Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I'm off to Abu Dhabi for holidays and don't know whether I will be able to post something on this blog. But I will be back next year and then you can see lovely photos of super soft camels in the desert :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sri Lanka-ish Beetroot Curry

When Shaheen from Allotment2Kitchen had her beetroot frenzy she also tried a recipe she saw on TV and later in a book called 'Feast for a Fiver'. The author got the recipe from a Sri Lankan, so it should be somehow authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. I've never been there, so I can't verify it. But I know that I love beetroots and this recipe is really really worth trying. I think it is already worth trying just for the colour's sake. It is a pure optical pleasure when  the dark velvety red of beets turns into a dark pink curry when you add the coconut milk :)

These are the main ingredients

And these are the spices used in the recipe

Preparing the onions

Frying the beets

Topping with kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

And the end product

Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry
(serves 3 - 4)
adapted from Allotment2Kitchen


4 beetroots
1 tablespoon red palm oil
2 onions
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
2 red chillies
salt to taste (if you can get your hand on Himalayan salt, by all means use it)
2 tablespoons kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk

What to do

First prepare the spices. Fry the seeds in a large pan without adding any oil. You have to stir continuously in order not to burn them. The fenugreek will be the first you can smell, then the cumin, and at last there will be a hint of poignant mustard. That's when you take them out of the pan and cool them down. Coarsely grind them in a mortar and set aside. And yes, you have to be nearby all the time and ideally hold your head over the pan! I can cook without tasting the food, but not without smelling it; so it's time to sensitise your olfactory sense :)

Prepare the vegetables. Peel the onions and slice them (see photo above); peel the beetroot and slice them into strips about 1 cm wide. Heat the palm oil in the pan you used for the spices and add the onions. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add spices, sliced chillies, and salt. When everything smells nicely add the beetroot and kasuri methi and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat. When the beetroot starts to become tender (don't overcook it) add the coconut milk and heat through for a couple of minutes.

Serve with Basmati rice.

Since I believe that it is at least Sri Lanka-ish, I'm sending my Beetroot Curry to Flavors of Sri Lanka hosted by Mharo Rajasthan. This event is part of the "Flavours of" Series 2 Asia on simplyfood.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beetroot-and-Potato Stuffed Paratha

I think the best thing about India is not the Taj Mahal

nor her colourful temples

but most definitely the food :)
Not only are there a lot of vegetarian dishes, it is also soooo yummy. We stuffed ourselves with masala dosa, rasam, daal, and all kind of goodies while we were in Delhi. One thing I wanted to try out at home were dosa and lately I learnt about paratha and desperately wanted to try them out. So when Vatsala's Let's Go Stuffed Series

featured stuffed parathas for this month, I couldn't resist and finally tried my hand on them.
The idea to feature stuffed parathas came from Vardhini who also hosts the December event. For my very first paratha I used Radhikas (Just Home Made) recipe as a base and Indian friends from a friend (complicated isn't it?) sent me a video for the 'how-to-do'. Thank you Madhu :)
First I prepared the beetroot and potato filling:

Then you put the filling in little dough bowls

While carefully trying not to squeeze the filling out, roll out the paratha

and fry, ideally in a tawa, but since I do not own one, I used my fry pan

and then serve; we had  chickpeas and spinach with it. 

Beetroot-and-Potato Stuffed Paratha


for the filling
  • 1 medium beetroot, grated
  • 2 medium potatoes,  boiled and mashed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1-2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2-3 teaspoon coconut oil
  • salt to taste
for the dough 
  • 3 cups wheat flour
  • additional wheat flour for rolling and dusting
  • salt
  • hot water
  • oil for roasting
Mix the flour and salt with hot water and knead into a soft dough. You should be able to knead it, but it should still be quite soft (careful, it will be hot at the beginning). Cover and set aside for at least 30 mins.
Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and let them pop; add the other spices and the beetroot grates. Sauté for 5 to 10 minutes until the beet root gets tender. Add the potato mash, garam masala, and salt and mix everything. Set aside and let it cool down somewhat.

Knead the dough well again and roll it into lemon sized balls; shape the dough ball into a bowl. Put a spoonful of the filling into the dough bowl. Close the edges well, put on flour dusted surface and carefully roll out. Don't use too much force or the filling will ooze out.
Heat some oil in the frying pan and add your flattened paratha. Fry until it gets brown spots on the surface; turn around and fry the other side.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

London's Canary Wharf and Cheese 'n Onion slices

When in London I went to Canary Wharf; one reason was, because I was interested how the former West India Docks, once a very busy port, have been transformed in the last decades (the port was closed in 1980) by heavy development work. Well, the other reason was that I needed to get the DLR (Dockland Light Railway) from Canary Wharf station to get to the Royal Observatory. But still ...

Today, Canary Wharf is not only linked to the London tube, but also the National Rail, London City Airport, and river services but on top became a huge business district and lately also a new housing area.
Huge high-rise building dominate the area. But there are also some more quiet zones, like the Jubilee Park. The park actually sits on top of Canary Wharf underground station:

You can also enjoy some art in front of the station:

With all the offices and new apartment buildings there of course followed shopping malls (there is an underground one down at the tube station) and restaurants. Among them Jamie's Italian that mushroom up everywhere nowadays:

In summer it must be quite beautiful near the river

Walking through the underground mall I stopped at WHS and bought the BBC Good Food Christmas Vegetarian special edition of it's Good Food magazine. And I decided to try out the cheese & onion slices featured in the magazine but also available online.

I used, however, purple potatoes:

The recipe asked to roughly mash the potatoes, which I did, but wasn't such a great idea. Next time I will do this for about a third of the potatoes and leave the other ones in cubes, since the pie collapsed a bit during baking. But still the mash looked beautiful in purple :)

Served with  a lambs lettuce salad and a tomato jus it was really delicious. You have to up the spices a bit. I generously added herb salt, freshly ground black pepper and a good dose of cayenne. I also skipped the egg and brushed the phyllo dough with oat cream, worked beautifully :)
But otherwise a stuck to the recipe; it was my first home-made cheese 'n onion pie after all.

I'm thinking about how I could veganise this .... any ideas?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Cannellini Bean Puree - A Tessa Kiros Recipe

Falling Cloudberries - A World of Family Recipes is a real coffe table book by Tessa Kiros, and a very intimate one, too. The book is filled with memories and photos of her life. Coming from a mixed (Finnish and Cypriot) background she can add an Italian husband, a childhood in South-Africa, and a Peruvian housekeeper; so the title 'A World of Family Recipes' is not a hollow promise.

Therefore, when I heart cooking clubs dared bloggers to check out Tessa Kiros' recipes and recreate a bean recipe from one of her books I took up the challenge, even though these are not vegetarian cook books. Many of her recipes are actually vegetarian, and the one I made -Cannellini Bean Puree- is even a vegan one. I don't think I would buy one of her books though, the bulk of recipes is after all heavily on the meaty side (that's what Greek and Finnish cuisine is after all).  But I really enjoyed the bean puree, a very simple yet nourishing dish. We really loved the spiced oil topping. For this I heated about 1/3 cup of good olive oil, added a teaspoon of rosmary and minced garlic cloves. In the original recipe Tessa crushed the garlic, but I rather liked it minced since the little pieces became a bit crunchy. And you can actually reduce the oil further (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup of olive oil).

I served the bean puree with pan-roasted carrots, soy sausages, and an endive salad. I would probably use less fatty side dishes in future (Tessa recommended Italian sausages) to make the whole meal somewhat lighter. Nevertheless we loved the combination, after all we had cold and stormy weather with rain and hail all day. So some comfort food can't hurt ;)

You can find this recipe in Tessa Kiros, Falling Cloudberries - A World of Family Recipes, 2009, page 322.

You can find the round-up at I Heart Cooking Clubs: Bean There, Done That