Tomatoes, basil, stracciatella di bufala

My first homegrown tomatoes are better than they look, a little pale and regular for me to trust them on sight. The type is Rouge de Marmande.

Perfect with white sourdough, fresh or toasted, butter, and, on top of slices of tomatoes, a little good quality salt. That’s often been breakfast lately.

And something like this on pasta: heat best olive oil and add finely chopped fresh garlic and some tomato, sliced/chopped according to the type of pasta cooking. Basil from the garden – we’ve got some at the moment – a little chilli finely chopped, some parsley….all as you have convenient or to taste. I don’t cook any of this, but I heat it gently. Stir in stracciatella di bufala or burrata and then mix in the drained pasta.

That’s it. I think it should be a very mild, almost sweet dish, but you can add freshly ground pepper and/or parmesan if you want. Sometimes I start by frying a finely chopped shallot and then after adding the garlic and chilli, turning the heat up high to burn off perhaps half a cup of white wine or rose. It shouldn’t be a piping hot dish either. Warm – luke warm, maybe – is about right.

If you live in Adelaide, getting good tomatoes from the Wayville market (if not other places) is easy. But growing your own seems to be quite easy…unless beginners’ luck has struck again.


The kheema you should start with….


I guess there are just about a gadzillion versions of kheema. This is the version of the basic staple recipe that I prefer of the various ones I’ve tried. Leave out the peas, add spinach instead, or smoky pureed eggplant (see another chapter for making this), or….


  • 450g minced lamb (or beef)
  • 4 tblesp ghee/oil
  • 200g onions sliced coarsely
  • 4 large cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 2” piece ginger chopped finely
  • 1 teasp ground cumin
  • 2 teasp ground coriander
  • half teasp tumeric
  • 1 teasp chilli powder
  • tin of tomatoes plus juice, chopped
  • peas
  • fresh coriander, chopped


Over medium high heat, heat the ghee and then fry onions, stirring constantly until a deep brown. Turn heat very low, add ginger and garlic, fry for a minute or so before adding all the ground spices, stir for another minute or so, DON’T BURN THE SPICES!!!

Turn heat back up, add the meat and stir to brown, being vigilant to break it all up, no big lumps please.

Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, cover and then turn down to a vigorous simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, check now and then to make sure it isn’t drying out too quickly. At the end, it should be dry, with the oil seeping out. Add the peas a few minutes before serving and lastly, the fresh coriander. You may, for the last few minutes of cooking, turn the heat up high and stirfry to make sure it is a nice brown colour. In my opinion, if you’ve started out the right way, you won’t have to do that.

Serve with rice.

See another post for turning this into samosas.

(I’ve used Sameen Rushdie’s recipe for this post)

Kofta meatballs

So where were we? Singing the praises of mince. Mmm. Amazing what you can do with it in so many different cuisines, not least Indian. This recipe is always a huge hit. I serve it with the sauce and rice as a main dish. The sauce is utterly divine, it would be a shame to waste it, though you can, if you prefer, make it disappear.

Delicious cocktail koftas
By: Madhur Jaffrey
Serves: Makes 30 meatballs and serves 6 for snacks, 4 for dinner for the meatballs

• 450g minced lamb
• 0.5 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1/4 tsp garam masala
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• 2 tbsp fresh, green coriander, very finely chopped
• 3 tbsp natural yogurt
For the sauce
• 5 cloves garlic, peeled
• 2.5 cm cube ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 4 tbsp water, plus 300ml
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1 tsp bright red paprika
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• 5 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2.5 cm cinnamon sticks
• 6 cardamom pods
• 6 cloves
• 100g onions, peeled and finely chopped
• 100g tomatoes, peeled and chopped (a small can of tomatoes may be substituted)
• 4 tbsp natural yogurt
• a little salt


1. To make the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Dip your hands in water whenever you need to and form about 30 meatballs.

2. For the sauce, put the garlic and ginger into the container of a food processor or blender along with 4 tablespoons water. Blend until you have a paste. Put the paste in a bowl. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne. Stir to mix.

3. To make the sauce: Put the oil in a heavy, 23-25cm wide pan or frying-pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon, cardamom pods and cloves. Stir them for 3-4 seconds. Now put in the onions and fry them, stirring all the time, until they are reddish-brown in colour. Turn the heat to medium and put in the paste from the bowl as well as the chopped tomatoes. Stir and fry this mixture until it turns a brownish colour. When it begins to catch, add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry some more until the yogurt is incorporated into the sauce. Now add another tablespoon of yogurt. Incorporate that into the sauce as well. Keep doing this until you have put in all the yogurt. Now put in 300ml water and the salt. Stir and bring to a simmer.

4. Put in all the meatballs in a single layer. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, turn heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Stir very gently every 5 minutes or so, making sure not to break the meatballs. Towards the end of the cooking period, you should scrape the bottom of the pan just to make sure the sauce is not catching. If necessary, add a tablespoon or so of water. Remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium-low. Stir gently and cook until the meatballs have a browned look. All the sauce should now be clinging to the meatballs and there should be just a little fat left at the bottom of the pan.

5. When you are ready to eat, heat the koftas gently. Lift them out of the fat and shake off any whole spices that may be clinging to them. Stick a toothpick into each kofta if serving with drinks.

6. If you have these koftas for dinner, you could leave more of a sauce.

Kheema Palak: one variation


more or less as Rosemary Moon does it in Classic Indian Cuisine


4 tbsp ghee
half a teasp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 fresh chilli finely chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped, or grated or crushed
6 cloves garlic, ditto
500g minced lamb or beef, best quality
1 large onion finely sliced
2 cinnamon sticks, c. 2” each, broken up
half a teasp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
half teasp freshly ground black pepper
340g fresh spinach leaves chopped, or 225g packed frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 teasp salt
200g canned tomatoes, chopped or several ripe fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 teasp garam masala


Heat half the ghee in a wide, shallow frying pan over a medium heat and fry the mustard seeds until they start popping. Add the cumin seeds, green chilli, ginger and half the garlic. Stir and fry maybe half a minute. Add the mince and cook until all the liquid evaporates, maybe 10 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the ghee in another frying pan (or empty the first one) over medium heat and stir in the rest of the garlic. Add the onions and cinnamon sticks and fry until the onions are lightly browned, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and add the turmeric, cumin and black pepper. Stir and fry for a minute and then mix in the spinach thoroughly. Then add the mince and again thoroughly mix. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Increase the heat a little, add salt and tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and then add the garam masala and keep cooking another few minutes. Remove and serve.

From Classic Indian Cuisine Rosemary Moon

Obsessed with tomatoes

In Adelaide this time of year, anybody the least interested in cooking will be thinking of little other than tomatoes, day in and out. We have some sort of heirloom tomatoes growing out the front – whether we will get edible fruit from them, I don’t know, but the bush is happily beavering away, it’s got three stakes holding up some of the branches and it has green tomatoes in abundance.

Meanwhile, I’ve been buying heirloom tomatoes in bulk at the Wayville Farmers’ Market. Once ripe enough, I’ve been frying onions and garlic in ghee (sometimes in olive oil), adding chopped tomatoes and cooking on a low heat until they are disintegrating, and then on a high heat to thicken the sauce. During this process I add a little sugar and salt. After cooling, each batch goes into the freezer. Some will end up in pasta sauces. Some will become curries or chickpea dishes.

The sauce I’m making has a marvelous depth of taste and colour. This is partly due to the rich red, strong-fleshed tomatoes I’ve been using. But I have been adding some black tomatoes too, which I’m sure improves the colour.

And the winner is….bircher muesli in Adelaide

On the hunt.

In the good old days, Jones the Grocer existed on King William Road – a site that’s been empty for a long time now. There, amongst much lovely food, they offered bircher done as you pleased. That is to say, you chose fresh fruit or stewed and, having narrowed it down to the latter, as I always did, you had then to decide which stewed fruit to take this time. The meal you ended up with was large, but in balance!

Chianti Classico Hutt St Adelaide
with quince & rhubarb, coconut yoghurt, orange syrup, toasted pistachios. 16.90
One does not necessarily need choice in bircher, but balance is not optional. Chianti has done various takes on this dish over the years and its new version is the best, an observation that other long standing customers there have also made. The serving size is right; consistency is lovely – not to heavy, not too runny; it is not too sweet; it has a nice proportion of additions to the oats component and it looks exquisite.

Sublime Cafe East Ave Clarence Park
blueberry compote, toasted coconut, chia & honey 14.9
Extremely thick and ultra sweet. Too much like dessert, not enough like breakfast. Not enough like bircher. My dining companion couldn’t finish it but took it home for her kids to eat after dinner.

Trouble and Strife Goodwood Road
Coconut Bircher, apricot, yogurt, nuts + blood orange syrup 14
Sorely lacked balance. A vast plate of oats with a very small pile of apricots to go with it. If it had half the oats, even if they hadn’t decreased the price, I’d be more likely to order it again.

Bricks and Stones Unley Road
Bircher Museli, natural yogurt, coconut, seasonal fruit & nuts 16
Much better balance than Trouble and Strife’s. When you eat bircher, it should be possible to eat fruit as well as oats in every mouthful. It isn’t as elegant as Chianti’s. If it were my local, I’d eat it regularly. But I’d always have Chianti’s at the back of my mind.

Saag gosht: two ways, Jaffrey’s and Rushdie’s.

An Indian shelf would scarcely be complete without a recipe or two for this.

Saag gosht a la Madhur Jaffrey

8 tbsp vegetable oil
0.25 tsp black peppercorns
6-7 cloves
2 bay leaves
6 cardamom pods
175g onions, peeled and finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2.5 cm cube ginger, peeled and finely chopped
900g lamb shoulder, cut into 2.5cm cubes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
0.25-0.75 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
5 tbsp natural yogurt
900 g fresh spinach, trimmed, washed and finely chopped or 900g frozen spinach, thawed out
0.25 tsp garam masala


1. Put the oil in a large pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Stir for a second. Now put in the onions, garlic and ginger. Stir and fry until the onions develop brown specks.

Now add the meat, cumin, coriander, cayenne and 1 tsp salt. Stir and fry for 1 minute.

Add 1 tbsp of the beaten yogurt. Stir and fry for another minute. Add another tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry for a minute. Keep doing this until all the yogurt has been incorporated. The meat should also have a slightly browned look.

Add the spinach and the remaining 1 tsp salt. Stir to mix. Keep stirring and cooking until the spinach wilts completely. Cover tightly and simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour 10 minutes or until the meat is tender.

2. Remove the lid and add the garam masala. Turn the heat to medium. Stir and cook another 5 minutes or until most (but not all) the water in the spinach disappears and you have a thick, green sauce.

3. Note The whole spice in this dish are not meant to be eaten.

PS: My experience with particularly tough looking meat, in this case some gravy beef.  I cooked it for an hour with extra water added to cover the meat completely, then reduced it to what it would have been otherwise, added the spinach, cooked for another hour or so. Did that yesterday, ate it today. It was divine, the meat melted in the mouth, the spinachy sauce was creamy.

And Rushdie’s version

900g boned leg of lamb
2 bunches spinach washed & finely chopped, less stems
175g onions finely chopped
1 tblsp garlic finely chopped*
1 tblsp ginger ” “*
225g tomatoes ” ”
6 tblsp cooking oil
½ teasp tumeric**
1+ teasp chilli powder**
2 teasp ground coriander**
2 green chillies finely sliced

1. Fry onions til golden. Add garlic and ginger, fry 1 min and add ** spices. Stirfry for a few minutes and then add meat.

2. Brown meat while stirring to mix well.

3. Add tomatoes and 120 mls water. Cover and simmer for 25 mins. Check for sticking and add water if necessary. At end of this period can add 120 ml water. If cheap meat continue this process for longer. Should be half cooked at least.

4. Add spinach, mix well. Continue cooking slowly over low heat until meat is absolutely tender.

5. Turn heat up, add chillies, stir-fry till extra moisture disappears and the sauce is thick, rich and clinging to the meat.

I used to think this was better than the Jaffrey recipe, but now that I’ve revisited MJ’s recently and was greatly enamoured of it, I’m not so sure. Maybe it needs a cook off.

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