Zomato Reviewers Dinner at The Notting Hill Kitchen

What: Dinner with fellow Reviewers courtesy Zomato

Where:Notting Hill Kitchen

Weather:Brilliant and Sunny

As I walked past posh residential building painted a pristine white I was sure I had lost my way inspite of Google Maps egging me to continue walking along Kensington Park. This is just minutes away from the hustle bustle and lively Notting Hill Market famous for its antiques.

It was an exceptionally warm summer evening and I was welcomed with a chilled glass of white -Quintaluna 2012, though couldn’t manage more than a glass as it was a bit tart for my taste.

First up was the Mac Silva a mini cod burger which was really delicious and I could have popped all of them into my plate had it not been for my equally hungry companions. Sea Bass Ceviche made with Peruvian aji Amarillo mild chilli, fennel corn,tomato ,coriander and lime was moorish,loved the fresh cherry tomatoes in there just wish it had a more generous squeeze of lime!

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Undoubtedly the star of the evening the Spider Crab Mousse was fabulously delicious , served in a mini doughnut the secret flavoursome ingredient was dehydrated mussels,the sea food lover in me was completely satiated , I have found a new obsession Spider Crabs!These reminded me the deep fried soft shell crab starters I tasted at Tenshi, a Japanese place at Angel, deep fried in a delicious light batter these are to be eaten whole! They look a bit spidery though so don’t think of that just gobble them up whole)

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Did you know that Spider Crabs found in Japanese waters also called tall footed crabs have the largest leg span of any arthropod?!Upto 3.8 meters long – thats a massive 12 feet!

Moving on from our science class back into  to Notting Hill Kitchen enter Tiborna Alentejana – a combo of Pata Negra,Bone Marrow,Cured Papada,toasted sourdough,truffled yolk – described by Martin as the bridge of meat – so apt huh? The cured papada was crunchy and the bone marrow delicious but the Pata Negra literally meaning black hoof popularly known as  Jamón ibérico or carna negra – is Iberian ham, it  was not something I fancied much, maybe blame by taste buds so used to Parma Ham. Pata Negra is a type of cured ham  produced mostly in Spain, but also in some Portuguese regions where it is called presunto ibérico and is made from iberico or black pigs or cross bred pigs.Washed down with a glass or two of Spanish Blend – Malacapa Rioja 2012 which was definitely many notches up compared to our white.

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Topping my list for comfort food on the menu was Jamon Croquetas made with caramelised onion…. mummmm, lemon beetroot and parsley viennoise, such a fab way to mask beetroot and so very delicious!

The starters were fabulous and I could have kept on going if it wasn’t for a delicious portion of Chef Yossi’s Acorn fed pork neck with red cabbage,lentils and lupin cous cous. Funnily though the lentils were very simple to the Indian dal vada though the centre of this big circular fried lentil I could taste the wet lentils .The cabbage was salty but very delicious and must say held its own even with pork as the main actor in this presentation.This went down really well with our Portuguese Red –  Quinta de sao jose touriga nacional 2011  , a complex fruity and fruity with spicy undertones with a rich purple red colour ,this red was also my favourite wine of the evening.

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Served with sides of an Asparagus and Saffron Risotto and a rather out of place portion of fries with mayo and paprika, the patatas bravas left me wanting .

Much foodie banter and impromptu exchanging of places to chat up with all the foodies at the table and the time seemed to have evaporated much more swiftly than I expected. It was great catching up with Leyla,Le Binh,Reema and Shak. Interesting conversation about our mutual much hated sport cricket -yes – boooo , with Frankie and some serious conversation about food blogging with Mehreen, several plans to catch up with these like minded folks were hatched. A rather enthusiastic bar tender got us all a round of exotic cocktails and entertained us with his banter while naughtily gulping down some delicious coffee cocktail with banana ummm.My espresso cocktail gets 4 on 5 ,its what I’d like to call a proper alcoholic end to a meal – bitter coffee notes ,chilled to perfection for the hot summer evening.

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Our sweet plate with vanilla ice cream, frozen sour bits of ice was served a Ginginha shot – a strong liqueur made with sour and Morello cherries.

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Le Binh rang in her birthday with this cute little birthday cake – its cute isn’t it!

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I have never been to a Portuguese Tapas bar so the fab dishes that were served up to on that fabulous summer evening will always be special and the menu has loads more to offer. Am especially tempted to return and try the Octopus Rice – a traditional Portuguese red rice in a red wine gravy with chorizo and the Berlengas Pink Swordfish – Hot Smoked in Azores black tea & pan fried creamed carolina rice ,fresh coriander piso,miso crumble  – sounds terrific doesn’t it ?!

What can you expect: Delicious Tapas Portuguese style but the bill runs steep so an average of £70 for 2 on a night out.

*With thanks to Zomato Uk and the staff at Notting Hill Kitchen  for  fun foodie evening.No monetary compensation was provided for this post.All views expressed are my own.

McCormick Schwartz Flavour Challenge – Tawa Chicken Frankie Roll

In 2014, global flavour leader McCormick, parent company of leading herbs and spices brand Schwartz, is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The yearlong celebration kicks off with the launch of the 125th Anniversary Edition of the Flavour Forecast (a new, annual prediction of what ‘flavours’ will be most popular in the cooking world) and the Flavour of Together programme, with the goal of connecting people around the world as they share 1.25 million stories about the special role food and flavour plays in our lives through.

To inspire people to share their flavour stories and tell the blogger community about Flavour Forecast, McCormick challenged me and a few other lucky bloggers  to come up with a new recipe that is based on the Flavour Forecast trends :

1. Chillies Obsession: Food lovers everywhere are seeking out their next big chilli thrill.

2. Modern Masala: Indian food is finally having its moment, breaking free of its traditional confines with modern interpretations.

3. Clever Compact Cooking: Proving that big flavours can come from small spaces, cooks in urban kitchens are making the most of what’s available.

4. Mexican World Tour: Mexican flavours are making their way around the globe, with people everywhere discovering new aspects of this bright, casual cuisine.

5. Charmed by Brazil: The world’s attraction to Brazilian cuisine is heating up, thanks to its seductive mix of global and native influences.

I decide to take up Modern Masala as a flavour trend. Coming from India , using a complex mix of spices as part of our daily diet has always been a part of my life. The  beautiful large open fruit n vegetable  markets even in major cities are a visual treat and there is a lot of passion involved in say getting the right type of chilli powder. So I think my recipe is an amalgamation of these  two big flavour trends together – Chillies Obsession and Modern Masala and of course because I manage all my culinary experiments in my tiny urban kitchen which is the size of a postage stamp I am sure my recipe also covers the theme Clever Compact Cooking!

My most vivid memory of spices being sold loose is of this huge wholesale and retail market in an area called Parel , Mumbai in India.There are many tiny shops and vendors which hand carts with huge piles of spices , bright red chillies in jute sacks and mini yellow mountains of turmeric and ever imaginable spice being sold in the open.Of course with our modern industries being so well developed we always used masalas out of a packet but the sheer variety available locally in any small town in India is mind boggling.

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In London I trudge to my local Indian shop and bulk buy the packets and secretly wish I could get an unlimited supply of aai’s home made garam masala and red chilli powder where she carefully selects 2 types of chillies with varying degrees of heat and roasts them in a kadhai after they have been dried in the blistering hot afternoon sun! Then she takes it to a local mill where it is ground and packed into a large ceramic jar and then stored at home.

I have made a simplified version of Tibbs Frankie using boneless mutton and a variety of Schwartz spices which were sent to me.You could safely say that this fella ”Frankie” is a distant cousin of the Fajita and the Kathi Roll.How this Frankie came into being is also a very interesting story which I shall share in a few lines here.

”The year 1967 Mr. Amarjit Tibb on returning back from England had a stopover in Beirut. During his brief stop there he stumbled upon a very ingenious Lebanese preparation, which was a pita bread wrap, with a variety of stuffing’s, this fascinated him. Upon his return the idea still lingered on and he kept innovating it to suit the Indian palate, after a year of research along with his wife they hit upon the perfect concoction. This Indianised wrap was soon tried among friends and family and after testing brilliantly it hit the markets. That was a new era to the term fast food in Mumbai, it caught on like fire in the Jungle, people accepted it and kept asking for more.Now came the problem of naming the product, again a number of brainstorming became the order of the day till a unanimous decision on the name was taken i.e. Frankie”

This explosion of flavours in a handy easy to eat roll which was given a  modern food truck makeover is a gastronomic delight and is available in a large variety of stuffings both veg and non-veg.I have rather fond memories of my college days and spending my pocket money which was always in short supply on these spicy, tasty rolls with a bunch of friends giggling away and then gathering any loose change we had left amongst us to buy a bottle or two of some fizzy cola to quench our thirst. Alert : have been suddenly been hit by a huge wave of nostalgia 🙂

I have created what is my version of a tawa chicken roll (tawa meaning pan in Hindi), the original Tibbs frankie filling is a tangy spicy  taste which they attribute to a secret ”Frankie Masala” – humm , well I think I got pretty close 😉 – evil laugh follows 🙂  You can go crazy and creative with the fillings and use this recipe idea to use up meat from your sunday roast, try various different veg and non veg patties with meat and masalas rolled into boiled potato casing and shallow fried. Great way to use a lot of colorful veggies and create a stir fry filling too – the possibilities are endless.

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Image Courtesy :Hindustan Times

Serves: 2 (with 2 rolls each and leftover filling)

Preparation Time for roll:5 mins

Preparation & Cooking Time for the ”TAWA Chicken filling”:30 mins

Preparation & Cooking Time for the chutney:10 mins

Ingredients – ”Tawa Chicken” Filling:

  • 500 gms chicken breast
  • Schwartz Asafoetida – a tiny pinch
  • 2 heaped tsp Schwartz garam masala
  • Schwartz Onion salt as per taste
  • 1/2 tsp Schwartz Garlic Minced
  • 2 heaped tsp Schwartz Coriander Ground
  • 1 heaped tsp Schwartz Cumin Ground
  • Schwartz Red Chilli powder as per taste
  • Ginger fresh – about the size of your thumb
  • 2 medium sized red onions finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 large juicy tomatoes chopped very fine
  • 1 large green chilli split lengthwise
  • 1 red pepper slit lengthwise
  • 3 large tablespoons of cooking oil

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Ingredients – for the Mint and Coriander Chutney:

  • 1 large bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • 2 green chillies
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt to taste

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Ingredients – for filling :

  • 1 large red onion chopped lengthwise

Ingredients – for the paratha  coating:

  • 2 small sized eggs
  • salt for seasoning

Method for the Chicken Filling:

  • Heat a saucepan on medium heat and add the oil, when it is hot add the asafoetida, split green chilli and crushed bit if fresh ginger ,saute’ and add the garlic granules, when the garlic begins to give out a strong fried aroma its time to add the finely chopped red onion.
  • Cook the onion till it reduces and turns a delicious brown, then add the coriander and cumin powder and garam masala and mix well.
  • Then add the finely chopped tomato and add very little water and cook for 1 -2 minutes without lid , stirring frequently, so as to ensure the mixture does not stick to the saucepan. Now the spices have been thoroughly cooked along with the onion and tomato to make a thick gravy.
  • Now add the washed and cleaned chicken breasts after cutting them into long lengthwise strips , toss in the red pepper cut into lengthwise strips
  • Cook on a low flame with lid
  • Add onion salt to the mixture, red chilli powder and turmeric

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Method for the Mint and Coriander Chutney:

  • Wash the coriander and mint leaves and spritz them in a food processor with the green chilli chopped – to reduce the heat use 1 chilli de-seeded.Add the salt and lime juice and spritz once again.
  • A smooth thick green paste is the consistency we are after – add some water to adjust the consistency.
  • This chutney stores for upto 10 days in the freezer in a clean ,air tight jar – rarely lasts that much in my house though – love making Bombay sandwich for dinner ummm.

Method for coating the Paratha :

  • Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork ,add salt to taste
  • Using a plastic brush spread on the surface of a frozen ready to eat  paratha and place the eggy side down on a hot pan coated with some cooking oil.(Paratha – ready to eat Indian bread readily available in the World Food Frozen section)

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How to put the Frankie Roll together:

  • Once the paratha coated with egg has been cooked on both sides on a pan slather it with the mint and coriander chutney and add some red onion chopped lengthwise.
  • Add a generous helping of the chicken filling , roll and wrap one end with some kitchen foil or baking paper .Enjoy hot.
  • Dip into the chutney or tomato ketchup as you munch along.

After I received the samples and wrote up my flavour story, my left hand was operated on (unexpected rescheduling) – a minor but rather errrmmm painful surgery and I walk around most of the time with a sling (promptly remove it as soon as OH leaves home for work hehe) So I had a bit of a panic attack about getting this post up on time,I know I missed the deadline by a few days  😦

But am really grateful to the kind folks up at McCormick  for bearing with me.Also I would like to thank OH for patiently chopping and cutting all the fresh ingredients for me and helping me to click these lovely photographs – what would I do without you? Sighh…

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After I received the samples and wrote up my flavour story, my left hand was operated on (unexpected rescheduling) – a minor but rather errrmmm painful surgery and I walk around most of the time with a sling (promptly remove it as soon as OH leaves home for work hehe) So I had a bit of a panic attack about getting this post up on time and I missed the deadline 😦 But am really grateful to the kind folks up at McCormick  for bearing with me.Also I would like to thank OH for patiently chopping and cutting all the fresh ingredients for me and helping me to click these lovely photographs – what would I do without you? Sighh…

The company has pledged to donate $1 to United Way Worldwide and it’s UK partner Focus on Food, for every story shared on the Schwartz website, Facebook page or other social channels.

Disclaimer: I was sent samples of  Schwartz by McCormick to create a dish and write a review and was also sent a generous voucher to compensate me for the ingredients.I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Zomato London – Food Bloggers Meet at Gaylords

Last wednesday I was invited by Zomato,London to join a bunch of other food blogger who are also on the board of Zomato reviewers to Gaylords in Central London. Going by the weather that day I was not very sure I would reach my destination without being blown away first. At times like this I have a decided advantage over my featherweight foodie friends, after all it would a rather strong gust of wind to blow me off my feet 😉

Luckily I made it to the venue alive and without getting drenched! A warm greeting later –  from the ever so thoughtful staff at Gaylord’s who continued to really pamper us all through the evening – it was time for some welcome drink  – a fizzy pink- Passion Bellini and an optional Virgin Tamarind Mohito for those abstaining from alcohol.

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For starters we were served – Tandoori Tiger Prawns – succulent and smoked on the tandoor very juicy, Lamb Shammi kebabs – minced lamb patties with a minty yogurt dip -lipsmackin delicious,Murg Malai Tikka – Tandoor roasted mild chicken tikkas – honestly not my fav but heck nothing to complain about either , Amritsari Macchi – very delicious tilapia fillets fried in a gram flour batter seasoned with paprika and carom seeds – one word EXCELLENT!,Tandoori paneer tikka- huge chunks of cottage cheese – chargrilled with onions and peppers in a saffron flavoured marinade,Murg Gilafi Sheekh- minced chicken,smoked ,topped with bell peppers & chargrilled on skewers – all these served with 3 different types of Indian Bread – plain naan, garlic naan and mini onion kulcha.

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To my absolute delight  we were then served some very authentic in taste Indian street food snacks in a posh and innovative way.

These pani puri or gol gappa shots were utterly glorious and made me wish I was standing outside Elco at Bandra in Mumbai eating their ice cold pani puri .If you ever visit Mumbai then this is the place to go to for the BEST pani puri in town!I loved how they were served in these shot glasses.Boiled chick peas and tiny cubes of boiled potato are stuffed into the tiny puffed savoury puri and a sweet date and jaggery thick sauce is poured into it followed up with a green liquid which is a coriander ,mint and spice mix chutney and this has to be gobbled in one go ! They explode in your mouth enveloping your senses with an unforgettable sensation of taste,spices and aroma leaving your taste buds playing the guessing game.Sigh…double sigh…

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Next up – Bhel – or puffed rice spiced with chaat masala,chopped red onion tomato and a sprinkling of yellow sev or fried gram flour savoury and topped off with tamarind chutney and a green mint coriander chutney – bursting with flavour these were !Aloo Papri Chaat – spicy bite sized boiled potatoes in spices mixed with sev and served on a crunchy flat puri base.

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5 main courses with 5 accompaniments were to follow – by this point I was not very sure I would make it past the front door after this meal. But lucky for us the glasses magically seemed to top up each time and the conversation ,easy banter and laughter flowed almost as smoothly as the wine – leaving no room to ponder over such minor ,seemingly frivolous details or worry about the last tube back home – perfect.

Main Course favourites for me were the creamy coconut flavoured Prawn Curry which I polished off my plate with some Zaafraan Basmati – fluffy long grain basmati rice with saffron and the Chana Peshawari – chick peas cooked in their secret spice mix eaten with a steaming hot bhatura which a massive puri puffed and let me warn you has to be handled with care as it is very very hot. Now all I need to do is figure out a way to get the Gaylords chef to let me in on this secret spice mix – which I am quite sure they will never let go of , and why not , after hasn’t Coca Cola for years led us to believe that their secret ingredient is the one that has generations hooked onto their cola?Sadly, even so Coca Cola is no comparison for this Chana dish – honestly!But guarding the secret spice mix with their lives folks is serious business – after all heads have rolled and hands of artisans chopped off in medieval times to guard secrets of cuisine and architectural wonders alike! ( In her delightful and brilliant book ”Shark’s fin and Sichuan Pepper” author  Fuchsia Dunlop has described how many generations of chefs took brilliant recipes to their grave for various reasons and am sure everyone has heard the myth about one of the 7 wonders of the world – the magnificent and many splendored Taj Mahal in Agra , India – that Emperor Shah Jahan got the hands of his sculptors and architect cut off after they built the Taj Mahal which was dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal – wife of Shah Jahan. It is said he did this so that they would never again be able to build anything quite as splendid as the Taj Mahal!)

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The mains also included Butter Chicken – an indulgent and creamy sauce with Tandoori Chicken strips- ummm,Lamb Chops Anardana or Chargrilled Lamp chops in a ginger infused spicy mix with pomegranate seeds,Lamb Rogan Ghosh – tender lamb cubes cooked in a fiery garlic ,tomato and onion masala and of course Palak Paneer – a spinach and cottage cheese combo that would get even Popeye’s nod of approval! All this accompanied by Dal Bukhara – a traditional lentil dish from the northern most state in India – Kashmir served with an assortment of Indian breads puffy and hot off the charcoal oven – mind blowing – advance warning – best eaten by rolling up your sleeves and breaking large chunks of the naan with your hands scooping a shameless quantity of dal from your plate and shovelling into your mouth as if no one is watching – believe NO one is – when surrounded by food so good , what else can one focus on I ask ?!An innocent looking raita or yogurt flavoured with cooling cucumber and pomegranate helps do the balancing act of heat,spice and grease.

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Now I was supremely satiated and stuffed to the point I could explode but no self respecting foodie can resist a good gulab jamun and if that is flambeed with spiced dark rum , even the best defences shall crumble !To wash away any signs of guilt or gluttony we were served by this charming gentleman a 5 grape south african Red – a fine smooth wine ,delicious and fabulously lush – evidence of a good red I was informed is in the residue left behind in the wine glass – humm I learn new things every day 🙂

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This beautiful cocktail is called Saffrontini – a signature mix of saffron gin,cointreau,lime cordial and tonic.

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As if this indulgence was not enough we were served with Malai Kulfi – an sweet frozen dessert that cements the most difficult deal and makes the grumpiest of humans grin – smothered in pistachios and cardamom it is definitely what can be described as an Indian Ice cream!

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It was great to meet some familiar faces @Le__binh  and @LeyLaLaa , infact I had a blast of an evening chatting up a wonderful bunch of Londoners. Loved meeting new faces – @AnomalousLondon ,@wildscribe ,@inher30s ,@LadylovesCake ,@sshaikh .

Now that I think about it , @Gaylord_London  was packed to the gills with hungry guests and the same team that fussed over our table,ensured our wine glasses never ran dry and explained how their chefs had expertly combined  the various complex and glorious Indian spices and used them to create the spectacular special menu for the evening , the other guests seemed equally pampered ,happy and errr happily tipsy to say the least ! How do you do it folks ?!Keep it up! I think this is great ”Hospitality AND Food Karma” and this is very important to me when I dine out – and I suspect is the case with any discerning diner, foodie or not ! Especially since am so far away from Indian and given my regular cravings for authentic tasting Indian cuisine I am always on the hunt for the next best Indian dining experience. I would hate to have that spoilt by a grumpy staff , high handed attitude, over priced sub-standard food or a menu which is considered fusion food but is basically authentic Indian food murdered by some nutjob who thinks they have created a masterpiece – beware of such places I’d say!All I ask for is a fabulous service and one great course after another  dished out in perfect rhythm and harmony  – just splendid food  with a smile really.

Lucky for me Gaylords is short journey from home – Lajawab !

Zomato London and Gaylords – you spoilt us – royally! Many thanks to both parties and Of Course would rather shamelessly like to admit that am very eagerly looking forward to more foodie meets, great food and good company! Cheers!

Mushroom Omelette with French Cheese Fromagerie Lincet Chaource

Egg Omelettes are my ultimate delicious start for the day and on weekends if we wake early to have breakfast I like to do a huge omelette with salad ,toast and steaming hot cuppas of Masala Chai. Heaven !

My current favourite addition into a lot of salads,soups and omelettes are chestnut mushrooms so when I was sent the French Cheese Chaource produced by family-owned French dairy Fromagerie Lincet, I decided to make my own recipe for a fluffy, stuffed and thick cheesy egg omelette.

Family-owned French dairy Fromagerie Lincet has been producing cheeses typical of the Champagne and Burgundy regions for five generations. Rich,soft and creamy, the dairy’s Chaource AOP is great in omelettes ,risottos and tarts.Similar in texture to Brie and Camembert, Chaource AOP is creamier, richer and slightly acidic. With no artificial colours or flavours and 100% natural ingredients, it also benefits from PDO status.

Lincet is committed to its founding principles ‘flavour, natural ingredients and tradition, brought together to make good food’; using all-natural ingredients, traditional cheese-making methods  and milk from local farms.Lincet has upheld the tradition of ladle-moulding since its opening and the dairy’s cheese curdling technique is the oldest known for making cheese.Longer than usual (12 hours +), this is what gives Lincet cheeses a melting texture and distinctive slightly acidic, flavour

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Serves :2 Prep Time:5 minutes Cooking Time :5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized eggs
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2-3 chestnut mushrooms chopped into bite size bits
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes – if you don’t want heat avoid completely
  • Freshly CRacked Black Pepper
  • A generous portion of Chaource Cheese
  • Some fresh coriander chopped fine to garnish
  • a blog of butter for the pan(2 tsp)

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Method:

  • In a large bowl crack the eggs and add the chopped red onion,mushrooms,cherry tomatoes and chopped coriander and whisk well with a fork.
  • Then season with salt ,red chilli flakes (if you don’t want heat avoid completely) and pepper and whisk again with a fork.
  • Now add the cheese and mix thoroughly and whisk again to get the air circulating and make this omelette really fluffy and thick.
  • On a pan on medium heat melt about 2 tsp of butter and pour the egg and cheese mixture.
  • Cook for about 2-3 on one side and loosen edges with a spatula.
  • To watch the cheese bubble while it cooks is such a delight!

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  • Then with a light hand loosen the omlette with the spatula ensuring it isn’t stuck to the pan or it will break while tossing over.
  • Flip over and cook on the other side for under 2 minutes to get a beautiful light brown golden delicious colour.

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  • Serve hot with fresh cherry tomatoes or iceberg lettuce and warm toast and lots of Earl Grey,English Breakfast or my new fav Chamomile tea 🙂

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What I like about the Fromagerie Lincent Chaource is the goeey soft ,rich taste with woody undertones, it definitely gave a depth of flavour to my omelette and am now going to use the remaining in a risotto for a weeknight dinner.

It is available at:

  • Waitrose, Top Tier Chaource AOP Hugerot 250g, £4.49 Waitrose
  •  Tesco Finest Chaource 250g, £3.00 Tesco
  •  TTD Chaource AOP 250g, £3.30 Sainsbury’s

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Disclaimer: I was sent a sample of  Fromagerie Lincent Chaource to test in my kitchen and was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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2nd Feb'14 Omlette with Cheese Sample

Vangyache Bharit- वांग्याचे भरीत (Baingan ka Bharta) (Smoked Aubergine)

I have noticed that I have become a bit more inclined towards celebrating festivals after coming to London , maybe its out of being homesick during festive times and also to ensure that I remember the traditions involved I guess. ‘Makar Sankrant’ is  a Hindu festival celebrated by my community ”Maharashtrains” with great pomp and enthusiasm as it heralds the season of Harvest. Similar to this festival is Lohri which is celebrated by the Punjabis in the North of India, Pongal in the state of Tamil Nadu , Uttaryan in the state of Gujrat. One festival so many names and so varied ways of celebrating! Its not only in India that this festival is celebrated it’s also welcomed in Nepal, Sri Lanka ,Cambodia and Laos amongst others!

My mother always used to make a smoked aubergine vegetable dish called Vangyache Bharit – written in Marathi as – वांग्याचे भरीत on Makar Sankrant so I decided to make it too for Sankrant this year which was on the 14th of Jan’14. We also exchange small ladoos made of sesame seeds and jaggery called ”Tilache Ladoo” and wish each other by saying ”tilgul ghya god god bola” (तिळगुळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला) It means that we shall forget and forgive any past bitter exchange of words and start afresh with this sweet offering and only speak sweet words of love.

The recipe is modified in various regions of the state of Maharashtra and also the variety of vanga/eggplant/aubergine or brinjal as we know it in urban India, is different in various parts of the state and in various states of India, of course differing due to climate and soil .Aai ( meaning Mother in Marathi language – my mother tongue) always looked for the light green vanga or eggplant with white stripes  on its skin which she rightly said tastes way better than its darker purple skinned cousin.

Aai’s recipe which I will share now is how we have always made this dish at home. There are several variations and styles depending on which part of Maharashtra you hail from and also various sub-cultures and availability of local ingredients and palates.I guess what makes this recipe so special is that it brings back happy memories of childhood, festivity ,celebration and the unmistakable smoky and rich vanga (eggplant/aubergine) taste with the crunchy red onion and a slap of hot spicy green chilli mixed in between ,all balanced so well with the various masalas that go into this bharit ummm!

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Image Credit click here 

Serves:2 -as a main with chapatya(Marathi for Indian Naan Bread also called chapatis in Hindi)

Preparation Time :15 minutes

Cooking Time:25minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large vanga/baingan/eggplant/aubergine
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic
  • a few mustard seeds
  • Cumin/Jeera
  • Garam Masala – 2 heaped tsps
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • Turmeric – 1.5 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1.5 tsp
  • Oil – 3-4 large tbsps
  • Coriander/Cilantro to garnish

Method:

  • The beauty of this dish lies in the deep and rich smoky flavour of the eggplant , I would love to use charcoals and do this bit on a open rustic fire but well I make do with my hob.You could use the oven  but it will take much longer but directly on the hob – though a bit messy , it’s quicker! Roast the eggplant completely turning it on the side and moving it up an down so you don’t miss any bits.

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  • Allow this to cool and then charred skin will come off easily.

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  • Mash with your hands in a smooth mass of soft cooked ,smoked eggplant.

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  • While the eggplant is smoking on the hob , finely chop one large red onion.
  • Skin the garlic and use a mortar pestel to smash the green chillies with the garlic
  • In a  dry saucepan ,add the oil and after it is hot , add a pinch of hing/ asafoetida  and mustard seeds , as the mustard seeds begin to pop add the cumin seeds and the garam masala powder and  the finely chopped red onion and stir it often till it turns colour and is still crunchy to taste.

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  • Now add the turmeric and red chilli powder
  • Then stir in the ”thecha”(Marathi for the green chilli and garlic mixture) and saute’ till the raw garlic becomes one with the mixture.Vary the green chillies depending on your personal tolerance of heat
  • Reduce the flame to a low and add the eggplant mash into this mixture and stir well so as to ensure equal distribution of the onion and all other flavours.
  • Cook with lid for under 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander/cilantro.
  • Serve with hot chapatya or steamed rice and dal.
  • We also enjoy this cold , cool the dish completely and serve with a generous helping of set curd/yogurt.
  • My aai didn’t add tomatoes to this and at times used some goda masala as well as it has dry grated coconut which can really alter the taste.
  • For Baingan Bharta add one finely chopped tomato as well after the onion has been fried.

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I found some very interesting variations to my recipe here are a few :

  1. For a recipe using Tamarind try this 
  2. For beautiful photos and an open air fire used to smoke the eggplant see this
  3. For a recipe using freshly grated coconut try this

I am adding this recipe into the Made with Love Mondays blog link love started and hosted by the lovely Mark aka Javelin Warrior – very interesting to read how that name came about !

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Just linked up to In my Veg box with Onions as the theme for April’2014 hosted by Tina who blogs at The Spicy Pear and created by Nayna who blogs at Simply.Food and CitrusSpice . I wasn’t able to download the logo for April but here’s a general logo that Nayna uses.

 

 

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Low Cal Baked White Fish with a mint and spice dressing

Ladies this one is to be bookmarked and is perfect for any day when you want to treat  your taste buds and yet not load on the calories.

Serves:2  Prep Time:5 Minutes Marination time :20 minutes In the Oven: 15 – 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • Fry Lite or olive oil 4 tsp
  • 2 thick white fish fillets – I use Haddock
  • 2 tbsp mint and coriander dressing
  • 2 heaped tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tsp red chilli  powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • Handful of finely chopped spring onion
  • Handful of chives finely chopped
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to garnish
  • sea salt for garnish
  • 1/2 lemon juice for garnish

Method:

  • Wash the fillets and place on a large dish to apply the marinade.
  • Sprinkle the red chilli powder, turmeric,coriander,cumin,salt and along with the ginger garlic paste and mint and coriander dressing mix well and totally coat the fish.
  • Marinate the fish for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to seep in and develop.
  • In a baking tray use just 4 sprays of fry lite and spread evenly across the tray, add the chopped spring onion and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Place the marinated fish on this and sprinkle the finely chopped chives on the top.

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  • Pre heat the oven to 200°C and bake for 15- 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Serve with a side of salad leaves and cherry tomatoes and a soft crusty baguette.

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I know the photographs here look terrible but honestly by the time I got the fish ready on Sunday it was almost 3pm, had a lazy start to the day and by then the light was gone so even after cleaning up the image it is quite sorry looking and is no way doing justice to this awesome dish! I do hope that I can get better pictures next time!

I do hope you enjoy this recipe and share your thoughts if you make it! Cheers!

Just in the nick of time, I have entered this original recipe creation in the #Cookingwithherbs challenge by @KarenBurnsBooth at blog Lavendar and Lovage. The theme for January 2014 is citrusy and herbs , this fish definitely has it all and a citrusy bang!I wonder why I haven’t entered this challenge in the past , most of dishes use so many herbs especially lime ,oh well, here’s to a fresh start!

 
Cooking with Herbs

Sweetcorn and Paneer Bhaji/Sabzi

In March I had rushed to be by my mothers side when her recovery post a double knee replacement surgery which was supposed to give her a new lease on life went badly wrong.

She was put on a very strict diet and asked to avoid more food stuff than she could eat, besides the heat in Pune was killing and the numerous medicines made her terribly hungry and moody. Not to mention the times when she was in so much pain I regularly went in the room next door and sobbed my guts out into a pillow…

On one of the better days when she really wanted to eat something tasty and refused all the options I gave her my maushi (that’s we call mum’s sister in Marathi language – my mother tongue) saved the day by making her this simple yet delicious vegetable which was packed with flavour in-spite of having on onion,no garlic and no tomatoes which mum was not allowed at all…If you have someone at home who is being given blood thinner medicines to avoid blood clots you may be asked to avoid foods that contain Vitamin K which is a natural blood coagulant.

Since this was only for one person we took a handful of each ingredient and used spices as we thought appropriate to suit her taste buds dead with all those medicines. Please feel free to amp up the spice if you wish.

Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a main

Preparation of veggies and Cooking Time:45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower florets 150 gm
  • sweet corn 50 gm
  • carrots chopped into tiny cubes 50 gm
  • green peas 50 gm
  • Paneer cubes/Cottage Cheese 50 gm
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt as per taste
  • a pinch of red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin and coriander powder mix
  • a small pinch of ground clove powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Finely chopped fresh green coriander leaves -just enough to garnish.

Method:

  • In a pan take 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and sautee the bay leaves, clove powder and cumin and coriander powder for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the sweet corn and cook for about 3 minutes with spritz of water on a very low flame with lid to allow the corn to cook well.
  • Add the chopped carrot cubes and add water and cover an allow to steam for 2 -3 minutes on a low flame.
  • Reason for cooking the sweetcorn first and then the carrots is that they will take longer to cook than the cauliflower and peas which will become mush in the vegetable if all these are added at once. To save time you could used boiled sweetcorn and carrot. Avoid canned and ready to eat variety.
  • When carrots are almost cooked add the cauliflower florets ,green peas and season with the turmeric and red chilli powder and salt.Mix Well.
  • Add very little water just enough to allow the veggies to cook well.

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  • When they are almost cooked after not more than 5- 8 minutes , add the soft paneer cubes and mix well and serve hot with a chapati fresh off the pan.
  • Garnish with a tiny bit of fresh coriander leaves finely chopped.Ensure they are washed thoroughly to ensure no muddy bits are hiding between the delicate leaves.

Needless to say aai loved the bhaji and after almost 15 days of bland food she was really upbeat. Soon after she really began to recover at a desirable pace and was coming up with many of her own ideas to make delicious food with less oil, minimal spices and without any tomato. Cheers to you aai , you are a very brave person to have come out of such a bad health situation only a few months ago, to a point where you are 100% independent and cheerful as ever.God bless all those that stood by us and the few special people who came to help me in the hour of need, no questions asked, you know I love you people tons right ?:)

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Disclaimer: Please note this is a true account of what my mum had to eat with her many food restrictions and is not meant to be treated as a medical advice for anyone following a diet where they have been asked to stay off Vit K .Please always consult your doctor before eating anything that is out of the ordinary for your condition.

Achari Mutton Curry – Mutton in a rich pickle flavoured curry.

I had tasted Achari Chicken a few years ago when we were all at my bosses house in Pune and one of my buddies who is a trained chef made Achari chicken and roti’s for us in a flash ! It tasted so divine!

When I was to fly to India for an unexpected development when my ma-in-law’s health suddenly went downhill and she was due for an open heart surgery on the 7th of Nov, I had to do something to lift hubby’s spirits and comfort food had to be manufactured. A good afternoon nap after a reasonably heavy meal of mutton curry and rice sounded like just the thing.

Fresh Mutton was procured but I didn’t have any puree’s to marinate them in and then a brainwave happened ! I got out my most treasured bottle of mango pickle made by my sister’s mum in law who is an expert with pickles and makes a minimum of 10 varieties every summer, these are then packed and sent all over the world !!

I really didn’t want to use up all the pickle but for a kilo of mutton I just had to , ah well small scarifies for the larger good I say 🙂

Serves :4

Marination Time :overnight + 30 minutes , more if freezing overnight

Cooking Time: 1.5 hours on hob and 30 minutes in pressure cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo mutton curry pieces
  • 1/2 bottle of mango pickle – about 250 gm of pickle
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of freshly ground ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tub of yogurt – 200gm
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 3 small red onions
  • 4 heaped teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 3 heaped teaspoons turmeric powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a small stick of cinnamon
  • 4 heaped teaspoons coriander and cumin mix powder
  • 3 and 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 4 boiled eggs peeled and sliced into halves.

For the Chilli Marinade:

  • 3 green chillies
  • Juices of 1 lime
  • 1 large tablespoon oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon red chilli powder

Method:

  • Wash the mutton pieces thoroughly and then pour the pickle over them and add the ginger garlic paste and mix well such that each piece coats well in the pickle.
  • Ideally I would marinate this mutton overnight to really let these flavours seep deep into the fibers of the meat,also as as mutton curry takes longer to cook than lamb it is necessary to ensure that for full maturity of flavours to develop marination must be for over 5 hours.
  • Cover the meat with a plastic cling film and leave in the refrigerator overnight, do not freeze unless the temperature outside is over 35 deg Celsius as at that temperature if the cooling in the fridge is not good the meat may go bad. If freezing the mutton allow at least 4 hours to totally defrost by first moving from freezer to fridge and then keeping it outside.
  • Pour the yogurt over the marinated meat and mix well,leave aside for 20 minutes
  • Just when you are ready to cook the mutton peel and roughly chop red onions into chunks and also made big pieces of the tomatoes and puree them in the food processor.
  • In a large vessel heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida, sautee the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick for about 30 seconds on a medium flame.
  • Then add the  red onion and tomato puree , sautee in the oil ,stirring well and let it simmer on a low flame with 1 cup of water.
  • Add red chilli powder,turmeric powder, coriander and cumin mix powder.
  • Let this cook for about 10 -12 minutes.
  • Now add the marinated mutton and add enough water to make a good amount of gravy , if you are going to use the pressure cooker then add a little extra.
  • Cook on a medium flame for about 1 and a half hour , in a pressure cook give it 8 whistles.
  • Mutton pieces have a lot of fat attached on the sides which also adds to the oil used for cooking hence I have used less oil.I am unable to eat the overtly oily curry which leave a huge layer of oil on the top if allowed to stand.
  • Now for the spicy dip, slit the green or red chillies lengthwise and dip into the oil and red chilli powder mix and add the juice of one lime.
  • When the curry is cooked serve hot on a bed of steaming hot rice with half a boiled egg.For extra flavour bite into the fiery red chilli with the lime-chilli mix.It’s not for the faint hearted though, but if you really do manage to relish the aftertaste of hot chilli you can safely say that you can now eat any fiery dish without breaking a sweat or getting the runs, a sort of baptism by fire food ritual!! One only for only for the brave souls!This powerful blast of heat on the tongue will see your forehead  dotted with beads of sweat.Truly a labour of love.

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The resulting mutton curry is rich in flavour and served hot with fluffy Jeera rice it is such a satisfying and comforting meal. But the best bit is when you leave the balance of this curry overnight , the next day the taste is so much better I’d almost choose left over curry over the fresh 😉

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Highly recommend serving this curry with a cooling curd side dish – half a cup of yogurt mixed with  with sliced red  onions and cucumbers ,seasoned with a pinch of salt , half a spoon of sugar and 1 heaped teaspoon of toasted cumin powder ,garnished with some freshly chopped coriander leaves.I’d wash down the meal  with butter milk or a good glass or two of a full bodied red wine .

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Egg Curry/Anda Curry/अण्डा कारी from my college days

Egg curry and soft paav or square buns are the most common hostel food that one can make with a saucepan,some eggs and a few basic ingredients.It is hugely popular as a filling,tasty curry and there are as many variations as the imagination, ones budget and availability of ingredients on a particular day will allow 🙂

This version is what I always make and is sort of derivative of what would be made in the North of India.I sometimes like to make it into a coastal flavoured one by adding fresh grated coconut but that’s only if I want to make it posh but that’s very, very rare. After all this is a quick ,save the evening sort of curry!

It’s National Curry Week and it’s wonderful to see how Britain has embraced an Indian food habit and made it, its own over the years, spinning off British Indian versions of popular Indian home cooked curries.

I wanted to start of my posts for National Curry week with this one because of how easy it is to make and a great recipe for students everywhere 🙂

Serves:2

Total Preparation Time :20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs and use the same proportion of 2 eggs per person to scale up (for very hungry fells the more the merrier 😉
  • 2 medium-sized red onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
  • 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • fresh coriander to garnish
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – it’s easier on my conscience , use any oil or butter or ghee in dire straits!

Method:

  1. Boil the eggs in an open saucepan and leave aside to cool
  2. Roast the chopped red onion on a saucepan and spritz it in the mixer with the chopped tomatoes and green chillies.(If you want a coastal touch add 2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut in this mixture and puree it together,ensure to use atleast 3 finely chopped garlic in the pan as they set of the taste of fresh coconut beautifully)
  3. In a saucepan heat the oil and add a pinch of asafoetida,then add the chopped garlic and roast till it’s a light brown ,then add the ginger paste,turmeric,red chilli powder,garam masala,coriander and cumin powders.
  4.  Stir in the onion and tomato puree.
  5. Cook on a low flame for 2 minutes.
  6. Then add some water to make a gravy like consistency and ad the boiled, peeled eggs after cutting them in half, add salt and cook for a further 5 – 6 minutes.
  7. Serve with hot chapartis/naan bread,paav,soft fresh wholemeal bread or with steaming hot boiled white rice – to make the rice taste heavenly drop a blob of butter, the steam trapped in the grains of rice will melt the butter into a golden pool of gooey goodness – pour the egg curry into this and enjoy the best and simple pleasures of curry!

Anda Curry

Looking for a Curry Recipe? You might also like:

Hot and Spicy Lamb chops in Apple sauce

We all crave comfort food and at times the need is so great nothing else will do. Since I have been making variations of  rice dishes in the past few days I didn’t want to do anymore rice but wanted a light yet rich in taste and spicy one pot meal for dinner.

I also wanted to cook a savoury dish with red meat and use apples as an ingredient to enter the recipe competition for the best apple recipe hosted by Gourmandize Uk and Ireland and making a sweet preparation was not what I wanted at all.

Still taking a leaf from the sweet preparations from apple , I think cinnamon and apple go very well with each other. It’s these well paired fellas that can spice up even the most drab foods.

So I decided to get some lean lamb shanks and marinate them overnight in a hot Indian marinade.

I have tried to tone down the amount of spice here so as to cater to taste buds that don’t take kindly to overpowering spices and yes ”heat” in food shouldn’t mask the other subtle flavours should it? But if your palate is used to heat feel free to AMP you the volume 🙂 I have mentioned by how much the heat can go in the ingredient list to stay with acceptable levels of taste.

Serves:2

For the marinade:

  • 1 green chilli hot (2 green chillies if you handle spice well)
  • 1/2 a bunch of coriander
  • salt to taste
  • red chilli  powder 1 heaped tsp (2 -3 heaped tsp if you can handle the heat!)
  • freshly ground black pepper to dust onto the lamp chops

Wash and clean the lamb chops and marinate for atleast 2 hours, preferably overnight with salt,red chilli powder,black pepper freshly ground and a puree of half a bunch of coriander and one green chilli. Smear the chops well and cover the dish with plastic and leave in the fridge overnight for the flavours to really sink into the meat.

For the sauce

  • 2 cinnamon rolls, the light brown tightly curled ones, not the thick bark variety – more on the difference between the two in a different blog post!
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 apple sweet
  • half a juicy tomato
  • half a bunch of coriander
  • 1/2 red onion sliced lengthwise
  • 2 bunches of spring onions finely chopped

Method:

  • In a saucepan add 2 large tbsp of sunflower oil or vegetable oil, saute’ the finely chopped spring onions,red onion chopped lengthwise with the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cloves till the red onion turns pink and reduces.
  • Now add the half an apple chopped into bite sized chunks.
  • Saute’ on a low flame for about 1 min and then add a puree of half a bunch or coriander,half a tomato and half an apple.
  • Ensure you do not waste any of the purée and scoop out every last precious drop from the mixer by adding water and pour all of this into the saucepan,stir continuously and as it begins to bubble add the marinated lamb chops.
  • The tomato in the puree and the apple in the puree and the bits in the saucepan should all work to now offset the otherwise hot spices – red chilli powder,black pepper and cloves.

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  • Cook on a low flame for 25-30 minutes or until the lamb chops are cooked well,add just enough water to ensure the sauce is not going dry as we want a thick rich gravy and open the lid in between and give the whole thing a stir to ensure it does not go dry or stick to the saucepan.
  • You now have the most tender and well cooked lamb chops with a thick, well flavoured tasty green sauce.I loved biting into the bits of apple now then which had gone soft and yum during the process of cooking , what an absolute delight!

Serve with warm bread, better still smear some butter and top it off with some finely diced bits of garlic ,pop it in a pre-heated for about 5 minutes and it’s just so good to polish off that thick sauce after you have savoured the lamb ummm !

What I love about this dish is that the recipe is 100% original, it was deeply satisfying experimenting with flavours and reaching a successful outcome and because I cooked it for my birthday lunch for hubs n me it was rather special too. The powerful spice was beautifully balanced by the sweet apple and as they cooked with the meat they lent a unique richness of flavour. It is wonderful to see how we can marry polar opposites in flavours and create something unexpectedly delightful – an absolute pleasure for the taste buds.

Now all I need is a whole lot of luck to win the very coveted prize of a Kenwood Stand Mixer!

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Well the contest is now done, though I didn’t win * sad face* am happy I made something yummy and original 🙂