Category Archives: Mains

Burek

BurekWhile we were in Dubrovnik we took a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia. The day started off rather wet as we waited for the tour bus to arrive. The drive to the border was pretty. Once we crossed over the border just a mere formality with a long line, we stopped at our first stop which had a beautiful mosque at the top of the hill. Well beautiful from the outside we did not make the trek up. The roofs on the houses here were completely different compares to Dubrovnik. We carried on to Mostar and did have a shock as we entered the city. It still had all the signs of being ravaged by war. There were a lot of destroyed buildings and quite a few with a lot of bullet holes. It was really sad. When we go to the destination which is the historic portion of Mostar we were given instructions to be very careful because of the pickpockets.

We had a very nice and informative guide. The old part of the city (the only part we saw) was very charming. We climbed to the top of the oldest  mosque – that was quite a challenge as the stairwell was very narrow and fairly dark. From the top of the minaret was a fantastic view of the river and the famous Mostar  bridge. At the end of the tour we asked our guide to recommend a local dish we could try and he pointed us to the very popular local food ‘Burek’. Its really a pastry filled with either cheese, spinach or beef, that is eaten with yoghurt. It was simply delicious. If I could describe it, it would be layers of filo pastry wrapped around the filling. It was simply delicious and was our cheapest meal of the trip.

You can fill your Burek with anything that you would like as long as the mixture is more on the dry side. You could even go for a sweet filling.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 2 eggs (reserve one egg yolk)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3.5 cups flour

For the filling

  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 1 frozen packet of cut leaf spinach
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3/4 packet of cream cheese

Method

Whisk eggs (one full egg and one egg white), salt, olive oil and milk. Sift the baking powder and flour.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and knead until soft. If your mixture is dry add a little more milk a bit at a time. If it is too sticky add a little more flour a bit at a time. Your dough should be smooth and soft and should spring back when you do the thumb test (See notes)

Let the dough rest covered with a damp towel while you make the filling

Fry the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the remaining ingredients except the cream cheese and cook. Once the spinach is cooked add the cream cheese and take it off the heat. Stir to blend in the cream cheese.

Divide the dough into 6 equal portions.
Take one portion and roll it into a long log at least 14 inches in length.
Use a rolling ping to flatten it out along the length. Then use a rolling pin to widen it along its width. You want it to be at least 3 inches wide. It can be as thin as you can get it. I do this on a (Clean) countertop. It does not stick because of the olive oil in the dough.

Burek Steps

Lightly brush the top of the rolled pastry with either melted butter or olive oil. (This is optional but will give you better layers)

Put a thin strip of filling on the section that is closer to you just a little bit away from the end. Then lift the dough and cover the filling bit by bit along the length. Tightening the roll as you go. Repeat the procedure until you have a filled log.

Next, You are going to  make a spiral, starting at one end and rolling the log around itself. Make sure you have the top of the Burek at the same level. Brush the top with egg white and place on your foil lined baking sheet.

Bake for 350 for 30-35 mins or until the tops are golden brown. Serve hot with a side of yoghurt.

Optional fillings

  • onion, sweet potato, spinach, spices of your choice
  • cooked spiced minced chicken

 

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Roasted Lotus Root

roasted-vegetables-appam

I tried Lotus root at a restaurant recently and absolutely loved it. They had it finely sliced and roasted to a crisp. It was really like eating a salted chip and had a lovely mild flavor. I simply could not get enough – unfortunately for us they had only 2 on the appetizer plate which was a wee bit disappointing.

I was at the farmers market and I saw a bag of precut lotus root in water and I immediately picked it up. I wanted to do something similar but since it was precut there was no way I could get it down to the wonderful crispy chip like texture at the restaurant. So I hummed and hawed about what I could do with them and then decided on roasting them and of course I made them Indian style by spicing them up. As I was doing that I thought that I would make Appams (rice pancakes) and use these as well as sweet potatoes and white onions. They did come out really well and you can use them in anything you like or even eaten on their own

You should be able to get Lotus root at most Asian grocery stores

Ingredients

Prep time: 10 minutes, Bake time: 35-45 minutes

  • Lotus root (1 bag cut – 20 pieces)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and lightly brush it with olive oil.

Mix the oil with the spices in a medium sized bowl. Drain the lotus root and pat it dry with paper towels. Toss the lotus in the spice mixture until it is well coated. Lay the Lotus root on the foil lined baking tray. Put it into the oven for about 35-45 minutes turning the lotus root about half way through. You can keep it for longer if you want it really crispy.

When they are done take them out of the oven let them cool for a bit and then eat them any way you like. I put them with roasted sweet potatoes and roasted white onions into an Appam (rice pancake). You can also put them with other veggies into a tortilla.

 

 


Cauliflower Kofta Curry

Cauliflower Koftas

Cauliflower Koftas

So what is a Kofta one might ask, for those non South Asians it is generally some form of ground meat shaped into a ball, that is cooked and then simmered in a sauce. The vegetarian version generally uses potatoes as the binding agent and another vegetable or cheese stuffed into the center. I have made a variety of Kofta’s – paneer (indian cheese) and raisins being popular centers for them. I came across this recipe using cauliflower and since I love cauliflower I thought I would give it a go with a few modifications. And I have a cauliflower paratha recipe that follows.

Ingredients

For the Kofta
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, grated
2 medium white potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 medium sweet potato, boiled and mashed
3 tbsp. quinoa flour (or oats flour)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp black Pepper powder
A pinch of Baking powder
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1/2 tsp kastoori methi
1/2 tsp salt
Coconut Oil (or Olive oil) for frying

For the Gravy
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
salt
4 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
3 tbsp. quinoa flour
1/2 cup water
Coconut oil (or olive oil) for frying

Method

For the Kofta’s

Skin the potatoes and boil them in water for about a half hour on high or until a knife goes through them easily. Pour out the water and let them come to cool in the pot. Put them through a potato ricer or mash them with an implement of your choice.

Heat a pan on medium low heat (more low than medium) and toast the grated cauliflower, stirring occasionally. You want to get the moisture out of the cauliflower. This should take about 5-7 minutes. The cauliflower should not brown.

Mix the all the Kofta ingredients together and form into 1 inch balls. You want to make sure your Kofta’s are more firm and not soft or they may disintegrate. Heat a little oil in the pan (medium high) and once its hot add the Kofta’s in the pan and fry turning the balls once they have formed a skin about a minute. Once they are done take them out onto a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining Kofta’s.

For the gravy

Heat a pan on medium high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and let them sputter for 30-40 seconds until a little brown and they have released their fragrance. Add the ginger (carefully) and stir for 20 seconds. Then add the red chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric and stir for another minute. Add the tomato paste and fry stirring for about 2-3 minutes or until the oil separates.

Add the salt, water and stir to incorporate. Add the quinoa, cilantro and kasturi methi and stir. Add the milk and heavy cream and let the sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes. If your sauce is too thick you can thin it by either adding water or more milk.

Add your Kofta’s to your sauce and enjoy them with Roti’s/Paratha’s or rice.


Cauliflower – The vegetable that just keeps going

Cauliflower Pizza

Cauliflower Pizza

 

The cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. I have been reading on all the different things that you can do with it. I know some folks simply cannot get over the taste of cauliflower. However, you really cannot taste or smell it when you make cauliflower pizza. I would recommend that you try it. One of the main things to do is to get all the water out of the cauliflower. The more you are able to wring out the crispier the crust becomes.

Go ahead try this and let me know if you like it!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized head of cauliflower (3 cups after processing)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • salt

Sauce

  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (Drained)
  • 1 spring of rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder

Toppings

  • 15 cherry tomatoes – halved
  • basil leaves – shredded
  • sea salt

Method

Line your pizza pan with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 450 F.

Cut off the leaves and wash the head of cauliflower. Pat dry with a paper towel and then chop into chunks. Use your food processor and process the chunks in batches to get cauliflower rice. You should end up with about 3 cups of cauliflower rice. Place this in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for about 4 minutes. Put the cooked cauliflower onto a paper towel and let if cool.

Once the cauliflower is cool, wring the water out of it. You want to squeeze as much water out as possible. This helps you attain a crispy crust.

Put the cauliflower into a mixing bowl. Add the Italian seasoning, almond meal, red pepper flakes,  olive oil. Using a fork stir it all to incorporate. Then add the egg and stir till well mixed. Put the mixture on the pizza pan and using your hand press it out to form a 10 inch disk. Make sure that the edges of the disk are just a tad bit raised. The disk should not be too think.

Put the pizza in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Start on your sauce.

After the 12 minutes have passed, make sure that you see the edges of the pizza have browned. Keep it in for a minute or two more if it does not look like it has browned. Remove from the oven.

 Top with the sauce, cherry tomatoes and bake for another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven. Top with basil and sea salt. Let it cool for 2 minutes. Then cut it with a pizza wheel and serve.
Sauce
Cook the drained diced tomatoes with the rosemary and cumin. Let the sauce thicken stirring. This will take about 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Pizza time

Pizza

So I have had a long break, but I have been baking and cooking away. I must say that living in Atlanta one does get to try out a plethora of various cuisines. However, I must say when I visited Melbourne, Australia I was so impressed with the variety of food. There were restaurants that had street food from South East Asian countries. I did partake of a few and enjoyed every tantalizing morsel of yumminess. If you ever get a chance to visit Melbourne make sure you leave enough of time to eat. In addition, make sure you eat at Brunetti’s – they even have a counter in Myer’s and we totally enjoyed their desserts. Make sure you get the bite sized pieces that way you get to sample a lot more!

Now back to the regularly scheduled writing –  I have been baking pizza the Peter Reinhart way which I think is great. You get a really lovely thin crust and you get to freeze dough for a later date. In addition, I have used the dough to make Indian bread ‘Naan‘ which comes out really well. Well I was watching TV – Cooks Country on PBS and they had what a pan pizza recipe. I was most intrigued by it. I was very happy to have my trusty kitchen-aid do the kneading for me. This pizza dough is not the thin crust variety but the pizza is absolutely brilliant.

Pizza first rise

Pizza Stretched before second rise Pizza stretched before second rise

 

Feel free to modify the toppings – I happen to love the peppery taste of tarragon and I had some lying around so on it went. I wanted to increase the spice level and that is why I used a spicy pepper jack cheese. You can go with any variety of cheese that you like and you can top it with anything you like.

Ingredients

Adapted from Cooks Country

For the dough

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water (warm water)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the topping

  • 28 oz can of drained diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz mozzarella (shredded)
  • 8 oz jalapeno pepper jack (or your favorite cheese shredded)
  • 20 basil leaves (cut into strips)
  • tarragon (optional – as much – as little – or not at all)
  • sea salt optional

Method

Stir the yeast in the 3/4 cup of water and let it rest for 5 minutes until nice and frothy. Mix the bread flour and salt.

Add the yeast water mixture and the oil to the dough and knead on low until the dough comes together. Then turn up the speed to medium low and knead for about 5 minutes until you have a really nice soft sticky dough. If your dough is not sticky start adding the additional water as you continue to knead for another 5 minutes. Take a teaspoon of olive oil and coat your dough.

Oil a 11×13 sheet pan well, this will help your pizza slide out very easily once done. Plop the dough out onto the pan and pat it into the shape of a rectangle. You do not need it to fill the pan. Just a 10×6 inch rectangle should suffice. Cover with cling wrap and put it in a warm place until doubled in size. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

After the dough has risen, remove the cling wrap. The dough should be very sticky. Work it to the edges of the pan gently stretching it. Cover it with cling wrap again and let it rest for about 45 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the dough is ready turn your oven to 500F.

When your dough is ready top with the two shredded cheese till about a half inch from the side. Then top with the tomato. Put it in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. You will see your crust is formed and your cheese is bubbling. Remove it from the oven using your oven mitts. Let it cool for about 2-3 minutes on a wire rack. While it is cooling top with basil and tarragon if using. Sprinkle a little sea salt (if using).  Then slide the pizza out onto your cutting board slice and enjoy.

 

 

 

 


Spicy Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit Curry

Jackfruit is a fruit I loved eating when I was growing up (and still do). There are a lot of people who do not like eating it because they cannot get past the smell. My brother, for instance, could not stand the aroma. To me though, the aroma is wonderful. Jackfruit is also a ‘cousin’ of Durian. Now that is a smell I cannot get over. It is so stinky to some people, that in South East Asia they ban the fruit from hotels. I did get around to trying a candy made out of Durian and did not like it. Okay, back to the one that I like which is the variety that you get in India, it is a bit of a challenge to tackle. It starts off with a spiny skin, you cut the jackfruit into half, then quarters. Then you oil your hands well and hopefully you have spread newspaper all over the counter. Then you start pulling each of the fruit pods out. The reason for the oil is that the pods are held to the fruit with this glue like substance and the oil prevents it from sticking to your fingers. Each of the fruit pods have a large seed that a lot of people roast and then use.
Now that we have spoken at length about the fruit, this recipe came about because a friend of mine had told me he made a Jackfruit curry and then told me how he made it. I looked over the internet and all the recipes used the unripe fruit. Apparently the unripe version is fairly common across India. So I decided I was going to try making it – now the version I made was spicier as I added hot sauce to it (which I have left out of the recipe) but if you want an even bigger kick go ahead and add 2 tablespoons of Maggie hot and sweet. I also used a canned variety and drained all the syrup out of the can.
Pile this spicy jack-fruit filling into warmed pitas, and serve with yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons cumin-coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6 cloves crushed
  • 3 pods of cardamom, shells removed and seeds crushed
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 20-oz. can ripe jack-fruit in syrup, rinsed, drained, and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

Heat the oil in a pot on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onions. Cook the onions (stirring occasionally) until they have softened and are translucent. Then add the garlic, ginger, green chile and cook for a minute. Add the chili powder, cumin-coriander powder, turmeric powder and crushed cloves and cardamom and stir for a minute.

Add the chopped jack-fruit, ketchup and lemon juice. Stir and cover and cook on a medium low for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. When done remove the cover add the salt and cook for another minute and serve.


Spiced Roasted Eggplant

Spiced Roasted Eggplant

Spiced Roasted Eggplant

My love for roasted vegetables has grown over time. I have been trying different vegetables and so many of them roast so well. Here is one of my favorites. This one is spicy, if you do not want to have it spicy – you can reduce the amount of sambal olek. The brown sugar caramelizes really well and is a really nice balance to the spice.

In addition, you can roast other vegetables along with this – green beans, thinly sliced onions etc.

Ingredients

  • 4 Japanese eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons Sambal Olek (use less for a less spicy version)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

Turn your oven to 350F. Line your baking tray with foil.

Wash and dry the eggplants. Cut the tops off and then split the eggplants in half. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts in the inside of the eggplant. Do not cut all the way through.

Make a paste of the sambal olek, olive oil, brown sugar, olive oil and salt. Spread this paste on the eggplant.

Drizzle olive oil on the panko crumbs to moisten and then distribute evenly on the tops of the eggplants.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.