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A beautiful Cauliflower and green peas curry


……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..

A beautiful Cauliflower and green peas curry.

Our festival season is slowly starting off with today’s Independence Day celebration and most people will have been watching on their TV the splendid celebrations all over the country.

Next week Kerala will be celebrating their most famous annual festival – ONAM. Malayalis around the world are all ready to welcome the Hindu mythological king Mahabali. Onam is mainly a Hindu Harvest festival.

The Onam feast, also known as Onam Sadhya, is one of the most important parts of Onam celebration. The Sadhya comprises mainly of 26 sensational dishes and there is a set order in which the dishes are served during the Onam fest, wherein the meals are only served on fresh, clean banana leaves (locally known as “Kerala plates”).

There is of course no way that we will cook 26 dishes just for the two of us, but instead we will enjoy some of our well liked and tasty (vegetarian) dishes during that time.

I will start Onam off with this lovely Cauliflower and green peas curry – a curry enjoyed by Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian alike.
This recipe here is for 4 people.

Ingredients
1 x big cauliflower, cut into small florets
4 x big potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 x cup of green peas (I use frozen peas, thawed)
2 x tsp sugar (or jaggery, if you can get it)
¼ x tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp Vegetable oil

For Grinding
4 x big onions, peeled and cut into pieces
2 x inches of fresh ginger
4 x green chillies
4 x green cardamom
2 x cloves
Piece of cinnamon stick
4 x big tomatoes
Small ball of Tamarind paste
For frying
2 x tsp oil
1 x tsp cumin seeds

Method
Boil potatoes until nearly ready – add cauliflower florets and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Drain and keep aside.

In a wok heat 2 x Tbsp of oil, add the cooked vegetables plus the green peas, stir and cook for 2 more minutes. Take off flame and keep aside in a dish.

Now, in your ‘mixy’ grind all the above mentioned ingredients into a smooth paste, adding tomatoes at the end. Keep aside.

In your wok again heat 2 x tsp of oil and fry cumin seeds for a few seconds. Add the grinded masala, salt, turmeric powder and 2 x tsp of sugar (or jaggery). Stir.

Add all the cooked three vegetables and mix gently. Let gravy thicken for just a couple of more minutes (this is not a liquid curry).

Rice or any roti (chapatti, paratha etc.) and some pickle are good with this.

That’s it – enjoy
Namaskaram
Carina

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The Colour Purple

……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..”

A fruit of many different names – its common name is ‘Eggplant’, in British English it is called ‘Aubergine’ and here and the whole of South Asia and South Africa its ‘Brinjal’. And although it is technically a fruit – the Brinjal is all over the world used as a vegetable.

I have been collecting different Brinjal recipes now for a very long time – so today I take you to Italy, to Milan to be precise.

My friend Antonia had a splendid housekeeper, Maria, who was an excellent cook. Every time we visited Antonia’s home she used to spoil us with one delicious dish after the other. I have only one major regret – that I did not take lessons from Maria. There was always so much to do in a relatively short time that cooking lessons, I am afraid, were put on the back burner.

If and when you make this dish, try to get the little Baby Brinjal – ok, so they will be 5 minutes more work but, oh, your effort will be well rewarded.
Maria served those with polenta, cooked, cooled and then cut into squares and fried in little olive oil. Do not count calories this time, just use little oil. Those little ones are also very good to be used as part of a buffet, hot or cold – they are equally good. Two bites – and they are gone. But do not fret too much if you cannot get the baby Brinjals – just use their big brothers instead.

Maria called this “una ricetta da cucina povera” (a recipe from the poor kitchen).

This recipe is for 2 as a starter or for 1 hungry person a main dish.

Ingredients

6 x Baby Brinjal
1 x cup (homemade) pasta sauce
6 x cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh basil leaves (or 1 tsp dried basil)
1 x tsp of red chilli flakes (or 1 ½ tsp of paprika powder)
½ x cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or more!)
2 x Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Wash and dry (with a paper towel) your Brinjal.

With a sharp knife cut each one in half and then cut out enough flesh to make a ‘boat’ without cutting into the skin. Do not remove the little stem

Cut the flesh very finely and keep aside.

With a brush ‘paint’ olive oil inside and outside of the Brinjal.
Add 2 tsp of oil into a pan, when hot fry garlic quickly without letting them get brown.
Add chilli flakes (or paprika), stir and then add the chopped Brinjal flesh.
Cook on medium to low heat for a few minutes, until the flesh is quite tender.
Now add your fresh basil (or dried) and the pasta sauce, stir and let simmer for another few minutes.
Add salt and pepper – taste.

When everything is cooked fill your little Brinjal ‘boats’ with this mixture and sprinkle plenty of grated cheese on top of each one.

Transfer to a baking pan or to a low (ovenproof) serving dish – as seen in my photograph – and bake in oven at 180 C for 20-30 minutes.

That’s it – enjoy

Namaskaram
Carina

Riches of the soil

“……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..”

(Cabbage and Potato curry)

Do not be put off by just reading what I cooked the other day. For some of you this dish seems far too simple and ordinary – but, and here is the big ‘but’ – it is a truly delicious curry filled with some of our beautiful warm spices. This curry is one of my Indian ‘comfort’ foods – a dish which suits me just right during this very heavy Monsoon season, when days sometimes look like we were back in UK – dark, wet and very moody.

Did you know that potatoes (with their skins) have 25% more potassium than bananas? For example and turmeric is a very healing spice.

So I suggest you give this recipe a try; after all, the whole meal can be ready in just 30 minutes. This curry can be eaten with rice or just roti (chapatti, etc.).

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 onion, finely sliced

¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1 Cinnamon stick

1 lb gold potatoes, diced into ½” cubes
½ small head green cabbage, cored and sliced (about 12-14 ounces)
½ cup diced fresh tomatoes
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes until they ‘pop
Add onions and stir. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Now add garlic (or garlic powder), bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cayenne, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

Add the potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ cup water.
Mix all this well. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 30 – 35 minutes. Watch and if it becomes too dry just add 1 or 2 Tbsp of water.
Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick and discard.
Once cooked, add salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Remove from heat. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Transfer curry into a serving bowl and sprinkle chopped coriander over the finished dish and serve.

That’s it – enjoy
Namaskaram
Carina

Bejeweled Capsicum

One of our favourite vegetables in Indian as well as in European cooking is Capsicum/Bell pepper/Sweet pepper – green, yellow and red – it really does not matter – we just love this vegetable!

Even though China is the world’s largest producer of capsicum, followed by Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia and the United States – this vegetable is now grown in most countries (I even managed to grow some of our green capsicum and chilli peppers needed for our weekly cooking in our garden in England).

Did you know that this vegetable is a rich source of Vitamin C (and some other vitamins) and contains a staggering 94 % water – good to include in food as part of a calorie controlled diet.

When I go shopping to my local Hypermarket to buy vegetables and fruits (especially items which I cannot find in my local markets) I always seem to linger longer at the beautifully displayed Capsicum section. The vibrant colours of my “bejeweled capsicum” reminds me of a child’s coloured crayons. They are so shiny and plump – but can anybody shed light on the phenomenon why the green ones are always the cheapest with the red ones costing double or even triple???? After all, we do know that the green capsicum, although mature, has been picked rather than being left to ripen on the bush, has a slightly sharper, more savoury, flavour than the red one – which is fully ripe with a sweet-tasting flesh.

Did you also know that it was dear old Christopher Columbus who, when he returned to his Spanish patrons in 1492, brought back evidence of the rich plant life he had discovered, amongst which were members of the capsicum family – sweet peppers and their kinsmen, chilli pepper.

The following recipe is one which we love very much and therefor I like to share it with you, dear friends.

Ingredients

1 x tsp Fennel Seeds
2 x Tbsp Peanuts
1 x Tbsp Cashew Nuts
2 x medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
3 x Capsicum (green, yellow and red – if possible) deseeded and cut into small squares
3 x small onions, chopped
3 x tomatoes, chopped (do not remove skin or seeds)

4 x green chillies, chopped
¼ cup of fresh coriander, chopped
1 x Tbsp Vegetable oil
1 x tsp Mustard seeds
1 x Tbsp Urad Dhal
A few curry leaves
1 x tsp Garlic and ginger paste (if possible, homemade)
1 x tsp turmeric
2 x Tbsp Chilli powder (or less)
2 x tsp Garam Masala
1 x Tbsp of Lingham’s Chilli Sauce (for ‘kick’)
1 x cup of water
Salt, to taste

Method

In a wok, dry fry fennel seeds for a couple of seconds only, keep aside.
Now again dry fry peanuts and cashew nuts for seconds only.
Grind those 2 items in your ‘Mixy’ to a fine powder.
Add oil to the wok and when hot add the mustard seeds and urad dhal as well as a few curry leaves. Stir.
Add onions and some salt and green chillies and stir for 5 minutes.
Add raw potatoes. Stir and covered with a lid, cook for a couple of minutes.
Add ginger and garlic paste, stir.
Add coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and stir again.
Add tomatoes and some water, cover wok again and cook until potatoes are nearly ready.
Add above mentioned ‘Mixy’ powder, all the capsicum, and maybe a little bit more water if needed and cook a further 5 minutes with the lid on.
Taste, and when potatoes are completely cooked add some garam masala, stir and sprinkle with finely chopped coriander leaves before serving.
Ideally, both potatoes and capsicum should retain just a little bit of ‘crunch’.

Serve with rice or any kind of roti (Chapatti, Naan etc.)

That’s it – enjoy
Namaskaram
Carina

CRAB – 20 Minuten!

“……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..”

Today my dear friends I invite you to Bangkok – for a visit to the largest outdoor market in the world – to be precise; to Chatuchak Weekend Market on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road.

This market, also known as JJ Market is offering, with over 15,000 stalls, an eclectic variety of goods, from antiques to pets.

Going there is as much enjoyable as tiring – this place is literally huge, very crowded (even in the early mornings) and one can easily get lost in this rabbit warren of very narrow lanes.

But not to worry, there is always a smiling face helping you out and a place where to sit for “people watching” and, most of all, to enjoy one of their delicious foods.

My friend Yui one day invited me to accompany her to this Market since she wanted to buy a few items for her house in Bangkok. Good enough reason for me to have yet again another look at some of the stalls I was interested in on one of our previous visits to this vibrant city.

We arrived early, hoping to beat not only the rush of visitors but also the heat – but of course many people had the same idea and we found the place already somewhat crowded, but it did not spoil our fun at all.

After a few hours!! of walking, talking, bargaining and buying the items Yui had wanted, our feet started to object. What better idea than to go and have one of those wonderful foot massages, for which Thailand is famous for, amongst other things. I just love to have my feet massaged by a Professional that I, without fail, always fall asleep, but waking up totally rejuvenated.

Soon it was lunchtime and Yui took me to one of her favourite food stalls where she suggested I must try her friend’s Crab and Sweetcorn Soup. I do so love soups, of all kind (or nearly) and especially Thai soups.

Gratefully we sat down, ordered and very quickly a steaming bowl of my Crab soup arrived. It truly was so good, that I tried to make this at home once back here in India.

This dish is so easy to make and in fact only takes 20 minutes from start to finish.

So I will not let you wait much longer, but share with you my version of Chatuchak Crab and Sweetcorn soup.

Ingredients
(for 4 portions I used here…)

½ x pack of frozen Crabsticks (finely chopped)
¼ x pack of Thai Glass Noodles
½ x cup of frozen sweet corn
¼ x cup of the green only part of Spring Onions (finely chopped)
¼ x cup of Peanuts (dry fried)
1 ½ x cup of Vegetable Stock
1 x Tbsp Soya sauce
5 x Kaffir Leaves (or lime zest)
1 x Tbsp dry red chilli flakes (or more if you like the heat)
2/3 x Tbsp Lime juice
2 x tsp of Sesame Oil (or plain vegetable oil)
Salt (to taste)

How I made this:

In a large vessel I boiled the noodles in the vegetable stock with Sesame Oil.

Next I dry fried the peanuts, stirring all the time.

In a separate pan I sautéed, just for a couple of minutes, (in 1 tsp of oil) the chopped spring onion greens, the previously fried peanuts, Kaffir leaves, chilli flakes, lime juice and little bit of salt.

When this was done and the noodles cooked, I then transferred those to the above mixture and added the vegetable stock bit by bit to until I had the right liquid consistency.

Before serving I added all the chopped crabsticks and mixed everything well together and then served.

That’s it – enjoy.

Namaskaram
Carina

Meatless Bolognese all Paseo

……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..

Meatless Bolognese all Paseo

June is the month of Saint Antony of Padova and for many years we have travelled to this lovely city, saying our prayers at the shrine in the Basilica and seeing our friends, some of whom actually live or work at the Basilica.

But alas, this year sadly we were not able to travel – but we do so hope that there will be soon a ‘next time’.

So it was a chance for me to telephone a couple of our friends in Padova and have one of our pleasant little chats.

Whilst speaking with Antonia, she somehow mentioned a mutual visit to a charming restaurant on our last trip called “Bastioni Del Moro” in Via Pilade Bronzetti (roughly translated to “Ramparts of the Moor). This is a place which is mostly frequented by locals. We always prefer those kind of restaurants whilst abroad.

Antonia, who is a Vegetarian, ordered her food, Spaghetti con Bolognese. This raised an eyebrow with me – Bolognese? How could she!!! She just smiled and urged me to taste from her plate. And gosh, was I glad I did – it was absolutely delicious and no mincemeat (Keema) in sight. Pure vegetarian, a dish laden with beautiful vegetables and lentils and I really did not miss the meat at all. To be honest, I had forgotten all about this dish and now, speaking to her, I wanted this recipe very badly.

Since then I have made this “Bolognese” a few times, served with pasta, rice, to be eaten with chapatti or naan. Next time I will make thin pancakes, stuff those with my “Bolognese” and serve this dish as a ‘faux lasagne’.

So here it is, and I am happy to share it with you. Of course, as usual, I have given this recipe a little tweak here and there. Do give it a try and you too will be surprised how truly delicious it is.

Ingredients:

1 x large onion, finely chopped
4 x garlic cloves (crushed or finely chopped)
3 x carrots, coarsely grated
2 x large celery sticks – chopped
2 x Tbsp Olive oil
½ x cup of red lentils
4 x large tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ x Tbsp tomato puree
2 x cups vegetable stock
1 x Tbsp mixed (dry) Italian herbs
1 x Tbsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
Salt and pepper to taste

And this is how I made it:

Gently fry Onion, garlic, carrots and celery in oil for appr 5 minutes or until they are all soft.

Add lentils, tomatoes, tomato puree, stock, herbs and chilli powder as well as salt and pepper. Stir.

Cover vessel partially with a lid and simmer for 20 or so minutes – timing depends on how soft you want your lentils.

That’s it – enjoy.

Namaskaram
Carina

G O A L ! …..

“……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..”

G O A L ! …..

….. and my version of German Zwiebelkuchen.

As most (if not all) of you know by now the Football World Championship is on.

Last Sunday the match was Germany vs Mexico.

Jo and I settled down in front of our TV anticipating (and keeping fingers crossed) that Germany would beat Mexico, although by a narrow margin.

But what disappointment was in store for us. I am no football expert but it looked like the Germans played a game not up to their usual standard and their fans expectations.

And so when the first goal came in the first half – it was for Mexico.

Jubilation on their side, despair on my home country’s side!

And despite a bit more effort in the second half and a few near (goal) misses, the game ended 0:1.

Congratulations Mexico and ‘better luck next time’ Germany!

And since I did not want to spend too much time in the kitchen I made one of our long time ‘fast food’ dishes. No pizza for us – I cannot remember ever having eaten a pizza on our many trips to Italy or anywhere else. But ‘Zwiebelkuchen’ (Onion cake) – now that is a different matter.

So here my recipe I like to share with you:

Ingredients

225 g flour
110 ml water
25 g butter
1 pack (2 tsp) dry yeast
Pinch of salt and sugar.
And for the Filling:
400 g Onions, thinly sliced
150 g Bacon, cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp Oil
2 Eggs
100 ml cream
125 g Cheese (I used Cheddar), grated
Salt, Nutmeg, Pepper, to taste

And this is how I made it:

In a bowl mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Once done add the cold water and the softened butter and knead this into a dough. Let this rest for app 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough and line a Quiche-dish, which you have buttered before, (if you double this recipe then it’s better to use a baking sheet).

In a bowl mix together eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg and pepper.

Now heat up the butter and some oil and add the onions and bacon frying this mixture only until colour changes slightly. Remove pan from fire and add egg/cream mixture. Check your spices.

Now add everything on top of the dough lined dish, sprinkle a generous amount of cheese over this.

Bake in the preheated oven at 200 C ca. 30 minutes.

Serve with a nice dry white wine or a lovely chilled beer. Prost!!!

That’s it – enjoy.

Namaskaram
Carina