Pomegranate Molasses

Again, inspired by a meal in London. I met one of my lovely friends, SMW,  who is like a brother to me for an evening near London Bridge. While waiting, I sat at the Thames looking at H.M.S. Belfast with the Tower of London and Tower Bridge in the background. God I love the views you see on the Thames and I was very happy to sit there and watch tourists trying to take selfies with these in the background. Some struggled and I offered to help. Must admit, I don’t like how I look in photos but if that’s your thing, then I’m happy to help you out.

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Once SMW turned up, we had a wonder through Borough Market looking for a bite to eat and eventually settled for Meze at Tas Restaurant. Wow the food was amazing. Turkish food is heaven for vegetarians and I enjoyed aubergine, hummus, kisir, chickpeas and lots of bread. Washed down with Turkish beer.

Back home, I wanted to try to make the zeytinyağlı patlican which is an aubergine, tomato, dish. And kisir which contains a lot of goodness including cracked wheat, crushed walnuts, onions, pomegranate molasses, fresh herbs, peppars.

This meant making the molasses as there isn’t any available around in Livingston.

Ingredients:

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1 pomegranate (sadly not from Turkey, but from Peru. Out of season and costing too many airmiles).

1 tablespoon sugar (I didn’t want it to be too sweet as it was going into a savoury dish. To use for desserts, use more sugar)

2 teaspoons  lemon juice. (recipes online don’t always have this. But the molasses in Turkey are made from sour pomegranates, so I needed to add that kick in. The lemon juice also acts as a preservative)

Method:

Chop the pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. As I didn’t know about the bash method, I picked the seeds out singly, by hand whilst smacking kiddos hand as she tried to nick them. I had to be careful to make sure I didn’t get any arials in (the white fleshy bits around the seeds).

The bash method: cut in half, turn over and hold over a bowl. Bash the outer skin and watch the seeds just fall out.

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I placed seeds into my mini mixer and whizzed up. If you don’t have a mixer, just skip and go to the sieving stage. IMG_2204 IMG_2205

I strained to extract the juice. The seeds and pulp was discarded. (as an aside,there is a spice made from the hard seed called anardhana, used as a souring agent. It had a similar consistency to sumac and amchoor and used for tenderising meat as far as I’m aware).

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I put the jucie into a heavy based pan, added the sugar and the lemon. And then cooked to reduce. Now here is confession time, I took my eyes off the mix which seemed to take ages to reduce and BANG it burnt. So had to go out, get another pomegranate and start again. Morale of this story is DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OF THE REDUCTION.

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And voila, here is the end result:  (apologies the picture is a bit out of focus)

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Gloopy, lovely and still quite sweet. It is absolutely gorgeous onto top of ice-cream. In the end, I used this in another traditional dish called Baba Ghanoush – or Burnt Aubergine with Tahini. The pomegranate molasses was a little bit lost among the garlic and tahini which was a bit of a shame. Luckily, I have enough left so will use it to make the red onion condiment in the Spice Men’s cookbook.

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Fenugreek and aubergine shak (methi, ringan nu shak)

CPC fenugreek aubergine shak with rotlis

As mentioned in my last post, I grabbed a couple of bunches of fenugreek from Amma Spices this weekend. I should have prepped them on the same day as they tend to quickly wilt so please excuse the rather sad looking pictures below. If you want to see more chef-fy type pictures go here.  Luckily, I was able to rescue quite a few of the leaves. I’ve saved one bunch’s worth for theplas which are a Gujarati spicy bread that I LOVE. The leaves of the other bunch went into another childhood fave of mine – the recipe I’m sharing tonight.

Fenugreek is used extensively in Indian cooking. The seeds which are hard little yellow stone looking things will be combined with mustard seeds at the start of many vagars (base sauces). I use it sparingly as the seeds are so strong but if I miss them out, the dish is definitely lacking. And as stated above, the leaf is used in theplas and curries both vegetarian and non. In Gujarati, it’s called “METHI”. These days it’s possible to buy frozen methi but in truth, I prefer fresh. It’s like the difference between frozen and fresh spinach – the former is convenient but the taste of the latter is infinitely superior.

The quantities in the recipe below make enough for one. I like to delicately spice this as I want the focus on the vegetables. If cooking for more people, double the quantities. Alternatively serve it as a side dish.

The taste can be bitter but I enjoy that bitter undertone that can come with some vegetables.

It’s meant to be really good for women who are breastfeeding but if you are preggers, best to keep away as it apparently induces labour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs ground nut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 green chili chopped finely
  • 2 -3 cloves garlic minced very finely
  • Leaves of bunch of fenugreek (see prep below)
  • 1 medium dutch aubergine or 2 – 3 small round indian aubergines (brinjal). Washed, then cut into very 2 cm small cubes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander, cumin powder

Prepping

When buying fenugreek, look for bunches with bright green leaves. Then prep them asap. Don’t leave them like I did to get yellow!

  

  • The stems of fenugreek can be quite thick so I don’t use it in my cooking. I am not sure it’s got much taste say compared to coriander.
  • For this reason, I pick off the green leaves and discard any yellow or mangy looking ones. If the stem attached to some leaves is thin/fine then I won’t pick that off.
  • Luckily, it’s very easy to pick the leaves off just using your fingers and thumb.
  • Rinse the leaves thoroughly until all the mud is removed. Else you are going to have really gritty food. The amount shown in the 3rd picture about is what I harvested from 2 bunches but for the recipe above, I only used half the amount. I put the other half into a freezer bag to use later.

Cooking:

CPC fenugreek aubergine shak

  • In a medium sized sauce pan, heat oil over medium flame
  • Once oil has heated up, add the mustard seeds (tip: add one seed to see if oil is ready, it should start to fry/splutter. Mustard seeds sitting in oil can end up really horribly bitter)
  • As the seeds splutter, add the chili and garlic. Cook for a few seconds, then add aubergine, fenugreek and spices.
  • Stir everything over a medium heat until the vegetables are well coated with spices
  • Turn flame down to low, cover the saucepan and cook until the aubergines soften and the fenugreek wilts. You may need to stir occasionally to stop the food from sticking to the pan.
  • Serve with hot, ghee smeared rotlis.

Tip:

If you cannot get fresh fenugreek, look for the frozen stuff in your local Indian grocery. Alternatively, you could try to grow your own…I’m going to have a go following the tips in this post Growing Methi once I figure out the right time of year to plant them. Or does that matter if I’m growing them indoors????

Oven roasted Sicilian aubergine with tomato and feta

As mentioned in my last post, we have had a bit of a revolution in our local Morrisons which now sports a funky new veg section. Including one with a lot of different aubergines – there was Dutch, smaller rounder Indian, purple and white aubergines and a Sicilian aubergine. The latter is just gorgeous looking – check out the vibrant purple and the lovely round shape. I’ve never seen one before and though it cost me £1.69 which is expensive for an aubergine, I couldn’t resist.

According to the Think Sicilysite, the Romans were suspicious when first shown the purple black fruit by Moroccans and dubbed it the “apple of insanity”. Ilove that! That site has some great recipes but as I didn’t have the ingredients, I did my own thing. And my goodness, it was DELICIOUS so have a go. Ingredients:

  • 1 Sicilian aubergine
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4/5 spring onions,
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic
  • 6-7 sunstream tomatoes (or any full flavoured vine ripened tomato). Was about 120g
  • 1/2 chili flakes
  • A small amount of salt to season
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 5/6 fresh basil leaves

Cooking:

     

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade (180 for fan)
  • Wash the aubergine, cut off the stem then slice into 1cm discs
  • Arrange the discs into an oven proof dish and coat with generous amounts of olive oil (I used at least 3 tablespoons)
  • Roast in oven for about 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile, top and tail the spring onions, peel outer layer if manky and slice up green and white parts finely
  • Remove outer layer of garlic and slice finely
  • Wash and chop tomatoes into quarters
  • In a heavy based pan, add 2 tbs olive oil and fry the onions and garlic
  • When they start to caramelise, add the tomatoes, chili flakes and season slightly. As feta is quite salty, you can leave out salt if you wish
  • Remove the aubergine from the oven and pour the onion/tomato mix over the top. Then crumble up the feta and place back into the oven.
  • Roast for a further 15 minutes, then tear up the  basil  and chuck it on on top. Place back in the oven for about 15 /20 minutes until aubergine has cooked through (check every now and again to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom or burning on top).
  • Serve with warm bread, with pasta, on toasted slices of bread as bruschetta or just on it’s own. Delicious!

Ratatouille with lemon and coriander cous cous

I’m was never keen on ratatouille… it’s a bit too much like nut roast in being very “vegetarian”. In the olden days before being veggie was acceptable, ratatouille was often the only offering on a restaurant menu, and it was awful.

However, times have changed (or is it me? or was it the film Ratatouille????). I went for a Delia recipe of oven roasted ratatouille. I started off cooking it on the hob, the moved my casserole pot to the oven to roast it off. I also missed off the coriander seeds because I forgot them but the results were great so I don’t mind. The first time, I cooked it with basil however, tonight I used crushed chili seeds instead. Both were equally yum.

On both occasions, I ate it with cous cous with a healthy squeeze of lemon and 1 tbs of finely chopped coriander stalks. It’s so delicious and a bonus for me is that it can be frozen as for some very mad reason Mr Plummy Mummy will not eat cooked aubergine or courgettes….more fool he.

As it’s a Delia recipe, I can’t copy it here. However,as the pictures I took were just so colourful, I cannot help but post them up.

    

Roasted aubergine with feta, chili and spring onion

This recipe was born out of watching Nigel Slater on the beeb recently cooking his Chilli Feta . However, I had a lovely Dutch aubergine to use up so made some adjustments.  I should have googled Nigel’s recipe before I started as I first began with half a red onion which I cooked in a frying pan with a beautiful red chili and some garlic but the red onion did that strange metamorphosis it does when cooked going from something fresh tasting to something very sweet. This sweetness works well in say a quiche, but would not complement either the aubergine or the feta so I ditched that and went for the spring onions. I am also kicking myself for not using thyme which I have in plentiful supply as I have it growing in my garden and on my window sill (cos I forgot what was in the garden and ordered more Dummy!)

Anyway, the end combo with roasted aubergine was delicious. I had to use a green chili as I ran out of red but in future will stock up on red as that would be divine. I hope you try this and enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Dutch aubergine
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 5 spring onions sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 chili (red would be best but I only had green tonight. Also end result wasn’t very spicy so could add 2 chilis if you like it hot)
  • 100g pack feta cheese
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Seasoning to taste

Cooking

  • Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees (fan oven)
  • Cut the aubergine along its length. If you are making dinner for one, then reserve the other half for aubergine shak.
  • Make criss cross marks in it
  • Wipe a little of the olive oil over the aubergine, grease a baking tray and place aubergine with cut side down to roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. It’s ready when the aubergine is tender but not totally mushy
  • While the aubergine is roasting, in a pan heat the remaining olive oil over a medium flame and cook the spring onions, garlic and chili for 2 minutes stirring continuously. Remove from heat.
  • Cut the feta into 2 cm cubes and stir into the onion mix. Also add thyme leaves off the twig and season to taste.

  • Take the aubergine out of the oven and flip onto it’s skin side. There should be enough give to let you push down the flesh. Spread the feta mix on top and put back into the oven for about 5 minutes until the feta has melted and slightly browned on top.
  • Serve with thick oven chips (or fresh bread if you want to be good). Although the skin is edible it will be quite tough so I chose to just scoop out the insides with the chips like a dip. It was very yummy and suitable for either lunch or a light dinner.

BTW if this is too much faff you could just made an American style grill sandwich as I did today with the remaining feta. Take two pieces of bread and butter one side of each. On the non butter side of one crumble up the feta, add 3 chopped spring onions and a chopped chili. Put other piece of bread on top (buttered side facing out) and cook in a frying pan until the buttered sides are nicely toasted and the cheese has melted. DELICIOUS!

Ringan bateta nu shak (aubergine and potato curry)

This shak is so easy to make and has very few ingredients – it’s easily cooked within 20 mins. It’s so rustic! It relies on good quality aubergines and potatotes. I prefer to use the small round aubergine sometimes called a brinjal (do a google image search to see what I mean) sold by Indian grocers rather than the long plump Dutch aubergine normally found in English supermarkets. However, if you cannot get the former, the latter is equally delicious.

Select ones that are plump, quite firm and has few blemishes on the skin. When you cut into the aubergine, the flesh should be white and there should be few seeds.

Sometimes aubergines can be bitter. To remedy this they can be salted before cooking. Wash the aubergines, cut off the stems and slice them aubergine into largish dice shapes. Then put a liberal amount of salt over them and leave for half an hour. Wash out the aubergines well (the water will run a sort of purplish colour!) before using in the cooking below.

The amounts below yield enough for 2 people. I prefer to serve this shak with fresh rotlis, sliced onions (cover with lemon juice to remove the sting!) and a sweet (in my case banana).

Ingredients:

  • 3 round aubergines (or 1 large dutch aubergine) – wash, remove stem, cut into 3inch dice
  • 4 small potatoes –  remove skin, cut into the dice same size as aubergines
  • 3 tbs groundnut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard and fenugreek seeds
  • 1 chilie chopped finely
  • 1 tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (murcha)
  • 1 tsp coriander/cumin powder (dhana jeeru)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tomatoes – diced finely
  • Coriander to garnish

Cooking

  • In a largish pan, heat oil over medium heat then throw in mustard/fenugreek seeds
  • Once seeds start to pop, add chilies
  • Add potatoes and aubergines
  • Add all the spices and stir the mixture very well
  • Cook for 2 minutes and keep stirring
  • Add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Don’t be tempted to put more as aubergines already hold a lot of water. Bring mix to the boil.
  • Turn down to a simmer and cook for five minutes, keep an eye on the levels and stir occasionally
  • Add the tomatoes, stir and cook for a further five minutes
  • When you come to serve garnish with coriander and serve with rotlis. If you don’t have rotlis, naan or rice do just as well.

P.S. Sorry I didn’t remember to take a picture of the final dish. It all got eaten very quickly!

ringan nu ohroh (smoked aubergine curry)

Ringan nu ohror

I may have the spelling wrong  but the cooking of this very tasty aubergine shak is spot on. It’s normally served as a side dish but I like to gobble it up as a main. In appearance, it’s similar to baba ghanoush but is much more spicy! However, don’t be tempted to overdo it as the glory of this dish is light spicing to enhance the smoked aubergine flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large aubergine (350g)
  • 2 tbs groundnut oil plus extra for oiling aubergine
  • 1 large onion (80g), diced very finely
  • 1 very ripe tomato, roughly chopped. Optional. Can be left out
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
  • 1 green chili, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp rye/methi seeds (fenugreek/mustard seeds. Don’t worry if you don’t have fenugreek. Also can substitute cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dhana jeeru (coriander cumin powder)
  • 1/2 tsp hurder (turmeric)
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Coriander to garnish

Preparation:

The aubergine is smoked before it is added to the shak. To do this,

  • Wash the aubergine then dry skin with a paper towel
  • Cut a slit in the aubergine lengthways (2nd picture below), then rub all over with oil. Don’t chop off the stem as that will be handy for handling it in the grill

AubergineSlit shiny aubergine

  • Place on a baking tray and cook under a very hot grill. It is possible to roast it in the oven but I think the grill gives a particular smokey flavour so this is the preferred method. The skin should char and the aubergine begin to deflate as the water it contains is cooked out.
  • It will take up to 30 minutes to fully cook. Turn the aubergine so that it is chars equally on all sides, about every 9 mins.
  • The aubergine is ready when a knife slides in easily (By this stage, it will be very flat and should feel as if there is nothing in the skin!)

Smoked aubergineSmoked aubergine innards

  • Wait for the aubergine to cool before handling. Scoop out the innards and mash. Discard the charred skin and stem
  • And for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of the onion, garlic and chili chopped in preparation

Cooking:

  • In a large pan, heat the groundnut oil over medium heat
  • Add rye/methi and wait for the seeds to start popping
  • Add onion and cook until translucent and browning at edges. This can take up to 10 minutes. It’s important to cook the onions well so don’t rush this stage
  • Add garlic and chili and cook for 2 mins
  • Add prepared aubergine and stir to combine well with onion/garlic mixture
  • Mix in the spices. Remember don’t be heavy-handed here…subtlety is what we are after in spicing
  • Stir in the tomatoes if using and stir all to mix well
  • Turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Stir regularly to ensure that it has not stuck to the pan.

ringan ohror

The tomato is optional as without it the flavour of the smoked aubergine really shines through a bit like baba ghanoush but it’s also tasty with. Entirely up to you.

Once cooked, garnish with coriander and serve with rotlis.

The dish can be enhanced by adding spinach (after garlic/chili phase to let spinach wilt down before adding aubergine), or roasted red pepper (peel skin off, and chop pepper flesh into small pieces. Add at same time as aubergine)