Slow life…slow food…slow brain

There are some bad and some great news in today’s post, which one would you like to hear first?

Let’s commence on a positive note by mentioning the good news first. As most of you are probably aware by now, I have been on a holiday… on a paradise island in the midst of the Indian Ocean. My holiday turned out to be an inspirational culinary experience full of new flavors and recipes from a different part of the world! Being the food lover that I am I booked myself in an Indian cooking class and collected loads of interesting recipes from the chefs of the resort. So today I am going to share my favorite ones with you!

The bad news are of a holiday relaxation syndrome kind… When you let your brain wonder off you forget to do things, important things, like inserting the memory card in the camera…

I appear all excited to my outdoor cooking class and literally photograph everything: exotic Indian ingredients, the entire cooking process, the sickly skinny Kerala chef who knew how to balance spices like you and me know the alphabet, but failed to meet basic hygiene standards at Le Cordon Blue (and in serious premise for that matter)…

I made three main courses, two side dishes and a soup which were all incredibly appetizing and colorful- would have made mouth-watering photographs…When it was all done and as I walk away happy and full, you can imagine how curious I was too look at the pictures! Then surprise, surprise…I open up the display on my Nikon… and a black screen appears with nothing but ‘no memory card’ written on it…

So I am afraid that there will be no photos of me with a frying pan today… instead there will be some of me with a fork happily indulging the delicious food and of various dishes that I found to be interesting.

The recipes that I feature today are a mixture of North and South Indian flavors. They are incredibly creative in terms of ingredient combinations and very well balanced, so you don’t feel heavy after your meal.

For the starter plate I suggest a fragrant and spicy South Indian tomato soup called Rasam.


Serves two:

Ingredients:

3 whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons coriander leaves
1 finely sliced onion
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ tablespoon Asafetida (an Indian seasoning blend- can be found in specialist shops)
1 small bunch of curry leaves
2 teaspoons dry red chili
1 tablespoon of tamarind
2 teaspoons coconut oil
A pinch of salt
Couple pinches of turmeric powder
Julienne of ginger
1 teaspoon sliced garlic 

Method:

  • Roughly chop tomato, cover with water and boil them until soft and mushy
  • Strain the tomato in a separate pan until you are left with a watery tomato stock
  • Season with turmeric powder, salt, tamarind, coriander and ginger, bring to the boil and leave to rest
  • In a separate sauté pan add coconut oil and wait until it heats up (a good way to tell is when bubbles start to appear)
  • Add one after the other in the following order: mustard seeds, dry red chili, coriander, turmeric powder, asafetida and fry all of them together until golden brown.
  • Add the finished mixture to the tomato stock, check the seasoning and garnish with some chopped tomato and some fresh coriander leaves

The next recipe is for a banana yogurt side dish that I made during the cooking class. This dish is eaten as meze (appetizer) or it works really well as a side dish for different curry main courses as it refreshes the spicy after taste from the curry.

Serves two

Ingredients:

Couple of ripe bananas (more if you prefer sweet, less if you prefer sour)
200 grams plain yogurt
½ cup grated mature coconut
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small bunch of curry leaves
½ table spoon dry red chili
½ teaspoon chopped green chili
1/3 cup water
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil 

Method

  • Slice the banana into pieces, no thicker than a Euro coin
  • Heat coconut oil in a sauté pan and add the slices of banana together with the curry leaves, green chili, fry au blanc (no color) and keep aside at room temperature
  • Blend together the grated coconut, mustard seeds, cumin seeds. Add the water as well to make the mixture blend together more easily
  • Mix the blended items with the previously blanched banana and spices, sauté them together at low heat until golden brown
  • Mix together with the plain yogurt and allow 15 for the consistency to cool down. Pop in the fridge for another 10 min and serve cold

Finally, the main course is a delicious vegetarian red lentil curry from Shri Lanka. To make the most out this dish serve it with basmati ghee rice. Simply delicious! The best feature of this dish is the fast cooking time of the red lentils. Unlike other lentil types, red lentil are ready in 5-6 min!


Serves two

Ingredients 

100g red lentils
1 finely sliced red onion
10-12 curry leafs
Julienne of rampa leafs
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
4 sliced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
2 cups coconut cream
2 cups water
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons ginger
A pinch of turmeric powder

Method

  • Wash the lentils. Strain, and keep aside for half an hour
  • In a large sauce pan add the lentils, a table spoon of sliced red onion, a teaspoon of the sliced garlic and a teaspoon of the chopped ginger. Cover with water, bring it to the boil and allow it to cook for 5-6 min. Check whether it is ready, season with some salt and turmeric powder.
  • In a sauté pan with olive oil (allow the oil to generate heat),  balance (add equal quantities of) garlic, ginger, onion, mustard seeds, curry leaves and chili powder. Cook the spices on low heat for 10 min until they are brown and crispy.
  • Add the cooked spices and coconut milk to the lentils, stir at low heat for couple of minutes. Check the seasoning
  • Serve hot with naan bread or basmati rice

Gee basmati rice


Serves two

Ingredients:

A cup of basmati rice
Ghee (clarified butter)
1 cinnamon stick
5 Cardamom seeds
5 Cloves
100 g finely sliced onion
6 tablespoons of sultanas
6 tablespoons of roasted chopped cashew nuts
A pinch of salt

Method:

  • Boil or steam basmati rice until al dente. For steaming fill a large sauce pan with water, add rice in a bowl. Place the bowl on top of the sauce pan in such a way that it does not touch the water (the rice cooks from the vapor that penetrates the bowl). If boiling, for each cup of rice add two cups of water and cook at medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon from time to time making sure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • For clarification of the butter (making the ghee), add the butter in a medium sauce pan and cook on low heat until the cream separates from the fat (this can take up to 15 min). The fat, oily consistency is the ghee.
  • In a separate pan, add the pre-made ghee, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds and cook for 5-6 min.
  • As soon as you smell the aroma from the spices, add the sliced onion and cook until the onions are golden brown.
  • Pre-roast the cashew nuts by sautéing them in a pan for a couple of minutes on medium-high heat (make sure they don’t burn)
  • Add the cashew nuts and sultanas to the spiced onions
  • Finally add the steamed rice off the heat, season with salt and pepper and check for the taste.
  • Serve hot with your main curry dish


Namaste!

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2 responses to “Slow life…slow food…slow brain

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