Devilish Hot TUNA Curry

As you well know by now we live right on the coast of the Arabian Sea in the beautiful State of Kerala – the land with an abandonment of Fish, Coconut, Herbs and Spices.

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A Keralian household without fish – unthinkable! And of course there are as many different versions of “Red Fish Curry” as there are families in Kerala. This particular curry today is by all means not a typical traditional Kerala Fish Curry, but it is just one of many favourites in our house. This recipe started off one way or another quite differently but over time we perfected it until we got it just right for our own taste – ok, admittedly, one has to like love spices!!! Of course, you can always tone down the heat a notch (or even two or three), but if you do love “the heat” in your curry, then I suggest do not change anything – it is truly so delicious and it will only make you want more.

We love coconut in our cooking, but in this case here we completely omitted this – and don’t you agree, this beautiful red colour looks sooo inviting.

Traditionally this curry is made in an earthenware pot, a “Kalchatti” made out of clay. Unfortunately my “Kalchatti” broke the other day and I have not been able to pick one up from the road side, where vendors selling those for very little money. Somehow cooking this curry in a “Kalchatti” improves the flavour.

So, I made this curry in my normal wok on the gas stove and it tasted equally fantastic (even if I may say so myself!!!).

Again, what you see here in the photographs is just for the 2 of us, with enough left over for the following day, since letting it stand overnight will really improve the flavour. I also used a nice chunk of beautiful Tuna, which JS got from the market.

Ingredients:

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½ x kg Tuna, washed, skin and bones removed and cut carefully into neat cubes
1 ½ x large onions, halved and sliced
5 x green chillies cut lengthwise
8 x garlic, thinly sliced (our garlic is quite small)
1 x Tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced
2 x large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into quarters
Some sprigs of curry leaves
½ x tsp of Mustard seeds
2 x Tbsp of best-of-the-range Fish Masala Powder (I used a local brand Nirapara)
Little oil and salt and pepper, according to your taste
4 x pieces of Kodampuli (Kokkum), washed and then soaked in lukewarm water for 15-30 minutes (do not discard the water)

Method:
1. Soak Kodampuli and keep aside.
2. Wash and prepare Tuna, keep aside.
3. Prepare all your vegetables, keep aside.
4. Heat wok on medium heat and when hot (stay on medium! Heat) add Mustard seeds and wait for them to go ‘pop’ – WARNING: they are real little devils and will spit at you when they ‘pop’ – so do keep your face away.

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5. Now add onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and a little salt. Stir gently – don’t allow any of this to get dark (you might have to regulate your heat)

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6. Add 2 Tbsp of your Fish Masala Powder, mix, and now followed by tomatoes, all the Kodampuli and half their water – stir again and carefully add your Tuna into this Masala (without breaking any of the pieces).

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7. Add enough water to cover everything well (but, if you want extra gravy, just add a bit more water and the remaining Kodampuli water).

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8. Cook gently on medium heat for 10-15 minutes (keep checking) – Done!!!

9. Cover with lid and let it stand for a while before serving. And of course as I mentioned earlier, this is even far superior the following day.

So maybe you might like to prepare this Curry a day before you have guests.

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Serve this either with plain white rice, mashed potatoes, mashed Tapioca (Kappa Puzhukku), or chunks of nice bread (after all, this gravy is simply delicious).

Namaskaram, Carina

Dora’s Moqueca Prawn Stew

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The Olympic Games are still in full swing in Rio – and by now many of us will have already “square eyes” for watching too much television at unusual and peculiar hours!!!

Rio – Brazil – Moqueca – all this and much more is taking me on a wonderful ‘memory-into-my-past’ journey all the way back again to my years in Trinidad/W.I.

I tasted Moqueca for the very first time in the house of the then Brazilian Ambassador to Trinidad & Tobago and immediately ‘fell in love’ with this dish (loving prawns of course as I do). From then on I spent many many happy hours in her Residence down by the Sea, listening to beautiful soft samba music and listening to her talking to me about this and that in her charming deep voice. She had no children and I think in a way very shortly after my arrival on the Islands I became a sort of substitute child to her – and I had no objection, in fact loving every moment of this. She became my close trusted friend – my mentor on this, sometimes difficult, diplomatic parquet and I could not have wished for a better and sweeter one. But sadly due to illness she had to leave this earth far too early – but certainly never my gratitude nor my fond memories. So Dora, the posting of this ‘your’ Moqueca is for you. Obrigado!!

I am talking here about Ambassador Dora Alencar Vasconcellos – who was already a very well-known Poet in her own country before she accepted this diplomatic post and one of her most famous poems “Canção do Amor” (Love song) was set to music by Heitor Villa-Lobos.

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To make this Moqueca like in my pictures you will need:
½ kg prawns, cleaned and deveined

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½ x of large capsicum, cut into “matchsticks”
½ x of large green capsicum, cut into “matchsticks”
½ x of large yellow capsicum, cut into “matchsticks”
5 x garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x medium sized onions, finely chopped
2 x large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into “matchsticks

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½ x cup of coconut milk, medium thickness
2-3 x good splashes of Fish Sauce
100 ml oil, more or less (I used Coconut oil here)
Some fresh lime/lemon juice,
¾ x Tbsp of red chilli flakes (we always use a bit more!)
A pinch of salt and paprika- (or chilli-) powder
1 good fish/prawn stock cube (Knorr is good) or fresh stock if you have it ready
Generous amount of fresh coriander, finely chopped

How to cook this:
At least a couple of hours before you start cooking start marinating the prawns.

Into a bowl add 3-4 Tbsp of lime/lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a pinch of paprika (or chilli) powder – optional – and the sliced garlic. Mix all this (best with your clean hands), cover and keep in fridge until needed.

Take Wok, using medium heat, add oil, onions and fry for a few minutes, and follow this with all your capsicum/sweet peppers, tomatoes,

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pinch of salt

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and all your chilli flakes. Mix gently and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Now taste this; your vegetables should not be mushy but just a little bit ‘undercooked’ still. Add coconut milk, stir, reduce heat to simmer!!, cover and cook maybe for another 10 minutes, not more.

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Keep checking on vegetables and spices. Take all your prawns with the marinate and add this to the wok.

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Check – you might need some more lemon/lime juice at this stage. When prawns turn pink check once again. Your Moqueca should be done by now. Sprinkle a very generous amount of fresh coriander of your dish before serving.

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Fluffy Basmati rice is best with this. Dora gave me a tip: add a couple Tbsp (or a cube) of prawns/fish stock to the boiling rice – this gives the rice a very subtle flavour.

Note: The beauty of this dish is, that you just add more of the above mentioned vegetables and prawns – and also add some nice firm fish cubes (no bones!) – a real feast – trust me!

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Bom apetite – Guten Appetit – Enjoy your meal!

For you who wish to listen to some more Brazilian music here is a special link:


the famous Astrud Gilberto with Stan Getz with her most popular song “The Girl from Ipanema” – surely there are a number of you who still remember this song!!!

Carina

Carina’s own “Greek Moussaka”

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This week Friday the 5th of August, the 2016 Olympic Summer Games will be officially inaugurated in Rio de Janeiro/Brazil and once more Millions of people will be watching – the lucky ones live in Brazil and the rest of us in front of our TV screens in the comfort of our home. We wish them good luck and of course, “May the best team win” keeping up with the Olympic Motto: Faster – Higher – Stronger.

The first modern Olympic Games started way back on April 6, 1896, and were held in Athens, Greece, with athletes from 14 countries participating.
So I thought that maybe it would be only appropriate to dig deep into my private recipe file box and make once again my old favourite from times gone by; you might have guessed it already – MOUSSAKA!

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This beautiful Greek dish containing mainly Aubergines/Eggplants/Melanzane, Lamb- or Beef Mincemeat, Zucchini, slices of potatoes, Onions and topped with a beautiful cheesy Béchamel Sauce.

But – if you are expecting to find the recipe here for this incredible original Moussaka, then sadly this is the wrong page for you. This one here is totally my own personal successfully tried version of “Greek Moussaka” – cooked for a long time by me for family, friends and for when I had to entertain on a larger scale. It also freezes well and therefor perfect for those occasions. (Oh dear, time creeps up on you if one has fun!)

So here now is ‘Carina’s Moussaka’ recipe – I hope you will try this one and even like it as much as we do. Having been absent from our table for a few years now, we have decided to say “Welcome back C.M.”.

Again, this recipe is for 2 people:

I used here:

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½ kg minced Beef (Mutton is delicious, too) let it drain in a colander until you need it,
2 x medium sized aubergines/eggplants (or whatever you call them), thinly sliced
1 x large zucchini, thinly sliced
1-2 x large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 x onions, finely chopped
2-3 x medium sized tomatoes, thinly sliced
½ x of a whole cinnamon stick, broken into 3
½ x cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp x of Allspice

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And to make your Béchamel Sauce:
2 x Tbsp of Butter, more or less
Some olive oil
3 x Tbsp flour
1 x cup of milk (you might want to use a bit more if sauce is too thick for your liking!)
Generous pinch of nutmeg
¾ cup x of sharp cheese, pref. cheddar, grated and mixed with 1 tsp of ready-made mustard (optional) for that extra little ‘kick’.

Heat your oven to 180 Celsius. Take a large bowl and add aubergine-, potato- and zucchini-slices with very little olive oil and carefully with your hands (don’t break the vegetables thou) ‘massage’ the oil into them. Then on a baking sheet just spread them all out (like in my photograph) and bake in the oven for ca. 15-20 minutes (but, please keep checking on them).

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When soft, switch off gas and leave them to rest until later.

Now, in a large deep pan or wok add 2 tsp of oil and sauté all the onion with a pinch of salt until they start changing colour, moving them around all the time. After that add the mince meat, your broken cinnamon stick (ahhh – that smell!!) and a very generous amount of allspice. Mix and sauté until meat turns brown.

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After this add your chopped tomatoes and the parsley, stir and check on salt and pepper. Simmer for maybe 30 minutes until the smell starts invading your kitchen and playing with your senses. During this time do not cover your pan/wok but keep a watchful eye on this – should it start to stick, just sprinkle some water! Into this – no more oil!!

Keep this now aside and make the Béchamel Sauce.

In a small pot melt some butter (don’t be too stingy) over low to medium heat – add flour gradually whilst whisking to avoid lumps. This might take 3-5 minutes; now add milk slowly and gradually, all the time whisking the milk into the flour/butter mixture. Do not add all the milk at the same time – you will most likely end up with a horrible lumpy mess. Once the mixture is smooth add half of your cheese and some nutmeg. Keep stirring until everything is well incorporated.

Now take any kind of oven-proven dish, butter is slightly and start to assemble your Moussaka.

First, a generous layer of the prepared meat followed by potatoes and aubergines, another layer of meat and then cover everything generously with the prepared Béchamel Sauce. Top with the remaining cheese and into the pre-heated oven (I had mine now on 200 C) this goes for maybe 30 minutes. When your Moussaka has a nice golden brown cheese crust then ……. It’s ready!

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Remove from oven and let it rest for 10-20 minutes before serving – a chunk of hot baguette is just nice.

Guten Appetit – Καλή όρεξη Kalí órexi
Carina

But wait my friends! – before you go please take note of two more things:
1) I like to give full credit and thanks to Jo, who presented me with this beautiful artwork of his to use in my Blog.
2) Take your time and try and listen to this befitting piece of music – who does not know it, honest!

The Sirtaki danced by one of our absolute favourite actors, Anthony Quinn. It is of course from the all-time classic film “Zorba the Greek”. Greek title: Αλέξης Ζορμπάς (Alexis Zorbas) is a 1964 film directed by Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and starring Anthony Quinn as the title character. It is based on the novel Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. The supporting cast includes Alan Bates, Lila Kedrova, Irene Papas. Winner of the Oscar 1964.

Mughal Kadhai Tender Mutton……

(…fit for the one I love!)

Just over one month ago Jo, my husband, posted on his own website the story of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Arjumand Banu Begum, popularly known as Mumtaz Mahal. (see The Most Worthy Of Love (17.6.2016) – on https://manningtreearchive.com/2016/06/17/the-most-worthy-of-love).

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We talked at length about Shah Jahan and his beloved Mumtaz and this inevitably triggered off not only our own fond memory of the first time when Jo took me to see the Taj Mahal in Agra but also in the end……yes, you guessed it, to food – glorious food. To be precise to one particular Mutton dish the Chef in our favourite Indian Restaurant back on the East coast of England often made for me (at my special request) … Mughal Kadhai Mutton, a dish one frequently finds at weddings up in the North of India.

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It is a dish without too much gravy and best eaten simply with either Chapattis (fresh and hot straight out of the pan) or Naan or Hoops (Arabic bread); but if you need your rice, then why not by all means go for a nice Pulao of your choice.

Although Chef eventually parted with his restaurant recipe but, as usual, I tweaked a little bit here and there to suit our own taste and that of family and friends. And proudly I confess it became sort of mini runaway success in our house at impromptu get-togethers with friends who loved Indian food – but, in order to suit their taste I often served a bowl of French beans as well, just tossed in a little bit of butter with salt, pepper and finely chopped garlic.

As with quite a number of other dishes I had not made this one for quite some time and Jo’s story reminded me to serve it once again here in Kerala.
The head butcher at my local Hypermarket here did me proud – he chose a beautiful piece of mutton, boneless (although I added 2-3 little marrow bones whilst cooking – just for taste and removed them before serving). The meat was beautiful, succulent and tender.

So again, what you can see in the photographs is just for the 2 of us.

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Ingredients:
Marinate the following over night:
½ kg x Mutton (Lamb), cut into nice bite-sized pieces
1 ½ x cup of good plain yoghurt
2 x heaped Tbsp of garlic paste
2 x Tbsp Garam Masala
3 x Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 x Tbsp Curry Powder
Salt and black pepper to suit your personal taste.

Add all the above into a large bowl (with lid) and best with your clean hands sort of massage the spices etc. into the meat. Cover bowl with lid and let it stay in the fridge over night until you are ready to cook the next day.

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When you are ready to cook take your Kadhai/Wok and on medium heat only heat up 1 ½ x Tbsp of Oil, add 4-5 large green chillies, split in half, and fry those just for a couple of minutes. Be careful; avert your eyes, chillies ‘spit’!

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To this add all your marinated Mutton (Lamb) WITH all the marinate , mix and fry for maybe 5-10 minutes (I do this on the lowest gas-setting!), stirring all the time.

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After this add 2-3 x large tomatoes, chopped into small pieces, at least 2 x Tbsp coriander powder and 1½ x tsp of cumin powder and some fresh ginger, julienned, mix all this carefully. You might need to sprinkle some water over this mixture if you feel it starts to stick to the bottom of your Kadhai/Wok.

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The near intoxicating smells from all those spices suddenly turn your kitchen into a mini-heaven for curry lovers.

Remember, this is meant to be a fairly dry dish, without too much gravy. But, having said that, since we do like this particularly delicious gravy I make sure there is always some to be ‘mopped up’ with a chapatti or naan.

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Guten Appetit
Carina xx

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