Gunda keri athanu – bird lime pickle

I was absolutely amazed last weekend to find fresh gunda berries in the Edinburgh asian stores. Both Amma Spices and Krishna’s Foods had them.  It’s pretty rare to get them in Scotland. The berries are used by Gujaratis to make a very well loved pickle – they have a morish taste that goes very well with the raw mango and spice mixture.  They are also called Glue Berries, Cordia Dichotoma or Lasoora (south indian name). The reason for the glue name is that when the berries are cut open, the stone is surrounded in a very sticky glue like substance. The stone and glue has to be removed before the pickle can be made using salt, a very sharp knife and preferably with gloves on.

Normally I would just use the pre-bought pickle mixture but this time, I wanted a go at making it from fresh ingredients. As I never watched mum make this, I had to resort to a recipe from a Tarla Dal gunda keri.

A note about chillies. The Gujarati pickle is made using Reshampatti chillies. This gives a wonderful rich red colour and pack quite a punch heat wise. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to find it anywhere up here. And the powder pretty expensive online when you take shipping into account (available from Amazon or from Spices of India). I had to settle for using extra hot chilli powder which hopefully will not compromise the flavour – this can be found in all the normal UK supermarkets just look in the Asian groceries aisle as that stuff is a lot cheaper than the tiny quantities in the herb and spices sections.

For convenience I’m copying the recipe here but it’s totally belongs to Ms Dal.

Am sorry for the lack of photos but as I got into the making, I forgot to take photos.

Ingredients

I used half the quantities listed in the recipe.

For the gundas
30 gundas
1 tsp sea salt (khada namak) (I used Maldon sea salt)

To be mixed into a stuffing
1/4 cup grated raw mango (peek the mango, remove the stone, then grate as picture above)
1/2 cup split mustard seeds (rai na kuria) (yellow mustard seeds are readily available from Asda etc)
1/2 cup chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp split fenugreek seeds (methi na kuria)
1/2 cup mustard oil (substitute with sunflower oil if you are not willing to used mustard)
1/2 cup sea salt (khada namak), roasted and powdered


Method

  1. Sterilise a large jar. Preferably with a metal screw on lid. I stuck mine in the dishwasher without any detergent.
  2. Heat the mustard oil to smoking point then allow to cool completely. This step is not necessary if you use sunflower oil.
  3. Take the grated mangoes and add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Set aside for at least an hour. This helps to remove the water from the mangoes. After an hour, squeeze all the water out of the mangoes as well as you can.
  4. Wash, thoroughly dry with kitchen paper and then destalk the gundas. Cut a small cross at the top of each berry to help with the stone removal. Lightly crush the gundas using a pestle. (Do not forget to dry the berries. They little buggers kept slipping away from me as I had initially skipped that step. So I had to go back, dry them then hold them in a small bed of tissue before thwacking them not-so-lightly with my pestle. )
  5. Remove the inside seeds using a sharp knife. Since a sticky substance surrounds the seeds, it is advisable to dip the tip of the knife in the sea salt and then remove the gunda seeds. Once I had done this, I rubbed a small amount of salt to further remove the glue.
  6. Start preparing the stuffing:
    1. Lightly toast the mustard and fenugreek seeds, cool then crush in a pestle and mortar.
    2. Add the other spices and mix then well
    3. Add the grated mangoes and the cooled oil. Again mix well.
  7. Put half the mixture at the bottom of the jar.
  8. Tightly stuff each berry with about a teaspoon of mixture, add to the jar.
  9. If you have mixture left, spoon that on top. The berries should be completely covered. The oil in the mixture acts a preservative.
  10. The pickle will be ready in 3 to 4 days (just in time for this year’s Diwali, yippppeeee!).
  11. If the oil doesn’t cover the berries, then you can top it off the next day. Again, I went over board and seem to have added more than I needed.
    Every day, I open the jar and stir the berries around a bit.
    When I eat it, I’ll dry to make sure I’m not consuming too much of the oil.
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The Spiceman Cometh

A few weeks ago I mentioned a truly squeal-y moment. Well I can now reveal the details. My apologies to Wlx who did an awesome job of the card below. It’s been stuck on my fridge for me to admire and got a bit worn in the process.

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Probably the best leaving present that I have ever had – a one to one session with one of The Spicemen…. Mr T Singh himself.

There were quite a few mails back and forth trying to agree on what to cook and when.

When: I so wanted to wait until we had a new kitchen. But that would have been too far into the future (end April). Then I read that he isn’t allowed into his wife’s kitchen as he’s too messy so my mind was made up to get him in sooner. We were hoping he would come on a Friday afternoon when kiddo was at home. We agreed on a Friday but it had to be the morning (later found out he was off to take part in Saturday Kitchen’s 400th episode so he’s allowed to set terms!)

Cuisine: Tony has over 20 years experience as a chef doing all sorts of cuisines and though I would have absolutely loved a session in either chocolate work or pastry making, in the end I decided (lying here….hubby told me!) that it had to be Scottish Punjabi food. Before agreeing on the menu, I searched through the SpiceMen cookbook and also downloaded his latest book Tasty on the kindle to get some idea of what types of dishes interested me. Just a side note, never get a cookbook on Kindle, it’s just not the same as thumbing through a physical one and propping it up in the kitchen when cooking.

The final agreed menu:

Falafels

and Satan’s Ketchup

Stuffed Pratha

Wild Mushroom
Samosa`s

Dhal

( Curried yellow lentils)

Herbed Rice

Mint and Coriander Sauce

I had two weeks between leaving the job and my next one. The session took place on the last Friday. During those weeks, I spent a LOT of time tidying. Lots of moving stuff about. Doing my shoulder in moving shelf units about and realising that I have a lot of cookbooks. Partly to get ready for the kitchen refit, and partly because I didn’t want any spec of dust to be visible. Two weeks later the bloody laundry baskets were still not empty – rather like Terry Prachett’s The Luggage they just keep spewing out laundry. So they were chucked out of view.

A few days beforehand I took out my food processor – it’s part of a huge kitchen aid that Mr Plummy bought for my birthday last year. I only ever use the cake making part and didn’t even know there was a food processor bit until I was in the midst of the mad clearout. Whooo hoo. That was washed, instructions read and I was set!

The day before I went shopping for the ingredients list Mr Singh had sent me. Strangely there were not many spices but lots and lots of herbs. Four supermarkets later I was devastated that there were no wild mushrooms available anywhere in Livingston. But a quick email and he confirmed a substitute was fine.  I also bought a new chef’s knife and whilst practicing at home managed to slice off of a bit of my finger nail, painfully. So that was hidden away on a high shelf away for kiddo’s little fingers. I got Mr Plummy to sharpen up a selection of the knives that I use more regularly.

Friday 20th March was the day of the solar eclipse. Diverted my attention for all of an hour (clouds got in the way of my pinhole camera working hey ho). Then, I got ready by getting out equipment and ingredients. Note the total lack of space now! Limes… I’ve never used limes in Indian cooking so this was going to be interesting. As were the herbs (am getting obsessive innit)

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Then bang on time (which is very un-desi like), a Range Rover drove up and I had an uncontrollable fit of giggles. He was here, red turban, red shoes and ladybird earrings. I opened the door, then closed it in his face saying I had to get rid of the giggles. He came in with a crate.

In the kitchen he asked for a surface so I had to creep into the laundry filled conservatory and drag out a table. And what came out of the crate was this. SPICES. No wonder he didn’t list any in the shopping. He had them all. I was just sticking my nose in everything.

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Now some of these I have already. But it’s the ones that I don’t that I want! Garam masala is a prime example – Gujaratis don’t tend to use it much. His was delicious as it contained star anise giving it a slightly liquorice scent. And there was the curious pink pot which I later learnt contained asafoetida crystals –  I had no idea that asafoetida was resin extracted from a number of plants. The powder I have in my kitchen is the crushed up form of the crystals.

See the roll of knives. Yes, chefy types really do sharpen their knives –

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I had pen and paper ready to take notes but was told not to worry about recipes as he had copies for me. I should have read them before we started so I would have an idea of what we were going to make. But I just too excited and had so many questions to ask so we just got stuck into the prep. I wish I had taken notes but the next 3 hours were spent talking a lot. It was a golden opportunity chance to ask about working in the restaurant business, to find out what it was like to get work after he finished his catering studies (shortsighted restaurant people saw the turban and turned him away, the fools!), why so many Indian restaurants close in Edinburgh, about charities in Edinburgh and lots of questions about a Punjabi boy growing up in Scotland. We talked about family, about Punjab Junction (in Leith and run by his aunt, where his mum can be found) the recipes his female relatives won’t teach him as he’s a man! Lots of chatter about the healthy eating courses I teach and the cooking he does with communities/charities.  Some chat on diabetes (its high in Asian populations) and also the new rules on allergen labelling in restaurants. And all the while a lot of washing, peeling and chopping.

We chopped (OK mostly he did the work as I was too busy chatting) as the first lesson was about prepping ingredients all beforehand. There was a lot and in reality, probably too much for my little family. But he gave me tips on how to cover the garlic, ginger and chillies in freezer boxes then cover with oil. The oil preserves the ingredients, and as an added bonus infuses so you can use the oil itself in cooking for flavour.

Or to freeze them in ice cubes. I’ve frozen garlic/ginger before but never chopped chillies. It’s all about having things ready so that when you cook, you can just chuck things into the pot.

So here’s what was chopped:

A bag of white onions. At this point, I got a lesson in how to chop properly. First I had to use the correct knife. Out came the finger tip chopper. Then I was shown how to hold my left hand which holds the item to be chopped (think about how club scout salute!) but my hand didn’t like that so I was told to keep my thumb and pinky out of the way and then look at the shape of the blade which is designed to chop in a rocking motion. The tip should always remain on the board and I should use the heel of the blade to cut, not the top end near the blade as I’ve always done. I then got on with cutting the onions. And slicing off a tiny bit of my thumb. What a dummy! Blood started to seep out. Here’s the next tip – have the spray on plaster stuff in your cookbag or even superglue 3. I suspected he was taking the mick but he insisted that  it was used by the Americans in Vietnam to bind wounds temporarily whilst soldiers were taken to hospital. (Turns out there is some truth in this according to Wikipedia…!!!)

3 red onions – sliced ready for pickled onions.

Garlic: About 7 bulbs of which each individual clove was peeled by him

Ginger – I was doing my usual of scraping the skin when he told me to slice it off and freeze it to use in smoothies, or in ginger/lemon tea.  I’m looking forward to using that.

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Chillies – 150 grams worth!!!!! That’s a lot of chillies.  I was instructed to wash these and pull the stalks off.

To avoid washing the processor he advised that I should whiz up the ginger first, scrape it out then put that in to a freezer box, next do the garlic (scrap and store) and finally the chillies.

Herbs – coriander, parsley and mint. These were washed and I spun them in my salad spinner to drain off the water. He pulled the leaves of the mint off. I also had tarragon but this was not washed just taken out of the bags and then I pulled the leaves off.

Mint and coriander sauce:

My wee processor was not up to the task of making the sauce so he dashed to his car and got his supermixer. I would love to have this but I bet it costs a bomb. In went the mint, coriander, some of the whizzed up garlic, ginger and chilies, sugar, salt and vinegar. It was whizzed up to a runny paste and is happily sitting in my fridge now.

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Pickled onions: The sliced red onions were put into a large bowl, then we added the juice of 2 limes, distilled vinegar, chilli flakes, anar dana and salt. Now anar dana is a new ingredient for me – it’s the powder made from dried pomegranate seeds. It’s really tangy but sweet too which surprised me as pomegranates are never sour but are sweet. In the Tasty book, the recipe uses pomegranate molasses but he said the powder is a good substitute. OMG this mix was just delicious – we were all eating it straight out of the bowl. But the recipe says you should mix it, bottle it and wait at least 3 hours. Again in the book, it says wait a week. No way they are going to last a week – I’ve already had them with lunch and again at dinner that night, in sandwiches, as the base of mash and just as a sneaky snack.

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Dhal:

This was very different from the dhals I cook. For one, there was no ginger or garlic in it. Instead, he used asafoetida – which led to a chat about jains and swaminaryan bods who don’t use food taken from the ground (and hence no onions, garlic or ginger). So the dhals were boiled in water – he grabbed a mix fo dhals from my shelves including red lentils, yellow split dhal (which I never used before) and chana dhal (which I use in some curries but never as a dhal). These were boiled in plenty of water. After that he added in salt and tumeric and half a tin of chopped tomatoes. Once the dhal was soft, he added a tarka which was made by melting about 100g unsalted butter (eeek see my cholesterol levels go up) to nutty point then adding cumin seeds, chilli powder and about 2 tablepoons of asafoetida (which for me is a huge amount, I normally just use a small pinch). The recipe he gave me included ginger and garlic paste but I’m pretty sure he didn’t put any in on the day. This is mixed into the soft dhal and he usually finishes it off with more butter. But I had to insist that this was left off. There was no chili in this as I wanted my daughter to try it. It was the only way we could get her to eat it and truth be told – the dhal didn’t need it. It was simply delicious.

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At this point we were already 2 hours into the session and some of the food still had to be cooked. The kiddo and hubby were due and there was nothing for them to eat. There was only an hour left and so we made an executive decision that he would spend the remaining time cooking falafels and showing me how to make prathas. And whilst he wasn’t watching the clock, he did have a plane to catch to London later and I didn’t want to keep him too long. As we had cut up the ingredients, I was confident I could make the samosas and herbed rice myself later.

Falafels:

I had soaked the chickpeas the day before – he drained these and then whizzed them in the processor. Then in went some of the prepped garlic, parsley leaves, tarragon leaves, coriander leaves, baking soda, salt, pepper, cumin powder, ground coriander, ground cardamom and the juice and zest of a lemon. The herbs made the mixture beautifully green and fragrant.  Usually the recipe has chillies but I wanted to make them less spicy so I think he just put in a bit of chilli powder. OK as I was chopping bits of myself off, and talking, I didn’t see exactly what he was sticking into the food processor but I’ve got the recipe so should be able to replicate it all. The mixture was runny so we added gram (chickpea) flour to thicken it slightly. Unfortunately, once whizzed it was apparent the chickpeas hadn’t soaked enough as they were still grainy. This was really disheartening as they had been soaking for over 12 hours. Next time, I will do it for longer.

Just in time, hubby and kiddo came home and to my amazement, she wanted to help so he set her to getting the falafel balls ready for frying. I got another tip here which is to make sure that when putting the falafels in, I should not just drop them in but kind of glide them in so I don’t burn. We used rapeseed oil – another new ingredient which I have never used. On the rare occasions I fry food, I use either groundnut or sunflower oil. The latter usually leaves a strong frying smell in the house which is one of the reasons I don’t like frying food (and yes, the other is health, I would much rather use the oven). However, the rapeseed oil didn’t leave that strong smell around the house. So I may use that going forward though it is relatively more expensive (I got two bottles rather cheaply from Costco for this session)

BTW, Check out the white stripe in my hair …bride of Frankenstein!

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Prathas:

I love parathas (the way we pronouce it in our house). My mum used to make wonder stuffed ones -sometimes with spicy potato mixtures, other times with a very sweetened dhal. She also used to make simple ones fried in ghee (clarified butter) but I didn’t pay attention and never learnt off her. So fast forward 35 years and a Punjabi Scot showed a London raised Guju woman and her little kiddo how to make them. The little one was very cute as we got out her mini rolling board and pin. And he was very good about teaching us both – he’s a brilliant teacher and very patient. I can see why he is asked to go into schools to teach kids and he is very easy going but inspiring.

The first set were stuffed with the potato mixture which contained crushed boiled potatoes (not mashed, had some lumps in for texture), red onion, coriander powder, cumin powder, chili powder, salt and chopped up coriander and a bit of tarragon again. The recipe includes chopped chillies but as I wanted kiddo to eat them, we left those out. However, in the future, I will divide the mix and add chillies to the ones for hubby and me.

Another tip – prep dough to use for 3 days. I was aghast at this as I always make my dough fresh but he said that it’s fine to prep before and keep the dough in the fridge. Another time saver tip.

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And even though he was short of time, he showed us how to make a sweet paratha using jaggery and ghee which are laid onto one end of the rolled out circle, the the circle is rolled up. The roll is then made into a spiral and rolled out flat. He said that we could make layers and layers but healthy mamma said no, thats fine. In the pan, I dry cooked a side until brown spots appeared and then flipped over and brushed on ghee (oil on the potato stuffed ones). Once one side is cooked, repeat on the other. Both versions were just lovely and the little one enjoyed making them. In truth, I still need more practice before I get them perfect but at least I have a better idea of what to do now.

Mushrooms: Here’s our Tony cooking down the mushrooms. I had a mix of mini portabella mushrooms (wiped and sliced, stalks and all), shitake (wiped, stalks discarded as they are quite rubbery and chopped) and oyster (no wiping needed, all chopped). He cooked off onions in a bit of oil in the pan, then in went the mushrooms and herbs. Tarragon – wowser wonderful. The mushrooms were meant to be for the samosas but over the next few days hubby had them with sausages, I had them on toast and then also stirred through pasta. I am totally converted to tarragon – an aniseed type flavour that just tastes delicious.

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Through out all the cooking, he had me taste the mixes to make sure seasoning was right. I have to admit this is not something I always do, especially when I’m in a hurry and I know that I should.  I don’t think I always got it right as in retrospect, both the parathas and mushrooms needed more salt.

That evening, I made more parathas, falafels and also the herbed rice which even the kiddo ate together with the amazing dhal. I probably wouldn’t haven’t the herbed rice with all my dishes, but I can see it being a great base for the falafels, or for a lunch or just as a quick snack. I didn’t make the samosas as we had so much food to eat that we would have ended wasting them. I did however, mix up a small amount of satan’s ketchup to have with the falafels the following night for dinner – and let me tell you, it’s another keeper. Wonderful blend of tomatoes and spice that complemented the falafels well.

And here’s us at the end. Smiles all round.  I look demented – I don’t photograph at all well which is why I rarely show myself on this site and to make it worse, I was KNACKERED – it was a lot of work but man, what a superb morning.

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And the bonus, at some point once the kitchen is back he’ll be back to get a master class off me on how to make pickles. And I cannot wait as I’m sure by then I will be a master chopper and a much better kitchen helper.

P.S. it’s true the man is very messy. I took the rest of the day to clean up the mess!!!!!! Next time, I’m gonna make sure he knows where the mop is. 😉

Home made paneer (curds and whey)

That little Miss Muffet knew a thing or two having a bowl of curds and whey. But if I was her, I’d have discarded the whey and just made use of the yummy curds. Curds are what Indian people called paneer and is used for both savoury and sweet dishes. It’s been years since I made my own paneer which is a sign of pure and utter laziness as it’s so very simple to make*.

I had a surplus of semi-skimmed milk (thanks to an online shop I had forgotten about and had added a huge amount of milk to!). With a bag of fresh baby spinach in the fridge, I wanted to make saag paneer.

Ingredients:

  • 6 pints semi-skimmed milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons white vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Cooking

  • Put the milk into a heavy based pan and bring to the boil. Keep stirring to ensure the milk does not stick or burn as this will ruin the taste of the paneer
  • It had boiled when the surface of the milk makes a mound
  • Take the pan off the heat
  • Add the vinegar or lemon juice a little at a time until the milk separates. (I ended up using almost a whole unwaxed lemon – turns out fresh lemon is not as acidic. So if you have an older lemon, or are using vinegar then you won’t need too much)
  • The separation is pretty obvious so if the whey still looks milk, keep going with the vinegar/juice
  • The next stage involves removing the curds from the whey – put a muslin or J-cloth over a large bowl then pour the mixture in to strain the whey out. Bring the edges of the cloth together and squeeze. Now put a weight on and leave for an hour or more to squeeze even more liquid out.

This recipe yielded 262g of paneer from 6 pints of milk. I believe that full fat milk would produce more curds.  I’d probably left the weighing a bit long as the paneer was hard. It can also happen if you use lemon juice rather than vinegar. I would not squeeze as much to use the paneer to make a dessert (like rasmalia….oooooh RASMALAI).

I cut the paneer into cubes and fried in a shallow pan a little bit before added to my saag paneer. All in all, a very easy ingredient to use.

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*My most distinct memory of making paneer was when we lived temporarily in East Barnet. Mum was ill  and would only live for a few months more. We lived in a maisonette with the most racist man living above us who regularly slashed our car tyres – doubly painful when we had to rush mum to hospital appointments. That day was lovely and sunny. I used the home made paneer to make a delicious rasmalai. Years on, now in my frozen Scottish kitchen I’m making paneer again, still thinking of Mum but very happy that with my daughter and husband I’ll do not have to deal with slashed tyres. Happy days.

Sharkarkand nu shak – sweet potato curry

Sweet potato curry

I made this last Friday but haven’t had time to post it up….too busy gobbling. It is defo on my list of fave dishes. Friday in our house is Pizza night for Mr Plummy. For a while, I’ve been indulging in pizza too but I cannot eat the same thing every week for weeks on end. Too boring.

The colour of this curry is gorgeous, like sun on a plate. I’m sure it’s super good for you (Vit c, vit A, betacarotene) and extremely easy to make. I keep a very light hand on the spices as the vegetable has a delicate taste that is greatly enhanced with the kalonji seeds. Normally in Asian stores the red skinned white flesh sweep potato is available. But in your high street supermarket, you will also be able to get the orange fleshed brown version. I find the latter has the better taste.

For those not familiar kalonji seeds, they are small black seeds taken from the nigella plant. If you have had naan bread, they are the black seeds that give naan flavour. They are NOT the seeds of an onion though they are often labelled black onion seeds. If in doubt, get them from an Asian grocer.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs ground nut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kalonji
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 1 small fresh green chilli finely sliced
  • 8 or so black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 450g sweet potato (this is the cleaned, peeled and diced weight)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cumin coriander powder
  • 250 g tomatoes finely diced
  • 8 or so curry leaves
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Coriander to garnish

Preparation:

  • Wash the sweet potato thoroughly. Cut the ends off. It’s purely a matter of taste whether you leave the skin on or not. It’s healthier if you leave skin on – in which case give it a good scrub with a brush and just cut out any roots.
  • If you want to peel the skin, just take a very thin layer off. You will soon come to the flesh
  • Dice in 2 cm pieces

Cooking:

 

  • Heat oil over a medium flame in a large saucepan
  • Add the kalonji and as soon as it starts to sizzle, add the onion
  • Fry onions until they are caramelised. This can take some time.
  • Add the ginger, peppercorns, cloves and chilli. Stir for about 10 seconds
  • Add the sweet potato and spices. Mix so that the spices coat the pieces thoroughly
  • Turn down the heat slight, cover the pan and let it cook. Funnily, the white flesh version takes longer to cook than the orange. It’s a dry curry so don’t add water but give it a stir frequently to stop it sticking to the pan.
  • When you can put a knife through the potato easily (but before it’s become mush!) add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Add lemon juice to taste. I usually just give it a little squeeze of lemon – about 2 tsp
  • Cook for about 5 minutes more until the tomatoes are cooked through.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with freshly cooked basmati rice. Goes very well with a kingfisher or cobra beer!

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????

Quick spring greens

I like spring greens but they can be a bit rough especially compared to spinach. However, I found a recipe for quick collard greens which sounded great. I adapted it for spring greens and the result was very tasty. Hubby and kid had it with pork sausages and mash. I just gobbled it up with the mash.

Ingredients:

  • 350g spring greens – this was around 3 bunches
  • Water to cover the greens
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 10g butter
  • 1 small onion diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp crushed red dried chillies
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Boil enough water to cover the greens – I used about 2 pints
  • Discard the mangy greens that are normally around the bunch.
  • For the remainder, pull each leaf off the bunch, wash it then remove each leaf and cut out the stem along the middle. Chop into 1 cm slices and put into the pan of water

Cooking: 

  • Boil the greens for a few minutes until the leaves begin to wilt. Turn off the water. Scoop out a couple of ladles of the water and set aside as you will use again.
  • (I poured the rest of the water out to use to boil potatoes for mash)
  • In a large heavy based saucepan or frying pan pour in olive oil and butter. Once butter melts add in the ginger and greens.
  • Stir for a minute or so.
  • Add the garlic slices, cumin, cinnamon and a ladle or two of water.
  • Cook until the water evaporates. If cooking for children remove a portion now then add the chili, salt and pepper to taste to the remainder. Stir through and heat for a minute.
  • Serve with mash and sausages.

Stuffed mini peppers

A bit of a variation this as I’ve made stuffed peppers before. However, the slight change in the recipe has elevated these to a new level as far as hubby was concerned since he polished them off quickly and kept mentioning them all evening. The major changes are to use curry leaves and mini peppers. The mini peppers are so so cute!

I swear I took pictures of the finished article but I cannot find them in my phone or camera. So again, you will have to imagine what it looked like. I absolutely hate when recipes don’t show you what the results are supposed to look like so I apologise…next time I’ll take lots of photos and update here. The filling is cooked before hand in a saucepan, then the filled peppers are roasted in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 mini peppers
  • 200g potatoes – This is the washed and peeled weight.
  • 2 tbs groundnut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 medium onion (dhungri) – peeled, diced very finely
  • 2 inch piece of ginger (adu) – washed, peeled and grated
  • 7-8 curry leaves (limda), central stalk of each leaf removed and then all chopped finely
  • 1 fresh green chili (lilly murchu)
  • 1 tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (lal murcha)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 1/4 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jeeru)
  • 2/3 tbs olive oil

Preparation:

  • Wash the peppers, then slice off the stalk end and scoop out the innards
  • When I cooked them, I found the filling was oozing out of all the peppers except the one I had slit down the side by mistake. So slit each on down one side

 

  • Have the  roasting dish ready with the olive oil smeared over the bottom
  • Dice the potatoes and them boil to the point a knife goes through them easily but they aren’t too watery. Mash in a bowl and set aside to cool.

Cooking:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan oven)
  • In a heavy based pan, heat oil. Once warm add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle
  • Add onions and cook until they are golden brown (about 5 minutes on med heat, stir often)
  • Add the curry leaves, ginger and chopped chili to the mix and cook for a minute or so
  • Add the spices, cook for another minute or two stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  • Take off the heat and mix into the mash. At this point taste the mixture to check seasoning. Add more salt if necessary
  • Fill each pepper with 2/3 tsp of the mix and lay flat in the roasting dish. I had a few spoons left over so just rolled them into small balls and put into the roasting dish too
  • Place in oven to cook. I cooked until the peppers skin starting to char but not so they were too soft (about 20 minutes in my oven). Turn each pepper half way through cooking so that both sides get charred slightly.
  • Serve with rice or a salad.