Indian Scotch Eggs

On my first trip to Kolkata – 13 years ago – I was introduced to my new extended Indian family, going from home to home, meeting a bevy of smiles and warmth behind each door. Every household we visited offered food in great abundance – either a full meal or some delicious snacks. I struggled a little with the sweet treats, not having a sweet tooth, but the savoury snacks were something else.

As we normally saw three or four different families on average each day I had to be diplomatic when it came to eating. Not eating would be disrespectful, so I had to pace myself. One of life’s more pleasing conundrums. One snack that really stood out was Indian Scotch eggs, which were just so heavenly. Unlike your traditional Scotch egg which has sausage meat covering the egg, this one has spiced potato and has half a boiled egg per ball.

I have been trying to replicate the recipe ever since and I think I am pretty close so I wanted to share it with you all today.

 

Indian Scotch Eggs

makes 6 

5 medium potatoes, peel and boiled then mashed

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic-ginger paste

1 tsp salt, to taste

2 small fresh green chillies, finely chopped

handful of fresh curry leaves, finely chopped – optional

4 eggs

breadcrumbs – either freshly made, panko or bought

4 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil for frying

 

  1. First peel and boil the potatoes until they are soft. This usually take around 10-12 minutes. Drain and then mash until smooth. Do not add any butter or milk. They must not be too wet.
  2. Meanwhile boil 3 of the eggs by placing them in a pan of cold water and then once it is simmering, turn it down and leave to cook for a further 8 minutes so that they are completely hard. Once cooked drain and immediately put in a bowl with ice and cold water – this will allow you to peel the egg really easily. Leave the eggs to sit for a few minutes before peeling them and leaving them to rest on a plate
  3. Add the spices, garlic-ginger paste, chillies, fresh curry leaves if using, salt and mix in thoroughly. Allow to cool before handling the potato.
  4. In a shallow bowl add the remaining egg and whisk.
  5. In a separate bowl add some breadcrumbs.
  6. Halve the eggs, lengthwise. Take a small amount of spiced mashed potato into your hand and place the egg, yolk side down, onto the mashed potato. Gently cover the whole egg with the potato to create a ball. Place to one side whilst you do the same to the remaining eggs.
  7. Now take one potato ball at a time and gently roll it in the whisked egg followed by the breadcrumbs then place on a plate. Complete the rest.
  8. Heat the oil and when it is hot gently fry each potato ball, a couple at a time, turning at intervals so that the breadcrumb coat bronzes nicely. Place to one side, whilst you complete the rest.
  9. They are wonderful eaten hot, but equally you can serve them at room temperature – perhaps perfect for a train journey.

I like to eat them with a chutney. My tamarind and date chutney works really well.

 

 

 


Prague Adventures and Spiced Mulled Wine

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I’ve been on a little jaunt across to Prague since my last post. As is customary around this time of year my family like to spend a few days somewhere really cold where we can wrap up warm (I wore five layers most days), visit the christmas markets, eat lardy food and soak up a bit of culture. Prague hit the spot and besides I have always wanted to return as my last visit was interrupted the whole time by work calls from London. This time I vowed to turn off my phone and all communication with the outside world.

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The best way to explore any city is by foot or bike, although across cobble stones the former mode of transport is by far more advisable. So for three full days we walked around the old city across the bridges, through the various squares, visiting the cathedral, churches and palace and taking in some art – both old and new. Our days of walking were interspersed with tasty pit stops. My girls loved to eat these wonderful hot pastry rolls that were dipped in cinnamon sugar.

Whilst Mr B and I enjoyed sipping some festive mulled wine/gluhwein/vin chaud/glogg. Nothing beats drinking mulled wine when the outside temperature is close to zero. It warms you up from the inside out and gives you that renewed energy to keep exploring a little longer in the cold elements.

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It’s brilliantly easy to make yourself and is a great winter warmer for the holiday period. Over the Christmas break you can guarantee that I for one will be drinking a glass or two after our Boxing day walk. The warming smell of the cinnamon and cloves bubbling away in the red wine on the stove evokes so many happy memories.  I recommend using the cheapest bottle of red plonk that you can get your hands on – save your Chateaux Margaux for another occasion!

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Spiced Mulled Wine

Serves 6 (a couple of glasses each!)

2 bottles of cheap red wine

150g (or 100g if you prefer it less sweet!) caster sugar

1/2 freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tsp cloves

4 cardamom pods

2 sticks of cinnamon split in two

100ml port (optional)

a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

200ml water

orange peel strips to serve

1. In a large pan add the caster sugar and half a pint of red wine and stir until completely dissolved.

2. Add the remaining ingredients aside from the orange peel strips and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

3. Strain the liquid before serving and gently pour the hot spiced mulled wine into individual glasses or mugs and add a orange peel strip to each one.

You can make in advance and then reheat when needed. You can also store in the fridge overnight to be reheated the following day.

Note: If you have some muslin cloth you could add all the spices to this cloth and then simply remove before serving, instead of straining. 

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I bid you all a very happy Christmas and will be back with my next post in the New Year. Thank you for always stopping by and supporting me with your comments and likes over the last couple of years. Merry Christmas to you all.

Torie x

Take a sneak peek at a few of the other sights we saw in Prague below.


Green Tomatoes – Two Ways

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During half time we went and spent some time at my parents house, which is hidden away in the depths of the Sussex countryside. Life slows down and allows you to become at one with nature. I love living in the city and am not the type to rush out to rolling green hills at every opportunity, but that said now and again it really does ones soul the world of good. Breathing in fresh air, getting properly muddy and having walks in the woods. Also if the truth be told I love my folks wood burning fire that warms the house and wafts woody smells throughout.

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My mother is Mrs green fingers and has an enviable vegetable patch, which supplies my father and her with bountiful crops of endless vegetables and fruit. She has been overrun with green tomatoes this year and had a couple of troughs full sitting in her pantry so I asked if I could take one to make into a chutney and a relish back in London.

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The result has been pleasing and I wanted to share both recipes with you. They are perfect to bring out with pretty much any cold meat, especially any type of pork product.

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The photo above and below are of the cucumber and green tomato relish.

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Green tomatoes are simply tomatoes that have not ripened in the sun. Change in weather can mean that some of your crop just aren’t able to make the transition from green to red. That said you can bring the whole plant inside and there are ways to help them turn red – see here for tips, but my mother had already picked the remaining tomatoes, most of which were green.

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To eat raw, whilst still green, would not be advisable as they are tart, however by cooking and making into a chutney or relish brings them into their own and sweetens them enough to make a fabulous little preserve.

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Both recipes require a fair amount of chopping so if you can gather in helpers that will certainly speed up the laborious part of the preparation.  The above photo shows the layered vegetables in the colander sprinkled with salt – they leave them like this overnight.

The photo below is the pickling spice that is used in the chutney but not the relish!  I have made my own pickling spice – you can add whatever you fancy, but I decided upon bay leaves, green cardamom, black mustard seeds, dried chillies, whole cloves, cinnamon bark, allspice and peppercorns.

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Once you have made either the relish or chutney – or both, once sealed in jars, leave to rest in a dark, cool place for a couple of weeks for the chutney and 1 week for the relish. The chutney will last longer – around a year, whilst the relish should be eaten within 6 months. Once open store in the fridge and eat with in a couple of weeks.

Both recipes below I have adapted from ‘The Complete Book of Preserves & Pickles’ by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew

Green Tomato Chutney

makes approx 8 jars. I mainly use Wares of Knutsford 250ml Mason jars

2.3 kg green tomatoes, chopped

600g cooking apples, chopped – cored and peeled

600g onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1.5 tbsp salt

1 small muslin bag full of pickling spice (see below)

800ml cider vinegar

600g granulated sugar

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Pickling spice

1/2 tsp allspice

2 bay leaves

3 green cardamom pods

1 tsp black mustard seeds

2 inch piece of cinnamon bark, broken into pieces

4 cloves

5 peppercorns

2 dried red chilli

1 small piece of muslin cloth

some string

You can also add dried ginger, cassia, coriander seeds

1. After roughly chopping all the tomatoes, apples, onions and garlic place them in a large pan (or two if you need to) and add the salt. Add the muslin full of pickling spice, securely tied, along with half the vinegar and bring to the boil.

2. Once it has reached boiling point, reduce the heat and let it simmer for an hour stirring at regular intervals to aid with the softening of the ingredients.

3.  In a separate pan add the remaining cider vinegar and sugar and gently heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once this has happened pour into the main pan and give a good stir. The chutney needs a further hour and a half to simmer and become thick.

4. In the last half hour of number 3. wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water and then place in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 110 degrees and then let the jars and lids (do not place the lid on the jar) sterilise for 30 mins.

5. Once the jars and lids have sterilised and the chutney has become thick remove the muslin and then spoon the hot chutney into the warm jars and seal. I find this wide neck funnel, immensely useful during this process as it means I keep the rims of the jars clean. I tend to put a waxed disc on top (was side down), although I think with the two piece gold disc and screw band lid it is probably not necessary.

6. Label and store in a cool dark place and leave to mature for a couple of weeks before opening. It will last for up to a year.

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Cucumber and Green Tomato Relish

Makes approx 5 jars

2 cucumbers, cubed 1cm

900g green tomatoes, cubed 1cm

4 onions, finely chopped

1.5 tsp salt

350ml white vinegar

150g demerara sugar

200g granulated sugar

1tbsp plain flour

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1.  Layer the cubed cucumber, green tomatoes and finely sliced onions in a colander placed over a bowl and sprinkle each layer with salt. Leave to drain for minimum 6 hours or overnight if you can.

2. Removing the salty liquid and place the vegetables in a large pan along with 320ml of the white vinegar. The remaining 30ml of white vinegar will be used later! Add both sugars to the pan and gently heat, stirring to allow the sugars to dissolve. Simmer gently for 40 minutes.

3. In a bowl add the flour, mustard powder and remanding white vinegar to form a paste and then add to the relish. Simmer for a further 20 mins or until the mixture is thick.

4. Similarly to point 4. in the instructions for the green tomato chutney, sterilise the jars and then spoon the contents of the relish into each one, remember to push the relish down firmly so that there are no air bubbles. Add the waxed disc, waxed side up (if using) and place the gold disc and screw top lid on top.

5. Store in a cool dark place for a week before using. Use within 6 months. Once opened store in the fridge and eat within a couple of weeks once opened.


Turkish Delights and Coban Salatasi

I have just returned from two glorious weeks spent exploring Turkey’s ancient Lycian Peninsula, which is in the south west of the country, by the warm azure waters of the Mediterranean.

The area is steeped in history with numerous ruins and tombs dating back over 2000 years. I couldn’t help thinking when I was exploring  and clambering all over these ruins (no health and saftey in Turkey!) that our Stonehenge is well, how can I put this delicately, a little underwhelming, if you compare it to all the ancient Lycian ruins. In the cooler months (April and October) guided walks are on offer through Lycia taking in the ruins of lost civilizations, the flora and fauna of the mountain passes and ambling through the charming Turkish villages, many of which seemed to have stood still in time. Perhaps not an adventure to take on with small children but definitely on my to do list for the future.

Ruins of Patara 

We did however, get the chance to soak up the ruins of: Letoon, which was the main religious centre of Lycia, Xanthos – the captial city of Lycia in the late Hellenistic and Roman times, Patara – an ancient city party submerged (ready to be truly discovered) under 12km of sand dunes, Tlos with its spectacular rock tombs carved out of the rock face and Kekova – the sunken city from 2000 years ago. At Kekova you are forbidden to swim and snorkel as the treasures from the old town are there for you to see clearly from a glass bottom boat or canoe. It was quite easy to see the  pots as we sailed gently passed.

Patara’s impressive amphitheatre

Tlos amphitheatre beneath the Taurus mountains

In a bid to absorb ourselves in authentic Turkey as opposed to full on ‘tourist Turkey’, we based ourselves slightly in land, firstly in the Kaya valley and the following week high up in the Taurus mountains. Both locations where a stones thrown from the glorious beaches but far enough away so that we were able to sample another calmer, slower side to Turkey.

Cooler breezes gave us welcome respite from the coast and we enjoyed seeing how the locals pass their days.

our neighbour with her goat

On a couple of days we managed to hire a boat for the day (complete with on-board cook – result!) so that we could see the coast line from the waters and swim in sheltered bays only reachable by boat.

Pretty harbour at Ucagiz

I was amused to see a local selling ice cream from his boat, similar to the one I had seen a few weeks previously on the south coast in England. Clearly all the rage around the world!!

The absolute highlight of our time on the water was when Big A and Little Z both caught rather large fish at the same time. We were all so thrilled by this, even the Captain was impressed as I think he did not think they would catch anything using the hand held real as opposed to a rod. We took them to the local town where they gutted and grilled them for us so that we could have them for lunch. It was great for the girls to see the full cycle of catching a fish and then having it washed, cleaned and gutted before being grilled and then eaten, all within a couple of hours of being caught. Wonderfully fresh and we all agreed, very tasty. We weren’t too sure what the fish were exactly but they tasted delicious and the girls were delighted at being such able fisherwomen. Definitely a life long memory.

The morning’s catch!

When abroad I always enjoy discovering the different local foods and dishes on offer, as well as the spices and herbs that are commonplace.

At the spice market I bought: pink peppercorns, sumac, pul biber  (dried flaked pepper), dried mint tea, a marinade for fish

Turkey is bountiful with wonderful fruit trees bursting with offerings, some ready now – such as figs, grapes, peaches and cactus fruit (prickly pears) and others not quite ready for a month or two – namely pomegranate. I discovered the carob fruit that was completely new to me but I immediately took a liking to its sweet chewy undertones.

Carob fruit in centre of photo – they look like large vanilla pods.

I discovered that it has been cultivated for over 4000 years and that is also known as ‘St John’s bread’ or ‘locust bean’ as the pods were mistaking thought to be the ‘locusts’ eaten by John the Baptiste in the wilderness – although this was proved to be wrong as he ate migratory locusts. It has a honey taste to it and is in fact used as a substitute to sugar. I am certainly going to seek out the powder form and try baking with it this autumn – watch this space. Another interesting fact is that the beans are ground down to make a cocoa substitute, that although slightly different tasting, has a lot less calories and virtually fat free. It is also packed with vitamins (A, B, B2, B3, D). Check out this website which will tell you in more details about the carob fruit’s benefits. I also like John’s youtube summary of the fruit. I would love to grow a carob tree here in the UK, but I fear that our sporadic sun shine may not help it thrive like the ones in the Mediterranean and in California.

The girls discovered a new treat known as ‘gozleme’, which is basically Turkey’s answer to an Italian calzone. The dough is rolled out on a round surface and then half of it is stuffed with a contents of your choice – we liked spinach, feta and potatoes and then folded over to create a crescent. This is then put onto a hot circular surface that is heated underneath by an open fire. The whole process was mesmerizing to watch and the finished snack was polished off in no time at all.

Preparing our gozleme

As the weather was ridiculously hot, salads became a staple at meal times. The most popular salad in Lycia seemed to be ‘Coban Salasti’ otherwise known as ‘Shepherd’s Salad’. It appeared on every menu and is ridiculously easy to make and perfect in hot weather. The trick is to cut the vegetables up  really small – far smaller than I would normally when making a salad.

Coban Salatasi – Shepherd’s Salad

Serves 4

2 large tomatoes (or 3 small), finely chopped

3 Turkish green peppers (the long thin ones), finely chopped

2 small cucumbers, finely chopped

1/2 (half) a white onion

1 large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1. Finely chop all the ingredients into a large bowl and gently mix together.

2. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste and serve.

So what have you been up to this summer? Any food foraging or discoveries in foreign lands? Don’t be shy and leave a message below, I’d love to hear from you.