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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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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

THAI STREET FOOD – PEANUT NOODLES


“……… I DO THIS MY WAY! …..”

For so many years now JS and I have been to Bangkok at least 3-4 times a year. It’s a relative easy (and very economical) flight from Kerala via Singapore.

And even though we always stayed in our lovely hotel and enjoyed Chef’s wonderful food besides the many lunch/dinners we relished at various other special places for us, I still joined our friends to try Bangkok Street food occasionally. And before some of you might disapprove, let me tell you, I have never ever been sick once – knowing of course where to eat helps. Some places were recommended by local friends, while some I found of my own accord.

Last time we were in this vibrant city was for their water festival “Sonkran”. The ‘Sonkran’ of this year is over and yes, we missed not being there with our friends and participate in the fun.

I too used to buy occasionally my Street food like they did, sit on some steps in front of one of those huge shopping centres and watched the spectacle, mainly children (of all ages!) getting soaked.

So here today I like to share with you this quick, simple and delicious recipe, my own version of “Peanut Noodles

For 2 people you will need:

100 gr medium egg noodles (or more if you are hungry)
1 x Tbsp Oil
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
1 or 2 x large onions, sliced
½ x of 3 different coloured Capsicums, seeded and roughly chopped
½ x of a medium sized Courgette, also roughly chopped

150 gr unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

Now for the dressing

4-5 Tbsp Oil (I like to use Olive oil here)
Grated rind and the juice of 1 x lemon (to taste)
1-2 x red hot chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 x Tbsp Soya sauce
Some fresh chives, snipped (or Thai Basil)
2 x Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Here is how I do this “… my way

Cook noodles, drain and keep aside.
Heat oil in wok; add onions, garlic and all the remaining vegetables.
Cook appr for 3-5 minutes until they start getting brown and soft, but be careful, you do not want the vegetables too soft.
Add peanuts and cook for a further 2 minutes.
In small bowl whisk together oil, grated lemon rind and 3 Tbsp of lemon juice, chilli, chives (or Thai Basil), Soya sauce and Balsamic vinegar (to taste). Add salt and pepper.

Now toss the drained noodles into the onion/garlic/peanut etc. mix and heat through.
When ready to serve add dressing, stir nicely to coat everything and serve garnished with fresh chives.

NB: you can also use spaghetti, if egg noodles are not available.

That’s it – enjoy.

Namaskaram
Carina

A Marriage of Fennel & Carrot

Hallo – hallo – yes, I am back!

But do not worry, I will not bore you with the many stories of WHY I have been away from my computer that long – too many to be told – but just in case there are one or two of you who actually missed me (  and no this is not meant to be in an arrogant manner) the main reason for being off the air for 2 months is quite a simple one – I needed (and wanted) to do some other things around the house, away from the computer desk!!!.

So today I like to introduce you to one of my favourite vegetable dishes. I am not always able to get Fennel here, so when I see it in our Hypermarket I buy some bulbs and make the most of it.

300 g Carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
300 g Fennel, cleaned and sliced thinly
15 g plain oats
15 g butter
50 ml Vegetable Stock, (I use a Knorr Cube)
50 ml Cream (light)
1 small onion, chopped finely
2-3 Garlic (optional) finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter (but do not let it get brown!), add oats and stir for 1 minute before adding all the carrots and fennel, onion and garlic. Mix and stir for another minute or two. Add prepared stock, cover and on medium heat let it cook for 10 minutes or so. Before serving add Cream, spices and bring to your table.

In our house I serve mainly some creamy mash potatoes with this for myself and rice for JS.

That’s it – ready – Guten Appetit!

This is one of my “Speedy-Gonzales” vegetable dishes which is wonderful just by itself or with meat or chicken and ideal for all of us who are “in a hurry” since it can be on your plate in less than 30 minutes.

Namaskaram,
Carina

Indian Spinach and Pork

As you well know by now I do have a pretty good relationship with my WOK.

For only 1 or 2 people producing a delicious meal in no time and with no fuss and most of all without lots of washing-up, a wok is the perfect tool for somebody who is always on the go and often running short of time.

So, therefore I share with you today my recipe for yesterday’s lunch.

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I remembered I had bought a bunch of “Palak” the South Indian equivalent of our Spinach and it needed to be used fairly quickly. I also had some pork left over from a Pork Vindaloo dish. Some nice fresh peanuts I had just bought winking at me from their jar – and so very quickly I had assembled everything I needed and just 30 minutes later (that included the time to take some pictures for you to see) I was able to sit at the table and enjoy my “Spinach and Pork Stir Fry”.

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So, for 1 slightly hungry person you will need:

3 x spring onions, I used only the white, cut into rings
1 x small piece of fresh ginger, very finely chopped
2-3 x garlic cloves, very finely chopped
Some pork (appr. 100 gr), cut into small mouth sized pieces
1 x Tbsp Soya sauce
1 x tsp Honey (or less if you don’t like it too sweet)
2 x tsp lemon juice
1 x bunch of fresh Palak or appr. 150-200 gr fresh spinach, well washed, keep aside in a colander to lose some of the water
1 x tsp Oil
1 x small handful of fresh Peanuts
Salt and Pepper to your taste

To cook:

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Heat Wok with the oil on medium heat. After 2 minutes add your Peanuts, Garlic and Ginger, keep stirring, add Pork and continue stirring for app. 2 minutes or so.

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Add the prepared Palak/Spinach and all the Spring onion rings; stir and cook for a further 2 minutes.

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Mix honey, lemon juice and Soya sauce together and add to the wok. Finally check, and if needed, add salt and pepper.

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Since I like my Palak/Spinach slightly crisp I continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes.

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And that’s it! Ready. Serve with rice.

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Guten Appetit!

Namaskaram, Carina

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

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.