, chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp fennel seeds, coarsely ground
1/8 tsp red chilli powder (use more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp black salt, ground - optional
1/4 tsp salt
1 star anise, to be taken out once the chutney is ready
200 g jelly sugar 2:1* (use quantity to taste)
1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin

Method:
  • Mix everything together and set aside for about half an hour or longer
  • cook it up stirring in between
  • reduce heat and keep cooking on medium low heat so that it keeps throwing bubbles
  • continue cooking for about 30 minutes, stirring in between
  • In the mean time prepare two 250 ml (boiled-) jars to be used for storing the chutney, if required
  • Fill the glasses with it and close lids tightly.
  • Once cooled down, store in the refrigerator

*NOTE:
  1. Jelly sugar contains pectin in addition to regular table sugar. I used up my last and already opened packet of jelly sugar for this, but you can also replace it with regular sugar. One may require to cook it for longer, though.
  2. Depending on its use you can reduce the amount of sugar to half. For example, if using as a side to poultry, you could use regular table sugar and half the amount.

One of the many ways I am enjoying eating this flavourful chutney is like this:
Rye bread with Camembert cheese and cranberry chutney

I loved this chutney. It is the best of all the chutneys I have made in the last few months so far. I liked the combination of dried figs and fresh cranberries a lot. Even though I did have some small doubts about if it will turn out good, but the end results made this chutney to be a perfect one. I think the the proportions of the two fruits and all the spices are also very good in this chutney. Talking about spices, one of the distinct flavours in the chutney apart from that of ginger is that of fennel seeds which impart a lovely aroma and which makes it so delicious in my opinion.
That reminds me of my childhood days when I loved munching on fennel seeds. Fennel seeds are also one of the few spices I always liked as a child. Maybe it also had to do something with the fact that my mom only very rarely bought toffees, chocolates or lollipops and stuff like that for us. So, maybe we got enough chances to enjoy chewing on fennel seeds instead. :D We also discovered something, very fascinating for us then, that after chewing fennel seeds the water on drinking tasted so delicious. Delicious is the best word that I can think of for it. It tasted so very sweet. It was almost like doing an experiment and enjoying it.
The reason, I think, why the water tasted sweet afterwards was the essential oils present in fennel seeds. So, do you also have such similar memories with fennel seeds?

I just realised that Ivy is hosting an event for which this recipe is just the right thing. The event has also got a very interesting name this time and a very interesting theme too. Off it goes to the event started by Sunita of Sunita’s World and being hosted by Ivy of Kopiaste:
Think Spice...Think Twice : Mastic gum or Fennel seeds



Another event I got to know of and to which I would like to send this entry of my very original bread-not-exactly-sandwich is to Bay Leaf's Bread Mania event.


Other Cranberry chutneys:
Crannbery pickle at Anudivya's A little bit more
Cranberry Chutney at Andrea's Recipes
Cranberry Apple Chutney at Jai and Bee's Jugalbandi
Pear Cranberry Chutney at Meeta's WFLH

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Daal : My comfort food


I don't remember anymore how I came upon it but we were sitting at the table having dinner and talking when we started talking about the taste and flavours in food and i suddenly remembere that there was this fifth "taste" which was discovered much later than the others like sweet, salty, sour and bitter. I was trying to think hard, but the only letter of the word that I remembered was 'U'. The word is comleted as Umami. I don't know exactly if we weren't tought about it in school or we were but I couldn't understand it so didn't remember. :D This is the information I collected:
Taste is one of the five senses of our body and from the biological point of view a chemoreception where a chemical stimulus is recognised by a sensory recepetor in our body - in this case a receptor found in our taste buds or "gustatory calyculi" that transmits the sensation of taste to our brain. Taste is a sensation which takes place on our tongue whereas flavour invloves the sensation of smell as well.
There are five basic tastes (taste sensations) :
Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and the comparitively newest (1907) - Umami. There are two more taste bud recepetors which have been identified which sense fatty acids (in fats and oils) and calcium respectively. NOTE: Hot or Spicy is not a taste in the same sense, since hotness is sensed in a different way (through somatosensory fibers sensing pain and temperature on the tongue).

Umami flavour is also described as savoury sometimes. It is very often found in fermented foods, and often produced through compounds like glutamate (one of the 24 amino acid) which bind to the taste bud receptors which recognise this stimulus. It comes much more often in Asian food or also Eurpoean than in Indian.I think. Though I could be wrong, as we also have many different fermented foods in all the different Indian cultures. So, I went to check about it in Wiki and found it, of course. When I heard this for the first time I was quit facinated and knew why all these additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG or Ajinomoto) and the likes were being added in all kinds of savoury products, you know now for sure, - to stimulate our taste buds! But, I don't like this overdose of umami at all. I rather go for flavours present naturally in food where there is a balance between the different flavours.

Here is some information on the discovery of the taste Umami and monosodium glutamate:
glutamate.org
Wikipedia

Now I will come to my comfort food: daal. Earlier it was always kitchdi, but since I so rarely have mung daal at home now, with whichI make kichdi, I have found that a plate of rice with hot daal gives me the feeling of "home" and comfort and there are days where I do miss it. I wonder how much of umami is present in daal (lentils).

Urd ki daal

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Ingredients:


1 cup skinned black gram, soaked for a couple of hours
same quantity of water for cooking in a pressure cooker
salt, to taste
3/4 tsp turmeric
Tadka (Chaunk):
1 heaped tbsp ghee or 2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
1 pinch asafoetida, crushed or powdered
1 small red onion (or yellow), thinky sliced
1-2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced - I left it out this time
1/2 inch ginger, thinly sliced or grated
1/4 tsp chili powder
1-2 tsp coriander seeds, ground

2nd Tadka / Mirchi ka Chaunk (optional)* - or call it chilli oil
1 tbsp ghee or oil
1/4 tsp cumin (optional)
1/4 tsp coriander seeds, ground (optional)
1/4 tsp red chilli powder

Method:
  • soak daal in water and change water a couple of times in between
  • Cook daal in the pressure cooker with turmeric and salt as per instructions till the lentils are tender
  • in the meantime cut onion, tomatoes and other spices
  • once daal is done, prepare tadka :
    • heat oil or ghee in a frypan and add cumin and let it splutter
    • add asafoetida and stir once
    • add the onion garlic and ginger, stir
    • add the remaining dry spices
    • keep stirring and fry till onion is golden brown
    • add the ready tadka to the daal
  • preprae second tadka in the same way and serve in a separate bowl along with the daal,
  • daal is usually eaten with steamed rice or rotis or both and sukhi subzi(s) (dry stirfried vegetables) of choice
*The second tadka serves the purpose of increasing het in your food by adding the chilli oil to the food, usually daal

Another one...


Arhar ki Daal (Toor lentils)

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Special equipment: pressure cooker (if not available, then soak for longer and cook in a covered pan for 1 hour or more)

serves 4

Ingredients:

150 - 200 g arhar / toor daal (lentil), washed and soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight
1 -1/2 cups water for cooking
salt to taste (first add 1/2 tsp and adjust accordingly later)
1/2 tsp turmeric

Tadka / Chaunk
1 tbsp ghee or any cooking oil (if using onion 2 tbsp may be required)
1 tsp (heaped) cumin
1/8 tsp asafoetida, finely ground (for beginners - use 1 pinch)
1 pinch (generous) ground fenugreek seeds
6-8 curry leaves (optional)
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/8 tsp red chilli powder -or to taste (optional) - you can also use fresh green chillies, if available

1 garlic, finely chopped or thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated or chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 medium tomato, chopped into large cubes or small, as per liking

2nd Tadka / Mirchi ka Chaunk (optional)* - or call it chilli oil
1 tbsp ghee or oil
1/4 tsp cumin (optional)
1/4 tsp coriander seeds, ground (optional)
1/4 tsp red chilli powder

Method:
  • soak daal in water and change water a couple of times in between
  • Cook daal in the pressure cooker with turmeric and salt as per instructions till the lentils are tender
  • in the meantime cut onion, tomatoes and other spices
  • once daal is done, prepare tadka :
    • heat oil or ghee in a frypan and add cumin and let it splutter
    • add asafoetida and curry leaves, stir once
    • add the onion and garlic, stir
    • add the remaining dry spices
    • fry till onion is golden yellow
    • add tomatoes nd fry till tender
    • add the ready tadka to the daal
  • preprae second tadka in the same way and serve in a separate bowl along with the daal,
  • daal is usually eaten with steamed rice or rotis or both and sukhi subzi(s) (dry stirfried vegetables) of choice
*The second tadka serves the purpose of increasing heat in your food by adding the chilli oil to the food, usually daal

Daal is a staple in Indian food in almost all the regions of India as we majorly eat vegetarian diet. In many regions fish and in some other either or meat in addition is also eaten, but still it is more a delicacy made on some special occasions or on special days than being a regular at the table. I have to say here that I'm writing this based on my impression of all the Indian cultures from the different regions of India. I always consider the variety in culture and so also foods of India at par, if not more, with the continent Europe. So, it is almost impossible for me to know everything. But, having lived in the capital city of India and some other regions of India, and as my father worked for the cenral govermnent we lived together in a "colony" with friends from many different regions of India whose parents were also central goverment "servants". My mother exchanged foods with neighbours whose origins were different than ours and so had different food than ours. It was always such a delight to get a bowl of hot daals or a curry from the neighbour. Yes, those were the days...

Now I actually wanted to write somethig else, but how my thoughts drift :D.
Daal is prepared differently in different regions of India. What make the daal different is the tadka or "chaunk", as we call it, and there are man others word for it, but my knowledge if it is very bad. And these recipes are the tadkas I saw my mom make, partly adapted from her neighbours, so to say.

So, off it goes to Sunshinemom's FIC : Yellow at Tongueticklers!

And I would like to send this entry to this month's MLLA started by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook being hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Homemade Thai Tofu curry


I was forwarded this interesting article by my BIL and found it very interesting. It is about how to give your kitchen a fresh start this new year, as the author says. And I feel there are quite many good tips which I have always followed, but some which I feel I need to do. There are some things which are easy if you make it a habit, which is initially difficult, but once you are into it and you don't need to give it a thought, it just happens on its own. Things which may appear too long and cumbersome, but aren't really so. I always believe, that it is all in our minds, this cumbersomeness. I remember during my times at the Botanical Institute where I worked and sometimes heard students say the same about all the experiments which had to be done and this was always my answer, it is all in your mind. You just need to get the feel of it and get used to it. Don't you think so too?
Things like preparing the vegetable broth at home by just cooking up some carrots and celery on the side isn't so time consuming or cumbersome if we just plan it ahead. Once we get used to it, we wouldn't find it impossible. I can so easily prepare a day before and use it the next day, for example. And this is one thing I want to start this year, making my own vegetable broth.

Now coming to the recipe, I was inspiered by the Thai curries made by Bee and Jai at Jugalbandi to finally make my own as well and not just keep "thinking" about it. So, this is a rough estimate of how I made it. I just used the amounts I felt appropriate at that moment. And my curry is my own modified version from different recipes to suit our family taste :

Tofu in Thai curry

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Ingredients:

300 g firm Tofu (I used organic tofu from my local store), cubed
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
1/2 large red bell peppers, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 small Italian aubergine, cut into small pieces (optional)
1 zucchini, cut into thick slices
1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into pieces
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
4-5 keffir lime leaves, slit on both sides of the midveins without breaking into smaller pieces
1 lemon grass, green cut intolarge pieces and the white part crushed
2/3 can coconut milk, shaken before opening
a few dashes fish sauce (optional)
salt to taste
oil for frying
3-4 tbsp Thai curry paste of choice (I used home made*)
1/2 a bunch of Thai basil, leaves only
a handful of corianer leaves (cilantro), chopped

Method:
  • In a large sauté pan heat some oil and fry the tofu pieces turning carefully only once till golden in colour on both sides. take out and set side
  • Clean the pan and in some oil fry the onion, garlic and ginger along with coriander- and turmeric powders
  • Add the aubergine, fry for a few minutes on medium heat
  • Then add carrots, fry for another few minutes and add bell pepper and fry further covered, add little salt. Once the aubergine is almost done, remove from pan and set aside
  • Fry zucchini for short till it gets a golden brown surface (optional) or add it directly to the curry later
  • Heat oil or coconut milk in the same pan or a small frypan and fry the curry paste on medium heat till it gets golden brown. Add some coconut milk in between so that it doesn't burn
  • In the sauté pan put back all the vegetables and tofu and add salt, fish sauce and coconut milk along with the fried currry paste. Mix and cook on medium low -it should be bubbling slowly for about 10 minutes covered till the curry looks done.
  • Add water, if required, in between
  • Add the Thai basil leaves and cover lid again for a couple of minutes
  • Before serving garnish with the cilantro leaves and serve along with steamed rice

* My recipe of Thai curry paste:

Ingredients:

Roast separately and grind together:
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds

1 lemon - organic or unsprayed, the zest and its juice
1" piece ginger, peeled and grated finely
1" piece galangal, peeled and grated finely
4 large garlic cloves, chopped finely or grated
2 small red onion or shallots, chopped - (I left it out)
4-6 keffir lime leaves, chopped
2 lemon grass, the white part only, chopped
a few dashes fish sauce (optional)
1/4 tsp turmric powder (or use fresh turmeric, peeled and grated)
1/4 tsp shrimp paste (optional)
1 green chilli, seeded and chopped -(increase quantity to taste)

Method:
  • roast the dry spices and let cool down before grinding
  • prepare the wet ingredients and mix with dry ground spices and grind everything to a paste
  • use fresh or freeze in portions of 2-4 tbsp, as required
NOTE: the shrimp paste and fish sauce cn be left out or replaced with fermented bean pastes, if you prefer it that way or just leave it out.

I have been too lazy to make this again, but this was a wonderful thing to do as I could use as much of the paste as I wanted without worrying about its hotness, so sunny boy could eat it easily. I don't think I need to tell any of you who eat Thai food, how delicious such curries are and so was this one too. I loved the richness of flavours in Thai curries and even though I felt that it was somehow different from the packaged ones, I was happy with the results. I love Thai basil, it's aroma, and I even had coriander leaves which made the dish perfect for me.

I'm sending this recipe to DK's a very interesting event series AWED: the theme this time being Thailand at DK's Culinary Bazaar.


Other similar recipes from other bloggers:

Thai Yellow Curry with Seafood at Rasa Malasia
Thai Red Curry (Gaeng Daeng) at Jugalbandi

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Teltower Rübchen


I had some time to go to the farmer's market (DE: Wochenmarkt) just nearby. While searching for some nice vegetables I came across these beets which i wasn't sure if the were turnips or radishes. They wee shaped more like radishes but still looked different and did give the texture of turnips. On asking what it was I was told its name, even more strange to me with which I was even more lost - Teltower Rübchen. So I asked more details about it and got to know that it is a vegetable which tastes a bit like turnip but is "different" and is from the region Mecklenburg Vorpommern, a state in north eastern Germany. On checking about it in Wikipedia I found some more details. It is a type of turnip which got its name from the town Teltow in the state Brandenburg, Germany, where it was grown in plenty in and around that town. On smelling them I could smell this typical turnip like smell, but much milder than a turnip I felt. I don't like turnips, except pickled the Indian way. My mom made such lovely Indian pickles with them every winter, usually in huge ceramic +jars meant only for this purpose. But, all the kids would gobble them up within a few weeks along with our food.
The next day I wanted to make something Indian, and I had planned to cook daal (lentils), so, these beets found good use as an accompaniment. I quickly took a picture of these before starting with cooking them. It had turned a bit cloudy and dark by the time a took the picture.


To prepare the" subzi" (any vegetable preparation) I just used my gut feel and tried to make something full of flavours at the same time where the flavours blended well together. And this is what came out:

Teltower Rübchen

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Ingredients:
500 g turnips (I used Teltower turnips), peeled and cubed or cut into long strips
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed or cut into thick long strips
1 large yellow onion, sliced or chopped
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
1/8 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp rapeseed oil for frying
salt to taste

Method:
  • heat oil in a pan and splutter ajwain
  • add potatoes, onion, ginger, turmeric and red chili powder, and stir
  • add ground coriander- and fenugreek seeds , mix everything
  • keep cooking covered on medium heat
  • once the potatoes are almost done, add the turnips
  • cook covered till done
  • serve with hot rotis or rice along with some daal.
I was quite satisfied with the results and we enjoyed eating something new for a change. I purposefully didn't add too many or too much spices together or make any spice paste so as not to hide the flavour of this new vegetable. I used ajwain however, as I felt with its characteristic flavour it should make a good combination with the turnips.
The turnips were mildly sweet after I had fried them for long till they got slightly caramelised on the surface and the turmeric and ajwain gave a good contrast to balance out its flavour. After this experience I know for sure that we will be eating the other regular turnips also more often. Next time i do wish to cook them in a different way and try out other flavours too.

I'm sending this wonderful Teltower Rübchen "subzi" over to Sunshinemom's Food in Colours : Yellow









And it also goes to this weeks Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen which has now been taken over by Haalo at Cook (almost) Everything Atleast Once and being hosted this week by Rachel of The Crispy Cook.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chicken cardamom curry


I started cooking once I came to Germany. before I was pampered by my mom enough. Though she did expect something in return that I do something meaningful in my life, study, at least be qualified enough to be independent and follow my own chosen way. She always said " cooking is no big deal, you will learn it one day once the need arises." I still learnt a lot of cooking through watching and, of course, we were allowed to cook during the summer vacations if we felt like it and we - me and my sisters, did make use of these opportunities, even if not so often. Usually we would look up some yummy recipes from the magazines like Femina and try it. Sometimes some of my mom's recipes if I liked them a lot. Those were the times. Sigh!
Since my parent's were vegetarians - now, for those not from India- it is no big deal in India, as it is a way of life there and you really don't have to make any compromises of any kinds. So, I didn't get exposed to eating chicken until I went to college and lived in a hostel with friends from Manipur (India) who cooked during the summer break when the canteen closed for a couple of weeks. Once I came to Germany I also tried cooking chicken myself from what I had learnt from them and from the recipes in the Hawkins recipe book which I got with the pressure cooker I brought from India with me. I was told that pressure cookers are different and not so good outside India. Well, the pressure cooker got damaged after using it a couple of times, but at least I could make use of the book!! :D
This is my very first trial at making an Indian curry other than Chicken Makkhan. If I make chicken Indian style I usually just marinate it with some Indian spices , fry it and add some veggies to it. That's it! On seeing Soma's beautiful pictures of this wonderful looking curry, I thought that I had to try it. I did not make it exactly like hers, but I tried to keep the spices the same.

Chicken cardamom curry

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Based on the recipe at Soma's eCurry

Ingredients:

3 chicken breast fillets, washed, pat dried and cubed into 2-3 cm
(1/2 ") pieces
3 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and cubed into 2-3 cm (1/2 ") pieces
1-1/2 cups green beans, washed, ends cut off and cut into 4 cm (1-1/2 ") pieces
1 heaped tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp powdered jaggery
salt to taste
oil for frying

Marinade:
1/4 tsp turmeric
1-1/2 tsp
coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp salt

Onion paste:
2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
3 cm piece ginger (about 1"), chopped coarsely -I used up the last 1/2 " piece remaining in my basket
3 cloves garlic, chopped
coarsely
1 heaped tsp tamarind paste
1" piece cinnamon stick (half) -use one whole, as per your liking
1 dried red chili, broken into large pieces
2 cloves, (I ground them before adding)
6 green cardamoms, the seeds, (I ground them before adding)
1 tsp turmeric
1 heaped tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp dried coconut (as a substitute for 3/4 cup coconut milk)

chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) for garnish (optional)


Method:
  • prepare chicken and marinate (marinade above) for 10 to 20 minutes
  • in the meanwhile prepare the onion paste by grinding everything together or first the dry ingredients in the dry grinder and then together
  • heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and fry chicken on medium heat, covered, till almost done, turning once
  • take out of the pan, clean it
  • now heat 2 tbsp oil in the pan and add cumin till it splutters, add the potatoes and green beans along with turmeric and fry on medium heat till done, stirring in between
  • in the meanwhile, in another pan using 2-3 tbsp oil fry the onion paste on medium heat, stirring in between, till roasted (about 10 minutes), add a few drops of water if required
  • mix everything together (chicken, potatoes, and fried onion paste) in the pan and add 1/2 cup water and cook for about 10 minutes till you get a nice thick gravy
  • if required, add some more water
  • serve warm garnished with cilantro along with warm Indian rotis (flat bread) and steamed basmati rice
It's no doubt a wonderful curry. Since then I have tried it twice already and I will surely be using this recipe often. Hubby loved it and was very pleased at how well it had turned out- you see I'm not so good at satisfying hubby with food. :D
I liked it a lot and honestly I was a bit skeptical initially, as I always believe that I don't like green (sweet) cardamom in savoury food. Well, until now. :)
Soma, thank you for this wonderful experience. I'm sure if you were on my side while I prepared it, you would have pointed out many improvements. But, I'm learning by doing. The picture doesn't look so perfect and a bit too dry as I had added lesser water and didn't use any coconut milk this time and by the time I took the picture - we had had our lunch- the leftover chicken had even lesser water. But what lovely leftovers for the next day! Delicious!

Some good information on Cardamom at Gernot Kratzer's spice pages:
Cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.)

If you want to try the curry, go to Soma's Curried Chicken in Cardamom Infused Coconut Sauce at eCurry. You will not only get the recipe but a beautiful story behind it too.

Related posts:
Chicken makkhan

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Oregon Pink Shrimp stories and Teach A Man to Fish 2008


Well, these are actually more recipes and less stories, but then doesn't each recipe tell a story?

Now, before I begin I would like all of you who eat fish to take your time out to go and visit the Roundup of this wonderful event Teach A Man to Fish 2008 started by Jaqueline Church, a wonderful writer (a lawyer) and very actively involved in increasing awareness about Susutainable Seafood, as you will see. You will see how easy it is to cook up some good food by making a good choice using sustainable sea food.

Now, what's so special about these Oregon pink shrimps. Well, I think, almost everything. Thanks to Jaqueline Church andTeach A Man to Fish I got to know of a very good source of information (Montary Bay Aquarium) on which shrimp- / prawn varieties are classified as stainable seafood. The ones I could get locally by then were only the Northern cold water shrimps (Pandalus borealis), which was not the best choice but a good alternative, so to say and was also recommended by German Greenpeace as the best alternative available here. But, thanks to Penny Markt (Now, if you are from Germany, you might wonder, "what! , of all the places Penny!". But, yes, Penny and only Penny - here at least) has recently started selling these Oregon pink shrimps here in Hamburg instead of the Northern cold water shrimps, which they were offering earlier. I don't know for how long they will continue it, but I find it wonderful. In the last couple of years and especially in the last few months I have seen almost all the supermarket chains offering sustainable seafood in the form of MSC certified products more and more, which of course doe not mean that they do not offer other fish which are on the RED List . But, at least I can make a choice. It looks as if there has been some realisation that the demand for sustainable seafood exists which is good.
Pandalus jordani is the Latin name of these pink shrimps. They are one of the varieties of cold water shrimps (called Tiefseegarnelen in German -the equivalent for cold water shrimps- and belong to the family Pandalidae). These are smaller in size than the warm water or tropical shrimps and for that reason usually sold as already peeled, individually frozen seafood. Pink shrimps are caught in the states of Oregon sand Washington, USA by trawl and for pink shrimps bycatch reduction devices have brought the bycatch levels to very low. Fishing methods for Oregon pink shrimps have been certified as sustainable by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).


Following are some of the recipes I made with them :

1) Fried Rice : I just added two handfulls of frozen peeled shrimps to the usual ingredients with the left over rice I had. Depending on the quantity of the rice and preference one could vary all the ingredients. I think all of you are experts in making fried rice that I really don't need to give you any recipe, or just ask me.
2) Bok choy with shrimps, the same as I made the last time. We ate it with steamed rice. This is a real quick fix, just like fried rice.

3) Thai green curry with lots of veggies and the shrimps:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thai green curry with lots of veggies and Kra Chai (wild ginger)


By mistake hubby brought me this strange looking herb from the Chinese grocery store which I had no clue to what it was. I was sure that it was not galangal, which I actually wanted. Initially I as quite skeptical and was wondering if it has gone bad or what, as the outer layers looked darker than the centre. But, once I used it I liked this earthy but still so aromatic fragrance of it. It smells distinctly different than galangal or ginger. Recently I went to the Asian grocery shop myself and bought it again and this time there was also a name on it, to my delight. It said "tumicuni". I showed hubby how galangal looks like which was also lying just next to it. So, after searching for "tumicuni" through Google, I found out what it was.
It seems to have many names in English and in different Asian countries and regions. Tumicuni (I think is from Indonesia) or 'Kra Chai'* (Thailand), 'chinese keys', 'wild ginger', 'finger root' or 'galingal' (not galangal). Its binomial Latin name is Boesenbergia pandurata. Here is a good informative page on finger root at Gernot Katzer's spice pages. Just like ginger, galangal or turmeric, it belongs to the ginger family (Zingiberacea) and the part used in cooking is a rhizome.
While searching for a recipe for Kra Chai I came across this recipe of wild ginger at ThaiFoodPlus.com. After seeing how it is really used, I was confident enough to try using it on my own and tried to make something using them with Oregon pink shrimps.

*A couple of days ago I had a Thai friend, also an ex-colleague, visiting me from Regensburg and she told me that the word Kra Chai is pronounced as Kra Shai - \ai\ as i in ice. Through her I also got to know that Kra Chai is a sparely used spice in the Thai kitchen and comes in use for only a few selected recipes.

Thai green curry with shrimps

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Ingredients:
150-200 g cold water shrimps (I used MSC certified Oregon pink shrimps)
1 medium carrot, sliced or julliened
1 long stalk bamboo shoot (15-20 cm), cut into 1/2 cm rings or 5 -6 cm vertical slices
10 mushrooms, quartered or halved, depending on size
1/2 green bell peppers, chopped into mouth sized pieces
1/2 red bell peppers, chopped into mouth sized pieces
1 lemon grass, the green part kept as stalks and the white part crushed
a few lemon leaves, each leaf slit a number of times on both sides of the midrib
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large garlic, chopped finely
1 inch ginger, chopped or grated fine
1 small stalk of Tumicuni (Kra Chai or wild ginger), finely chopped
1 tsp Thai green curry paste** (I used Lobo)
2/3 can coconut milk, shaken before opening (we used up all of it , as it turned out to be too hot)
a few dashes fish sauce
salt to taste
1/2 packet Thai basil, the leaves - washed
a few tbsp coriander leaves (cilantro), washed , pat dried and chopped
1 tbsp oil for frying

** It is the hottest of all the Thai curries!! Very Very HOT!

Method:
  • thaw the shrimps at room temperature (you can also add them directly from the freezer into the curry)



  • wash, clean and chop vegetables and spices and set aside
  • heat 1 tbsp oil ((or 2-3 tbsp coconut milk) in a sauté pan (or wok) and add onion, garlic, ginger, tumicuni and lemon grass and fry
  • add the vegetables one by one, frying each for a minute before adding the next on medium heat
  • if required add a few tbsp coconut milk in between
  • add the green Thai curry paste and stir
  • add coconut milk and cook for a while, stirring in between
  • add the shrimps - depending on if they are thawed or not, add them either shortly before the curry is done or cook for longer till done
  • add fish sauce and salt to taste and the basil leaves about 1 or 2 minutes before the curry is done
  • serve warm, garnished with cilantro, to steamed rice
This was a rich and flavourful curry. Beautifully aromatic because of the Thai basil, coconut milk, cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) and, of course, all the spices like Kra chai, ginger, and the Thai spice curry paste. Needless to say, it was a wonderfully tasty curry. But, there was a one big problem. : it was HOT! Despite my having used just 1 teaspoon, it was horribly hot. I had to add lots of coconut milk to reduce the hotness, not only for sunny boy, but also for me and hubby.
And then when I told my Thai friend about the hotness, she told me it is the hottest of all the Thai curries. Well,.......now I know it for sure, never to forget it again! She suggested that I use the yellow curry paste as a mild alternative, which I will do next time. So, if you think fiery hot food is just the right thing for you, then go ahead and try this Thai green curry.
But, after adding more coconut milk from the can, the curry became mild enough for us, but not for sunny boy. For him I took out the vegetables and the shrimps and mixed with plain coconut milk which was alright for him then and he enjoyed eating it too.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oatmeal and Marzipan Cookies


I made these cookies for Christmas. It wasn't planned in fact, but after seeing the original recipe at Anudivya's Blog A little Bit More, with very creative and healthy recipes, many of which are modified recipes made healthy by - which appear to me to be - such drastic reductions of sugar and fats that it always leaves me amazed. I love oatmeal cookies and had been wanting to make them on my own, but as it always is with me, since I get the lovely Brandt oatmeal Hobbits which I like a lot, I never really bothered to try making these on my own. But, when I saw these not only healthy and but also tempting cookies she had made, I knew I had to try these.
That I would add dried currents was clear to me right from the beginning. But, since I was in the mood of using ingredients more appropriate for Christmas, the idea of using marzipan came into my mind and I did it with wonderful results.

Oatmeal and Marzipan Cookies

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Adapted from Anudivya's recipe at ...and A little Bit More...

Preparation time: 20-25 minutes
Baking time: 30 - 35 minutes
Temperature: 150°C (convection: 120°C)

Ingredients:
3-4 tbsp butter / margarine (if you wish to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters, 4 tbsp will be required)
5 tbsp sugar (measured) - increase quantity to taste
150 g oat flour (I ground wholegrain tender oats flakes - DE: Kölln blütenzarte vollkorn Haferflocken)
120 g almond meal
100g raw marzipan* (marzipan rohmasse, with no additional sugar) - optional
1 packet of vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
80 g dried currents (DE: Korinthen)

Method:
  • grease baking sheets, lay on baking trays and set aside
  • if using oat flakes, grind them in a coffee mill or dry grinder
  • combine all ingredients together except for currents with your hands or using a mixer
  • add currents and combine with your hands to make one large ball
  • either
    • make small balls out of it and press down** with the palms to flatten
    • or, roll out with a rolling pin and cut out cookies using cookie cutters
  • place on the greased baking sheet
  • bake for 30-35 minutes (if using oat flakes, which are precooked, 25 minutes are enough)
  • let them cool down before picking up the cookies, to avoid crumbling
NOTE:
* Raw Marzipan as a term, according to Deutsche Lebensmittelbuch, a part of LFGB - the German book of Food Law, can only be used if the product does not contain more than 35% sugar and those with higher amounts of sugar have to be named differently. Go to Niederegger for more details.
** If using wholegrain oat flakes the balls will not melt down on their own, due to coarse structure and low amounts of butter, flatten them with hands into shape

These cookies don't look so fancy as the previous ones, but these are the kinds i could gobble up any time of the day any time of the year! I actually stuck to the recipe of Anudivya for the use of sugar, and these were only very mildly sweet, although I also had marzipan in it and that must have made them sweeter than her recipe. But, these weren't even half as sweet as the other cookies I had made.
Anudivya, these were my favorite cookies among all the lovely ones I made this time. It was actually for the first time that all the cookies I made for Christmas actually got eaten as well and are almost all gone. In the last few years of experimenting with a number of cookies I have learned the tastes most appreciated at my home. I admit, that includes myself too. :D
This is going to be one recipe I will be using quite often, for sure. I wish to try making my own marzipan, without bitter almonds, which aren't as healthy for toddlers, although sunny boy has almost crossed that age. And that would make the recipe even more interesting.
If you haven't baked enough cookies already and are in the mood for them, then do try this one. I bet, you won't be disappointed!
Now, before I end this post and before I forget to mention, I must add that I made these cookies together with sunny boy and he enjoyed it a lot. So, if you wish to bake cookies with your 3 year old, then these are the best cookies I can recommend you. I admit, the currents did cause us some difficulty while cutting them out with the different cookie cutter shapes sunny boy wished to use, but then we are there to help them. And it was huge fun for both of us.