Fusion-Chickpea-Burgers

Namaskaram friends – who is ready for Tea?

You – you or you ? Then please come and join me at my table for some delicious little “Fusion-Chickpea-Burgers” – (…… of West-Africa and India).

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The original recipe I managed to extract from a dear friend in Nigeria, where we lived for nearly 5 years a long time ago! Her cook seemed to have a never-ending supply ready for ‘Madam’s visitors’, and there were always plenty, since her husband was the Governor of Western Nigeria. She and I became very good friends over those years and it was truly sad to have to say goodbye to her and the family.

Over the following years I ‘tweaked’ the recipe a bit here and there to suit our personal taste. I have not made this for quite some time until the other day, when I was caught having been a bit over ambitious cooking far too much ‘white Kaddala’ – Chickpeas. I believe that most of you can just go to the nearest grocery store and buy tins of readily cooked chickpeas – I cannot, but this is not too much of a bother. I normally just soak the amount I need overnight and wash and cook them the next day, ready to be used in all sorts of recipes – Indian or International – (I particularly love to use them in a nice fresh salad), so you can always find a container of them in my fridge.

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Now, cut a long story short, looking at this big bowl of cooked chickpeas suddenly the idea of making some delicious snacks for our tea time came like a flash. But where did I keep the old recipe? Of course, in the hurry I could not find it and so just from memory I jotted it down and started ‘tweaking’ again and I came up with the following:

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I do hope you like this and will give it a try.

Remember: if you cannot buy tinned chickpeas – soak and boil!!!! In advance.

I used the following for 8 little Burgers:

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1 ½ x cups of boiled chickpeas
2 x medium sized boiled potatoes
½ x cup of very finely grated carrots
¼ x cup of finely chopped red capsicum
4 x garlic cloves
1 x tsp of hot red chilli flakes
1 x Tbsp of wheat flour (you can use 1 x egg instead for binding, if you prefer)
1 ½ Tbsp of Chaat Masala (store bought)
Salt and pepper to taste
A splash or two of Tabasco
Plenty of finely chopped coriander (you can also use parsley instead)
Oil for shallow-frying!

Method:
Put everything with the exception of the carrots (those have to be grated separately) into the Mixy and pulse just for a few seconds. You may have to add a few drops of water – so keep checking.

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Do not over-pulse this, a little bit of crunch is nice!
Wet your hands and start making small Burgers – not to thick thou. Keep on a plate/tray and move to your freezer for 30 minutes or so.

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Add little bit of oil to your favourite frying pan and on a medium to low heat start frying those little Burgers – 3-5 minutes each side was enough for mine, but please keep checking yours – they should end up golden brown and not dark!!!

Drain on plenty of kitchen paper and serve while still hot – with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
They are also very nice for Lunch or a light evening meal with a good salad on the side.

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And guess what – tomorrow I will make yet another batch for my freezer!!! – after all there are still chickpeas left!!!

BTW, today is my late mother’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Mutti – R.I.P

Guten Appetit.

Carina xx

QUARK – GLORIOUS QUARK !

…….and my today’s Lunch!

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You who have visited Germany no doubt will have come across this delicious, super healthy and versatile cheese at most breakfast tables in their Hotel or/and in private homes.

As a born German I simply cannot, for the heck of it, imagine sitting down for breakfast and not finding a bowl of this cheese waiting to be lavishly spread on my preferably “Vollkornbrot” (whole grain bread), Pumpernickel, or toast, with just salt and pepper added or mixed with chopped fresh herbs or simply topped with a slice of tomato.

Quark to me (my family and friends) is quite obviously what the potato is to the Irish!

And when I lived in those faraway lands and also in England I missed my daily dosage of Quark, never of course even thinking of making it myself at home. Come to think of it, I actually knew not a single person who made this in their own home; it was always readily available in most shops and at a pretty low price, too.
So, living here now again I found that Quark was not available and only with the opening of India’s largest Hypermarket near us just over a year ago, did I find out to my delight, that a certain world famous creamcheese (imported, of course) was occasionally available – but……… at a price!!!

So a quick telephone call to one of my close friends in Germany and hey presto – her recipe for making my own Quark at home came flying into my email account. And as you will see, it is sooooo dead easy to make, that I got a bit annoyed with myself for not having made this all those years ago. But then, as the saying goes “…one is never too old to learn new tricks...”

Surely you can understand my amazement when subsequently I googled “Quark” and found that now, only a couple of years or so ago, a company in the UK started producing Quark and from a sheer commercial point of view they never looked back.

So, for all of you, who are not suffering from a dairy intolerance or are vegans, here is the recipe I make now for the past year in my kitchen on average once a week.

I not only use Quark for cooking (often instead of cream), baking (use it to make your favourite cheese cake), I often eat it just on its own mixed just with delicious fresh herbs (if and when I can get them), mixed with fresh fruit like kiwi, apple, grapes etc, on bread/toast and/or water biscuits or the typical German way, just some boiled potatoes (Pellkartoffeln), and a salad on the side or a filling of a baked potato mixed with a chopped hardboiled egg for example. There are 1001 and more ways in which to consume this, so I suggest, just let your imagination run wild – go ahead, try out anything!!! It is soooo good, healthy and slimming, too. After all on average you will find that in 100 grams, it has just 0.2 grams of fat. So in short, it is a healthier alternative to many cheeses and yoghurts.

Here are just a few ideas how to eat Quark – the sky is the limit, as the saying goes. Just experiment.

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As you see in my photograph below, I use 4 pouches of milk and later, after boiling, I add 1 pouch of Curd. A couple of days later I have a yield of app ½ kg plus of beautiful Quark.

And regarding cost? It is so very low cost, (app GBP = 1.101, USD = 1.48, Austr. Dollar = 1.935) that I believe you too will rush into your kitchen and start making QUARK – GLORIOUS QUARK!!!

What you will need!

4 x pouches of milk (500 ml each)
1 x pouch of curd
Large pot, cheese cloth, large spoon and large bowl, 1 scissor

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How I make my QUARK – GLORIOUS QUARK

1) Empty 4 x pouches of milk into a large pot.
2) Put on flame and WHILST WATCHING bring this milk to just boil.
3) Switch off and let cool down (since I live in a tropical country I switch on my fan in the kitchen to cool milk down quickly)
4) Once cool enough add 1 pouch of Curd, stir, cover and keep aside overnight (I normally make this late morning)

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5) Next morning, dampen your cheesecloth, line a colander and carefully pour your milk with curd into this

And then knot cloth, cover with heavy lid, and keep inside fridge once more overnight!

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After that discard of whey (some people might want to use this – I do not!), open your cloth and transfer Quark into a smaller bowl (with lid) and keep in fridge – ready to be used!

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And now tada tada once again – this is it – ready!!

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Enjoy …. und Guten Appetit!

Carina xx

CALYPSO AUBERGINE MEDLEY

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or….. FIRE IN MY WOK !

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Yes, it is really me. After a spell in Hospital and subsequent recuperation at home under the very competent and (sometimes strict) care of my beloved “Head nurse Jo”, I am at last again able to do my bit in the kitchen and ‘talk with you’ via the computer.

For starters let me explain something here – I do love meat of nearly any kind, but I find that as I get older I end up eating less meat and also I am pretty certain that I will never become a true vegetarian, I started to enjoy quite often meals without any meat.

So therefore today I post a “no meat” dish which again I picked up during my time on the island of Trinidad. I love this one in particular because it gives me the right spice kick whenever I need it without making a proper curry. Also it takes me only 10 to 15 minutes to bring this to the table.

It’s wonderful just on its own (as in my picture) served with plain boiled Basmati rice or serve it as a side dish to most chicken- and/or burger dishes.

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Regarding the heat, that of course is entirely up to you and the tolerance of your palate.

Don’t worry regarding any exact measurements, just take what I did for this post as a guide line and go for it and…..if you like ‘heat’ you will like this.

What you see in my photographs here today is for 2 people as a light meal or for 1 very greedy and hungry person.

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AUB-41 x large aubergine, washed, topped and tailed and cut into bite sized cubes
1 x large onion, finely sliced
2-3 x small red hot chillies, very finely sliced
A small piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
3-4 x cloves of garlic, very finely sliced (our garlic here is not very strong, so try out yours)
1 x Tbsp soft brown sugar
½ to 1 Tbsp of Chilli Sauce (I used one of my decade old favourite: “Lingham’s Chilli Sauce”)

1x Tbsp and a bit of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 x Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
Some vegetable stock, I used a Knorr Stock cube.

1. Wash your rice (1/2 cup dry makes 1 full cup cooked) until water runs clear. Soak rice for 15 minutes, then cook until ready (it takes me just another 15 minutes or so).
2. Keep prepared aubergines in a colander, sprinkle with salt, mix, cover and let sit for 15 minutes to extract water.

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3. Heat oil in wok, add onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and stir-fry for a few seconds and then add the aubergines (make sure to dry them first in a clean dish clothes), stir and cook on medium heat for around 2 minutes more.

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4. Add all your sauces, sugar, vinegar, stock, salt and pepper, stir gently, cover and simmer for maybe another 10 minutes. Check. Don’t let aubergines get too soft and mushy.

That’s it, just check your spices and serve on a bed of fluffy basmati rice.

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Enjoy this Medley my friends. We are off to the Dining room now to have our own supper of this dish.

Have a good and peaceful week-end.

Carina

Kohlrabi Gratin

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Kohlrabi Gratin (In memory of Mutti)

When I woke up this morning I, at first, was a little bit ‘confused’; for a couple of minutes I believed it was still in the middle of the night.
Instead of bright sunshine finding its way into the house it was like I was back in England – dark, gloomy and wet!!!

Looking out of the window I found:
Sky as dark as a sky gets when ready to burst open and pours rain down on us.
Clouds hanging so low that one can easily imagine being able to touch them.
Cooler climate, less daily use of A/C’s or Fans in the house and offices.
All this and much more goes with the momentary season here and what is known as

MONSOON!

All this made me change my mind in the last minute what to post this time.

For the past few weeks I wanted to post a few dishes from my home country, Germany, especially using some of my late mother’s recipes. Although she was an average cook (but a very good and keen baker) who kept very few recipes written down (hence the reason why I have to make most of her dishes from memory with a few of my own in-puts here and there) she always brought food, including vegetables, to the table which as a child I hardly ever disliked and in fact have still very fond memories of, even today. Her food was simple, nothing too fancy, and by today’s standards certainly not highly photogenic, but always delicious – mainly great comfort food!

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So todays dish for example would be something she would quickly make in the morning before going to work and all it needed later was appr. 30 minutes in the oven to heat through.

Thanks Mutti – I know we both liked this casserole! Especially on a miserable rainy day.

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I used 2 separate bowls this time since in one I added Chilli for Jo, but not in mine.

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So, for those 2 dishes I used the following:
4 x medium sized onions, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
6 x medium Kohlrabi, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
4 x potatoes, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
1 x tub of pre-washed Spinach, just over 2 hand full
1 x + Tbsp dried Thyme (if you can get fresh, use this)
200 ml Vegetable Stock (from a cube)
¾ of a small tetra pack of double cream, (app. 200 ml)
2 x tsp of sunflower oil
A generous lump of butter
Salt, pepper and nutmeg (use to your own liking)

For the topping:

Simple: I just put 3 x slices of bread, grated cheese (I had to use Mozzarella, nothing else here)
(Any hard cheese like sharp Cheddar is good), 1 x small sprinkling of Paprika (hence the colour of the gratin), a little bit of softened butter into my Mixy and blitzed this for a few seconds– ready!!

How to make:

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Take a wide pan or wok (so useful), add oil and butter, and let it foam on medium heat only. When it’s done add all the onions and sauté those gently, with a pinch of salt, for maybe 10 minutes until they slightly change colour.

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Now add the kohlrabi, potatoes and thyme and, best with 2 spoons, mix carefully. Add more salt and black- (or white) pepper. Cover with lid and continue cooking for 5 or so more minutes.

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Add cream and stock, cover again, and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. When liquid has reduced a bit add spinach. Stir once more carefully, cover with lid, switch off heat and move container to side.

Preheat oven to app. 190 C, butter lightly your casserole dish or 2 smaller ones, as I did, and fill them with the cooked mixture.
Top all this with the cheese/breadcrumbs- mixture made earlier.

Put dish or dishes on baking tray and continue baking the gratin in the oven. Keep a watchful eye on this, oven heat various and you do not want a burnt gratin.

That’s it really but do take time to read my notes:

In the distant past I also have used medium sized individual ramekin dishes for lunch- or dinner parties and they were always a great success.

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Mutti sometimes added sliced sausages (anything she had in her kitchen at that moment, i.e. Frankfurter’s, Fleischwurst, Ham etc.)
Don’t skimp on the cream here, using just milk will not do, it will be bland.
Of course you can use as much or little of the 3 main ingredients as you wish.
Glamorous for a photo session this dish might not be, but it is nevertheless a good, satisfying comfort dish!

Guten Appetit!
Carina

Ulli Theeyal (Little Onion Curry)

ഉള്ളി കറി

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This is a wonderful sidedish to our Kerala Cuisine, mostly associated with part of the traditional Onam Sadhya, but if you like onions, and we certainly do, I promise you it is very difficult to resist not having it fairly frequently as a side dish to any curry or just with some rice or even just with a couple of freshly made chapattis or parathas. The choice is yours – all I am asking is that you please do give this dish a try.

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Before you start your preparation make sure you have a small face towel near you (to wipe away the ‘tears’ which will come from peeling a small heap of tiny onions), some music to while away the time needed for peeling and also assemble all the remaining ingredients within easy reach.

For the Theeyal you see in the final dish I used 2 heaped cups of peeled onions – and as you can see there is not too much to show for in the end and that’s the reason why I normally make 2 or 3 times the amount for us two!!

Soak a small lump of Tamarind pulp in luke warm water for 15 mins, squeeze, discard the pulp but retain the brown water for later.

Over medium to lowish heat gently fry 1.5 cups of grated coconut*, 5 dry red hot chillies*, 1.5 tsp of coriander seeds, 1-2 Tbsp of sliced onions, 1 Tbsp of broken cashewnuts*, – keep gently stirring all the time, if anything burns throw away and start afresh.

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The coconut should take on a dark! Colour (I personally prefer just a slight shade lighter).

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When done, let it cool down a bit and then in your Mixy grind all this to a very fine paste, adding a spoon full of water if needed. Keep aside.

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Now in a large deep pan or wok heat up 2 tsp of coconut oil* or vegetable oil if preferred, still working on low heat now, add a dash of turmeric powder, mix and then add all your washed little onions and at least 6 green chillies*, slit in half.

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Keep stirring until everything is well mixed, turn up your heat to medium, keep stirring and once the onions start taking on colour add the tamarind water. Bring this quickly to a boil, add all the ground masala from your Mixy, check for salt and also add some more plain water, maybe ½ cup or so. Stir once more, cover with a lid, turn down the heat a bit and let it cook until the gravy thickens. This might take anything from 15 to 20 minutes – just keep checking. At the very end, when everything is cooked, add 1-2 tsp of brown sugar*, mix and serve.

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Now in a small pan heat 1 tsp of coconut oil, add just ¼ tsp of mustard seeds and a tiny pinch of fenugreek seeds (rubbed between your fingers to release their beautiful flavour) and 1 or 2 dried red chillies, and when the seeds finish crackling, pour this over your Ulli theeyal.

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Bring to your table and watch the smile on the faces of all who are eating this – like we do shortly when we sit down for our lunch.

Notes:
• Try to use very small onions, otherwise cut in half.
• Frozen grated coconut is fine but never use dehydrated!!
• You can of course use less or more of those red chillies, but 5 are just right (I think).
• Use broken cashewnuts, they are cheaper than the whole once – after all they go into the Mixy.
• Personally I only use a tiny amount of Sweetener.
• If you can get coconut oil use it, it brings out the flavours more – otherwise vegetable oil is fine.
• And by the way – it tastes even better the next day IF you have any left.
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Carina

PINEAPPLE PACHADI

(Malayalam: പച്ചടി)

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The last week has been quite a bit hectic on the social front – meaning, eating out nearly every day! And this is not good for me, not good at all – tell me friends how does it happen that one always eats a bit more when one does not have to cook oneself?

So in order to get back into my (healthy) eating routine I made a wonderful little treat for myself.

P….P….Pachadi! It is most delicious, refreshing and healthy and is normally served as a side dish, a wonderful accompaniment for plain rice, snacks like dosa and idli and goes especially well with hot and spicy curries. You can even find this and other Pachadi’s in top international Indian Restaurants.

Pachadi is also part of the traditional Kerala Onam Sadya and is also often served at weddings (and all this on the traditional Banana leaf).

I use a whole large pineapple just for myself when I want to get back “on track” – it keeps a couple of days in the fridge alright and anyhow there is never any left for a third day.

Try this recipe and you too might get hooked on Pachadi.

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For what you see in the photographs I used:

1 large pineapple, chopped into fine cubes (2 cups)
½ tsp of Turmeric powder
2 ½ tsp of Chilli Powder (adjust to your own taste)
½ cup plus of Curd, slightly beaten for smoothness
Salt to taste
(2 Tbsp Jaggery or other sugar) I did NOT use any of these, since our pineapples are quite sweet naturally and I also like that “kick”.

Items you will need to grind into a smooth paste are:

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½ cup of grated fresh (or even frozen – but never dehydrated!) coconut
2 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsp of black mustard seeds
A couple of Tbsp of water (if needed)

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Before serving you will need to temper with the following:

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3 tsp of Coconut oil
1 tsp of mustard seeds
2-3 dry red hot chillies
Some curry leaves

Now start cooking Pachadi:

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Add 1 Tbsp of water to the pot, followed by pineapple, salt, turmeric powder (sugar etc if you are using) and the chilli powder. Mix gently and cook on medium heat until pineapple becomes soft. Here again I like a little bit of ‘crunch’, but it’s up to you.

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Add your coconut paste and cook for a few more minutes until all the water evaporates.
Switch off heat and let this cool down for 10 minutes before you add your curd. Do not boil any more after this or it will curdle.

Remove to a nice serving bowl.

Heat oil, add mustard seeds and when it splutters in a minute or two add the dry red chillies and curry leaves and immediately pour it over the waiting Pachadi. A word of warning thou – be very carefully when you drop the dry chilli into the oil. Twice now they ‘shot’ at me quite ferociously and barely missed my eyes. Not funny – from now on I keep my face averted.

And as you can see from “Mini” and “Mo” (the cats!) and their bowl I just had a little bit of long-grain basmati rice with my Pachadi.

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Enjoy
Carina

Hot and Sweet Chicken-breast

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This week has been a bit crazy – in other words, there were never enough hours in the day to do even a fraction of the things either of us wanted or had to do.
Frequent power-cuts (due to the heavy onset of the refreshing monsoon) did not help either – and today, when I am writing this, it is only Thursday – so more to come.

So therefor I will not keep you busy as well by having to look at a long post, instead here is another one of my “speedy-gonzales” recipes (kitchen is not being used that much right now).

It will take you maximum 20 minutes from start to finish.

For 2 people I used:

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2 x Chicken breasts, cut into nice cubes

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A few pieces of fresh pineapple, cut into cubes

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2 x heaped Tbsp of Peanuts, crushed
1 x Tbsp liquid honey
1 ½ Tbsp of mustard (coarse grain)
1 shot of cream (or 2 if you like it creamier)
1 good sprinkling of curry powder
1 x Tbsp of Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

How to do:

Wok on medium heat, add oil and cubed chicken.

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Stir and quickly fry for couple of minutes. Add honey, mustard, curry powder, salt and pepper and whilst stirring keep on cooking the chicken.

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When ready carefully add the cream (don’t let it curdle) and the crushed peanuts. Simmer for a couple more minutes.
That’s it – serve with Rice or as in my pictures, with Penne and maybe some blanched spinach or broccoli.

Tips:
Place unsalted peanuts into your Mixy and ‘blitz’ only for a couple of seconds. Don’t make them smooth, you will want a slight bite.
This sauce is really simple but so nice, maybe you like to make a little bit more!?
If you have no fresh pineapple, then use tinned one.

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Enjoy your meal and have a wonderful safe week-end wherever you are in the world, my friends.

Carina