Eggplant Makhani | Slow Cooked

Eggplant/Brinjal in a makhani style sauce – the only thing better is cooking it in a slow cooker. Delicious!

Brinjal Makhani

So Autumnal here, Australian style. Some slightly yellowing leaves, sunny cloudless skies but the sun is lower so the days are pleasant without being hot. Long shadows and slower days. Glorious sun rises, cool to cold at night and in the mornings. Gardens frolicking in the not-too-hot weather, and tomatoes to die for. Summer fruits are disappearing and oranges, plums and pears are beginning to appear on the shelves. Some chestnuts.

Cooking for my daughter one evening, I wanted something delicious but not to difficult or time consuming. Inspired by Sanjana at korasoi, I took her slow cooker recipe and made some changes to suit the evening meal.

It was served with some steamed basmatti rice, English spinach sauted in spices and a cooling cucumber salad.

Check out the original recipe here. It looks magnificent. This is how our version went. Continue reading “Eggplant Makhani | Slow Cooked”

What Does a Vegetarian Do with a BBQ? | Slow Braised Lentils | Part 8 of a Series

When I made Ma di Dal last week, I wondered how the BBQ would cope with cooking such a dish slowly for several hours. I tried it, and am so pleased with the results. I believe it is better than the slow cooker!!

Slow Braised Urad Dal - cooking Ma Ki Dal in the BBQ |A Life (Time) of Cooking | Indian | BBQ

The gorgeousness of spring has arrived at last, balmy days heralding the wonderful summer times of December and January. Meanwhile, I am spending time thinking about the concepts of vulnerability, change, resilience and worthiness. Fascinating topics. In The Kitchen I am intent on recording the recipes from earlier times, and pushing forward with learning something new from the Indian, especially Tamil, cuisines each week. I am also challenging myself this month to cook from my cupboards rather than buying new ingredients. I have so much stuff in the pantry, it should not be too difficult, I believe. :)

I have cut down my coffee intake to 1 piccolo latte a day (half of a latte, made with a ristretto shot of coffee). It is quite a decrease in my coffee intake, about 1/6 of what I was drinking previously. It has been a month now, nearly, and certainly an interesting journey as you know that I LOVE coffee a lot. But I do believe that it is having positive impacts on my well being. Also I am now at a stage that having more than a half latte per day puts me into coffee overload spins. :) Who would have ever thought it????

Back to the BBQ

When I made Ma di Dal last week, I wondered how the BBQ would cope with cooking such a dish slowly for several hours. I tried it, and am so pleased with the results.

You could do this in an oven too, no worries. But I love the concept of using the BBQ as much as possible, and the joys of cooking outside are enormous.

Slow Braised Urad Dal - cooking Ma Ki Dal in the BBQ |A Life (Time) of Cooking | Indian | BBQ

Continue reading “What Does a Vegetarian Do with a BBQ? | Slow Braised Lentils | Part 8 of a Series”

What a Vegetarian Does with A BBQ | Cook Focaccia | Part 4 of a Series

I had been wanting to cook bread in the BBQ for a while. Accordingly, the Internet says that it is possible, and I was keen to try it. There is something so special about the scent of bread cooking – and floating from our balcony over to our neighbours. I am sure they wondered what we were up to.

We have trialled focaccia cooked in the BBQ several times now, and love it

Winter

There is a reminder in the beginning pages of Cooking at Home with Pedatha by Jigyasa Girithat we are all made of food and will return to food in this life. It is a quote from the Taittiriya Upanishad, one of the beautiful scriptures of Hinduism.

From food all creatures are produced. And all creatures that dwell on earth, by food they live and into food they finally pass. Food is the chief amongst beings. Truly he obtains all good who worships the Divine as food.

While dwelling on this may seem macabre to some, the absolute in-our-face truth of this is a not-so-subtle reminder that our bodies, those vehicles that carry us in this life, are finite. That life is cyclic. We come into this life, and we leave it. When we leave we will be fortunate enough to provide food for other creatures so that they may live their life in the way that it should be lived. And finally it reminds us of the sacredness of food and our obligation to eat well, eat sacredly, eat mindfully, and really know what is good for us, our bodies in this lifetime. Not food fashions, not even food science followed obsessively. But through knowledge and through close observation of our own being through seasons, stresses, life stages, and how it reacts to different foods can we choose what is needed.

A small example. Some times of the year I cannot tolerate apples. They are too cold-producing for me, I feel uncomfortable after eating them. At other times, later in the season, they are wonderful, and the juice made with other seasonal fruits and veg is great. My body is telling me what is right for my body and my constitution at those times. Also with ghee – when I have it in my diet, my body feels good, healthy, energetic. When I am not eating ghee, my body feels dry, stuck, tamasic. For me, ghee is a good thing.

If I have a week where I can’t cook and am eating less healthy food, I feel it in my body. If I eat too much chocolate, drink alcohol, or eat a bag of chips (my real food failing – I love good salty chips), I feel it for a day or two afterwards. My body is dull and lethargic and has a sense of illness about it.

What things do you notice about food and your body? Not just tastes that you can’t stand but changes in your body when you have certain food.

Back to The BBQ — and Bread

I had been wanting to cook bread in the BBQ for a while. Accordingly, the Internet says that it is possible, and I was keen to try it. There is something so special about the scent of bread cooking – and floating from our balcony over to  our neighbours. I am sure they wondered what we were up to.

We have trialled focaccia cooked in the BBQ several times now, and love it. It does produce a different texture than when you cook it in the oven, but it is gorgeous and so good and easy. Cook the focaccia, and when you take it out, cook your other dishes in the BBQ as the bread cools.

I posted about our experiments on our sister web site, Heat in The Kitchen, recently. Now that we can make the bread repeatedly well, the instructions are being included here too.

(I should point out that I am not being paid for promoting said BBQ and accessories.)

Foccacia Dough

No Knead Focaccia cooked in The BBQ

Source : one of our own recipes posted previously, adapted for The BBQ
Cuisine: Italian-ish
Prep time: 20 mins plus 1 hr resting time
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people depending how you are using it.

recipe
Use this recipe, It makes 2 pieces or one very huge one.

Equipment
I use the Weber Q covered BBQ.
1 roasting rack that fits into the BBQ. I used the one made by Weber.
1 Weber pizza stone
1 Weber vegetable basket, or other heatproof objects to raise the pizza stone. You can, eg, use beer cans
aluminum foil
method
Prepare your focaccia dough.

While it is resting, get out your roasting rack and cut a piece of foil large enough to fit double under the rack on the BBQ. Don’t allow the foil to cover all of your grill – this is dangerous – just use it under your rack.

Now on top of the rack, put your vegetable basket or anything else (eg beer cans) to add height. Raising the cooking surface gets it away from the direct heat. It gives a better result.

On top of the veggie basket or beer cans, place your pizza stone.

Turn the BBQ on and allow to heat on high for 20 mins with the cover down (or according to the instructions for your BBQ).

Now you can shape your focaccia dough and place on the cooking plate that goes on top of the pizza stone (or directly onto the stone, according to the directions that accompany your pizza stone). I like it fairly thin, but shape to your own preference. Thicker focaccias will take longer to cook so adjust the cooking times accordingly.

Rub a little oil over the top of the focaccia and sprinkle  some sea salt and then spices (eg cumin seeds), seeds (such as sunflower seeds) or mixes (such as dukkah).

After the 20 minutes heating time, place the focaccia with the tray onto the pizza stone, close the cover of the BBQ, and cook. Mine takes about 14 mins to cook perfectly this way. Start checking after 10. The closer that you have it to the heat source, the quicker it will cook. Watch for one edge cooking quicker than the others and rotate it if necessary.

Remove from the BBQ when it is cooked, and leave to cool if you can. Cut into wedges, or be rustic and tear it into pieces. Great with dips, soups or just to accompany any meal.

BBQ cooked Foccacia

Bliss! Enjoy!

The BBQ Series

 

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What a Vegetarian does with a BBQ. Part 3 of a continuing series. Baked Pears, Strawberries, Grapes!!

The next trials with the BBQ are :
Roasted Rosemary Pears
Roasted Grapes with Thyme and Olive Oil
Sweet Baked Strawberries.

Make these in the oven or on the BBQ, they are delicious!

Winter Blanket

Still loving my BBQ, even in winter, almost even in the cold. I decided to play with fruit during my latest outing with the Weber Q.

If you haven’t see it already, take a look at Part 1 of this BBQ series to see Grilled Fennel with Lemon and Parmesan and Grilled Broccoli with Preserved Lemon and Part 2 of this BBQ Series to see Roasted Carrots with Pomegranate Molasses, Melty Cheese and Baked Bananas.

As the focus was on fruit, I also wanted to see what the BBQ was capable of, in terms of using it for not-so-traditional BBQ fare and cooking pots. So with a lot of trepidation, I also used a couple of my Italian terracotta posts for the first time in the BBQ, and they fared very very well indeed. I may get brave enough to eventually use the Indian terracotta cookware, but we will see… Harder to replace, these may wait a little longer before they make it onto that grill. :)

Roasted Rosemary Pears

This recipe has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks. You can see the full recipe here: Roasted Rosemary Pears

Pear Marinade

First, marinade your pears in a mix of rosemary, chilli and lemon juice.

Roasting Pears

Place in a dish, and …

Roasting Pears

… cover with sugar and butter. I use jaggery but use any sugar that you like. Cook until lovely and soft…

Roasting Pears

.. and serve. Delicious. Dice leftovers and include in salads.

Roasted Grapes

An easy and surprisingly delicious dish. I had never heard of roasted grapes until recently when an Italian friend was telling me how he made a salad with them. You can see the gorgeous recipe that I used here.

Drizzle grapes with olive oil, salt, black pepper, a little thyme. Mix so grapes are coated with the oil and flavourings.

Roasting Grapes

Place on the grill and roast until done.

Roasting Grapes

Simple. Enjoy!

Roasting Grapes

Baked Strawberries

A sweet dish to finish, an old old favourite, baked strawberries. Here is my recipe – I just adapted it for the BBQ. Baked Strawberries This time I cooked them with orange juice, black pepper, a tiny pinch salt, cardamom and a little rosemary.

I have to say they were amazing. I cooked them in this terracotta dish placed on a roasting rack to lower the heat a little. Actually, I had the dish with the pears placed on top of this one while they cooked, so theoretically this one had a lid. You can experiment with and without a cover, and see what you like best. I don’t use one when I cook them in the oven.

Baked Strawberries

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What a Vegetarian does with a BBQ | Carrots, Cheese, Bananas | Part 2 of a series

Beautiful wintery days continue, clear skies, sunshine, happy moods. And the trialling of the BBQ continues to see what can be cooked in this no-fuss, not too much washing up, sort of a way.

If you haven’t see it already, take a look at Part 1 of this BBQ series to see Grilled Fennel with Lemon and Parmesan and Grilled Broccoli with Preserved Lemon.
Roasted Carrots with Pomegranate Molasses, BBq’d Cheese on Sourdough, BBQd Caramelised Bananas

The BBQ

Beautiful wintery days continue, clear skies, sunshine, happy moods. And the trialling of the BBQ continues to see what can be cooked in this no-fuss, not too much washing up, sort of a way.

If you haven’t see it already, take a look at Part 1 of this BBQ series to see Grilled Fennel with Lemon and Parmesan and Grilled Broccoli with Preserved Lemon.

Roasted Carrots with Pomegranate Molasses

Roasted Carrots with Pomegranate Molasses

After seeing this recipe from Food52, I wanted to try it on the BBQ. It would be awesome with baby carrots, but I used the regular run-of-the-mill carrots. This will be a staple at future BBQs. Best cooked in a foil tray to minimise dishes and washing up, you could also do it on a BBQ hot plate.

Roasted Carrots with Pomegranate Molasses

Grilled Cheese on Sourdough Bread

On Saturday we visited the Queen Street Precinct in Croydon, reacquainting ourselves with Queen St Cafe and visiting the other cafes, providores and bakeries that have emerged since the last visit. I came home with a number of goodies from the providore and some locally baked sourdough bread from the bakery.

Not wanting to cook, and wanting some of the sourdough, we tried grilled cheese on the BBQ. I can report – very successful! Grilled cheese with a green salad and Indian pickles, and then…. an oldie but goodie for dessert.

Grilled Cheese - on the BBQ

BBQ’d Caramelised Bananas

Eons ago when my daughter was young, we had a wood-fired BBQ which we used most weekends. We were not vegetarians then, although we didn’t eat a lot of meat. There were some specialties that we made – apricots fresh from the tree, halved and grilled. Vine leaves stuffed with goodies and grilled. Onions and chilli. AND our favourite – bananas.

Take a piece of foil, place a banana in the centre. Add a generous knob of butter, then add about half of that again. I like to use jaggery sugar these days, but white or brown sugar is Ok. Sprinkle with a generous amount.

Wrap the foil around the banana. It does not have to be too tight but it does have to be sealed completely. If you accidentally put a hole in the foil, just cut another piece and wrap around the whole package again. Seal top and sides by folding over and over again.

Place on the grill. Turn over as it begins to show signs of cooking – it will steam a little. Leave for a moment or so more. You can tell when it is cooked as the banana inside will be soft.

Carefully open the package and serve. You can eat directly from the package if you are outside on the lawn, or carefully tip banana and sauce onto a plate. Add cream or icecream if you like.

2013-06-15 16.07.34-1

Enjoy!

From the Carrot Series

 

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Spiced Quinces

Quinces

I found this post today in my drafts. Being autumn in the other regions, I thought it would be good to post it now. Enjoy the read and the quinces. :)

A Lost Post:

Such an late autumn day today. The light is like twilight even at noon. And so the birds are confused and their chorus continues all day. I think also it is celebrating the rain after a week of quite unseasonally warm weather. Yesterday, 27C. Today 19C. Splendid! I love the warm weather but I also like to feel and experience the seasons. My body needs it.

Some time ago, in fact January of 2009, I set myself a task. To go through every nook and cranny of my life and tidy, eliminate, structure and generally sort out every cupboard, store room, desk, hard disk, email storage, music files, photos …. you get the picture … that I have.

Little did I know how long this would take and how it would bring changes to my life. I moved my office out of the spare room at home into a real office about 10 minutes walk away. I’ve changed how I think about food and food shopping. I can find things in my cupboards again. My paperwork is now so orderly. In fact, Order prevails. I like to think that anyone could walk into my home and find what they are looking for (my PA, my parents, daughter, etc etc). For someone who still runs many many projects from home, this is a real achievement.

I am no where near finished. In the 18 months since I pledged this task, such progress, such change, such lifestyle adjustments. But I would say I am about half or even a third of the way through. Probably about half way through the big stuff and then there will be some time on accumulated photographic work from many years that will take time, thinking and sorting. I need to declutter in some areas. I need to really strongly radically rearrange the storeroom. I need to chuck, throw, hurl, remove a whole lot of stuff. Organise the rest. And some other changes needed where things and habits remain from a previous part of my life where I now need to let go and move on.

I have always said that moving house is like spring cleaning your life. This is more. Much more. Although you may not bring everything with you when you change location, you can and often do, still bring the clutter and disorganisation from one location to another. Well, I can. My aim is to have around me those things that are needed right now (including those things that are loved), the other things that will be needed at different times will be in the store room (easily retrievable) and the remainder will be gone.

Luckily I don’t have a lot of remainder. Most of it is already in the storeroom. This room will be a challenge, but luckily it is some time yet until I need to tackle it. More work to do in other locations first.

Autumn of course is a time of change. It takes me a while to get into the swing of Autumn but beautiful foods like pomegranates and quinces help. I get a few buckets of quinces from a friend’s farm each year. Not a great lover of quince tarts, pies, etc, I generally bake them all and use the beautiful results for jams, fresh chutneys, syrups, sauces and to feed my freezer (so that I can continue to have jams, chutneys, syrups, sauces throughout the year).

Quinces

The Mindfulness of Quinces

Funny fruits, quinces are hard, gritty, greeny-yellow and sour when they are uncooked. Cooked properly – a long and slow cooking – they turn bright crimson and perhaps into a melty goodness. In this way they reveal a hidden beauty, no longer an inhospitable inedible fruit.

When you find a good supply of quinces, stick with it. Different varieties will either retain a graininess when cooked or it will be eliminated by the cooking. Although the graininess is not unpleasant, I prefer the less grainy varieties. You may need to experiment with your suppliers.

This is a good recipe for a cool Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Or cook them overnight, and awaken to a freshly baked quinces for breakfast, sort of a day.

Spiced Quinces

Source : inspired by Spice by Chris Manfield
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 15 – 20 mins
Cooking time: 7 – 8 hours
Serves: depends how many you cook and how you intend to use them

ingredients
6 or more quinces
1kg – 2 kg sugar (Note: I use less sugar because eventually the quinces will be used for other purposes. Use more if you want to keep the quinces in their spiced state for longer periods of time.)
3 l water
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
1 – 2 chillies
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 lemon, thickly sliced
2 juniper berries (optional, if you have them)

method
Preheat your oven to 150C.
Bring all ingredients except the quinces to a boil in a wide, heavy based, oven proof pan, then reduce heat to a mere simmer.

Peel the quinces then cut them into halves lengthwise (halve again if large), but leave their cores and seeds in tact.

Put the quinces into the simmering liquid, then press a sheet of baking paper over the fruit and cover with a lid. Transfer to the oven and poach gently for 7 – 8 hours until the fruit is soft and red.

Now they are ready to be used in pies, tarts, and desserts of all sorts. For sheer simplicity, simply serve over icecream. You will of course need to cut away the core and seeds before serving. Enjoy!

Left over syrup can be made into jam.

If you want to bottle them
Carefully remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to hot sterilised jars. Strain syrup, then pour over fruit until covered. Seal the jars and refrigerate for 4 – 6 months. As you need to use the fruit, remove it from the syrup and cut away the core and seeds. Reduce the syrup over heat until thick and syrupy and serve it as a sauce.

If you want to freeze them
Cool the fruit and then carefully remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to freezer-proof containers or bags. Strain syrup, then pour over fruit. Seal the containers and refrigerate. As you need to use the fruit, defrost, remove from the syrup and cut away the core and seeds. The fruit is particularly good for “mash” type recipes – mixed with yoghurt, made into a fresh chutney, blended with the syrup for icecream topping etc. Particularly good whole over cereal or muesli. You can reduce the syrup over heat until thick and syrupy and serve it as a sauce.


 

Turtle (Black) Bean Soup | Slow Cooked

I have had a slow cooker most of my cooking life, and have an ancient, orange one that still sits on my shelves. It is just that the Rice Cooker Slow setting is so convenient, always sitting on my benchtop. I have used it to make yoghurt, cook unsoaked chickpeas for freezing, rice congee, porridge and soups. I find that for most things except the chickpeas, it is good to place them into a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes or more while you potter around the kitchen getting your meal ready. It seems to balance the flavours and “complete” the dish more than serving straight from the cooker.

So here is a recipe for Turtle Bean Soup, Slow Cooked in the Rice Cooker. Turtle Beans have a dense, earthy texture and flavor, slightly salty and reminiscent of mushrooms. Click through to read more…..

Queen St CafeBut first, some coffee.

I love my coffee. There is nothing that makes me feel so good about life, so warm and comforted, so safe in the world, as a great cup of coffee.

But my sadness is that most places don’t make a good cup of coffee. And it was this week that I realised just how scientific making coffee is. To be a good barista, it seems you need to be part scientist, part researcher, part technician, part foodie, part dishwasher, very analytical, very precise and detailed and above all, very consistent.

Adelaide does great coffee in general, thanks to our rich Italian heritage via huge immigration in the 1950’s. Our coffee is much better than Sydney’s or Melbourne’s (in general). And so there are places in Adelaide that do great coffee — Queen St Cafe above is one of those, or my favourite Cikolatte. But my interest in the making of a good cup of coffee all started this week with an all-too-familiar poor cup of coffee from a cafe that a friend recommended.

It was bitter, and the film that normally is left in the cup was thick and patterned, not a great sight. So I spoke to my favourite baristas to try and understand why a potentially good cup of coffee could go so wrong. Different people had different theories, including: lower quality beans (unlikely at this place), new beans improperly aerated, poor quality milk (possible at this time of year if they are buying local milk, or if they use a brand not good for coffee), burnt milk, using a milk jug that had contained burnt milk, poorly washed cups, badly texturised milk, ….. In summary, it could be the coffee, the cup, the milk or the barista.I have become obsessed with checking the film in the cup! Something that I had taken for granted all this time, and have now only begun to notice. What an insight it gives into the overall quality of the coffee making process.

I also had a chance to discuss cocoa/chocolate in or on a cappuccino with @coffeeadelaide on twitter. He is doing a great blog, visiting one cafe in Adelaide each week to review the coffee. Just the coffee, and I love that focus. He and I agree – no cocoa on our coffees please! In Adelaide it is currently the fashion to ladle about a kilo of cocoa on top of the coffee and I am not a great fan of the flavour adulteration that this causes to my beloved coffee.

Did you know that some places add their cocoa at the bottom of the cup before adding coffee and milk, some on top of the expresso before adding milk, but most (at least here in Adelaide) add it on top of the milk. I never knew that the “proper” place to add it is on top of the expresso.

I have come away with an increased respect for those who have the patience to get it all right when making coffee. Thank you Cen, Sam, Dan, Rachel, Peter – some of my favourite baristas in Adelaide.

Queen St CafeOther places I have loved coffee:

Comfort, Soup and my Rice Cooker

Not only does coffee provide great joie d’vivre, so does a great soup on a cold night.

I have been playing with a couple of things at home this week. The first is using porridge as a savoury item. I love a well cooked, wet, steel-cut oats porridge treated the same way as congee with similar flavourings. And it works so well as a basis for a sloppy bean stew instead of rice. I love savoury breakfasts, so it is not a great leap for me to get over the “porridge as a sweet breakfast” barrier, but if this is unusual for you – I so encourage you to experiment.

Another wonderful and rewarding experiment is using my 4-functioned rice cooker to cook a range of other foods. And it is amazing how well it does. The settings are

  • Rice Cooker (able to set this up to 9 hours ahead, so the rice gets a good soak before cooking – so good for the final flavour)
  • Steamer (This gives great control over steaming foods, but I have to admit I do most of my steaming on top of the rice, stirring the results into the rice after it is cooked, with some spices and ghee. Think Spinach, asparagus, Chinese greens, tomatoes, cabbage, etc etc)
  • Slow Cooker (extraordinarily useful – up to 9 hours of cooking)
  • Porridge Cooker (great to set and have porridge available in the morning – although I also love to cook porridge, especially steel cut oats, in the slow cooker)

I have had a slow cooker most of my cooking life, and have an ancient, orange one that still sits on my shelves. It is just that the Rice Cooker Slow setting is so convenient, always sitting on my benchtop. I have used it to make yoghurt, cook unsoaked chickpeas for freezing, rice congee, porridge and soups. I find that for most things except the chickpeas, it is good to place them into a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes or more while you potter around the kitchen getting your meal ready. It seems to balance the flavours and “complete” the dish more than serving straight from the cooker.

So here is a recipe for Turtle Beans Slow Cooked in the Rice Cooker, adapted from an excellent recipe from Babble. Turtle Beans have a dense, earthy texture and flavor, slightly salty and reminiscent of mushrooms.

Turtle Bean Soup

Turtle Beans Slow Cooked in the Rice Cooker

Source : inspired by Babble, who adapted a recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Cuisine: unknown
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 8 or more hours
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it

ingredients
2 Tblspn or more ghee or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped (dice if stalks are wide)
1 red capsicum, diced
1 – 2 carrots, diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped fine or put through a garlic press
1 fresh red chilli, chopped finely (or use dried if you don’t have fresh)
1 Tblspn cumin seed
1.5 tspn turmeric powder
2 cups turtle beans (these are black beans. I have also made this soup with whole masoor dal – whole red lentils – with great success)
1/4 – 1 Tblspn chilli powder, depending on your tolerance for heat.
1/2 – 1 tspn smoked paprika (optional)
7 cups water or vegetarian stock
juice of a lime or half a lemon
Celtic sea salt

method

Switch your rice cooker on and set it to the Rice Cooking or Steaming setting. Leave the lid open.

Add the oil or ghee, and after a few moments, add the diced onions, celery, carrots and capsicum. Stir with a wooden spoon and allow to sauté until soft and looking like they are beginning to brown. The browning adds a depth of flavour to the dish.

Add the garlic, fresh chilli and cumin seed. Stir and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

Now switch the rice cooker to its slow cooking setting. You may need to turn the rice cooker off and then on again to change settings.

Add the beans, turmeric, chilli powder and stock or water. Stir, close the lid and cook on low heat for up to 9 hours. My cooker will switch to “keep warm” setting when it is finished, which is just right for a long day at work. Slow cooked dishes are infinitely forgiving in the amount of time that they are cooked.

[UPDATE: Some cookers will cook quicker than others, ie at a higher temperature. Check the cooker after about 5 hours for water levels and “doneness”. I made this in my daughter’s cooker (Panasonic) and it was sufficiently cooked after 5.5 hours. It is worth doing a test run when you use your slow cooking setting for the first time.]

As you are preparing the rest of the meal, tip the soup into a saucepan and bring to a simmer on the stove. With an immersion blender, partially puree the soup in the pan so that some is pureed and some beans remain whole. If you dont have an immersion blender, blend half of the soup in a blender.

Add the lemon or lime juice and season with salt and a pinch of black pepper.  Allow it to simmer until you are ready to serve. Or if you want to keep it until the next day (flavour improves even more), simmer for 10 minutes, cool and refrigerate.

Serve with fresh green coriander and/or a dollop of yoghurt, sour cream, creme fraiche or mascarpone cream (leave off for a vegan dish).

Leaves

The Soup Series

Other ways with Turtle Beans

  • Turtle Bean Salad with crunchy red and green peppers, onion, coriander and a tangy umeboshi vinegar dressing.
  • Turtle Bean HotPot made with sweet corn, leeks, onion, bay leaves, mint, garlic, cajun style spices, paprika, black pepper, fennel seed, cinnamon, thyme, cayenne.

 

A Vindaloo of Sorts | Potato and Sweet Potato Spicy Curry

Spices Daba

Its Autumn now, well and truly. A year since my last post. Too too long.

Summer was a peaceful time. Holidays, family visits, beach, catching up on projects, reorganising, clearing, relaxing, visiting. Thinking. Reflecting. Putting the priorities back into life once more.

I felt great. But just between you and me, as my holidays ended I was not quite ready to go back to work. I would have loved another week. It was not to be.

Since then I have been to Thailand, Perth and Sydney. I have worked very hard. I have been very sick with a flu like bug. I am growing my business. I am downsizing my life. I have read books, sung songs, chanted the yoga sutras and been gifted a beautiful Leica camera. I have been grateful for the care given to me by friends when I was ill. I have assisted strangers to this country and been grateful for that opportunity. I have been humbled by the forces of nature and the dignity of the Japanese people. I have spent time with the young ones in my family; they are so grounding and a reminder of what is important in this life.

Thailaqnd

Thinking

My thinking is often on giving – one of those many things that I think about. I use my meditation to think about things too, including giving. Meditation can be, if you want, a deep deep contemplation, deep exploration of a topic, of a concept, of a problem or issue, that leads to understanding. Sometimes overwhelming understanding. Often a challenging understanding! Try it. Play around with Expectancy, Busy, Scattered, Peace, Marriage, Family. Spend a week or two, or a year or two, meditating on one concept, issue, problem and see how clarity comes.

Giving is only giving when there is no thought of reward. Nice words, easy to say, and easier to write; the hardest to do. Giving really is a detachment from the thought of reward. Not expecting anything, not even a smile. No feedback at all. For captured in the silence of giving is humility. In the silence.

Cooking

Today in the peace of Autumn and it’s fantastic light, I cook from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s book Plenty. A present, it is my most treasured cookbook at the moment. This man is a wizard with food, both the visual (see his cafe/restaurants in London) and the flavour combinations. It’s not difficult or pretentious food, a delight to cook and to eat.

Today, just for Autumn, I am making Two-Potato “Vindaloo”, a spicy dish of potatoes and sweet potatoes. I did make some adjustments, because by habit I use some of the spices slightly differently, but this dish is great. Best made during a slow afternoon, it takes 2 — 2.5 hours to make. But they are not difficult hours — you could delve into your favourite book in the Autumn sun while this bubbles away on the stove-top. Oh and by the way, your house will be headily scented with the most magnificent spicy aroma.

This is a deeply satisfying dish which is even better a day or two after cooking.

Roasting and Grinding Spices

Some notes on the dish

Black Mustard Seeds: I like to pop them before adding to a dish, otherwise they add a hot mustard taste to a dish rather than the sweet nutty Indian flavor of popped mustard seeds.

Curry Leaves: Likewise I like to allow the curry leaves to release their flavours into oil and add them near the end of cooking. Long cooking of curry leaves can impart a bitter taste to food.

Vindaloo: I am not sure why Yotam calls this dish a vindaloo. Well, I am really, as it approximates the spice flavours of Goa where Vindaloo originates, a wonderful blend of the Portugese influence with regional flavours. If you want a real mind-numbingly hot vindaloo flavour though, add more chilli. Vindaloo also has garlic (Vindaloo originates from the words for vinegar and garlic). This dish also has an inherent sweetness from the sweet potatoes, sugar and sweet papikra, whereas a traditional vindaloo has a sour, almost pickled flavour especially after marinating for a few days.

So I would be inclined to discard the Vindaloo label altogether. I love the fact too that the wonderful sweet, spiciness of the dish would also welcome a few raisins! I will try that variation one day.

Serve With: Sauté some raw cashews in oil or ghee and serve over or with the curry instead of the herbs. Also good with a side serve of tart yoghurt beaten with a little salt. A coconut chutney would compliment it well.

Two Potato Vindaloo

Two Potato “Vindaloo”

Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4 — 6, depending on serving size

Ingredients
8 large or 12 small cardamom pods
1 Tblspn cumin seeds
1 Tblspn coriander seeds
0.5 tsp cloves
0.25 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tblspn vegetable oil or use coconut oil, even ghee
12 shallots (300g in total)
0.5 tspn black mustard seeds
0.5 tsp fenugreek seeds
25 curry leaves
2 Tblspn chopped root Ginger
2 fresh red chillies
3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
50 ml cider vinegar or use juice of half a lemon and 2 tspn amchur powder. (In Goa they use a toddy vinegar and the flavour is difficult to replicate.)
400 ml water
1 Tblspn jaggery or brown sugar
400g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm dice
1 large or 2 small red peppers, cut into 2 cm dice
400g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5 cm dice
Salt to taste
Mint or coriander leaves (cilantro) to serve

Method
Start by making the spice paste. With a pestle or blade of a large knife, crush the cardamom pods to release the seeds. Dry roast the cardamom pods with seeds, the cumin and coriander seeds in a small sauté pan until they release a beautiful aroma and begin to pop. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and add the cloves. You can discard the cardamom pods at this point if the seeds have been released. Grind to a fine powder and add the turmeric, cinnamon and sweet paprika.

Heat most of the oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the fenugreek seeds and after 30 seconds, add the shallots.Sauté on a medium low heat for about 8 minutes or until the shallots brown. Stir in the chilli and ginger and cook for a further 3 minutes. Now stir in the spice mix, then add the tomatoes, vinegar, water, jaggery or sugar and some salt. Leave to simmer, covered, for 20 mins.

Add the diced potatoes and red peppers and simmer for another 20 mins. Then add the sweet potatoes and simmer, covered, for another 40 mins. Make sure that the vegetables are immersed in the sauce, adding more water if necessary.

In a separate sauté pan, heat the remaining oil and add the curry leaves. Allow to sizzle for 30 secs and then pour oil and leaves into the potatoes. Stir.

Without the lid, allow to bubble away for about 10 mins to reduce and thicken the sauce. Serve hot with plain rice, some plain yoghurt beaten with a little salt, and the herbs.

A deeply satisfying dish. Even better the next day. Enjoy!

Other Autumn Dishes


 

Haloumi Pizza with Oven Dried Tomatoes

Autumn!

The other day a friend wanted some company to the Farmers Market on Sunday morning. Although I was not in need of anything, it is always a treat to go IF you arrive early. And arrive early we did.

What I didn’t realise is that I would be the chief bag carrier, while my friend shopped and shopped and shopped. :) Ooo-eeey, those shoulder muscles! Yet it was a joy. She was shopping for a large family gathering that night, and I could tell the meal was going to be huge. Being of Italian extraction (my friend) added to the sense of food-occassion.

When I had a moment, I bought some sweeeeeet autumn cherry tomatoes, some rapé, and my favourite organic pizza dough. Squeezed them in on top of the other shopping. Day-dreamed of pizza.

Now I have to confess that during our scorchingly hot summer, I have not wanted to do a lot of cooking. My days in the heat started with cooling thick thick yoghurt and fruit, chopped and mixed through the yoghurt with maybe a drizzle of honey.

My afternoons began with a huge smoothie of fruit, nuts, LSA powder, linseed oil, evening primrose oil, turmeric, psyllium, an Ayurvedic tonic and anything else that took my fancy on the day. It is certainly a wonderful way to get your daily dose of so many things.

My evenings began with a wonderful wrap, with as many fresh veggies as I could stuff in, with some cheese or nut butters, plus anything else healthy that I could think of.

While I don’t recommend this for others (I am not a nutritionist), for me that combination made me feel great! Clearly it was right for my constitution and health level and the extreme heat. As an unintended side effect I lost a little weight as well without feeling hungry. (If I got hungry in between I ate nuts.)

But now the weather is cooler, and my body is asking me for other things, warming, energy providing foods. So after the expedition to the Farmer’s Market, I made pizza. And oven dried tomatoes. And cooked some rapé.

Haloumi Pizza

Haloumi Pizza with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Steamed Rapé

Source : inspired by the moment
Cuisine: Italian in style
Prep time: 10 mins + time to make dough and tomato sauce
Cooking time: 20mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how big you make it

ingredients
tomato pizza sauce – use a store-bought one, or, like me, make Lucullian’s Pomarolo (I make it in bulk and keep it in small containers in the freezer. It only takes a moment to make.
3 or 4 tomatoes, or more depending on the size of your pizza
250g haloumi
dried herbs (optional)
pizza dough (make Lucullian‘s, or buy a good, organic pizza dough – left over dough will store in the freezer, so make or buy plenty)
bunch of basil
extra virgin olive oil
half a handful of rocket or spinach leaves

method
Bring your pizza dough to room temperature. Roll or stretch it out to fit your pizza pan or tray. It can be a square tray or shallow metal dish if you don’t have a suitable round one. I don’t roll the dough – good dough will stretch and it is so easy to do.

Oil your tray lightly and stretch your pizza dough over it. Allow to rest for 5 minutes or so, and restretch if it has shrunk a little.

Very lightly oil the top of your dough and spread over several tablespoons of your tomato sauce.  Slice the tomatoes and layer them around the pizza on top of the sauce. If I am using roma tomatoes, I slice them lengthwise. You could use halved cherry tomatoes too.

Grate the haloumi and sprinkle it over the tomatoes. If using dried herbs, sprinkle these over the haloumi. You could also use fresh rosemary or thyme.

Bake in a 200C oven for 20 minutes.

While the pizza is baking, make some basil oil by blending up a bunch of basil with about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of olive oil. Add the oil slowly, until you have a consistency that will pour well, like a slightly thick salad dressing.

When the pizza is cooked, pour over the basil oil and top with the rocket leaves. Serve and enjoy!

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Oven Dried Tomatoes

To oven dry tomatoes, see the recipe here.

Steamed Broccoli Rabe

Steamed Rapé

Source : inspired by the moment
Cuisine: Italian in style
Prep time: 4 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it

ingredients
Bunch of rapé (broccoli raab)
3 cloves garlic
Dried chilli or peperoncino (red pepper flakes)
squeeze lemon
extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper

ingredients
Peel and chop the garlic and sauté very gently in olive oil for about 10 minutes so the oil does infuse the flavours. You will need a very low heat for this. Don’t burn the garlic – if it begins to colour, go onto the next step.

Add the rapé to the pan with the oil and garlic, and gently sauté until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes or so. Toss it so that it cooks evenly.

Add a little water, 1 to 2 tablespoons, cover the rapé with a lit and allow to steam on a  low-medium heat. Toss the greens with tongs every minute or so and allow it to steam for about 3 to 4 minutes.

When it is cooked, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on it, add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with some peperoncino or dried chilli. You can add some Parmigiano cheese too if you like. Serve and enjoy!

Bengali Kheer for Deepavali / Diwali

Diwali

Diwali, or Deepavali, is a wonderful festive time celebrated by Indian people all over the world. It is a time of lights – the word Deepavali means garland of lamps and everywhere in India lamps and lights of all forms (including fireworks) dominate homes, shops, streets.

Wikipedia has a lovely explanation of Diwali.

While Diwali is popularly known as the “festival of lights”, the most significant spiritual meaning is “the awareness of the inner light”.

Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this inner light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (inner joy or peace).

The gunas are the underlying forces or tendencies which one needs to have unaffected, direct relation with in order to find effectiveness and righteousness in life: they are lines of potential and illuminate thought and action, thus the inner meaning of Diwali being the festival of lights.

Diwali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship. While the story behind Diwali varies from region to region, the essence is the same – to rejoice in the inner light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).

It is certainly a joyous time of family, friends, food and firecracker mayhem. Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami says:

“My guru, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, was very fond of Deepavali, and he referred to the festival of lights as “Hindu Solidarity Day” as it is a day celebrated by all the four denominations of Hinduism, Vaishnavism, Saivism, Shaktism and Smartism.

Deepavali is a celebration of the inner light within all of us, and on this day we honor the light within each other by giving new clothes, sharing sweets and snacks, cleaning the house, lighting oil lamps and bursting firecrackers.

Many business communities start their financial year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.”

US President Barack Obama also acknowledged Diwali, the first time for a US president:

A Bengali Kheer (Milk Dessert) for Deepavali
One of the beautiful traditions of Diwali is the making and sharing of sweet things. I had been given some raw milk by a friend. This milk is so wonderful I always like to do something special with it.

Diwali Kheer

Indians have a deep understanding of the properties of milk and its products e.g. yoghurt. They use these products in ways that are not very common elsewhere.

For instance, who knew that if you reduce milk by boiling for an hour or two, you get the most sweet liquid – condensed milk, but so very different to the tinned condensed milk that we can buy.

So I took the precious raw milk and reduced it, added rice and cardamom and made the most precious Indian Rice Pudding. Happy Diwali.

A note on ingredients

The recipe uses Indian Bay leaf, tej pata. This is not the same as the western bay leaf. If you cannot lay your hands on tej pata, the best substitute is a cardamom leaf, though these are hard to find. Leave it out if cannot locate tej pata or cardamom leaf.

The rice needs to be a sweeter rice, like basmati. Don’t replace it with a different rice.

Diwali Kheer

Chaler Payesh (Bengali Rice Kheer)

Source : inspired by
Cuisine: Indian (Bengali)
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: several hours
Serves: 4 people

ingredients
1.5 – 2 l Milk
100 g Basmati rice
1.5 tspn Ghee
100 g Sugar
pinch salt
1.5 Tblspn Cashew nuts
1.5 Tblspn Raisins
3 – 4 green cardamom pods
1 – 2 Indian Bay leaf (Tej Pata)

method
Place the milk in a large heavy saucepan, bring to the boil over a low flame, and allow to boil slowly until it is 3/4 of its original volume or less.

Melt the ghee and add it to the rice and mix it well through the rice.

When the milk has reduced enough, add the rice and cook on high flame, stirring often.

When the rice is cooked and the mixture is thickening, add the sugar, salt, cracked cardamom pods and Indian bay leaf.

Stir until the sugar dissolves, and allow to continue to cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the cashew nuts and raisins. Stir them through, remove the bay leaf, and allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes.

Serve hot or cold. You can garnish the rice with raisins, cashew nuts or fresh or dry fruits.

For other Chaler Payesh Recipes, see:

THE DESSERT SERIES


 

Green Olive, Walnut, Pistachio andPomegranate Salad

In the past I had a hard time finding pomegranates that were as tasty as those I have eaten in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India. There, they are so flavoursome, sweet, served by the bowlful for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here, early in the season, I would find only wild pomegranates in the shop. Small, tart, hard, inedible. It was only later, much much later, I found some that approach the deliciousness of the fruit of India.

I have a hard time peeling those little suckers. Pulling out each beautiful ruby gem. Removing the bitter white pith that surrounds them. It is a job best done in the sink, wearing an apron and with a chopping board that doesn’t mind being stained ruby red. But with practice it becomes so much easier.

I love this salad. It is precious – time taken to shell the fruit, to roast the walnuts, to shell the pistachios, to chop the nuts. It is precious in its vibrant red and green. It is precious in its wonderful ingredients. And it is so jolly gorgeous.

Green Olive, Walnut, Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad

Source : Turquoise
Cuisine: Turkish
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it

ingredients
0.25 cups walnuts
0.5  cup pitted green olives, washed to remove salt, and coarsely chopped
0.25 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped coarsely
0.5  cup pomegranate seeds
2 small shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 red chilli (or to taste), seeded and finely chopped
2 – 3 Tblspns shredded parsley leaves
1 Tblspn extra virgin olive oil
1 Tblspn walnut oil
splash of pomegranate molasses
juice of 0.5 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

method
Preheat the oven to 180C. Scatter the walnuts onto a baking tray and roast for 5 – 10 mins until they are a deep golden brown. Tip the nuts into a tea towel and rub well to remove as much skin as possible. Chop them coarsely and then toss them in a sieve to remove remaining skins.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Leave to stand for 5 minutes or so before serving to allow the flavours to meld. Gorgeous.

People are Saying:

And here’s a super recipe from A Life (Time) of Cooking, one of my favourite food blogs, while Elise at Simply Recipes has collected some wonderfully inventive recipes on how to use pomegranates. I’ll have to raid the supermarket shelves for more pomegranates!

The Pomegranate Series

Selection from the Salad Series

Semi Dried Tomatoes with Pomegranate

Dried Tomatoes with Pomegranate Recipe

Recently I bought some pomegranate molasses. It was with a sense of frustration with Australian pomegranates – lovely red colours, awfully bitter tastes. Having tasted in India what real pomegranate is supposed to taste like, I finally resorted to bottled pomegranate after a suggestion from Seena and bee.

That is no small step for me. I don’t keep a lot of store-bought tinned or jar’ed substances in my kitchen. Some. Not many. Bottles, well I have more than I am comfortable with, but most Asian flavourings come that way – soy, rice wine, hoisin, black vinegar, red vinegar, plum vinegar, sweet chilli sauce. Then of course there are oils. Walnut, grapeseed, olive (several), coconut. Vinegars: balsamic, strawberry, sherry. Rosewater. Kewra. And now pomegranate molasses AND pomegranate syrup. I didn’t know the difference so I bought both, from different shops. They taste pretty much the same.

So much for simplicity in the bottle department.

I cook less and less Chinese-influenced dishes these days so will try to reduce, but I make no promises.

The weather here is what we call an Indian Summer – bright clear days for the past two weeks, hovering around 20C. Nights not too cold. Pleasant, pleasant, peaceful, calming weather that does not demand anything of you except to be there and enjoy. To be aware of it and to watch the light play among the shadows. To soak up the gloriousness of nature before it goes back into itself as and when the winter comes.

I am so so very blessed to have the weather perfectly suited to my introspective holiday. Perfect for rediscovery. Perfect for re-prioritising. Perfect for reconnecting.

So in an Indian Summer sort of mood, I made some dried tomatoes with my pomegranate molasses / syrup, and ate them with thick thick yoghurt, my new favourite food.  Usually I make dried tomatoes with sumac, but this weather deserves a new approach. Drying them concentrates the sugars, and this makes them a perfect foil for pomegranate.

Dried Tomatoes with Pomegranate Recipe

Semi Dried Tomatoes with Pomegranate

Source : inspired by Turquoise, A Chef’s Travels in Turkey
Cuisine: Turkish
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 5 hours or more
Makes:500g, or double the recipe for a kilo of dried tomatoes

ingredients
1kg small roma or vine-ripened tomatoes
50ml olive oil
1 Tblspn pomegranate molasses
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

method
Set the oven to 50C.

Cut the tomatoes in half, either across the fruit or lengthwise. Place them in a shallow baking dish.

Whisk the oils and pomegranate molasses together and lightly brush each tomato with the mixture. Sprinkle each tomato with pepper and salt.

Place in the oven and bake for 5 hours or more, until the tomatoes have shrunk and shrivelled. Remove from the oven and cool.

The tomatoes will last 10 – 14 days if kept covered in the fridge.

Tomato Series

 

How to Make Home-Made Tomato Paste

Home Made Tomato Paste Recipe
Every Autumn I use the wonderful juicy autumnal tomatoes to make my own tomato paste, which I then freeze. The recipe comes from a book on life in Tuscany, which I have since lost track of. And rather than bottle it, I freeze it in small bits, ready to bring out and pop into any dish that needs it. It lasts all winter.

I usually store in individual small containers, but you could freeze in an icecube tray and then put the cubes into ziplock bags. The cubes will be ready for you to pop straight into the pan when required. Come to think of it, that would save a lot of space and I might do it that way this year.

Home Made Italian Tomato Paste

Source : from my old Food_Matters Site
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 60 mins
Cooking time: 90 – 120 mins
Serves: all winter

ingredients
3 Tblspn olive oil
2 cups onion, finely chopped
4 – 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 – 2 red peppers, finely chopped
1 – 2 large carrots, finely chopped or grated
2 – 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 kg tomatoes, chopped into small pieces

method
Saute the onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and celery in the oil until the onions are soft and clear. Add teh tomatoes and simmer until thick, approx. 45 – 60 minutes. If you chop the ingredients finely enough it will not be necessary to do anything else. Otherwise, sieve them or blend with an immersion blender.

Divide into 2 – 4 Tblspn lots and freeze. Use during winter any time tomato paste is required, or when something needs a tomato hit eg soup, risotto, paella etc.

Read some more:

The How To Series

 

 

Urad Tamatar Dal | Urad Dal with Tomatoes

Urad Tamatar Soup

Urad dal, that black or green skin dal, wonderfully creamy coloured under the skin, is a hard dal that takes a Life (Time) of Cooking (LOL!). Seriously, it does take a while to cook.

It took me a while to understand urad dal. I first bought some split unskinned urad, because I liked the black and whiteness of it. It sat in a wonderful glass jar in my kitchen causing much comment from people. Then I discovered the creamy coloured skinned dal that produces a much better colour when cooked. Black dal looks a bit funny when you cook with it :-(.

The first recipe I cooked with urad was a dal makhani. I must post that one day – I have three versions, all different but all very delish. One came from Nilgiris Restaurant, that iconic Indian restaurant in Sydney. One was given to me by the chef at the Taj in Bangalore, because they make an awesome dal makhani and I just had to have the recipe. And the last one was given to me by the young guy who serves at Indian Baazar here in Adelaide. He recited it to me from memory, and it is very simple. Yet it is full and rich in flavour.

Yesterday I was talking to my Punjabi Abhyanga therapist. He told me that urad dal is a favourite in Punjabi.

However, this recipe is an adaptation of a Rajastani recipe, where chilli and asafoetida powder are essential ingredients of any urad recipe. It takes a while to cook, but very little attention during that time. Good for Sunday Afternoon At Home cooking.

It is another gentle dal recipe. I am loving my experiments with gentle Indian cooking – we thrust so many robust flavours at our tastebuds every day, from strong black coffee to salty foods, to hot spicy foods, to tangy lemony dressings, to peppery pasta sauces, and so it goes on … and on …

There is a Buddhist technique to teach awareness and mindfulness. Here it is. It is good to do last thing at night or first thing in the morning before you open your eyes.

Lie down with your eyes closed. Listen to the sounds around you. Take notice of each sound and the things that you can hear. Birds, maybe. Your next door neighbour. Some building works. Traffic.

Then think of those sounds as only a layer of sounds. Putting those sounds in the background, listen for the next layer of sounds. These might be sounds from further away. A house or two away. The next road. Kids playing in the park. Birds further away.

Repeat. Pack these sounds into a layer and listen for sounds further out. Repeat with sounds further away. Repeat – still further away.

It is astounding what we can hear and how far we can hear, and the different perspective we get on our surroundings and neighbourhood.

And so it is with this gentle dal. Listen for the first tastes. Explore. Go further into the dal. Listen for other tastes. Keep your awareness going deeper into the tastes and discovering the layers, the depth of the taste.

It is astounding what we can taste.

Urad Tamatar Soup

This is a good, simple dal of medium consistency. Good served with rice and yoghurt. Add a small salad. Alternatively, thin it down slightly and eat as a soup. Yum.

Urad Tamatar Dal: Urad Dal with Tomatoes

Source : inspired by Lord Krishna’s Cuisine
Cuisine: Anglo-Indian
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 1.5 hrs
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it

ingredients
0.66 cup split urad dal, without skins
6 cups water (1.5 litres)
0.5 tspn turmeric
3 Tblspn ghee – use vegetable oil for a vegan dish
3 medium tomatoes, each cut into 8 – 10 pieces
1.25 tspn salt
2 Tblspn finely chopped coriander/cilantro or parsley

for tadka
1.5 tspn finely chopped or minced ginger
1.5 tspn cumin seeds
1 – 2 whole red dried chillies broken into bits
pinch asafoetida powder

method
Sort out any foreign material from the urad dal, wash under running water for several minutes, and drain the split urad dal.

Place the water, turmeric and a dab of the ghee into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.

Add the dal and bring back to the boil.

Reduce the heat to moderately-low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cover and continue cooking for  1 hour or until the dal is soft and fully cooked. Remove from the heat and add the salt. Stir well.

Heat the ghee in a small pan over moderately high heat. Add the ginger root, cumin seeds and red chilli. Fry until the cumin and chilli turn brown. Add the asafoetida powder, sauté for 2 seconds and then quickly pour the tadka into the dal. Stir the dal, cover and allow to sit for 1 – 2 minutes.

Add the parsley or coriander, stir and serve. Nice with rice.

[UPDATE: this has since become a favourite of my daughter. Every time I visit I have to make bucket loads of it.]

The Urad Dal Series

How to Make Creme Fraiche | Katte Malai

Creme Fraiche Recipe

Communication is so important.

I talk a lot to people (my clients) about the importance of communication. When I started my business I had no idea that a lot of my work would be about how to hold meaningful conversations. Even if I had recognised the need, I would not have embraced that as something that I could do. But over the years, I have become fascinated with this topic and overwhelmed by the need in organisations. And in life.

I was reminded about the importance of communication in my own life today, by two separate occurrences. One was a comment that had a definite energy that I was not used to. The second was the need to have a break-through conversation with someone close to me.

I am trying to read every day. So far, so good. When the weather is fine enough, I sit outside with my coffee (or yogi tea) at my new little table. I love the morning and the autumn sunshine. In my reading this morning I read about the need to raise our consciousness when dealing with issues and problems. You know, if we can change our thinking, lift it from the negative and reactive, make it more positive, as positive as possible, then our actions and our reactions are very very different. The way we deal with the problem or issue is so very much better, and brings about a much different result.

I thought about this a lot today. I realised that raising our thinking detaches us from the issue or problem. It removes our emotional engagement with it. It is the difference between “how dare they” and “I understand where they are coming from, and what has led to this action, even though I might not like the action.” Sometimes a person’s whole life experiences can be seen in one sentence. If you are aware. If you look for it. If you read it in the words.

I am a lot more aware now that I am on holidays. About all sorts of things. The way the light is in Autumn in Adelaide. Shade. Light. Pauses in music. How the silence is just as important as the notes. The gold of the leaves on Frome Road. How the light sparkles through the trees in Light Square. The need of all people for love. How good my new table and chair looks. The skin of a pomegranate and the fuzz on a quince. The bird that baths every afternoon, quite late, in my large water bowl. How when we breathe there is a pause at the top of our breath, and at the bottom. And sometimes the pause is more important than the breath. Silence.

Yeah, so I knew some of those things before. But it is about reconnecting with them. Being aware of them again. Relaxing into them.

I thought a lot about my guru’s admonishment about communication.

“Think before you speak, and speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary.”

That is a hard benchmark. And just to raise the bar a little, my own rule that I add to that is, “and speak it with love.” I don’t always measure up. Sometimes I don’t often measure up. It is a journey. With lovely rewards.

Only two communication challenges today. Given that we spend about 16 hours a day talking, that is not too bad.

Creme Fraiche Recipe

I remembered today that I used to make my own Creme Fraiche regularly, but haven’t made it in quite some time. It is a wonderful alternative to either cream (adding a little amount of soureness) and sour cream. Wikipedia says:

It is a heavy cream slightly soured with bacterial culture, but not as sour or as thick as sour cream. Originally a French product, today it is available throughout the rest of the world. Creme fraiche is produced by a process similar to that of sour cream, with the exception that no ingredients are added. Each processing step requires attention to producing and maintaining high viscosity. Commercially it is commonly fermented to an end pH around 4.5. Crème fraîche can be made at home by adding a small amount of cultured buttermilk or sour cream to normal heavy cream, and allowing to stand for several hours at room temperature until the bacterial cultures act on the cream. Because crème fraîche has a higher fat content and lower viscosity, it has several advantages. Unlike sour cream, crème fraîche can be mixed with air to form whipped cream. And, the higher lipid content (and lower protein content) of crème fraîche allow it to be cooked without curdling.

In the North of India this is also made and is called Khatte Malai. Often made with buffalo milk, the cow’s milk version is milder in taste.

So I made some to quieten the mind and comfort the body.

Creme Fraiche Recipe

Crème Fraîche / Khatte Malai

Source : The Hows and Whys of French Cooking – from my old Food_Matters web site.
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 8 hours or overnight

ingredients
200g whipping cream
2 Tblspn plain yoghurt, buttermilk or sour cream

method
Pour the cream into a jar. Add the yoghurt. Mix well and set into a pilot-heated oven for 8 hours, or overnight. It can be done in water maintained at about 50C. Next morning, stir and refrigerate. Once cold, it will thicken.

When down to the last 2 or 3 tablespoons crème fraîche, add another 200g of whipping cream, stir, keep warm for 8 hours and then refrigerate. The last few tablespoons of crème fraîche thus become a starter for more.

Recipe Notes

If there is a secret to French Cooking, it is to be found in crème fraîche. Never be without it. The higher the butterfat content of the cream, the better and thicker the resulting crème fraîche. Experiment until you find the right cream. Aim for around 50%.

Never substitute sour cream for crème fraîche in any recipe; sour cream has a butterfat content of 10 to 18 percent, which is not enough to stop it from curdling when added to hot foods. Thickened cream has 30 to 37 percent, and can be substituted for crème fraîche, but it lacks the sour taste.

The cream and yoghurt mixture must be maintained at around 40 – 45 C for 8 hours. This really quite a low temperature. It can be done in a pilot light-lit oven, or in water maintained at that temperature. I use a crockpot on low, with the lid off, to maintain water at this temperature. How very 60’s of me! :-) Really, it is the best use of a crockpot that I have ever found. Except for cooking pears…..

[UPDATE: I made a batch of creme fraiche by bringing the cream to the boil (300ml), cooled it until it reached approx 45C, added 4Tblspn buttermilk, and then placed in a pre-warmed thermos. It is a little easier than using the crockpot and also gives great results.]

Crème fraîche can be frozen in 3 tablespoon amounts, and then you always have a starter.

Creme Fraiche Recipe

 

Recent uses of Creme Fraiche in The Kitchen:

  • Over fruit salad. Use a pear, a nachi pear, an apple, an orange and some passionfruit. Roughly chop them. Pour over creme fraiche. Add some mint leaves.  If it is for breakfast, add some muesli too.
  • Mixed with yoghurt for a delicious topping to fruit, cereal, soups.
  • Swirl into soups.
  • In Potato Gratin – peel and thinly slice potatoes. Layer in baking dish with salt and pepper. You can add thinly sliced onion, garlic and /or grated hard cheese in between the layers. Pour over creme fraiche, cream or half milk and half cream, till about 1/2 the way up the dish. Top with grated parmesan. Bake for 45 mins or more (depends on the size of the dish) until potatoes are cooked and the top is brown.

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