Spicy mutton with coconut

A favourite dish with many a Keralite, this dish makes a great starter for dinner parties.   The dish is simple to make with many variations but the recipe below is one handed down to us from Anna’s mum and it hasn’t failed us so far.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms mutton cubed (can substitute with lamb/beef )
  • 1 large red onion sliced
  • 4-6 green chillies
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • 2 inch piece of fresh coconut cut into slivers
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil

For the paste

  • 1 large cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 6-8 cloves of  garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger skinned
  • Handful fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp dhania (ground coriander) powder
  • Salt to taste

 

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Grind all the paste ingredients in a blender till you get a coarse paste (add a bit of water if needed).   Wash the mutton and pat dry before mixing in the paste ingredients.   Add salt to taste and allow the meat to marinade for a couple of hours (the longer the better).   Place the marinated meat in a pressure cooker and cook for 30 minutes or till the meat is cooked.   Once the pressure cooker is switched off and if you notice liquid build up then place the meat on the stove till all the liquid has evaporated.   Heat a large pan and add the coconut oil, then add the curry leaves and green chillies  and stir for a minute before adding the sliced onions.   Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes before adding the cooked mutton and coconut.   Keep tossing over medium heat till the meat begins to brown a bit.   Take off the heat and serve with a nice ice cold pint of lager or beverage of choice.

 

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Gluten free caserole

We had an amazing homemade casserole for dinner last night for the first time and are now inspired to create different ethnic variations for future dinner options.  The casserole used very few spices, tasted wonderful and was the ideal dinner for the onset of winter  (yesterday was the first of many cold rainy days ).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 6-8 potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 8 mushrooms halved
  • 1 stick of leek chopped
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 baby onions peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos chopped
  • 200 gms tinned butter beans drained
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns crushed coarsely
  • 2 gluten free chicken stock cubes (we use Kallo cubes – taste great)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped for garnish
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Wash and dry the chicken thigh fillets and marinade with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, dried mixed herbs and salt.    Let the chicken marinade for as long as you can – we cooked it after an hour.  Heat a cast iron casserole and brown the chicken thighs.  Remove chicken and add remaining oil to saute the whole onions and garlic for a couple of minutes.   Add the crushed red chilli flakes and leeks and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes before adding  remaining vegetables.    Give it a good stir and add the stock cubes, coarsely crushed black peppercorns and a dash of salt for taste.   Pour in 600 ml of water and add the butter beans and the chicken thighs.  over the casserole and cook in pre-heated oven at 190 degree for an hour.   Remove and check that most of the water has evaporated before garnishing with fresh chopped parsley.   Serve hot with a nice crusty bread of choice.

Garden fresh – mushrooms and celery

Not exactly the start I’d imagined for a Friday morning.  Our little girl Lola decided to wake up at 4:45 and wanted me to get her morning milk.  As I could not go back to sleep I decided to treat Anna and myself to a cooked breakfast before the school run.  Anna’s garden is in full bloom and the celery plants were ready to be picked.   Breakfast comprised of sauteed mushrooms and celery with scrambled eggs (spiced up with green chilies and spring onions).  The combination of mushrooms and celery is divine – if you love each individually you will love the taste of them combined.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 200 gm assorted mushrooms thickly sliced
  • Small bunch of celery chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

2-4 servings

How do I make it?

Heat the butter in a pan and saute the garlic for a minute.  Add the crushed red chili and saute for another 30 seconds before adding the mushroom and celery.  Saute for ten to fifteen minutes till done – adjust the seasoning and serve hot as an accompaniment with eggs or as a topping on toast.

Italian lunch – minestrone soup with three bean salad

On a dreary day like today nothing better than to warm up to a hot bowl of soup.  I think I spoke too soon regarding the onset of the English summer as we are back to wet grey skies and moderate temperatures.  Lunch today comprised of a hearty bowl of minestrone soup preceded by a delicious plate of three bean salad (has to be one of the simplest Italian inspired salads).

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Minestrone soup

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 green pepper cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 courgette (zucchini) peeled and cubed
  • 1 carrot
  • Handful green beans
  • 6-8 baby corn
  • 5-6 closed cup mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 400 ml canned chopped tomato
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Handful chopped fresh basil, parsley and oregano to garnish (plucked fresh from our garden)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Wash all the vegetables and cut into bite size pieces.  Heat a pot and add olive oil and butter.  Then add bay leaves and saute for a few seconds followed by the minced garlic  Saute garlic for a minute to infuse the oil mixture and then add onion, celery and green pepper.  Saute for five minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Cook for another five minutes before adding black pepper, crushed red chili, Italian seasoning, stock cubes, chopped canned tomato and salt to taste.  Pour in 2 cups of water and cook over  low to medium heat for 30-35 minutes till vegetables are cooked (firm to the bite).  Garnish with chopped basil, oregano and parsley and serve hot.

 

Three bean salad

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 tin of flageolet beans (400 ml with brine)
  • 1 tin borlotti beans (400 mil with brine)
  • 1 tin cannellini beans (400 ml with brine)
  • 1 ripe tomato de-seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Handful chives chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 6

How do I make it?

Rinse the beans and keep aside.  Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp olive oil followed by the minced garlic.  Saute for 30 seconds before adding the beans.  Warm the beans through and switch off heat.  In a large salad bowl add chopped tomatoes, chives, zest of lemon and lemon juice, parsley and warmed beans.  Adjust the seasoning and add black pepper, remaining olive oil and walnut oil.   Give it a good mix and serve on a lettuce leaf.

 

Indian comfort food – dhal chawal (lentils with rice)

As the title suggests this is the Indian equivalent to chicken soup.  Ask many an Indian and they will extol the virtues of dhal chawal as most of us were brought up on something similar through our childhood.  Anna and I revert to it as it is one of the simplest dishes to make and thoroughly satisfying and comforting.

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Mixed dhal

What do I need to make it?

  • 1/2 cup tuar dhal
  • 1/4 cup moong dhal
  • 1/4 cup horse gram
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced
  • Handful fresh coriander chopped
  • Handful fresh mint leaves chopped
  • Bunch of chives chopped (save 1/4th for garnish)
  • 1 tsp dhania powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste

 For the tempering

  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 4 dry red chilies
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Put all ingredients in a vessel and add two cups of water before pressure cooking.    Heat pan, add ghee, asafoetida and dry red chilies and saute for  a minute.  Add the chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes before adding cooked dhal.  Garnish the dish with the remaining chopped chives and serve with boiled rice or pilaf of your choice.

Jeera Peas Pilaf

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice washed and drained
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 100 gms fresh peas shelled
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 4-5 green cardamoms
  • 1 black cardamom
  • Piece of cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 3

How do I make it?

Heat pan, add ghee and cumin seeds and saute for 30 seconds before adding the remaining dry ingredients.    Saute for a minute and then add sliced onions and cook for a couple of minutes before adding shelled peas and washed rice.  Saute for two to three minutes till rice turns into a white colour before transferring into rice cooker.  Add three cups of water and salt to taste.  Stir the rice when done and serve with dahl.

The perfect Sunday

What a great way to spend my Sunday – warm 20 degree sunshine and the family around me.  It started off with taking Ansh and Lola for their weekly swimming lessons followed by a trip to the local park where both enjoyed riding their bikes and generally running around.  Both behaved for a change and ate their lunch without a fuss.  Anna and I then proceeded to clean the barbecue which has not seen much action in over a year and prepped for the evening meal.  Out of the blue,  Ansh said he felt like having some tomato soup for dinner.  I thoroughly enjoyed making him a batch of fresh tomato soup and grilling some portabello mushrooms and trout for our dinner.   For all my vegetarian friends and family the mushrooms are a great addition to your barbecue repertoire and you can have fun tinkering with the various topping combinations.

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Tomato soup

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 large tomato cut in pieces
  • 10 cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 sprig of spring onion chopped
  • 1 celery stick chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 pearl of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (use normal or cream if not bothered by lactose)
  • Handful fresh basil chopped
  • Knob of butter
  • 3 tbsp oilve oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2 comfortably

How do I make it?

Heat a pan and add olive oil to it.  First add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds before adding the onion, celery and sprig onion.  Saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes before adding the carrots.   Continue sauteing for another couple of minutes before adding chopped tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then add stock cube and about 1 cup of water.   Allow to cook for 10 minutes before adding the fresh basil.  Blitz the liquid in a blender and bring it back to the boil before adding almond milk and a knob of butter.  Adjust the seasoning  and serve hot.

Barbecued portabello mushrooms

I don’t have exact measures for this recipe but can share with you how I make it.  Skin the portabello mushroom before adding the seasonings.  Sprinkle a pinch of mixed herbs, crushed red chilies and some garlic salt.  Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and good olive oil and grill on the barbecue for 15-20 minutes.  Alternatively you can repeat the first step with the dry ingredients and  add some lemon juice and butter instead of the vinegar and oil.

 

Sunday Soup

Sunday is the day I try to clear out our refrigerator.  I usually find some   tired and limp veggies lurking  in the fridge and absolutely hate wasting them. Sometimes we buy packets of herbs for dishes we make during the week and often find that there is a bit leftover. A ll my leftover herbs go into my wholesome Sunday soup.  Shiv and I try to make our soups interesting.  He is a lot better than I am.  I admit defeat when it comes to finesse.  I am the pedestrian home cook and he is more  the chef.  My soup last Sunday had Moroccan flavours and a lot of vegetables which were saved and used before they rotted and had to be thrown away.

I am not going to write a specific recipe for the soup because one can use any vegetable lying around in their refrigerator.  I used carrots, parsnips, broccoli, radish  green peppers, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, mint, fresh coriander a few curry leaves and garlic.  I sautéed onion and garlic in a bit of butter.  Just as they softened,  I added a bit of salt and two teaspoons of Moroccan Rose Harrissa paste, a teaspoon of cumin powder and then all my vegetables and herbs.  I  then added about a liter of water and two vegetable stock cubes and cooked the vegetables till they were soft enough to be blended.  Once blended I poured enough water to get it to my desired consistency and brought to a boil.  For the garnish,Image I sautéed fresh Rosemary  in butter. I served the soup with a dollop of soured cream with the Rosemary butter drizzled on top.  A delicious and healthy way to use up all my veggies.

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