Congee Bowls

I love congee made in a Chinese clay cooking pot in the middle of winter, cooked on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A large batch is sometimes cooked and stored in the fridge. In this way it is available night and day, for late night suppers or early morning breakfast. Congee was once a very popular dish but it has fallen out of fashion. We have been making it since 2003, and thankfully it has not fallen out of fashion in our household.

There are lots of congee recipes around – almost every Asian cookbook you pick up has one in it. I first cooked it at home  as I loved the late night congee in Sydney’s China Town. So good. Short grain rice is best. One cup of rice made a huge amount – enough for 4 – 6 bowls of it. So be careful the first time that you make it to ensure that you are not making enough for your whole suburb!!! Congee can be eaten at any time of the day – it has become a popular breakfast food for Southern Chinese and midnight snacks for Singaporeans & Malaysians. So eat it first thing, last thing, or anywhere in between.

Congee Bowls, in our household, are bowls of congee topped with a range of delicious accompaniments – herbs, tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, crispy onions and garlic, steamed beans, mushrooms, Asian greens – the list is endless and any combination can be used, depending on the season, the weather, your mood, the time of day and the available ingredients. Congee flavour is always up to you!

Congee is eaten throughout Asia, from Japan right down to Indonesia. Each one varies a little from the others, but all are made with boiled rice, lentils or beans. However, the name for this dish originated in India – from the Tamil kanji. Perhaps also from the Telugu and Kannada gañji, the Malayalam kanni and the Urdu ganji. All meaning, more or less, boiling. The earliest reference can be traced back to the Zhou dynasty (circa 1000BC). It is also mentioned in the Chinese Record of Rites (1st century AD) and noted in Pliny’s account of India circa AD77.

Similar recipes include Rice, Millet and Lentil Congee, Sweet Congee with Poached Oranges, Red Rice with Adzuki Beans Congee, Cracked Wheat and Mung Dal Kitchari, and Quinoa Porridge.

You might like to browse our Rice recipes, and Porridge recipes. Or check out our easy Mid Winter recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can explore more of the Retro Recipes series, our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.

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White Bean Puree with Harissa and Rosemary

White beans make the best purees – smooth, thick and shiny. There is no excuse to not have some on hand, ready to serve with bread, as a dip, over steamed or roasted vegetables, with salads, or even with pasta.

This puree is a slooow cooked one. Place it on your lowest flame and simmer slowly for up to 3 hours to get the softest beans that have imbued the flavours of the harissa. Divine! Or, cook the beans in the slow cooker overnight, and finish on the stove until meltingly soft.

Similar recipes include White Bean, Sage and Roasted Garlic Spread, Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Puree, and Easy White Bean Salad.

Or browse all of our White Bean recipes (Haricot Beans or Cannellini Beans), and all of our Purees. Our Dips are here. Or explore our Mid Spring dishes.

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Quince Paste

Quince paste is as old as the hills, being made in the Middle East and slowly spreading across Europe and indeed into Australia, primarily through our foodie icon, Maggie Beer. It must be one of the best uses of quinces.

You will find quinces in the green grocers in Autumn and again in Spring. They are long-keeping, so the appearance in the shops in Spring is a bit of an artifice, I am afraid, as their fruiting time is Autumn. I have such a love of this fruit – perhaps they remind me of my Grandmother. Years ago, I knew of a wonderful, neglected quince tree in the Clare Valley in South Australia, and each Autumn I would spend a weekend in this delightful region and come home with a bucket of quinces. One year, the tree had been removed, and I was devastated.

Since then, I have found that one of my friends has a quince tree, and every Autumn I still get my bucket of quinces. I feel blessed at this time of year, there is such an abundance of produce. It is as though nature is also preparing for Winter.

There are many recipes for quince paste. I use this one. I like the way that the long cooking intensifies the flavour. Serve with the creamiest of cheeses, or eat on its own as a sweet – sneak some for your midnight snack.

We have other Quince recipes too. Try Quince Pickle, Quince Jam/Jelly, Indian Quince Pickles, and Slow Cooked Sweet Spiced Quinces.

Other recipes that use the dehydrator include Sweet Potato Crisps, Beautiful Dried Capsicum, and Dried Mango.

Or browse all of our Quince recipes, and you might like to read about Autumn Preserving. Also, explore our Mid Autumn collection of dishes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2005, and is part of our Retro Recipes series.

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Whole Unhulled Urad and Rajma Dal | Urad Lentils and Kidney Beans Dal

It has been a while since I posted an Urad recipe. Urad is one of my favourite lentils, comforting and nourishing, and used a lot in the Punjab region. It is easy to cook with, especially if you know and respect its properties.

This dish is a cousin of Dal Makhani, using yoghurt instead of butter and cream, and whole urad rather than split urad dal.

And what a stunner! This is a slow cooked dish – taking around 5 hours – but they are effortless hours. No need to do more than the odd stir or two.

Are you looking for Urad recipes? You might like to try Urad Dal with Onions Four Ways, Urad and Red Rice Kitchari, Urad Dal Garlic Rice, and Urad Tamatar Dal.

We also have Rajma (kidney bean) recipes – try Rajma Sundal, Feijoada, and Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta.

Or perhaps you are looking for Dal Makhani style dishes. Try our very popular Dal Makhani Restaurant Style, Indian Bazaar Dal Makhani, and Amritsari Dal.

Punjabi recipes are always packed with flavour. Try Baingan ka Bharta, Quince Aachar, and Tomato Bharta.

Alternatively, explore all of our Dal Makhani and similar recipes. Or browse Punjabi recipes. We have a range of different Urad recipes and Rajma (Kidney Bean) recipes. You might also like to check out the Madhur Jaffrey recipes that we love. Oh and our Dal recipes are here. All of our Indian recipes are here. Or take some time to browse our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Urad and Red Rice Kitchari | Khichuri

An unusual kitchari, oven cooked, slow cooked, or stove top.

Rediscovering a wonderful ceramic oven dish with lid, it was put to use cooking another kitchari, this time made with red rice. Most Indian and some Asian groceries will stock red rice. There are many varieties from India, Sri Lanka and Bali for example. Red rice is a very healthy rice – I have used Rosa Matta rice from Kerala in this recipe.

Surprisingly, the combination of urad and red rice in a kitchari dish has its origins in Korea, but I have made it more Indian than Korean. It is not a traditional Indian kitchari, but is very tasty, and can be cooked on the stove top, in the oven or in a slow cooker.

Similar recipes include Bhuna Kitchari with 5 Lentils, and Bengali Vegetable Kitchari.

Are you looking for Kitchari recipes? Browse them here. Have a look at our rice recipes amd eexplore the Urad recipes. Our Indian recipes are here, and Indian Essentials here. Or browse all of our Early Autumn dishes.

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Chilli Jam with Deep and Complex Flavours | A HOT Chilli Paste

A Chilli Jam with extraordinary depth of flavours.

This Chilli Jam is more complex and refined that many others. Slow, slow cooking gives it an enduring and lingering natural sweetness which is enhanced with the addition of jaggery.

Although it is called a jam, it is not a spread. It is closer to a Chilli Paste. It is as hot as you can imagine chillies to be, and spread it on your toast at your peril.

Similar recipes include Balinese Sambal Tomat and Hot Sweet Chilli Jam.

Feel free to browse our Chilli recipes or you might like to browse Sweet and Savoury Jam recipes . Check out our easy Early Autumn recipes too.

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Amritsari Dal from the Punjab

A gentle Punjabi dish from Urad and Channa lentils

If I wasn’t such a fan of South Indian food, culture, arts, music, temples, rituals and everything else that is predominately from Tamil Nadu, I might have fallen in love with the Punjab. Punjabi food is wholesome and full of rustic flavour. The custom of cooking in community ovens or tandoors can still be found in rural areas even today. The cuisine is characterised by a profusion of dairy products in the form of malai (cream), paneer and dahi (yoghurt). And also the dals are a speciality of Punjabi cuisine, made of whole pulses like black gram (urad), green gram (mung) and Bengal gram (channa).  They are cooked in covered earthen pots on a slow fire clay oven fueled with dung-cakes, often simmered for hours till they turn creamy, and then flavoured with spices and rounded off with cream and butter for that rich finish. The food is simply delicious. Thanks to Sanjeev Kapoor for part of this information.

Urad lentils are favourites in the Punjabi cuisine, and take so well to the long slow cooking. This dish is soothing and gentle, despite the large amounts of garlic and ginger. Their assertiveness is overcome by the long slow cooking time. The dish is generally quite mild in its spiciness.

You might like to explore our Urad Lentil recipes here and here, especially all of the Dal Makhani-style dishes. Browse the Punjabi recipes. Or check out our Slow Cooking dishes.

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Indian Bazaar Dal Makhani | Home Style Dal Makhani

A simple but exceptional Dal Makhani

The story of this Dal Makhani goes like this:

Some time ago in Bangalore, India, I had a Dal Makhani to die for. It was just a hotel room service meal ordered at a very busy at the time, yet it made me sink back into my couch with a wonderful smile on my face – as if I had transitioned and gone to Dal Heaven.

I rang through to the kitchen and asked for the recipe. Oh what hilarity that caused in the kitchen – much laughter and giggles, and simply hours later, I received a typed up recipe from the chef at the Oberoi in Bangalore. It is the most wondrous dish, full of butter and cream and takes some time, so a dish for special occasions. Continue reading “Indian Bazaar Dal Makhani | Home Style Dal Makhani”

Du Puy Lentil Soup (Slow Cooked or Stove Top) with Parmesan Toasts

Du Puy Lentil Soup recipe with Parmesan Toasts or Middle Eastern Tafoon

There is a a Middle Eastern flatbread, fresh Taftoon – Persian flatbread. It can be found in any Middle Eastern store. A little like Naan, but huge, round and soft, thicker than lavash, yeasted and made from a mix of wholewheat and plant flour. Just right for soups. So to fit in one more soup before the end of winter, and to use up any du Puy lentils left in the cupboard, make a slow cooked Du Puy Lentil Soup.

Those little green-black disks are great in winter slow cooked soups (but can of course be cooked on the stove top too). Throw some into the slow cooker and then go to the office. Arrive home to wonderful soup and soft taftoon to mop up the juices.

I first ate this soup in London. With oven-baked slices of thick bread topped with crusted parmesan cheese, it was wonderful.

The soup is very accommodating, and so the recipe can be bent and flexed, depending on what is in the kitchen and the freezer at the time. This recipe works well with whole frozen tomatoes from a previous bountiful summer, in place of the tinned tomatoes, with home made red chilli paste or frozen chillies instead of fresh red chillies, with home made garlic paste instead of garlic, and so forth. I have even used frozen tomato juice in addition to a can of tomatoes. (In summer I juice surplus tomatoes and store in the freezer. It makes delicious soups, and I add it to stocks and to other dishes that require a tomato-based flavour.)

Similar Recipes include Puy Lentils with Ragout of Mushrooms, and Thai Red Lentil Soup, and Du Puy Lentils with Feta and Tomato.

You might also like to browse our other Du Puy Lentil recipes.  Have a look at our Slow Cooker recipes too. Explore our Lentil Soups, and all of our Soups . Find some inspiration in our Mid Winter recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. It appears here as part of our Retro Recipes series of recipes which documents our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.

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Eggplant Makhani | Slow Cooked

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

A slow cooker recipe with Eggplant and a buttery tomato sauce.

We have some more slow cooker recipes, and please browse our collection of delicious eggplant recipes here and here. Find inspiration in our Autumn recipes here and here.

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