The Art of Parsi Cooking and Chicken Badami

img_3864

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be invited to the book launch of Niloufer Mavalvala’s new cookbook ‘The Art of Parsi Cooking’. To be honest, whilst I had clearly heard of parsi cooking, I was not very familiar with the minutiae of the cuisine. Her book focuses on ‘reviving an ancient cuisine’ which she has done by compiling a range of family loved recipes.

img_3867

Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Niloufer now resides in Canada and has done so for the past 15 years.  Her book gives a wonderful overview on the history of the Parsi people and their cuisine that they adapted to their local environs. Originally from Persia, Parsis were followers of the Prophet Zarathushtra. Between the 8th and 10th centuries, many fled Persia and headed for India, landing on the shores of Gujarat, where many of them settled. Interestingly the ‘Pars’ from Parsis means Iran. In many respects the cuisine is an amalgamation of Persian and Indian and does have a very distinct flavours. Niloufer talks about ingredients such as ‘saffron, jaggery, cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric’ are all key ingredients in Parsi cooking along side the trinity of garlic, ginger and chillies.

img_3865

I love to read cookery books were the recipes have been passed down generations, it’s as if we privy to the inner circles culinary magic. For years I have been after a good korma recipe that holds it’s weight amount curries. I have found them too creamy and often too bland. Niloufer has a wonderful recipe called ‘ Chicken Badami – Almond and Yoghurt Curry’ which will knock your socks off. If you want it less chilli hot then I recommend reducing or taking out the fresh chillies, but for me I like to have a bit of bite within the curry. The Parsi version of this recipe omits excess oil and instead uses ground almonds and yoghurt. It’s very straightforward and whilst mine is not as red in colour as Niloufer’s in the book, it tastes truly wonderful.

img_3866

Over the christmas period, many of us are with friends and family over the christmas week. Whilst I love all the traditional food, after about day 3 I crave spice and I think this might be a great one to feed your loved ones. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly as Niloufer uses cups for measurements and most recipes in the UK are in grams and I have added a few more tomatoes, despite mine still not being as red in colour as hers. Otherwise I have remained close to her recipe.

Her book is original, refreshing and lovingly compiled and would make a great gift for those seeking out Parsi recipes. It is fairly compact in size with no more than 40 recipes, but that is more than enough to provide interest and intrigue in the cuisine.  You can order it online here. It is published by Austin Macauley Publishers . Next up for me is masala na khekra – pan fried crabs with spices.

Chicken Badami

adapted from The Art of Parsi Cooking by Niloufer Mavalvala

Serves 6

2 tbsp oil

1 dried bay leaf

1 tsp of freshly grated garlic (paste)

1 tsp of freshly ground ginger (paste)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

10-12 chicken pieces, on the bone and skinned (I find thighs and legs work well)

3 medium sized tomatoes

4 green chillies

230 ml water

245g natural yoghurt with a pinch of salt and sugar

60g ground almonds

1/2 tsp garam masala

  1. Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and place to one side.
  2. In a large deep pan add the oil, on a low heat,  and when it is hot add the bay leaf, ginger, garlic, salt, red chilli, cumin, coriander and turmeric powders and move around the pan and then add the chicken pieces. Continue to move around the pan at intervals so that the spices do not burn.
  3. In a blender add the tomatoes, green chillies and blend to form a smooth paste before adding a little water.
  4. Once the chicken has changed colour add the tomato, chilli paste along with the water and bring to the boil. Cover and cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes, by which time the chicken will have cooked through and the gravy will have thickened up and reduced. Niloufer recommends cooking until there is about 1 cup of gravy remaining or thereabouts.
  6. Let it cool completely.
  7. In a bowl mix the natural yoghurt with a pinch of salt and sugar as well as the ground almonds.
  8. Once the chicken has cooled add the natural yoghurt mixture.
  9. Gently reheat, sprinkle with garam masala powder and then serve. Serve naan alongside.

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons – one of my favourite dishes to feed a crowd

IMG_2661

Cooking for 6+ guests always requires a bit of thought and forward planning. You typically want something that is relatively fuss free, that you can pop in the oven and leave to cook. I have a very open planned kitchen so if I am prepping veg, talking and raising a glass at the same time it can become a little overwhelming. I prefer to plan ahead and then enjoy my guests company once they arrive without being frantic in the kitchen.

IMG_2605

Moroccan food is a great people pleaser and tasty all year round. It’s spices are delicate, fragrant but not hot spicy; think along the lines of cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, saffron and paprika. They are perfect gently marinaded and cooked with some tender chicken thighs or even some lamb. Olives and preserved lemons are synonymous with Moroccan cuisine and are key for this recipe. I need to do a post on preserved lemons so those of you who live in places where preserved lemons are hard to source you can make your own and store them.

IMG_2613

The marinading can be overnight or in the fridge or for an hour or so if you are working to a tight deadline. The part that takes the longest is browning off the chicken thighs. You want to leave them for about 5 minutes each side so that both sides are nicely bronzed. Then you place them to one side on kitchen paper whilst you prepare and cook the onions. I cook my chicken thighs in batches as I don’t want to overcrowd the pan.

IMG_2642

You can cook the whole dish on the stove, however I often find it is easier to place in a preheated oven for around 30 minutes so that the chicken thighs are sufficiently cooked and moist and all the flavours have blended together to create the most delicious of dishes.

IMG_2643

I tend to serve with spiced rice or couscous with pomegranates, slithered almonds or pistachio nuts and fresh coriander or parsley. It is always best to cook more than you need as seconds is pretty much guaranteed or if you feeding a reserved bunch then at least you have lots of lovely leftovers for another day. It’s a win win.

IMG_2668

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons

Serves 6-8

2.7kg chicken thighs, skin removed

2 heaped tbsp garlic paste

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp of olive oil

3 medium sized white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp of saffron threads

1 tsp of ground turmeric

370g green olives, stonned

1 fresh lemon

6 preserved lemons, quartered

1.  Remove excess skin from the chicken and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the garlic paste, paprika (I love using this one), cumin, black pepper and half the olive oil. Smother the chicken completely with the paste and leave covered in the fridge for a few hours, or even overnight if you are being organised.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a casserole dish or shallow pan. Add the pieces of chicken so that they are golden on both sides – this may need to be done in stages. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with kitchen roll so as to soak up the oil.

4. Add the chopped onion to the oil, add more oil if you feel it is necessary. When the onion is golden, add the saffron, turmeric and olives and let it simmer for a few minutes.

5. Pour the juice of the fresh lemon over the pan along with 200ml/7 fl oz of cold water. Add the preserved lemons at this stage. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer. If you find there is too much liquid then increase the heat again to reduce the liquid.

6. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

7. In a couple of ovenproof dishes spread out the chicken and pour over the onion, olive, preserved lemon and juice equally. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the chicken will be sufficiently cooked and ready to serve.

8. Serve with either couscous, pomegranates, almond slithers and fresh coriander or cinnamon rice with brown lentils – both work equally well.

You can cook the chicken ahead of time and then simply heat up gently in the oven for 10-15 minutes (add a little extra water to keep it juicy) then serve.


Keralan Chicken Stew

IMG_2208

Recently my family and I spent the day with a local Keralan family in Cochin: Lt. Col. Mathens, Moly and Philip. The intention was to spend the day with them cooking and eating so you can imagine how excited I was about this. After a good hours drive from our hotel we arrived at their house, still in Cochin but away from the old centre.

Before the cooking began we were given a guided tour of their garden, which grew all manner of spices, vegetables and fruit. They had planted this magnificent oasis themselves when they had bought the property some years before. It had been shrub land, but with such fertile soil, sunny weather and good rains in the monsoon, the vegetable garden had thrived beyond belief. There was no reason to go to the market to buy fresh produce as they had such a bounty waiting for them in the garden.

How many of the above can you recognise? Let me know in the comments box below.

We were showed at least thirty different vegetables, fruit and spices and to see them growing in their natural habitat was hugely memorable – although looking back through my photographs I cannot be certain about a couple of the plants. A return trip is necessary perhaps to further my education? Any excuse really!

After our garden tour we made our way to the kitchen where Moly explained the different dishes we would be cooking and the others she had prepared earlier that would accompany our feast.

IMG_2193

One of the dishes she showed us was her Keralan chicken stew. A couple of things that stood out with the way that she actually prepared the stew.

Firstly it was cooked on the bone, like all authentic curries should. Secondly she add the coconut milk in two stages. To begin with she added the thin coconut milk and at the very end she added the thicker, creamer coconut. The third point was that she added the thin coconut milk when some of the chicken was still pink. She did not measure anything as such, so I frantically took notes as to the approximate amount she was adding into her stew.

It does have a chilli kick to it with pepper, cardamom and clove notes resonating through the dish. By all means reduce the amount of chillies to suit your palate. I added a teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder, but this is not necessary and looking back in my notes I don’t believe Moly added it so for the recipe below I have omitted it although when I was testing the recipe I did add it, hence the photos have a red/orange hue to the dish. Yours will not have this in quite the same way if you follow the recipe below.

She did not measure out the coconut milk, but as it generously covered the chicken I think she must have used the equivalent of two tins of coconut milk or thereabouts. I find some brands of coconut milk have a thick creamy coconut milk at the top and a more water milk at the bottom. If you can try and get hold of these types of coconut milk.

Keralan Chicken Stew

serves 6

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 red onions , finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

7 Kashmiri chillies

2 potatoes cubed

1 whole chicken (approx 1.2kg) skinned and chopped into 10-12 pieces

1tsp cardamom seeds

4 little pieces of cinnamon bark

1 1/2tsp fresh ground black pepper

10 cloves

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger powder

400ml tin of coconut milk

160ml tin of coconut cream

  1. In a deep pan – I find my Le creuset casserole works well – add the coconut oil. When it is hot add the mustard seeds and move around the pan for 10 seconds before adding the onion, garlic and dried chillies. Leave to cook in the pan for 3 minutes. Keep on a medium low heat.
  2. Now add the cubed potatoes and stir into the other ingredients and allow to cook away for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and stir before placing the lid on the pan for 5 minutes. Some of the chicken will have whitened but do not be alarmed if some of the chicken is still a little pink at this stage.
  4. Add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon bark, ginger powder and black pepper.
  5. Add the coconut milk and the salt. Put the lid back on the pan and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring at intervals.
  6. Test to see that the potato is soft and the chicken is cooked. Add more salt if necessary.
  7. At the very end turn the heat down very low and add the coconut cream and stir into the stew. It is important that you do not let it boil as the coconut cream will split.

Serve with rice, luchi, chapati or the traditional Keralan appam.

IMG_2190


Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

IMG_8170

Christmas beckons and you are now, most probably, all sorted on what you are going to cook over the coming days, well on Christmas day at least. I don’t know about you but I find the week between Christmas and New Year is filled with feasting and if you have family or friends stopping by you want no fuss food that tastes divine with minimum preparation effort.

This is where my sautéed chicken livers come in. They are so darn tasty and can be rustled up in 10 minutes. Seriously folks, 10 minutes and you have a perfect appetiser or relaxed lunch. If you have a mental block over chicken livers I urge you to put it to side this once and dive right in. Sauteed in Madeira and capers these chicken livers are totally transformed and I love the flavours coming from the crunchy red onions and fresh flat leaf parsley. Served on toasted sourdough and you have yourself a real treat.

IMG_8169

 

If, like me, you adore chicken livers then do try my chicken liver curry here.

I’m going to be checking out now until mid January, but you can find me on Instagram and twitter as I work my way around Kerala in Southern India. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year full of festive cheer, merriment and of course feasting.

I’ll be back in 2016 with lots of Keralan treats to share with you.

Sauteed Chicken Livers with Madeira, Capers, Parsley and Red Onions on Toasted Sourdough

Serves 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 banana shallot, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

400g chicken livers

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp Madeira or Sherry

2 tbsp capers

1 red onion finely sliced

a generous handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

4 this slices of sourdough bread, toasted under the grill on both sides

  1. Turn on the grill so that it is ready to toast your sourdough bread in a few minutes.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and then add the diced shallot and garlic.
  3. After 3 minutes add the chicken livers and a little salt and pepper and let them brown in colour. Gently turn them over so that they heat through evenly. This will take around 6 minutes.
  4. Whilst the livers are browning, slice the red onion and remove the leaves of the flat leaf parsley. Place to one side.
  5. Place the  sourdough bread on a baking tray and lightly sprinkle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Grill it so that it is lightly bronzed on both sides. It happens quickly so keep an eye on it.
  6. Add the Madeira and capers and gently moved around the pan. Turn the heat down and simmer for a further couple of minutes.
  7. To plate up cut the toasted sourdough in half and lay evenly on a serving plate. Sprinkle with a few red onions and parsley. Lay the chicken livers and capers over the toast and then scatter with a little more red onions and parsley.

Eat immediately so that it is still hot.

 


Gong Bao Ji Ding – aka Chinese Chicken with Facing Heaven Bullet Chillies

IMG_1267

So the story goes that back in the Qing Dynasty the governor of Sichuan, ‘Gong Bao’, had a deep fondness for this dish so they named it after him. The ‘Ji Ding’ part translates as “chicken cut into small cubes” and to this day it is one of the most ubiquitous Chinese dishes eaten in both mainland China and in the West. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Kung Pao Chicken’ so keep a look out for this name as well.

IMG_1297

The lovely people over at World of Zing sent me some dried chillies recently with fabulous sounding names: Dragons Back, Facing Heaven Bullet and Chinese White Hunan. I pondered for some time over which one to sample first and facing heaven bullet won out. They are so called because the pepper grows with the fruit pointing upwards to the ‘heavens’ unlike most chilli peppers, which face downwards.

IMG_1290

Bullet in shape, they are often kept whole in cooking or cut in half once. Removing some or all of the seeds prior to cooking reduces the heat of the chilli, whilst still retaining a tantalising zing.  To give you some idea of heat, it is far milder than a Thai birds eye chilli.  It won’t be the case of running to the fridge for a glass of milk!

IMG_1278

This dish wins prizes on speed of delivery and flavour. Seriously even if you are shattered after a hard days slog this will raise your spirits. Give it a go and remember to come back and comment to let me know how you got on.

Gong Bao Ji Ding – Chinese Chicken with Facing Heaven Bullet Chillies

Serves 2-3

420g chicken breasts (works out as 3 breasts) skin removed, cut into strips then into 1 inch cubes

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 inches of fresh ginger, skinned and roughly chopped to the same size as the garlic

5 spring onions, white part only chopped to the size of the chicken cubes

10 facing heaven bullet chillies, halved and seeds removed

1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns

80g peanuts, dry roast them for 5 minutes

2 tbsp ground nut oil (or equivalent)

****

Marinade

3 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp Shaoxing wine

2 tsp cornflour

****

Sauce

1 and a half tsp cornflour

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp cold water

1. First prepare the chicken and then place in a bowl. Prepare the marinade in a separate bowl and then pour onto the chicken pieces and leave to rest whilst you prepare the rest of the dish.

2. Dry roast the peanuts in a frying pan for 5 minutes so that they bronze slightly.

3. Next prepare the garlic, ginger, spring onions and chilli and place to one side.

4. Prepare the sauce ingredients in a bowl and place to one side.

5. Heat a large pan or wok with the oil and when it is hot add the chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. Move them around the pan for 15 seconds before adding the cubed chicken. Keep the chicken moving around on a high heat so that it cooks through completely.

6. After a couple of minutes, and the chicken has whitened, add the spring onions, garlic and ginger continuing to move all the ingredients around the pan/wok. After 3 more minutes the chicken should be cooked completely. Cut through a large piece to check it is cooked through (if it needs a minute more continue cooking at a high heat), before adding the sauce and mixing it through completely.

7. Cook for a further minute before adding the peanuts. Coat them in the sauce and stir through a couple of times.

Serve immediately with some steamed rice.

Thanks to World of Zing for providing me with the chillies. 


Simple Chicken Curry – when your spice cupboard is bare

IMG_1252

If you are starting out cooking curries or if you are running low on spices, then this is the curry for you as it only requires chilli powder – I tend to opt for the Kashmiri chilli powder for it’s deep red colour and its subtle heat. It also includes onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and chillies, which are pretty much fridge staples for me and I’m guessing you too! So it is ridiculously straightforward to make with minimum fuss.

IMG_1232

I like to use boneless and skinless chicken thighs for this curry, but breast meat is fine too – it’s really up to you. Like with most curries it can be cooked well in advance and then slowly reheated adding a little water if necessary. You can reduce the amount of fresh chillies if you want it less hot, but I find adding two fresh green chillies is fine for my 9 year old – I would cook a separate curry however for my 5 year old.

IMG_1246

Simple Chicken Curry

Serves 4

9 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 red onions, roughly chopped

2 inch piece of ginger, skin removed and roughly chopped

2 fresh chillies, roughly chopped

4 medium sized tomatoes roughly chopped

1 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder

2tbsp water

*****

2 tsp groundnut oil

800g boneless and skinless chicken thigh, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 tsp salt

coriander to garnish (optional)

1. Using a blender add the garlic, onions, chillies, tomatoes, ginger and chilli powder. Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are you may need to add a little water to make the paste smooth.

2. Heat the groundnut oil in a pan and add the chicken. Move it around the pan for a couple of minutes so that it whitens. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place to one side.

3. Using the same pan add the paste and gently fry for 45 minutes so that it thickens and allows the flavours to come through.

4. Return the chicken to the pan and add the salt. Simmer gently for a further 7 minutes, coating the chicken in the spiced tomato sauce.

5. Serve with a coriander garnish with either rice or flat bread.

IMG_1247


Fiery Chettinad Chicken

IMG_0969

Chettinad is a region in the southern eastern state of Tamil Nadu in India. The cuisine is commonly regarded as one of the most fiery and aromatic.

IMG_0932

It is famous for its dry masalas that use a wide array of spices including, rather surprisingly, star anise, as well as more commonly used Indian spices such as cumin, cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and whole red chillies. Similarly to the rest of southern India, coconut and tamarind are also often used in cooking.

IMG_0946

The Chettinad people have always been successful traders, travelling far afield throughout Asia. This can be seen in their cuisine as they use a wide range of spices and techniques, clearly influenced by their travelling merchant ancestors.

IMG_0971

My recipe is perfect if you crave some spice. For those at the korma end of the spectrum probably ought to give this a wide birth, but for those who like a flavoursome kick THIS is the curry for YOU. My kids definitely would not eat it, but Mr B and I are big fans and I hope that some of you out there will be also. If you prepare it in the morning ready to eat in the evening it works a treat. You could also cook it a day in advance if you are feeling super organised.

If any of you cook this please let me know what you think. It really isn’t that hot if you are used to eating spice, so be brave and give it a go. It would be great on a hot summer’s eve with a cold beer – check out my brother’s beer here or a chilled lassi such as this one.

Chettinad Chicken

Serves 4-6

800g chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 lemon, juice only

****

Masala

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp black peppercorns

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

3 cardamom pods, seeds only

6 dried red chilli

6 cloves

4 fresh or dried bay leaves

2 star anise

60g desiccated coconut

100ml cold water

****

3 tbsp ground nut oil

14 fresh curry leaves

2 red onions, finely sliced

2 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic paste (or fresh garlic made into a paste)

2 tsp ginger paste (as above)

3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

75-100ml cold water

****

fresh ginger batons to serve

****

1. First cut the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and cover with the turmeric and lemon juice. Mix in thoroughly and then place to one side whilst you make the masala.

2. Heat up a non stick pan and when it is hot add all the spices (but not the desiccated coconut) and move them around the pan for just over a minute so as to lightly toast them and release the flavours.

3. Place them in a spice grinder. I have this one which is excellent and Debenhams is selling it at the moment for £18. Best investment ever. (I am not on commission to say that!)

4. Whizz them around the spice grinder and then take out half the powder and then add the desiccated coconut or as much of it as you can. Whizz again and remove some more powder and put the remaining coconut in the spice grinder. Transfer to a bowl and add 100ml of cold water to create a thick paste.

5. In the same non stick pan add the ground nut oil and when it is hot add the fresh curry leaves, red onions and salt and gently fry for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger paste and move around the pan so that it does not spit.

6. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for a couple more minutes before adding the masala paste.

7. Add the turmeric lemon chicken and cover fully with the masala paste. Add the remaining water and leave to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid has become virtually dry. Stir at intervals.

To serve place a few fresh ginger batons on top of the curry. It goes really will with rice or Indian breads. It is always good to have a bowl of fresh yoghurt on the side as this dish is renowned for being fiery.


Chicken and Egg Kathi Roll – a Kolkata speciality

IMG_0457

Snow is forecast for London this week and our boiler has decided that this is the week to completely pack up on us *weeps*. Whilst we wait for a new one to be found and fitted, a small fan heater keeps me from freezing in the study. To keep mood and spirits up I have decided that comfort food is what is needed. Step forward ‘chicken and egg kati rolls’.

They are the perfect lunch time (or anytime come to thing of it) snack to perk you up and give you a feeling of happy blissful contentment.

IMG_0441

My husband is originally from Kolkata and these rolls, or wraps if you will, are very popular in the city. They are a cross between a Mexican burrito and a Lebanese chicken shawarma. In short, they are ridiculously delicious and one is never enough. Take a look at the locals in action on this little YouTube clip below.

I have seen some have a little egg omelette inside as well as the chicken, but I find the way that I prepare them below (and also in the video clip) works efficiently and quickly and allows you to wrap the Kathi roll more easily.

IMG_0426

 To save time you can buy your chapatis (or you could use paratha) but I find that making your own is pretty quick and easy and whilst not as circular as the store bought ones are equally delicious. I use a tawa, which is a flat disc like frying pan, which I picked up at my local Indian store, but if you do not have one a regular frying pan will work equally well.

IMG_0435

There are three steps to making these rolls – 1) the chicken filling, which can be made in advance, 2) the chapatis with the egg coating on one side, 3) the coriander and mint chutney, which can also be made in advance.

IMG_0438

They are best eaten straight away when they are hot. You can make a number of the chapatis with the egg topping and place them in a low warm oven to keep warm, whilst you prepare the rest or you can serve them as and when you prepare the chapatis.

IMG_0452

 My coriander and mint chutney is great with any of my curries and can be stored in the fridge for a week. I like to pop a couple of teaspoonfuls in my kathi roll to give it that extra kick. With a squeeze of lime on top then you have yourself a truly delicious treat.

IMG_0462

 

Coriander and Mint Chutney

1 handful of fresh coriander, washed and chopped

1 handful of fresh mint, washed and chopped

1 (or 2 if you prefer it hotter) small green chilli, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp fresh ginger roughly chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp sugar

salt to taste

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Place all the ingredients into a small blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Taste and add more salt/sugar as necessary.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

 

******

Indian Chapatis with an egg coating

 Makes around 6-8 depending on the size of your chapatis

 200g chapatti (wholemeal) flour

 1 tsp sea salt

 2 tbsp sunflower oil

 125ml warm water

3 eggs, whisked

  1. In a large bowl place the flour, salt and oil and rub together with your fingertips. Gradually add the water so that a dough forms and all the flour is gathered up into one large dough ball.
  2. Place the dough ball on a floured surface and kneed for around 8 minutes so that the dough is soft and springs back when you poke it with your finger.
  3. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Kneed once again for a couple of minutes, before breaking the dough up into smaller dough balls the size of large ping pong balls.
  5. Roll out the small dough ball so that it is circular and thin.
  6. Heat your frying pan or tawa on a medium heat and when it is hot add the chapati (do not add any oil). When you begin to see the chapati form bubbles, after about 30 seconds, you can have a look underneath to see if it is beginning to lightly bronze in places. If it is turn over carefully and using a folded over tea towel press down on the chapati and it will begin to puff up. Press down where the puffing occurs to help the air circulate around the chapati. Do not worry if yours does not puff up every time, it will still taste good.
  7. Gently pour a little of the whisked egg mix onto the side of the chapati that has bronzed slightly and using the back of a spoon swirl it around the whole of the chapati and  then carefully turn it over so that the egg cooks onto the chapati.
  8. Place the chapati onto a warm plate and keep in a low heated oven whilst you prepare the rest of the chapatis.

******

Spiced Tomato Chicken filling

2 tsp vegetable/sunflower oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp chat masala

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

300g boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 tsp garam masala

To serve

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 limes, quartered

2 tsp coriander and mint chutney (see recipe above)

1. In a pan heat the oil and add the onion and salt and allow the onion to soften for around 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and ginger and stir with the onion so that it does not burn.

3. Add all the spices, aside for the garam masala and mix well with the onion, garlic and ginger.

4. Add the chopped tomato and allow to soften for another 5 minutes.

5. Add the chicken and stir into the other ingredients. Place a lid on the pan and allow to cook, stirring at intervals for 15 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes so that all the sauce is absorbed and the dish looks dry.

7. Before turning off the heat add the garam masala and stir. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

My fan heater now seems to have broken. I seem to be jinxed. Right I am off to fill up my hot water bottle – something I can usually rely on.


Pork Larb – the national dish of Lao

IMG_0141

 

Larb originates from Lao but is also eaten in North Eastern Thailand where many of the Thai people are of Laotian decent. It is, put simply, a meat mince salad (pork, chicken, turkey or duck) that is placed in a lettuce ‘cup’ and then eaten in a couple of delicious bites. They have a similar lettuce wrap recipe in Korea known as ‘Ssambap’ – ssam meaning ‘wrap’ and bap meaning ‘rice’.

 

 

IMG_0129

My version has replaced the rice, (which is traditionally toasted then roughly ground (Khao Khua) and sprinkled on the top of the mince when serving to help soak up any of the juices) with roughly ground shelled and oven roasted unsalted peanuts. I like the crunch and taste of the nut combining with the minced meat and fresh herbs. If you want to stay true to the original recipe then just add ground toasted rice in place of peanuts. Try both and see which works for you.

IMG_0120

The combination of fresh crunchy salad leaves, fragrantly spiced mince meat and fresh mint and thai basil (or coriander, but I had run out otherwise I would have thrown that in too) is satisfyingly tasty that one, or three in fact, is never quite enough. It is perfect as a canapé, or as a starter whereby guests can put together their own wraps before popping them in their mouths. Personally I love eating with my hands so any excuse to get everyone to throw themselves into this enjoyable pursuit gets the thumbs up in my books.

IMG_0102

If you tone done on the chilli this dish is also a hit with kids (although my 8 yr old has it as is) as it is a little bit different, packed full of flavours and quite simply good fun to eat, which bottom line is what food and eating should all be about. My dish is more Laotian in style and substance, minus the rice sprinkle. The north east Thailand variety varies again omitting fish sauce and lime juice and instead uses a wide range of spices including cinnamon, star anise, long pepper, cumin, cloves amongst others. I’ll post this version in the future.

IMG_0127

Throw yourself into it, try something different. I can assure you that you one wrap is never enough. This will become a firm family favourite I can guarantee.

Pork Larb 

Serves 15 as a canapé or 6-8 as a starter

2 tbsp sunflower oil (or peanut oil if you have it)

2 banana shallots, finely sliced

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp grated garlic

1 tsp lemongrass paste

2 small red chillies, finely chopped (take the seeds out if you like it less hot)

1 kg pork mince

2 limes, juice only

5 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp caster

1/2 tsp red chilli flakes

***********

30g shelled and oven roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

5 little gem lettuces or similar lettuce

handful of fresh thai basil

handful of fresh mint leaves

handful of coriander leaves

limes wedges to serve

1. In a large pan heat the oil on a medium heat and then add the shallots and fry gently. (Equally 1 large red onion also works well if you cannot get hold of shallots).

2. When the shallots have softened add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and fresh red chilli and stir together gently.

3. Add the pork mince and move around the pan until all the pink meat has become brown. This will take around 8-10 minutes.

4. Add the fish sauce, light soy sauce, lime juice, caster sugar and red chilli flakes and stir into the mince. Leave to cook on a low heat for a further 5 minutes. Just before serving throw in a few fresh herbs and give a good stir.

5. To serve place a tablespoonful of the mince onto the lettuce cup followed by a couple of mint, Thai basil and coriander leaves and a sprinkling of peanuts (or rice if you want to stay totally traditional). Add a splash of lime juice as required.

It can be eaten at room temperature or slightly warm.

* If your mince has juice, cook it for a little longer with the lid off the pan. That should do the trick. If there continues to be some juice, it is best to strain the mince as it is easier to eat on the lettuce cups if there is no juice. 

you can replace the pork mince, with chicken, turkey, duck or I reckon even tofu would work well.


Spanish Baked Chicken and Pea and Mint Soup with Crumbled Feta

IMG_9453

It’s always good to have some quick, easy and tasty recipes up your sleeve if you feeding a crowd. I know how it is difficult to decide what to pair up with what in as far as a starter, main and dessert is concerned. I always find it helpful in cookery books when they give suggestions. It’s surprising how many do not actually do this!

IMG_9445

Both these recipes turned up on my blog when I first started back in 2011 and I felt that the photos needed a little improving so decided to re post with new ones that I recently took. They are both definitely ‘go-to’ recipes for me. Hearty food with wonderful herbs, but light and fresh – perfect for summer days.

IMG_9414

They are so quick and easy to prepare that if you have friends coming over or you are doing your own catering on holiday, they take no time and will not cause you any stress. The dessert I accompanied these dishes with was Rose and Summer Berry Skinnifreddo, which I found on fellow food blogger Kellie’s blog – kelliesfoodtoglow.com. It was wonderfully fresh, colourful and healthy and  complements my starter and main beautifully. Her blog is really rather lovely so do take some time to look around it – I am sure you will be inspired.

IMG_9440

The above photo is of the chicken after marinading but before cooking

Spanish Baked Chicken

Sourced and inspired by Simply Recipes

serves 4-6

3.5 pounds/1.6kg  chicken thighs

100 ml red wine vinegar

100ml olive oil

1 handful fresh oregano

100g raisins/sultanas

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

100g stoneless green olives

4 bay leaves

150 ml white wine

2 tbsp brown sugar

1. Cut the excess fat off the chicken thighs, pierce the skin with a fork and place in a large mixing bowl. Then add all the ingredients, except the white wine and brown sugar, to create the wonderful marinade. You don’t have to stick rigidly to the amounts for the olives and raisin/sultanas ingredients – if you love olives throw in a little more and same goes for the raisins/sultanas. Really mix all the marinade thoroughly over the chicken using your hands. Cover with foil and place in the fridge overnight or for as many hours as you can.

2. Transfer the chicken and the marinade to an oven proof dish. I often use a couple of dishes so that the chicken thighs are evenly spread out. Then pour the white wine and sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken thighs.

3. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 50 mins remembering to spoon the marinade over the chicken during cooking. This will ensure the chicken has a golden brown glow when it is cooked.

****************************

Pea and Mint Soup with Crumbled Feta

Serves 4

4 spring onions, sliced

50g butter

700g frozen peas

1 pint/600ml milk

1 pint/600ml of vegetable stock

one handful of fresh mint (or two if you like it really minty)

black pepper

salt

75g feta

1. Melt the butter slowly in a pan, careful not to burn the butter. When melted add the sliced spring onions and stir into the butter for 5 minutes. Stir in the peas, vegetable stock and mint and leave to simmer for around 20 minutes (30 minutes if you are using fresh peas).

2. Puree the soup to the consistency that you require. Then add in the milk – if you like a thicker consistency then add less milk than the amount given above. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Immediately before serving sprinkle each portion with crumbled feta.