A slice of Costa Rica – Casado

With summer firmly on it’s way out and Autumn settling in, the chilly nights demand some great comfort food. I wanted to try something different so I choose a popular Costa Rican dish – Casado. Why? Well, it’s the ideal comfort food, easy to put together and tastes amazing! Best part is it’s very easy on the pocket and if you plate it well, it looks like a posh meal – no one would guess what went into making it!

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                             Costa Rican Casado

Casado literally means a ‘married man’ and it is said that the name probably originates from how the local men expected food to be served when they were eating outside so that it reminded them of familiar tastes of a home cooked meal. An authentic Casado which is served at ‘sodas’ or local cafes is accompanied by what is known as a Lizano sauce. The brand name Lizano is now generic and retails in N. America.  Since this sauce is yet to hit UK shores ( believe me I did a fair bit of looking around in shops that sell Mexican ingredients, Asian, Carribean and most of my local supermarkets) I finally decided to make my own ,which was a great decision – why ? Well scope to experiment and innovate for one, coupled with freedom to incorporate easy to procure, local ingredients – resulting in a deliciously moorish creation! A traditional root vegetables dish from Costa Rico called Picadillo is a popular side dish with rice and tortillas. You can safely say that the gravy sauce is a marriage of sorts between the Lizano sauce and the Picadillo. I have done a fair amount of customisation and the most interesting part of cooking Casado was creating the gravy sauce, combining it with root vegetables and serving it as a wholesome gravy side dish. Let’s get started with the sauce aka gravy as this will take the most time to cook of all the other sides.

Costa Rican Casado

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Recipe is good for 2 with generous helpings.

Root Vegetable Gravy Side

Prep & Cooking Time: 35 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium juicy tomato – finely chopped
  • 2 small red onions finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped into tiny cubes
  • 3 small sweet fresh peppers finely chopped
  • A handful of cauliflower florets
  • A handful of very finely chopped sweet potato
  • 1 heaped tbsp of finely grated celeriac
  • A pinch of garlic puree
  • Half a dry red Kashmiri chilli
  • ½ tsp of thick tamarind puree
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  •  1/2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt as per taste
  • A handful of finely chopped coriander

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and add the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and cumin powder and stir well.
  2. When the onion starts to reduce add the bay leaves, the chopped tomato and chopped sweet peppers, stir the the tomato & peppers around vigorously bit to get them to release their juices and reduce the flame to a minimum.
  3. Throw in the finely chopped carrot cubes, sweet potato, grated celeriac, tomato puree and add enough water to cover this mixture.
  4. Cook with lid on till the sweet potato and carrots begin to soften, then it’s time to toss in the cauliflower florets, season with the dry red chilli,tamarind,cracked black pepper, salt and sugar and give it a good stir.
  5. Let this cook on a low flame with lid for about 25 minutes.
  6. Keep opening the lid, stirring and adjusting the water if it becomes to run dry, we need a gravy like consistency.
  7. When it done, add some finely chopped coriander in the tamarind should give it a bit of tangy twist, while the dried Kashmiri chilli gives it colour and mild heat, the sweet pepper and tomato puree work their magic together and the gravy is delicious and wholesome what with so many veggies hidden inside!

Root Vegetable Gravy Sauce

Red Kidney bean side

Prep and Cooking Time: 15 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 medium sized red onion
  • 2 large tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and stir well.
  2. After the onion has sautéed, add the tomato puree and stir then add the beans and mix well.
Red onions for Kidney Beans

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  1. Add some water to the mixture and reduce the flame to a minimum, cook with a lid on but check often so that it does not burn or run dry.
  2. 4.Since the canned and ready to eat red kidney beans are preserved in salty water, check the taste before adding in any more salt, chuck in some dry red chilli flakes for flavour and set aside.
Red Kidney Bean side is done

                                                                                         Red Kidney Bean side is done

Boiled white rice

  • Cook 1 cup rice using exactly double the water and a pinch of salt

Fried Plantain

  • Peel and chop the plantain into large chunks and fry in hot oil in a kadhai or wok until they are a light brown. It’s easy for them to char so get them out as soon as the colour turns a golden shade of brown, allow to cool on a plate on a bit of kitchen roll to soak excess oil.

Plaintains peeled

  • Don’t fret if like me you can’t peel the plantain I simply use a knife and remove the thick green skin, even if that means that the plantain pieces are hexagonal or cubes now, well I never was too good at geometry 😉

Frying Plantains in Kadhai

Fish

  • Casado can be served with meat, fish or chicken. Chop one large fillet of fresh salmon and pan fry both sides till done in about 1 tbsp oil.

Salmon Pan Shallow Fry

Cheese Tortilla

  • Heat a large flour tortilla –shop bought on a pan and adds a generous helping of grated parmesan cheese on tortilla. Just as the tortilla heats up and the cheese shows sign of melting fold the tortilla in half and flip over and toast each side till you have a crispy yum cheesy tortilla, slice into neat triangles ready to be served.

Tortilla on pan with grated cheddar

Cabbage Salad

  • Chop a fresh cabbage fine to get one large handful of cabbage, add half a red onion and a small handful of finely chopped cucumber, squeeze half a lime, sprinkle some cracked black pepper, a small amount of fresh finely chopped coriander and toss all these together. Easy-peasy right?

Folded Tortilla

Serve the steaming hot rice with the salmon on the side, topped with some of the root vegetable gravy. Mop up the beans with the cheesy tortilla and munch on the sweet fried plantain with generous bites of the tangy cabbage salad in between mouthfuls of everything else.

Costa Rican Casado

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Beetroot and Chickpea salad

Who doesn’t love a salad that you can put together in no time? This easy to make and super quick to put together Beetroot and Chickpea salad recipe is just the thing when you want to eat healthy and not compromise on taste at the same time.  I have added in amchoor powder which is a tangy  dried mango powder which will give this salad a fabulous twist when combined with balsamic vinegar.

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If possible try and buy baby beetroot cooked in vinegar as these would be the perfect size and also have the right amount of vinegar. If you are not sure of how much balsamic vinegar you can handle, add 1⁄2 tbsp first and then if you feel brave add another half. I have a whole collection of flavoured vinegar and if you can get your hands on cranberry infused vinegar, I highly recommend adding that in as it will totally elevate the flavour of your salad.

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Serves: 4 as a side and 2 as a main

Ingredients:

  •  1⁄2 a can of boiled and cooked chickpeas
  •  4 small beetroot cooked and peeled – roughly 250 gm
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small red onion sliced length wise
  • 2 tsp amchoor powder
  • 2 heaped tsp pomegranate seeds

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl add the chickpeas
  • Chop the cooked and peeled beetroot into bite size chunks. Add them into the chickpeas. Add the chopped onion and pomegranate seeds.
  • Add the vinegar and the amchoor powder and mix well.
  • Serve and sprinkle with more pomegranate seeds if desired.

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I have found the perfect linky to add my virtuous yet superbly delicious salad to. It’s this month’s Spice Trail with the theme ‘ Temple Food‘ hosted by the lovely Vanesther on her blog called ‘Bangers and Mash’. The whole concept of respecting your body by treating it like a temple is really apt for the way I have recently begun to think about food. I have to re-think and re-align what I feed my system and actually begin to ‘listen’ to what my body is speaking to me. It’s important that after years of neglect I FINALLY pay attention to what is entirely my own – my body.

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By linking to this challenge I take heart in knowing that I am not ALONE . There are other like-minded foodies who are re-thinking their ways of eating. I do hope my recipe is one of the many delicious , innovative and beautiful ones that will help my readers on their journey to eating healthy and feeling more energetic.

 

Stuffed Marrow Bake

It was on a sunny  summer sunday morning that I finally went to the local car boot sale to look for any treasures that I may find to use as food props and found this beauty .

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But it wasn’t just this beauty that we came home with. We found a a beautiful marrow and I instantly knew what we would be having for dinner. sometimes things just come to you by some sort of divine alignment of separate incidents to become one . I had some Lactofree mature cheddar cheese which I was looking to experiment with and this was the perfect chance to use it in a bake. Had a packet of smoked bacon cubes and yes had some cute , tiny bottles of olive oil which had been sent to me .I normally would infuse my own oils and always have a big bottle  of olive oil into which I stuff a few cloves of crushed garlic , some chill flakes and fresh herbs – the oil adds beautiful depths of flavour in whatever I use it for and because it is a lovely bottle , it looks pretty on my kitchen counter too – which reminds me I need to get around to doing this again soon – hummm

Also I had these bright and colourful mini chilli plants now sitting on my window sill ,looking all pretty and waiting to be used – yellow and deep aubergine coloured chillies – this was going to be one colourful bake !

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So this beautiful marrow came home with us and just like that became part of our dinner plans…..

Stuffed Marrow Bake 

Ingredients

  • 1  beautiful marrow
  • 3 heaped tbsp grated Lactofree mature cheddar
  • 3 flakes of garlic chopped fine
  • 500 gm smoked bacon cubes
  • 4 tbsp sweet corn
  • 2 medium sized red onions
  • 2 tbsp chilli infused Terra Rossa Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

  • Chop the red onions lengthwise , set aside.
  • Cut the marrow into half and scoop out the insides and discard , I know I should have saved them for making something else …

 

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In a saucepan heat 1 tbsp chilli Terra Rossa Olive Oil.

  • Sauté the chopped garlic first and when it begins to brown and the aroma explodes into the kitchen its time to add in the chopped red onions and toss them around till they begin to change colour.Then add the smoked bacon cubes and cook on a medium flame stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
  • Then add in the sweet corn and mix well for about a minute , season with sea salt and chilli flakes.

 

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  • Remove the saucepan with this onion, bacon and sweet corn mixture  off the flame and set aside.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment and brush some olive oil on the marrow inside out so that it has a bang of flavour when you bite into it.
  • Stuff both halves of the marrow with the mixture.

 

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  • Wrap the stuffed marrow halves in foil and bake for half an hour at about 180°C – I have a fan oven , please adjust time accordingly to suit  your oven.
  • Remove from foil  and add the grated Lactofree mature cheddar cheese on the top.
  • Then bake again without foil till the cheese browns or for 10 minutes approximately.
  • Serve with a warm fresh baguette or a cheesy bread – simply so that you can scoop every single bit of juicy goodness as you eat.

Terra Rossa oils - product shots

 

The Terra Rossa oils ,I received a pack of 3  exquisite Jordanian infused extra virgin olive oils – chilli and lemon infused oils and a unfiltered, cold dripped Sinolea extra virgin olive oil. Not only is it good to have in the store cupboard , I think it makes for a lovely gift idea too ! Yes it isn’t too early to start planning your x’mas gift list is it ?

It is incredible how much flavour this humble marrow packs in. I cannot wait to use it again in soups and stews. Yes it’s autumn and we are going towards colder weather . So along with getting those woolies out we also need to get started with beautiful soups and stews hummm – the seasons they are a changing ! This easy recipe is perfect for busy weekend evenings ( or for a lazy Sunday evening when you want to spend some time watching telly sipping a glass of wine and chilling out rather than slaving in the kitchen!) when you do not want to compromise on flavour and want a wholesome meal too. For a meat free option replace the bacon with a spicy potato and cauliflower mix . Whatever you choose to add as the stuffing, the result will always be satisfactory – that’s the nature of this beautiful marrow ….

*With  thanks to Terra Rossa  for the samples. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Smoked Spanish Peppers and Zingy Mushrooms in a creamy sauce

My love for using smoked sweet red peppers is taking over my recipes for now , I made these zingy mushrooms for a friend who popped in for brunch about 2 months ago but I have been very lazy and this recipe is finally seeing daylight. I guess the electric atmosphere of the yellow jersey clad stadium full of Brazil fans and the super tight match going on with Camroon is giving me a much needed rush of happy hormones ,add to that the frenzy of the Wimbledon matches , the air in Wimbledon is heavy with anticipation, huge posters , fluorescent tennis ball props in all windows , the traditional colours of the Wimbledon ribbons and balloons galore, the bus service from the station to the venue with hyperexcited people , everything is screaming tennis here!

Lamuyo Peppers are great for roasting as they are bigger and sweeter than their cousins the hot variety. They are juicy and crunchy and go well with garlic,basil,oregano,taste fab with cheese , think stuffed peppers grilled , just perfect for summer !

The recipe was given to me by P aunty , shes a fab cook as I have mentioned in my past posts too and her recipes are innovative, delicious and easy to make, I love pestering her to keep sending me more recipes everytime we talk 😉 .So I decided to amp up this recipe with some madness my style and use up the handsome red pepper staring at me from my fridge 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pack Chestnut Mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large red Lamuyo sweet pepper
  • 8 cloves Garlic- bash and chop fine
  • 1/2 red onionchopped very fine
  • 2 chillies- (more or less acc to your taste) – chop fine
  • 3 heaped tbs flavoured soft cheese, I love using the herby Philadelphia
  • 2 tbsp  Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Parsley- a handful -chopped finely

Method:

  • Roast the pepper on gas flame till the skin chars and begins to peel off, I use tongs to hold it by the stem so it can char even at the top.
  • While the pepper cools just enough to allow you to peel and reveal the smoked juicy flesh, you can use the time to wash and slice the chestnut mushrooms
  • While taking off the charred skin off the smoked pepper remember to place a dish below as it will release lots of juice which we don’t want to loose as it is one powerhouse of smoky peppery sweet flavour!
  • Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute the garlic till it turns brown and the familiar aroma of fabulous garlic begins to waft and assault your nostrils.
  • Then add the very finely chopped red onion and cook on a low flame stirring regularly till the onion is thoroughly crispy and reduces in quantity, do not let it burn.
  • Then toss in the mushrooms and the chopped smoked pepper and cook for about 2 minutes on a low flame ,stirring and making sure it does not stick to the pan or overcook
  • Then add the soft cheese ,sea salt and finely chopped parsley,mix well and cook with lid for about 1 to 1 1/2 minute.
  • Serve with garlic bread smothered in butter – eat guilt free;)

What I love about this dish , its creamy , its a bit sweet a bit more zingy and has an underlying deep smoked flavour that is robust without being overpowering ,I’d say its a new comfort food for me , what with all the moorish soft cheese in there!1-IMG_6699 (Copy)

Smoky and Spicy Lamb Burgers

Come Summer and I am one happy bunny,more so because I really miss the omnipresent sunshine from back home in Mumbai city! But the one thing I love the most about the British Summer is the amazing BBQ’s we have ! Last years most fun barbie was at our friends place , we OD’ed  on grilled seafood and Pimms – hoping to have a repeat of that this year !

Some friends have a BBQ planned for later this month but I couldn’t wait so got myself some lamb mince and decided to use some fresh mushrooms and add my own twist to the burgers with a bright red smoked sweet red pepper! My trusty old griddle pan at hand , I turned my tiny urban open plan kitchen into a tiny BBQ party venue!

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Perfect time to use up some of the wonderful La Chinata smoked paprika powder.

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Ingredients:

  • 500 gm Lamb Mince
  • 1 bunch of spring onion
  • 1 big sweet red pepper
  • 250 gm button mushrooms
  • 150 gm cherry tomatoes
  • 3  tsp sweet paprika powder La Chinata
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  •  4 tsp coriander powder
  • a large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chilli oil
  • Salt to taste

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Method:

  • Flame roast the sweet red pepper on a gas flame, if you’re doing a BBQ ,first rub some oil and garlic paste onto it.
  • After it has been roasted and cooled down a bit,peel off the skin and chop fine
  • Chop the mushrooms to tiny bite sized pieces
  • Finely chop the spring onions and cherry tomatoes
  • Wash the lamb mince under a running tap by placing it inside a sieve.
  •  Mix the chopped smoked sweet red pepper, mushrooms,spring onions ,cherry tomatoes,rosemary,chilli flakes,sweet smoked paprika powder from La Chinata and coriander powder,paprika and salt.

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  • Knead all the ingredients into the mixture.
  • Make mini burger patties by taking palm sized portions of this mixture and ty and pat them into roughly round shape.
  • On a griddle pan add some chilli oil and place a few burgers on it. Cook them for a few minutes on one side and them flip and repeat.
  • Serve the cooked lamb burgers inside wholegrain soft burger buns generously lined with butter , a thick slice of cheese, pickles,crunchy salad leaves and doused with ketchup. Or if you’d rather not then eat them plain – I did , served with some grilled button mushrooms and tender shoots of asparagus on which I slathered generous amounts of smoked paprika sweet chilli powder mixed with some oil and garlic paste – pure heaven!

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The sweet smoked paprika powder gives the lamb burgers a definite sweet hot flavour and the others spices combine well with the vegetables.Its also a great way to get fussy eaters to eat veggies hidden in layers of delicious meat and spices. I would have loved to add some boiled green peas too, they would add more bulk and taste too.

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*With thanks to La Chinata for sending samples  for review.No monetary compensation was provided for this post.All views expressed are my own.

 

Zingy Turkish Poached Eggs with Total Greek Yogurt

I am a fan of eggs in any form and when I chanced upon this delightful Turkish recipe for combining eggs with thick and fulfilling greek yogurt I just had to go ahead and experiment! Total Greek Yogurt 0% is fat free, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and pregnant women – all good , no nasties! Besides these virtues its consistency is great and I have in the past few days consumed one of the smaller pots per day part in smoothies and just a dollop with my rice and curry dinner. There are so many versatile combinations that are possible with this yogurt. From smoothies and shakes to use in cooking as a marinade or cooling dip with chopped goodies like fresh chives,garlic,chilli flakes etc.The thick and creamy consistency is a bonus if you’re trying to watch your weight too !

I made these poached eggs for brunch and served them with wholemeal pitta toasted in the same pan where I made my chilli butter – fabulous!

Traditionally this dish is called Çılbır (pronounced as chillburrr, roll the r’s!) is a Turkish dish of poached eggs with yogurt (often with garlic mixed in).There are records of çılbır being eaten by Ottoman sultans as far back as the 15th century. It is now common to serve the dish topped with melted butter infused with Aleppo pepper, for which paprika can be substituted. (Source:Wiki)

 

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Serves :2

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs – 2 per person
  • a handful of fresh mint roughly chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped fine
  • 500gm Total Greek Yogurt 0%
  • Butter 50gm
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
  • Sea Salt as per taste
  • a pinch of chilli powder – as per your tolerance levels

Method:

  • Boil water in a large sauce pan(my time saving trick -boil water in the kettle and add to saucepan), then cover with lid and boil on medium flame for some more time.
  • When water is absolutely boiling remove the lid and reduce the flame to a very low simmer and carefully crack the eggs into the water one by one. They sort of seems to freeze frame inside the boiling water. Give them about 30 seconds and when it seems like they have been poached carefully remove them one by one using a slotted spoon. If you suspect that the yolk will just burst open it means it needs some more time inside. Don’t worry if this process isn’t perfect the first time around , its a learning curve and you will get it right in a few tries – in case of disaster scoop out as much of the egg as you can and after you are done with all the eggs use a sieve to save the remaining egg:)
  • In2  bowls or plates scoop out the yogurt and divide equally – season with sea salt and a generous sprinkling of cracked black pepper and a pinch of chilli powder.
  • Create a bit of shallow space in the middle of the yogurt mix and place the poached eggs on top.
  • On a non stick pan melt some butter and before it starts to brown add the finely chopped garlic and  smoked paprika.
  • Then add some sea salt .
  • Quickly pour this delicious golden spiced goodness the butter has become over the eggs and yogurt.
  • Sprinkle some freshly mint leaves roughly chopped over this.
  • Toast the mini wholemeal pitta breads in the same pan that was used to melt and spice the butter and it will give your pitta a kick of flavour!
  • Scoop the flavoured poached egg and the cooling yogurt with the pitta bread. It’s a beautiful sensation as the cold yogurt and smoked paprika work their magic on your taste buds.

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Disclaimer: With many thanks to Total Uk  for the generous amount of samples ,goody box and vouchers sent  to me to test and review.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.

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Tomato and Lentil Soupy Broth

Sometimes the guilt of eating too many wrong things just gets to me and I need to balance the scales internally. This calls for a comforting and filling soupy treat with a pinch of something yum thrown in. Also all those gorgeous cherry tomatoes and vine tomatoes sitting in my fridge were begging to used -asap or risk being dumped into my green food recycle bag. Thrifty that I am ,I will not allow that to happen in my kitchen!And I always turn to my stored lentils for something comforting and homely.

This recipe is perfect for making ahead in a larger batch and freeze some for later.

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Preparation Time:15 minutes

Cooking Time:40 minutes

Serves: 2 (2 generous portions each)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4th cup Red Lentils/Masoor split and without skin
  • 1/4th cup Yellow Lentil/Moong – split and without skin
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 red onions
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin Powder
  • Knob of ginger -about as tall as half your thumb
  • 2-3 Cloves
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • Red chilli flakes -optional
  • 4-5 juicy medium sized tomatoes – actually use up any type of tomatoes lying around like I did!
  • 3 large tbsp Oil for frying
  • 1 tbsp oil for the tadka
  • Salt to taste

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Method:

  • Wash the lentil through a sieve and pressure cook – 3 whistles, lets the steam escape and loosen cooker lid, remove  allow to cool completely. If you are not a pressure cooker lover then cook the lentils in a big saucepan with exactly two times the water than the quantity of the lentils.
  • In a kadhai or wok heat the 3 tbsp oil and deep fry the garlic chopped into fine strips and red onions finely chopped lengthwise till they are absolutely crisp and smell delicious.
  • Spritz the washed tomatoes with the deep fried red onion and garlic (leave some for garnishing) in the food processor after chopping them in half.
  • Use a potato masher and roughly squash the cooked and cooled lentils and mix them with the tomatoes and red onions and garlic which have been spritzed.
  • In another saucepan heat about 1 to 1.5 tsp oil , add the asafoetida,a pinch of cumin, coriander powder, cumin powder,red chilli powder,cloves, slightly fry all these the spices in the oil and now add the cooked lentils and tomato puree.
  • Add water if the mixture is too thick, cook with lid on a low flame for 5 -8 minutes.When almost ready add salt to taste.
  • Serve hot garnished with the fried onion and garlic bits,pepper powder.
  • A hot buttered toast of wholemeal bread, a crusty baguette or a soft cheesy loaf – all marry excellently with this soupy morish broth ummm

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I was looking for a different take on all the cute free images for International Womens Day and then I stumbled on this beauty below. It is 2 years old but it is such a powerful image and I really identify with it as Goddess Kali is a Hindu Goddess and symbol of empowerment and strength.She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (Parvati). I love how Wiki has a beautiful explanation about the symbolism of the Goddess Kali.

Seeking Kali Womens Day poster 8th marcg 2014

Found this brilliant, colourful and powerful poster as a free download on the Seeking Kali Blog, I love it!

Incidentally the theme for the event ‘‘In my Veg Box” event hosted by Nayna for March’14 is Tomatoes 🙂 so linking up for her event and the following – ”No Croutons Required” hosted this month by Lisas Kitchen on her blog Food and Spice .Jac from Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa  have been hosting this challenge together for a long time.

Also as ginger and lentil go really well together and ”Cooking with Ginger” is the theme of the month for Vanesther’s event called ‘‘The Spice Trail” ,she blogs at Bangers and Mash and there is a very pretty gift for the this month’s winner inspired by the Dotcomgiftshop too – whoopie and fingers crossed only on my right hand for now, left hand is still healing from the surgery boooo.

As usual I have been thrifty and saved those gorgeous tomatoes from the food waste bin so this post definitely qualifies for the No Food Waste Challenge hosted for this month by Chris from Cooking around the world and started by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and last but certainly not the least to the ”Vegetarian Recipe Challenge” a monthly challenge hosted by The Bouncing Tigger blog where a feminine theme is required – what could be more apt than the symbol of empowerment – Goddess Kali and a post written on International Womens Day!

PicMonkey Collage for Tomato & Lentil Broth

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

Chicken and Red Lentil Stew – a complete ONE POT meal (Suran & Red Lentil Stew)

There are times when I really want a hearty meal but don’t have the energy to stand and cook an elaborate meal. Its a times like that I turn to One pot meals, served with a warm baguette it is a filling , healthy and easy and quick to meal option which NO compromise on taste whatsoever! Moreover its home made , has flavour and is a satisfying experience to make .

I had been meaning to try and cook a stew using red lentils (masoor – Marathi for red lentil )for some time , they are my most favourite lentils and I am ALWAYS stocked up on a large 2 kilo pack of dried red lentils split and without skin , from my local Indian grocery shop at Tooting called Dadu’s. Also since all the other fresh ingredients were procured from my local LIDL this dish is GREAT value for money too! Am totally in love with the FRESH fruits and vegetable selection at LIDL right now.I bought some bright red long crunchy sweet peppers, a pack of medium hot chillies, fresh chicken breast fillets, a very cute packet of garlic, mixed pack of cauliflower and broccoli florets and a packet of gorgeous looking Shallots.( I have always wondered why the lentils are called RED when clearly they are a  lovely light orange colour !)

I love inventing a recipe as I go along and when I got my vegetable tray out on Sunday morning I had all these lovely vegetables staring at me and I just threw in what I thought would taste good together and VOILA ! A Steaming hot , thick, wholesome and tasty chicken and red lentil broth was born.

I love having some baby potatoes in stock and they are always handy in a stew , besides being quite the self proclaimed ”queen of curries” I always am well stocked on Indian spices so bay leaves and cinnamon sticks aplenty in my kitchen larder – oh yes

Please don’t feel put off by the ingredient list , trust me they marry well together in the taste department and the end result is well worth your time and effort!

The biggest bonus of this stew recipe is that you can create your OWN vegetarian version by replacing the chicken with Quorn or if you don’t for some reason like or have never tried or have no access to Quorn then try replacing the chicken fillets with  Suran/Elephant Foot Yam, it can be chopped into big chunks and it takes up flavours very easily. But with the yam the cooking time drastically will reduce as it can go from just right and chewy to soft, goeey or totally disappear into the stew ! My aai (mum) always used suran as a meat replacement and marinated it well in the spices we would use for chicken or lamb and made a thick gravy dish with it, when I was younger she has managed to fool me many times over thinking it was mutton 🙂 – Aai I miss you and all the food you cook – sigh…. no India trip in sight anytime soon 😦

(Dangerous though it looks the elephant foot yam is very very tasty! )

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Cross Section:

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Above 2 Images Credit here

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Serves:4  Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cooking time:35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentils / Massor Dal -3/4th cup
  • Chicken breast mini fillets – 750gm / Comparable Quorn fillets
  • 5-6 baby potatoes
  • 6 shallots approx 200gm
  • 2 large sweet and crunchy pointed Red Peppers – approx 200gm
  • 2 short medium hot chillies
  • 2-3 bay leaves dry
  • red chilli flakes as per taste
  • sea slat as per taste
  • 1 veg stock pot
  • 3 dried red kashmir chillies
  • 1 large roll of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • handful of Broccoli and Cauliflower florets
  • 2 large tbsp of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder
  • Sugar 2 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the red lentil in water to soften them so they cook more quickly then get on with all the other chopping and cutting prep’s.
  • Chop the shallots lengthwise.
  • In a large stew pot or huge saucepan heat the oil and add the bay leaves,cinnamon stick and dry red kashmiri chillies which I have a very big packet of and am trying to finish , they only add colour and no heat so if you don’t have these you can totally leave them out – no harm done here.
  • Now add red chilli powder and sugar and just when the sugar starts to caramelise add the shallots and shallow fry them till they reduce and begin to turn a lovely brown colour.
  • Now add the 2 large tbsp’s  of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped and stir till it mixes well with the shallots.
  • Add the roughly chopped long red peppers and baby potatoes and saute’ for 2 minutes.
  • Add the washed chicken fillets/suran (elephant yam), soaked red lentils with the water it was soaked in.
  • Add the washed and roughly chopped Broccoli and Cauliflower florets and now add enough water.
  • I did not measure the water I added but add enough to get a nice thick stew , while the ingredients are cooking together on a low flame ,feel free to top up with more water as the lentils easily soak up as much water as you feed it with. Having said that you don’t want to end up with a watery stew so don’t add more than 3/4th cup at one go.
  • Season with sea salt , I love MALDON SEA SALT which I use and I have a few packets ALWAYS stashed away, great n salads it is!
  • Then sprinkle red chilli flakes and gently place a veg stock cube on top on this lovely pot of goodness bubbling away. I prefer the KNORR veg stock cubes , they have a great bouquet of flavour and are very handy at times when am exhausted and need to quickly cook up something tasty!
  • Stir well, cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame.
  • The red lentil will froth as they cook not to worry simply stir now and then and mix well, don’t allow the stew to get too thick we want enough lovely gravy to slurp this stew and dip the baguette into!

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I was so hungry that I didn’t click any photos of my lovely fresh ingredients but it was a brilliantly sunny day yesterday and after this wholesome stew for lunch we had to really force ourselves to go and get some much needed fresh air at Morden Hall Park – I happily left my smartphone behind so photos to share but suffice to say that it was a gorgeous walk through the huge grounds and we saw many happy families ,happy couples and cute old folks and even happier kids and dogs romping around in the muddy park  fun! And because we were so good we treated ourselves to hot tea and a sandwich at a local Turkish Cafe 😉 hehehe

Am very happy and proud of this new original recipe creation from my experimental kitchen. Next time I make this stew I will smoke the sweet and crunchy long red peppers and peel off the skin , to add a deep smoky flavour to the stew and not have the skin floating around – double whammy I say 🙂

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Am linking this recipe to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Mark at his wonderful  blog called  CookinwLuv

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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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