Baharat spice mix

I realised the other day that I hadn’t made baharat for the longest time – never in Geneva and I’ve been here eight years. In Melbourne long ago I often used to put it on pork chops which were then put on a wood BBQ. The BBQ is not an option now, but pork abounds. Mix the baharat with olive oil and vinegar to make a paste. Rub all over the meat before baking in the oven until done. I cooked it fairly high, about 210C.

We had it hot on day one, but this is much better left and eaten cold, which is how we had it last night on a platter with stuffed eggs, falafels, cheese and so on. It is a good alternative to chicken in these summer rolls.

Like all these spice mixes, it is not written in stone. Like all good Australians, I’ve always used Tess Mallos’ version:

In a spice grinder:

70g black peppercorns
25g coriander seeds
10g cassia bark
20g cloves
35g cumin seeds
2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
4 whole nutmegs, smashed with a mallet
50g paprika

I make half this at a time, though if you use it a lot it is definitely worth doing the full quantity.

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Vindaloo one

One of the first Indian dishes I ever cooked was a Madhur Jaffrey vindaloo in her Indian Cookery. Some years later I discovered, in her Flavours of India, an entirely different approach to the same dish. Both are divine.

Flavours of India is a book that visits the kitchens of ‘ordinary’ household cooks in India. This vindaloo is attributed to Jude Sequeira.

Note: preparations for this dish start 48 hours before it’s to be eaten.

Ingredients

  • 1kg boneless pork cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1.5 teasp salt
  • 6 tblsps red wine vinegar
  • 4-10 dried hot red chillies
  • 1 tblsp bright red paprika
  • 1/2 teasp cumin seeds
  • 3″ cinnamon stick broken up into smaller pieces
  • 10-15 cloves
  • 1/2 teasp black peppercorns
  • 5-6 cardamom pods
  • 10-12 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1″ piece of ginger peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teasp tumeric
  • 3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 3 medium sized onions (250g) peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 fresh hot green chillies sliced lengthways in half
  • 1 teasp sugar

Method

The day before cooking, sprinkle the pork with 1 teasp of the salt. Add 3 tblsp vinegar, rub in well and set aside for 2-3 hours.

Make the spice paste: combine the whole spices and grind in a spice grinder. Add the ground spices. Put the garlic and ginger in a blender with 2 tblsp of the vinegar. Blend, add the dry spices and blend to mix.

Rub half of the paste into the pork, cover and refrigerate the pork overnight. Also cover and refrigerate the remaining paste.

Next day.

  • Heat the oil in a wide, preferably non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  • When hot, put in the 3-4 garlic cloves. Stir and fry until they begin to pick up a little colour.
  • Put in the onions and continue to fry until browned.
  • Now add the tomatoes and 3 of the green chillies. Stir for a minute.
  • Add the remaining spice paste, the sugar and the remaining 1 tblsp vinegar. Stir and fry until the paste begins to brown a little.
  • Now add the marinated meat and all the spice paste clinging to it. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until the pork begins to exude its own liquid.
  • Add 300 ml/1 1/4 cups water and the remaining salt and bring to a boil.
  • Cover, turn heat to low and simmer gently until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened somewhat, about 40 minutes.
  • If necessary, raise the heat to reduce the sauce to a medium consistency towards the end. Add the remaining 3 green chillies and stir once.

Serve with rice. I cook this the day before eating, as it is so much better left to sit.

Comments: I use pork neck for this, it’s a wonderful cut for long cooking times. I suspect that I’ve most recently bought red wine vinegar that isn’t acidic enough for this dish – I’m inclined to favour rough as guts for vindaloo. We shall see. I will be using fresh red chillies, not green, as that’s what’s in the fridge. I will use tinned tomatoes. I imagine a standard tin would equal two large tomatoes. I ignore the 40 minute cooking suggestion, you’ll know when it’s done to your taste.

This is for Saturday night. Counting down, 46 hours to go.

 

Pistachio and prune pilaf

or…what my friend missed. Yesterday, having invited a friend around for lunch, I served up mince and lumpy mash. A sort of deconstructed shepherd’s pie? Not really. It was Indian, not the savoury mince Australians make. I wanted a different taste from the kheemas I usually make, so I cooked the (beef) mince with garlic, ginger, onion, Julie Sahni’s master curry powder, which I make often, chopped tomatoes, and at the end before serving, asparagus (instead of peas), chopped coriander and lemon juice. How bad could that turn out?

It was okay, but I wonder what I could have done to make it more than that? I mean, apart from serving it with a yoghurt and cucumber raita on the side, plus kasundi made by an Adelaide friend, and starring on the day, lumpy mash. I suck at mash.

Today we revisited the mysterious Indian mince dish but it was given a step up by the rice we had with it. Not that the rice was perfect, it definitely needs a little more than it got today. Nonetheless, for a start:

Ingredients

  • 450 ml basmati, washed and soaked for 30 minutes, then drained
  • 600 ml water
  • half a teaspoon tumeric
  • salt
  • several onions halved and finely sliced
  • half a cup of pistachios – salted because that’s what I had, shelled and chopped
  • half a dozen prunes pitted and chopped
  • grapeseed oil – I’d run out of ghee, which would have been better

Method

  • Put the basmati in a pot with the water, tumeric and salt to taste. I was easy on the salt on account of the pistachios being salted, but I should have been less cautious. Bring to boil, stirring a few times, cover and reduce to a simmer.
  • While the rice is cooking, in a non-stick pan fry the onions to a rich brown colour. By the time that’s happened, the rice will be dry on top. Quickly put the onions onto the top of the rice and let sit, covered, whilst
  • fry the prunes and pistachios in whatever bit of oil is left in the frying pan and then add them to the top of the rice.
  • When you are sure that the rice is cooked through, gently fold the onions, prunes and pistachios through the rice, let it sit for a bit longer before serving.

My next attempt at this will be better. Obviously, more in the tradition of a pilaf, stock would be better than salt. I’d run out of ghee, with its rich taste. Grapeseed oil shares the capacity for being used at high heat, but is neutral in taste. While the rice was cooking I should have added more whole spices, along the lines of Jaffrey’s yellow rice. Whole cumin seeds at the end, sizzled in oil/ghee would also have been a good addition too.

I wonder too if adding finely chopped onion to the rice from the start, as well as the fried sliced onion might be a plan. Garlic? For the first time in my life as a person who cooks, I’ve run out of garlic. Unbelievable.

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

Ingredients
• 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

Method

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

Kheema-Palak

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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

Spaghetti with Italian pork sausage

I don’t really understand what’s hard about pork sausages. And yet, there it is. In Switzerland you can only get horrible Swiss pork sausages even though one might expect a better return for Italian being one of the national languages.

Adelaide Central Market: Marino make traditional Italian pork sausages. They are so good that the rest of it can be very simple.

Ingredients

  • 500-750g Italian pork sausage with fennel (or add a little ground fennel).
  • finely chopped garlic
  • a large onion diced
  • 2 tins tomatoes crushed
  • water
  • butter/olive oil

Method

Fry the onion and garlic gently in the butter/oil until softened. Turn up the heat, add the sausage which you have first skinned (slice it longwise and the skin will easily come off) and stir vigorously, breaking up lumps, until it has lost is raw colour. Add the tomatoes and water, bring to the boil. Then turn down to a slow simmer and cook for a couple of hours.

I guess this must be better the day after – it’s the sort of dish that is. We were not able to wait that long, however, and instead had a first helping of it with fresh spaghetti we bought at the Goodwood producers’ market this morning. From the Grain has a gloriously colourful display of pasta, which, much as my preference is for plain, I found irresistible. We tried a vivid green garlic and parsley spaghetti. It combined fabulously with the sauce, parmesan on top – perfecto.