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.


Australian movies: getting to know them.

Having been an avid film watcher from birth, once I started uni, I got involved with people who either didn’t like movies, or only liked rubbish movies. I fell into a big black movieless hole and I’ve spent a few years now trying to dig my way out. I find myself in the hypocritical position of proselytsing for the Australian film, whilst having seen not nearly enough of them.

So. Geneva, summer, 2018. An education in Australian films. Bring it on.

#2 Wildside 1997-99
Not a movie, but a TV series set in seamy, seedy inner Sydney. Following the police and a sometimes friendly, sometimes not, crisis centre, it portrays in the most unglamorous way, those whose lives take place in this area. I’m full of admiration, having now watched thirteen (of many) episodes made, for the way they’ve managed never to take a single shot of Sydney that looks anything other than filthy and alienating, an ugly as sin proverbial concrete jungle. It’s really true, it is like this, even though the harbour and the overly rich people who live on it are so close that one can see these two parallel universes actually sharing territory. And since there is coke to be acquired and hookers to hire, there are, then, some grounds for interaction. The acting is splendid, the characters get under your skin. There are so many reasons to see this five star quintessentially Australian show.

Coincidentally, episode 13 is about the relationship of two Indigenous teenagers, they are in trouble, she’s pregnant, it’s all terribly moving and a nice juxtaposition to the very rural Beneath Clouds.

The music is very haunting. I’ve finally looked up the composer, Peter Best. He’s an Adelaide boy – why should that not surprise me – and he’s done a lot of amazing work in Australian cinema. So much so that his wiki page doesn’t even need to mention Wildside!

#1 Beneath Clouds 2002
People take the place of actors and their real lives are even sadder than their on screen personas. Damien Pitt died in a car crash in 2009, never having made another movie. Dannielle Hall, despite winning a Best New Talent award at the Berlin Film Festival and receiving other accolades was never offered another script. She became a bookkeeper and was pregnant at age 21 when interviewed in 2005. The moral of the back story? You have to be on the inside. Unless you are Ivan Sen, the director of Beneath Clouds. He has managed to make a career out of being on the outer. But for each Sen, how many Halls and Pitts are there?

It’s a wonderful movie, a perfect slice of rural Australia with a harrowingly sad, but still sweet, story on the top.

You can see this on youtube at the moment. I’m all for buying films, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of buying this, so youtube comes to the rescue, as it sometimes does.

Salad with falafel and eggs


  • mixed salad leafs, or baby spinach washed and dried
  • eggs boiled until soft-hard, one per person
  • cooked falafels, a few, broken into small pieces
  • yogurt
  • tahini
  • lemon juice
  • finely chopped/crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • roasted ground cumin


Put the salad leaves in a serving bowl, mix in the falafels – I took them from the fridge, left over from yesterday, and broke them up by gently crushing them.

For the dressing: mix the rest of the ingredients, I used several tablespoons of yoghurt and 2 teasps of tahini. It’s all to taste.

Mix the dressing into the salad.

Cut the tops of the eggs and scoop the egg into the salad, gently mix again.

That’s it. The toast addict had it on top of toast. I had it on its own.

Thai black rice salad

I mistakenly made an enormous bucket of Thai black rice yesterday and wondered what one does with it, once it’s cold and left over.

I decided to sort of salad it.


  • cold cooked Thai black rice
  • plain natural yoghurt, full fat
  • chopped mint
  • chopped chives
  • slivered shallot
  • 1 small clover garlic finely chopped

That’s it. Mix. I’d say easy on the shallot, I put in too much. Other herbs to taste, lemon, salt, pepper….the usual.

The black rice turned the yoghurt into a nice purple colour.

We had it with falafels which were shallow fried in some ghee which had previously cooked shallots, so it had some flavour from that.

We still have a mountain of the rice in the fridge.

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.


  • 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


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.



One can enter any number of disputes as to the right way to make hummus. I haven’t made it for ages, but looked up a Malouf recipe in order to arrive at the following. Ideally you would use dried, soaked and cooked chickpeas, but at a moment’s notice, you can do this….

hummus (2)


  • 1 can chickpeas, thoroughly drained and rinsed
  • 100 ml tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic mashed with 1 teasp of salt
  • lemon juice – I used lime because it was what I had, one in all
  • water


  • do skin the chickpeas, it makes all the difference
  • with a stick blender (or such like) blend to a cream, adding water because it will be too thick

That’s it. Refrigerate. Serve with a little olive oil and freshly ground pepper on top.

We’ve been eating it for breakfast on bread from the fabulous Christophe Berger with cheese, soft hard-boiled eggs and other accompaniments.

Actually, we’ve been eating it for lunch too. Today I tried adding yoghurt and it is a great variation, lighter and creamier.  I read somewhere that pureeing olives into it is another good touch, yet to be tried in our household. Also cumin.

Now, if only I had a way of charring eggplants here to make baba ganoush….