Top Food Blogs

Friday, 9 June 2017

Lamb Biryani

This  wonderful dish is often served for a celebratory meal or for special occasions. The  main ingredient can be changed for chicken, vegetables or prawn. There are versions of it all over India and will more often than not use mutton. Most of the recipes call for a couple of large pieces of meat or chicken, but I prefer a lot of smaller pieces.
The central ingredient is always rice and the spices and of course the fresh flavour of coriander.
It does take awhile to make, however after visiting southern India I am a convert to the pressure cooker for the lamb dish.
Every cooking class we had, pressure cookers of varying sizes were used. This makes sense when you are cooking many dishes as it cuts the time down by half. I do own a pressure cooker but as we are all guilty of, it it sits in the cupboard and you can forget you have it. Well it has been getting a lot of use lately. You don't have to run out and buy one you can also use a large pot with a tight fitting lid.
The recipe does take time so do it when you have a day at home and want to cook something special for the family or friends. All the work is done ! Perfect in this horrible weather



1 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 cardamon pods
1 piece of cinnamon about 2 inches 5 cmd long
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 kilo diced lamb shoulder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chilli powder more if you like it hot or fresh chilli
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup of coriander
1/2 cup chopped mint
2 large brown onions thinly sliced
6 tomatoes chopped ( or approx 1 can of tomatoes )
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
The cook for 5-6 minutes only and set aside.

Heat some of the oil in a heavy pot and cook the onions until brown and caramelised approx 15 minutes. Be carful not to let it burn. Set aside.

In the same pot heat some more of the oil and when hot add the cinnamon stick, cardamon pods and peppercorns. Cook for 30 seconds then add the bay leaf  and stir through. Next add the spices, garlic ginger, turmeric and garam masala and lastly the tomato . Continue to cook scraping the pan and try not to let it burn.
Add the lamb pieces and sauté for 2-3 minutes until meat has browned slightly.  Add only 1/4 of the onion and half the chopped coriander  with 2 1/2 cups water and some salt.
Cover and bring to the boil and cook for 40 minutes or until lamb is nearly cooked. It will be 10-12 minutes if you have a pressure cooker with 2 cups water.

If using a saucepan you may want to stir the lamb from time to time to stop it catching. Add some of the yoghurt after cooking and stir through.

For the final stage pour the remainder of the oil into a large pan with a lid. Spread a little less than half the rice on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of the fried onion, then the lamb mixture on top. Layer with more rice reserving a little for the top, fried onion and then the lamb mixture and the little remaining rice on top. Drizzle a little oil over the top and cover the pan tightly. Simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes.

When you turn out the dish onto a platter the rice and lamb will combine. Garnish with mint and coriander. Serve with yoghurt or a yoghurt raita ( with cucumber )





Thursday, 11 May 2017

Fish with Coconut and Chilli Relish

This is not a southern Indian recipe but  a similar one from a health kick diet I went on recently. It is so reminiscent of many fish dishes we had on our recent tour. Chilli and coconut, lime juice and mustard seeds all ingredients that are used constantly in southern Indian cuisine.
This dish is beautiful and light on calories. The fish can be panfried or grilled depending on the type of fish used.
If you use a thick oily fish it will lend itself to chargrilling or barbecuing beautifully. If a white fish that is small fillets like whiting or flathead then flour and pan fry.
This recipe will feed 4 and is very easily increased

1 piece of fish per person ( I used flathead )
1 tablespoon of plain flour per fish piece
40 grams shredded coconut
1 red onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 geen chilli ( more if desired )finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1 teaspoon castor sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 bunches asparagus
250 grams green beans
Rylstone olive oil


Place the fish pieces in a plastic bag with the flour and add some salt and pepper. Toss the fish around in the bag until it is coated very lightly with the flour. Set aside.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onions with the mustard seeds. Add the coconut and toast lightly. Set all aside to cool.
Once cool add the green chilli and chopped coriander to the mixture.
Mix the lime juice with the crushed ginger and castor sugar  Stir together until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the lime juice dressing to the coconut mixture and set aside for serving.
Steam the asparagus and green beans.
Heat the oil for the fish in a shallow pan and gently fry the fish until it is white rather than opaque meaning it is cooked. This doesn't take long if using flathead or whiting , so be vigilant. If you are using a thick cut of fish it will take longer and you could do this on the barbecue.
Place the steamed asparagus and beans in a mound on the plate and cover with the fish pieces.
Drizzle the coconut lime dressing over the fish and around the plates.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Culinary Tour of Southern India


Old Rice Barges converted to stunning luxurious houseboats
Kumakoran Lake Resort


We have just been on another tour of India to the south this time.
From Kerala to Tamil Nadu we learnt about the ancient spice traders and the cuisine that the locals
are so proud of. Quite different to the north in many ways but fabulously interesting in different ways.
So many of our favourite spices are grown in this rich land with pepper being gold
Lush plantations of tea adorn the hillsides and palm trees are abundant on the coast.
Coconut is used in many of the dishes and seafood is prevalent.
We started our trip in Mumbai and had our first street food of the south at Chowpatty Beach.  We sampled the most delicious snacks and my mouth still waters at the thought of them.
Pav Bahji Vada Pav and Pani Puri to name a few.
Nutmeg freshly picked
We then flew down to Cochin the queen of the Arabian Sea. An active port and the commercial hub of Kerala. We enjoyed a cooking demonstration and dinner of Syrian Christian cuisine.
A tour of a couple of farms Thomas Chettans and Phillipkuttys had us captivated by the size and quantity of fruit vegetables and spices that grown there.  Beautiful tropical greenery everywhere
They both entertained us with a wonderful lunch of organic home grown produce


A night on a houseboat cruising the enchanting  backwaters of Kerala was a highlight for many. The houseboats are converted rice barges and were equipped with every modern convenience of a beautiful hotel. Animals at dawn feeding at the waters edge were a plenty.

The next night we spent in the Kumakoram Lake Resort another glamourous tropical hideaway.

We ventured to the Chettinad area of Tamil Nadu. Not the opulence of the north but grand and amazing architecture never the less. The Chettinad region became a focus of internationalised tastes. As well as the food , the Chettiars constructed  palaces or forts of teak and marble sometimes running to 50 rooms adorned with chandeliers and richly patterned tiles for their families. Times have changed and the families have now ventured to other parts of the world to make their fortunes and the houses sit abandoned. They are used for wedding ceremonies if at all.
Abandoned mansion of Chettinand
Ready for anything on the early morning boat cruise 

Thanks to Unesco, these villages and the vast number of old mansions, are being preserved.
We were lucky to stay at the beautiful Bangala hotel . This heritage hotel builds its menus around the basic Chettiar cuisine and adds from a variety of cuisines from countries the Chettiars have travelled. The food is influenced from the late 18th century when they established businesses in  Burma French Indo China, Dutch East Indies, Malaysia and Singapore


We stayed at the Bangala in the town of Karaikudi near Madurai The hotel is a family owned building originally and has an exotic collection of antiquities gathered by the owner. We enjoyed another cooking class here and loved it so much we all purchased the cook book.
Chettinadu had an old village of  300 mansions that now sit abandoned. The homes of old traders.....
The french town of Pondicherry was so different you could imagine you weren't in India. Our cooking class was with Shyama who entertained us through the food and flower markets. This was prior to a fabulous and informative cooking class in her home




Some of the gals and our favourite cooking teacher Shyama
Spice markets of Pondicherry
House boat luxury
At the Taj Hotel in Mumbai
Pru at the beautiful Bangala Hotel
So many memories, so much beautiful food and new friends made. Another wonderful group and fabulous tour. The people and the guides we meet along the way help to make the trip an unforgettable experience. A big thank you to our gorgeous kind and entertaining driver Ajeesh who looked after us all so well from Kerala to Chennai.
Just planning the next tour !!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Summer Chicken and Rice Salad

Christmas is over. My turkey was absolutely delicious the brine made such a difference.
We had a little left over and I made this salad instead of using chicken. It worked a treat. It is a  suitable main meal actually and readily adaptable. It is so easy and absolutely delicious.
So if you want to have more turkey through the year try it with this salad through the warmer months.
It is a variation of many recipes you find in Middle Eastern Cookbooks and reminds me a little of an
Ottolenghi. I use a mountain blend rice as I find it a bit nuttier and more interesting than regular rice which you can also use if desired

1 whole cooked chicken you can also use just cooked breast if preferred
2 cups mountain blend rice This is sold in a small box in the supermarket and is a blend of Wild Red and Brown
1 large red onion
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup hazelnuts ( again change it around if you have other nuts you prefer almonds and macadamia are also lovely
1/2 cup craisons or raisons
1/2 pomegrante
1 large coasrsely grated carrot
1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup coriander

DRESSING
1/2 cup Rylstone olive oil
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablepoons red wine vinegar

Mix the dressing in a small jar with a lid.
 Remove the chicken from the bones and toss with some of the dressing.
Sauté the red onion in a little olive oil and remove from the pan.
Fry the nuts in the spice mixture until slightly golden.
Cook the rice in a rice cooker or using your favourite method. This mountain blend does take 30 minutes not or usual 10.
Toss the nuts, onion, craisons and rice together. Season with sea salt and pepper.
 Then add the grated carrot. Lastly top with the chicken and pomegranate seeds and the chopped herbs. Drizzle the dressing over just before serving.

Most of this meal can be done ahead and add the chicken and herbs just before serving.