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Thursday, March 27, 2014

The summer is almost here.... 101 simple summer meals


We often can't be bothered to think about cooking during the summer holidays. But with a little imagination even the laziest cook can rustle up something a lot more tempting than a standard ham salad. We asked two of our favourite chefs, Tom Norrington-Davies and Allegra McEvedy, and top New York food writer, Mark Bittman, to come up with a list of quick and easy alternatives. The result was 101 dishes, all of which get you in and out of the kitchen in 10 minutes or less (we're not counting the time it takes to bring water to the boil). These suggestions are not formal recipes; rather, they provide a general outline so that with a few simple ingredients you can turn any idea on this list into a meal for two.
1. Eggs with asparagus
Simmer eggs gently for six minutes, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus.
2. Herby pasta
Toss a couple of handfuls of fresh chopped herbs with a few tbs of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angel-hair pasta (capellini, a very fine spaghetti), diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.
3. Scallop ceviche with lime
Cut eight raw scallops into four horizontal slices each. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt and crushed chillies; serve after five minutes.
4. Prawns with white beans
Open a tin of white beans and combine with olive oil, salt, prawns, minced garlic and thyme leaves in a pan. Cook, stirring, until the prawns are done; garnish with more olive oil.
5. Mussels with basil and tomato
Put 1.4 kilos of washed mussels in a deep pan with 250ml white wine, garlic cloves, basil leaves and chopped tomatoes. Steam until mussels open - just a few minutes.
6. Sole on bread
Heat 1 cm of olive oil in a pan. Dip sole fillets in flour and fry until crisp, about 2 minutes a side. Serve on bread with tartare sauce.
7. Clams with garlic
Put a few dozen washed clams in a large, hot frying pan with olive oil. When the clams begin to open, add a tbs or 2 of chopped garlic. When most or all are opened, add some chopped parsley. Serve alone, with bread or over angel-hair pasta.
8. Steak and salad
Pan-fry a steak for three or four minutes on each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, slice and serve on romaine lettuce, drizzled with olive oil and lemon.
9. Baked mackerel
Smear fresh mackerel fillets with mustard, sprinkle with chopped herbs (fresh tarragon is good), seasoning and breadcrumbs. Bake for eight minutes at 220C/gas 7.
10. Paprika prawns
Warm olive oil in a pan with at least three cloves of sliced garlic. When the garlic colours, add at least a tsp each of cumin and paprika. A minute later, add a dozen or so prawns, salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley.
11. Rhubarb mess
Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. Sprinkle a tin with caster sugar and cover base with slices of rhubarb, cut about 2 cm thick. Douse the rhubarb with orange juice. Transfer to oven and bake for 10 mins. As the rhubarb cools it will release juices and make a syrup. Beat a tub of cream until just whipped. Break up a packet of meringues into the cream, add a glug of fresh custard and the rhubarb and fold everything together.
12. Chorizo with chickpeas
Put a large tin of unsalted chickpeas with their liquid in a medium saucepan. Add some sherry, along with olive oil, plenty of minced garlic, smoked paprika and chopped Spanish chorizo. Heat through.
13. Mackerel salad
Tear smoked mackerel fillets into pieces. Mix with lettuce, green beans and warm new potatoes. Dress with olive oil and dijon mustard.
14. Pasta with prosciutto
Put a few slices of chopped prosciutto in a pan with olive oil, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a bit of butter; after a minute, toss in about 100g breadcrumbs and red chilli flakes to taste. Serve with pasta and chopped parsley.
15. Crab sandwich
Mix cooked crab meat with mayo, Dijon mustard, chives and tarragon. Serve in a sandwich.
16. Panini
Cheese on toast with prosciutto, tomatoes and fresh thyme or basil.
17. Meaty scrambled eggs
Slice or chop some salami or Polish sausage and warm in a little oil; stir in eggs and scramble. Serve with mustard and rye bread.
18. Couscous with sardines
Soak 80g per person of couscous in boiling water, cover until tender; top with sardines, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil and black pepper.
19. Stuffed tacos
Stir-fry 450g of minced meat or fish mixed with chopped onions, cumin or chilli powder. Pile into taco shells with tomato, lettuce, onion, coriander and sour cream.
20. Chinese scrambled eggs
Cook minced garlic in peanut oil until blond; add chopped tomatoes, then, a minute later, beaten eggs, salt and pepper.Scramble with a little soy sauce.
21. Grilled aubergine with cheese
Cut aubergine into half-inch slices. Grill with lots of olive oil, turning once, until tender and browned. Top with crumbled goat or feta cheese and grill for another 20 seconds.
22. Quick tomato sauce
While some pasta cooks, combine 400g chopped tomatoes, a tsp or more minced garlic, olive oil and 20 to 30 basil leaves. Toss with pasta, salt, pepper and parmesan.
23. Posh cheese on toast
Grill one side of a slice of baguette. Cut a log of goats' cheese with rind into rounds, cover the untoasted side with cheese, and grill until browned and bubbling.
24. Lobster with warm potato, shallot and tarragon salad
Slice 200g new potatoes into thinnish discs. Simmer until al dente. Split a cooked lobster lengthways, and make a dressing with 1 tbs red wine vinegar, 2.5 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 diced shallots, tarragon, salt and pepper. Drain the potatoes, and dress. Serve with the lobster and lemon wedge.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bharwan Baigan (Indian Style Stuffed Eggplants)


One afternoon while we were chatting over a long chain of text messages, my friend Kankana asked if I had the recipe for bharwan baigan I can share with her. Well it was a simple question but it got me very confused. . You see I do not have the recipe for bharwan baigan or Indian style stuffed eggplants. I have at least five or maybe more than that.
One is my mum's recipe that I grew up hating (what a fool I was!) and now crave for a bite of it.  She uses Chinese eggplants in her recipe and stuffs it with 6-7 dry pickling spices along with raw garlic and fries it in mustard oil. Then there's my mum-in-law's recipe which I cannot admit but is an absolute killer too. She uses those small, stout, softer skinned Indian eggplants and fills them with a spicy onion, ginger garlic paste.
 Then growing up I had a neighbor aunty (Indians have a habit of addressing all your mum's friends, friends friends, house help, stranger walking on the street, basically every woman around your mum's age as aunty). So this particular "aunty" of mine hailed from the south of India. Now she made some amazing stuffed eggplants too but hers used lighter skinned eggplants and were filled with a paste made of peanuts, coconut and a few other spices.
When talking of bharwan baigan recipes and my inspirations then I should also talk about the cook at our hostel mess kitchen. I wouldn't call her one of the best cooks in the world although I cannot blame her either. Cooking anything for a tough crowd of 50, weight watching, acne ridden, college going young girls everyday, three times a day can take toll on you. But however watery her dals would be or leather tough her rotis were, she sure made some mind blowing bharwan baigan. She used the commonly used Indian eggplants but used chickpea flour as a stuffing, a recipe again which was to die for.
Like many other Indian dishes every family and cook gives a different twist to this dish depending on the region they belong to. So when someone like my friend Kankana asks me for the recipe for bharwan baigan I rightfully get confused. I stalled her for a few days before I finally confessed my dilemma with her and then confused her too. Just like me she couldn't pick one because all of them are amazing in their own way. So I promised her to share my own recipe which has an essence of all these recipes that have inspired me. So there you go!

Ingredients:
8-10 small of medium size Indian/Asian eggplants 
1 cup red onion 
1 tablespoon fresh ginger 
2-3 cloves of garlic 
2 thai green chili 
1/4 cup mustard oil (olive oil or vegetable oil is fine too) 
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mango powder (aam chur)
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1/4 cup dry desiccated coconut
Salt to taste. 

Method:
Wash and pat eggplants dry. Using a carving knife make long deep slits into the eggplant running from top to bottom without the knife passing through the other side. Set aside.
Coarsely grind onion, ginger, garlic and green chili in a food processor.Set aside.
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan over medium high heat.
Add mustard and fennel seeds. As they sputter add the onion paste prepared before.
Mix well. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every 1-2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom.
Once the paste begins to turn golden brown add salt. Stir well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until oil separates.
Add the remaining spices. Mix well and cook for another minute or so.
Turn the heat to low.
Now stuff approximately 1 teaspoon masala paste into each eggplant. Drop egg plants into the same pan. Leave any extra masala in the pan. Try to be careful with hot masala. Can also let the masala cool down completely if its tough to handle.
Again turn the heat to medium low. Toss the eggplants in the pan to coat with the remaining grease and masala in the pan. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the eggplants are cooked through. Toss and turn the eggplants carefully every 2-3 minutes making sure all sides are cooked well.
Serve on the side with hot rotis, dal and rice.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Intro to Tanzania Food




Tanzania food has been developing gradually. Tanzania food items have lot of variety ranging from fruits to vegetables to meat and milk products. The early people who lived in Tanzania were mostly termed as hunter-gatherers.
During the first five hundred years the most popular food in Tanzania consisted of sorghum, millets, fruits, fishes, vegetables. In AD 800, the Arabs entered Tanzania and established the trade routes in the country. During this time they introduced and popularized food items like cotton plants, citrus fruits, biriani and pilau. These food items became very popular among the people of the coastal areas and Zanzibar. 

Groundnuts and cassava introduced by the Portuguese also became an important part of the diet of Tanzania. Meat items are not widely consumed in Tanzania. Sheep, goats and cattle are normally used for their milk. Only during festive occasions they are killed for their meats. The most commonly used meat items are ndayu and nyama choma.

The main diet of the Tanzanian people was the pilaf, cornmeal, beans, sorghum and millet. Ugali is the national meat dish of Tanzania. People living in the coastal areas mainly prefer rice and fish cooked in coconut. Some natural grown fruits and vegetables consumed are the pawpaw (papaya), ndizi (bananas), matunda (fruits), beans, spinach and maize. Ndizi Kaanga is the famous dish among the Tanzanians. Apart from this, Tanzanian food also comprises of vitumbua (sweet fried bread), chapatti (flat fried bread), juices of oranges, sugarcane and pineapple. In the Mount Kilimanjaro region a special type of banana beer is available. Fresh fruits or pudding such as the mandazi are also quite popular. 

Source 

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