Categories
Recipes

Pot Roasted Pork with Chili Lemon Relish

Every few weeks I’ll go pick up a few kilos of pork and binge eat it for the next few days. This morning I picked up a shoulder and a few ribs. The shoulder was pot roasted with simple flavours and eaten with a super-hot relish. The piquant relish cut through the fat and brightened up the meat considerably.

Ingredients:

  • Pork shoulder or other large cut
  • Soy sauce, dark
  • Chutney
    • Green chili peppers
    • Lemon
    • Salt

Method:

  1. Heat a large pot and keeping it on high heat, sear the meat for 2 – 3 minutes on each side.
  2. Pour on the dark soy coating the meat (don’t overdo – coat, don’t drown it)
  3. Adding a little water from time to time, cook the pork on a very low flame for a few hours until cooked. Turn the meat over periodically to get coated with the sludge forming at the bottom of the pot.
  4. Coarsely blend the green chilies; mix with lemon juice and salt. I went the old fashioned way with a mortar and pestle, which is why there’s so little of the precious chutney in the picture.
  5. Serve.
Categories
Recipes

Malai Masala Sauce

This is a really simple sauce that’s based on the classic sauce Soubise, which is really an onion sauce. I’m aware of two classic recipes. Both start with sweating onions in butter. One variant then blends this onions-butter mixture in Bechamel sauce, and the other, in cream. I prefer the cream variant.

The picture was Indu’s lunch from a few days ago. I used the Malai Masala sauce with some leftover cooked chicken breast.

This malai masala sauce ended up being used in a few dishes before it was over, demonstrating its versatility. This is a high fat, high calorie recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Cream, 200 ml tetrapak
  • Onions, 2 medium, finely chopped
  • Garlic, 5 – 7 cloves, finely chopped
  • Meat Masala, 1 tbsp (I used Kitchen Fables)
  • Butter, 2 tbsp
  • Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil to medium, add meat masala, reduce heat to a simmer, gently fry, set aside.
  2. Heat butter to medium, add onions and garlic, mix well, reduce heat to a simmer, sweat for about 10 minutes, add meat masala mixture from step 1, gently cook for another 10 minutes, set aside and let cool.
  3. Blend mixture from step 3 with cream.
  4. This will likely set into a thick-ish paste.
  5. Dilute with hot water in a pan and add cooked meats or quick cooking vegetables of your choice to use.

Notes:

  • If you don’t want to store it, add water to the cream while/before blending and use it all up. I liked having it in the fridge and being able to quickly mix it with water, salt and cooked chicken or mushrooms etc.
Categories
Recipes

Pumpkin, Spinach & Buttermilk Soup

There’s a contest on at CAL, that laid certain ingredient restrictions for qualifying entries. I chose to work with Pumpkin, Spinach and Cinnamon from the list.

It’s fun to try and make something when we don’t have a world of choices. I also believe we’re at our creative best when our options are restricted.

This soup won’t taste very good with rice or rotis IMO, even though it seems more like a curry. Might go well with Kerala parottas or Bengali lucchis – maida flatbreads of different sorts essentially.

It is low carb, somewhat nutritious, though it can support more vegetables to improve nutrition and quite low fat.

Ingredients:

  • Main
    • Pumpkin, about 300gms, blended, with a little water
    • Spinach, handful, chopped
    • Buttermilk, Mother Dairy, masala version, 2 packets (400ml)
  • Flavours
    • Onions, 2 medium, finely sliced
    • Ginger, 3 tablespoons, grated
    • Mustard seeds, 3 teaspoons
    • Urad dal, 3 teaspoons
    • Cinnamon, 1/4th teaspoon
    • Green chilies, 6 pieces, slit
    • Black peppercorns, 1 tsp, pounded fine
    • Hing powder 1/2 tsp (not pure resin)
    • Red chilies, dried
  • 3 tsp cornstarch mixed with cold water
  • Finish
    • Garam Masala
    • Salt to taste
    • Coriander, fresh, for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat oil, splutter mustard, brown the urad dal, fry the ginger, hing, dried red chilies, fresh green chilies and curry leaves.
  2. Add the onions, fry till beginning to brown at the edges.
  3. Add the pumpkin, mix well, add the buttermilk. Thicken with cornstarch and mix well. Simmer 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Bring to a boil. Add the spinach leaves, cinnamon, salt and garam masala per taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Mix well.
  5. Serve garnished with coriander leaves.

Notes:

  • Thickening is to avoid the buttermilk splitting/curdling. If you’re alright with that, skip the cornstarch.
  • Cream can taste nice in this. If you do add cream, be careful of it splitting, both due to temperature, and acidity.
  • This soup supports more vegetables. Add as per cooking time required. For example, add carrots toward the middle and small broccoli florets towards the end.
  • Reduce chilies per taste. Keep in mind, chilies will reduce carb cravings.

Categories
Recipes

Grilled Baingan

We love baingan at home in all its shapes and forms. One time I remember really, really wanting that last piece of begun bhaja and ending up promising to take my daughter to the movies in return for her claim. That one piece cost me 750 rupees.

This was part of a platter we ate a couple of days ago.

Ingredients:

  • Baingan/Aubergine, small-medium sized long variety, sliced in half, lengthwise
  • Chili powder + salt dry mixture (1:2)
  • Lemon juice
  • Oil
  • Lemon zest (optional)
  • Feta cheese (optional)

Method:

  1. Rub the aubergines with the chili salt mixture. Score them with a knife as in the picture. This looks pretty and helps cook it faster too.
  2. Heat your grill pan to almost smoking hot, brush it with a little oil. Place all the aubergines, scored side down on to the pan
  3. Reduce the heat and wait until the purple color has faded across at least half the height of the aubergine. Add a little more oil if it’s all gone. Don’t try to remove or shift the pieces. Press each one down gently.
  4. When each piece is faded all the way to the top, wait another couple of minutes and remove them from the pan.
  5. Serve hot after squeezing on some lemon juice.

Notes:

  • You can use slices of round aubergine too. Remember to score.
  • Sprinkle on some lemon zest and crumbled feta cheese if you want.
  • With thicker slices of baingan, you can also sprinkle a little water from time to time and cover the pan to allow for the effects of the hot steam.
Categories
Recipes

Mushroom & Paneer, Stir Fried

Our weekdays are mostly without flours and explicit carbs like rice and rotis and because of this, our cooking has gone up quite a bit, because we have to fill our plates and tummies with vegetables and meats.

So, we’re doing all types of curries, salads, roasts, grills and what have you, in an attempt to keep our spirits alive, palates satisfied and tummies filled.

We ate this stir fry for dinner a couple of days ago, with a salad of ice berg lettuce, feta cheese, onions, cucumber and tomatoes, plus a side of a couple of boiled eggs each. Nice dinner that was.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetables
    • Paneer, 100gm, medium dices
    • Mushrooms, 1 packet, white/button, sliced
    • Baby corn, handful, sliced lengthwise
    • Carrots, 1 medium, small dices
    • Capsicum/Bell peppers, 1 medium, chopped
  • Flavours
    • Light soy sauce
    • Dark soy sauce
    • Fish sauce
    • Salt, pinch
    • Garlic, plenty, finely chopped
    • White vinegar, dash
    • Sugar, dash
  • Oil

Method:

  1. Heat oil. Fry the garlic for a bit.
  2. The vegetables next. I used this sequence – carrots, baby corn, paneer and finally the mushrooms. The capsicum were added last and barely cooked. This allows for some crunch. If you don’t like them crunchy, add them right after the carrots.
  3. Light soy sauce for flavour and dark soy sauce for colour. A dash of fish sauce. Check the seasoning before adding any more salt. All three sauces contain plenty. A dash of vinegar and a pinch of sugar to balance things out.
  4. Toss vigorously on very high heat.
  5. Serve

Notes:

  • If you want more chili, add a few dried red chilies with the garlic and/or some finely sliced green chilies.
  • It’ll go well on noodles, especially those thin rice noodles, or with rice.
  • Substituting paneer with tofu is fine.
  • Add boneless, shredded chicken if you want, at the very beginning, right after the garlic and before adding the vegetables, ensuring the chicken is mostly cooked before adding the vegetables.
  • Add more vegetables if you want, keeping the time they’ll take to cook, in mind
Categories
Recipes

Crusty Bread Experiment

I’ve become quite interested in doughs, breads, flours and starters of late.

This bread was an experiment rhat turned out to be the crustiest bread I’ve ever baked. I used:

  • 3 cups organic all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1.5 cups water

And then:

  1. Mixed the dry ingredients
  2. Added water and slapped it together into a wet, shaggy mass with a spatula.
  3. Covered it with cling film and left it out, overnight for 12 hours, during which time it turned into a very wet, leavened mass.
  4. The next morning, floured a surface.
  5. Divided the dough into two and worked them for a bit, folding and refolding.
  6. Shaped it into a rough rectangle and circle; the shape of my cast iron containers.
  7. Floured the cast iron containers.
  8. Placed the dough into the containers.
  9. Let them rise for another hour.
  10. Baked them for about 45 minutes at 250.
This is what the dough looked like after 3 hours at room temperature.
Right after baking
Uneven leavening is what I wanted. The round loaf rose better, probably due to a better pan to dough ratio.
Categories
Recipes

Ash Gourd with Ginger and Coconut

I craved this flavour as a fast breaking meal and ate it with boiled millets and prawn pickle. Here’s what I remember of the recipe. Would have been great with kadi patta, but we didn’t have any.

Ingredients

  • Ash Gourd, 700gm, peeled and chopped
  • Ginger, 75gm
  • Green chillies, 6, ground with the ginger
  • Urad dal, 50gm
  • Green cardamom, 3 pieces, peeled
  • Black pepper, 1 tbsp, grind with cardamom
  • Star anise, 3 whole flowers
  • Cinnamon, 5gm piece
  • Cloves, 6 pieces
  • Dried red chilies, 5 pieces
  • 1 whole coconut kernel, grated
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Onions, 3 med-large, sliced

Method

  1. Heat a generous amount of coconut oil
  2. Gently brown the urad dal to golden.
  3. Add all dry spices; fry
  4. Add ginger-chili mixture; fry
  5. Add onions; fry
  6. Add add grated coconut; stir well for a few minutes
  7. Add chopped gourd and 500ml water. Stir well.
  8. Pressure cook until done. 10 minutes in a Futura for me.
Categories
Recipes

Egg Yolk Salad Dressing

Yesterday we made a salad of boiled eggs and potatoes and made this dressing to go with it. The salad BTW was eaten with a platter containing boiled rice, mutton boiled with spices, grated raw mango, mutton stock, raw cucumber sticks and a single large slice of batter fried aubergine.

Ingredients:

  • Boiled egg yolks x6
  • Olive oil, 7-8 tbsp
  • Pepper, fresh ground, 2 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chives, chopped, 3 tbsp
  • Garlic, chopped, 10 cloves
  • Water, 1 – 2 tbsp per preference for dressing texture

Method:

  1. Mix it all well
  2. Mix dressing well with the potatoes and eggs, or whatever else you’re using.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have chives, use strong onion instead. You could also use a blend of mustard oil and olive oil to get a similar short of sharpness.
  • Add chilies (green, red or powdered) if you wish

Categories
Basics Featured

#1 Heat: Your Friend and Foe

This is a part of the Basics series, intended to help novice cooks with what I consider to be the building blocks of food and cooking. It would be nice if you started from the top and worked your way to the bottom.

This started with trying to help novice cooks in my Facebook group, Chef at Large and I thought of copying the same content here too.

Your best friend and worst enemy while cooking, is usually heat. Too little and your food is raw, too much and it’s burnt. Other unwanted effects include being cooked just right on the outside and raw/chilled on the inside.

Heat also removes harmful bacteria from food, may increase or reduce nutritional elements within different foods and so on.

Understanding how heat works, how it’s conducted and how it effects different foods is one of the keys to making your time in the kitchen a little easier and more productive.

There are three types of heat transfer:

  • Conduction: via direct
  • Convection: via a medium like air or
  • Radiation: via direct heat/MW waves from a source

I’m not a trainer in this subject, and might skip steps that are important for a structured lesson. If you think I’m doing so, please ask for more details.

These methods of heat transfer translate into different types of cooking techniques, such as grilling, roasting, boiling, stewing etc. Even within the context of a pot, one can have different methods such as stewing, braising, jugging, boiling etc.

At the end of the day, you’ll find it’s all about the heat and how it’s transferred, using what medium and for how long.

The easiest way to understand heat better, is eggs. I’m sorry, but I don’t know of any vegetarian food that behaves in the same manner.

Eggs can be cooked with many different kinds of heat and heat transmission, and they’re so sensitive to heat that they become the ideal foods to begin with, and end with.

Why do I say ‘end with’? Because trained chefs also need quite a bit of practice before they’re able to master eggs. If I were to use one ingredient to test how good a cook is, that would be eggs.

Would you like to try answering these? Your answers will help others.

  • How many ways do you think eggs can be cooked
  • How many types of heat conduction have you used in your
  • Can you share a method of cooking that doesn’t use heat? (excluding salads and fruit)
  • What do you think happens when we introduce too much heat too fast?