Archive | August 2016

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

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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.