Posts Tagged ‘bread’

The Indian GP – Indian Street Food

November 7, 2011

On the 30th October the inaugural Indian GP took place.  Unfortunately I was away with work and unable to watch it live.  After two days of desperately trying to avoid news on the race (largely succeeding, but I did find out about Hamilton’s and Massa’s crash!) I managed to watch a recording of it on the Tuesday evening once I was back home.

In terms of what to cook I didn’t want to go for the obvious choice of a curry, plus there are so many varieties of curry that I wouldn’t have been sure where to start.  Instead I thought it would be interesting to try and recreate some of the wonderful street food that is so prevalent and popular throughout the sub continent.

Trying to get a list of some good street food to cook proved to be more of a challenge than I expected.  The majority of Indian food sites I found just had food to cook at home; no one had any lists of street food.  Then I remembered, back in Cardiff there is a restaurant that specializes in Indian street food – Chai Street, and so in the end I looked at the food on their menu and found some recipes based on that.

The dishes I decided to cook were Poricha Kozhi (fried spiced chicken) and stuffed bread pakoras (a kind of deep fried potato sandwich).

The first thing I needed to do was to marinate my chicken legs for the Poricha Kozhi.  The marinade for 2 persons (4 chicken legs) was:

  • A small onion
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 125ml of yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground fennel seeds.

The onion, ginger and garlic all went into my mini chopper and were blitzed till almost a paste.   They then were added to the rest of the ingredients to make the marinade.  I scored the chicken legs and smothered them in the marinade and left everything for a couple of hours.To cook the chicken they went into a nice heavy bottomed pan with 125ml of water.  The water was brought to a simmer and the chicken cooked uncovered for about 20 minutes till the water had evaporated. With the water gone and the chicken nice and tender I added some oil to the pan to crisp the chicken up and that was it – done!The bread pakoras would be stuffed with mash potato and so the mash was the first thing I needed to make.  To 4 medium potatoes worth of mash I added:

  • A sliced green chilli
  • Half a bunch of chopped coriander (stalks included)
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of black onion seedsThe batter for the pakoras were made from:
  • A cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • A pinch of salt

To this I added enough water to create a very thick batter.To make the pakoras I took 6 slices of bread and removed the crust.  I spread the mash potato on three of the slices giving a layer about 1cm think.  I then put the other pieces of bread on top and cut the ‘sandwiches’ to get 6 triangles. Each triangle was coated in the batter and fried in some oil for around 5 minutes till all the batter was  cooked.I served up two pieces of chicken and three stuffed break pakoras each.The chicken was delicious.  There was a gentle heat but the overall flavour was more fragrant than spicy, it had also penetrated right into the meat which was great.  The meat was soft and came easily away from the bone.  The pakoras were a lot spicier, particularly if you got a bit of the sliced chilli! For me, I felt the texture of the pakoras was a bit soft.  The batter had crisped as it cooked, but the bread and the mash were very soft and this made them a little hard to eat overall.  There were still pretty tasty though!

So, the race.  Well once again Vettel had pole position and comfortably led the race from start to finish, pinching Nigel Mansells record for most laps led in a season in the process (and with 2 races to go!).  The result of this was that we saw very little of Vettel all race as he cruised round by himself.  Behind him there was a bit racing to watch.  The usual first corner carnage resulted in 4 cars needing to pit, but the big talking point of the race was Massa and Hamiltons coming together, something that has happened too many time this season.  The feud between these two is really heating up.  This time it was Massa who turned into Hamilton as he tried to pass.  Both cars managed to carry on but Massa received a penalty and then had to retire later in the race after breaking his suspension on a monster curb.  All in all this race was not as exciting as I would have hoped.  The track looks great, but the dusty conditions meant that it was hard to go offline and so there wasn’t as much overtaking as I would have liked.


The Spanish Grand Prix – A taste of Catalonia

May 22, 2011

I have to start off with a couple of apologies.  The first is for having been so quit in the last few weeks.  Although I have the best of intentions, and plenty that I want to say, I have been struggling to find them time to put my thoughts into words.  Moving has been great fun so far, and I’m enjoying myself very much, however I seem to be a lot more busy than I used to, I expect once things settle down a bit more I shall be able to write more regularly.

My second apology is to my local Carrefore as it seems I did it a dis-service.  Having had the time now to properly explore the aisles, I was amazed to discover in their local food section (which, alongside the halal meat and Japanese pot noodles, contains such delicacies as Colmans mustard) the shredded filo pastry I should have used for my künefe!  I now can’t wait to give this another go!

Anyway, onto the purpose of this post, what I cooked for the Spanish GP.  For the past week and a half I have been staying in a hotel with no kitchen (just a kettle!), but luckily I moved back in the Citadine on Friday so I have been able to cook again.  I’ll be here for the next four weeks, and although the kitchen is small and poorly equipped, after not having a kitchen at all I’m very grateful! The race was held in Barcelona and so I wanted to cook something Catalan rather than something generically Spanish.

What I decided on was the bruchetta like Pa amb tomàquet and a Catalan Sauté of Calamari in Onion Marmalade both fairly simple dishes that should contain a lot of flavour.

I started with the calamari and onion marmalade as this would take the longest.  The dish only had 4 ingredients: squid, onions, olive oil and a dried chilli (or cayenne pepper in my case!).  I had to guess all the measurements and went for 5 tubes of squid (of varying size!) and four small to medium onions.

The ingredients for my squid dish!

The cooking was equally straight forward.  I chopped my onions and cut my squid into rings.  I then cooked the squid rings for about a minute before setting them aside.  Next into the pan went some olive oil and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper (probably half a teaspoon if I had to guess).  Once the pepper had fried a little I added my onions and turned the heat down. To begin the slow process of cooking and caramelizing them.  This took place over the next 40 minutes.

Cooking the onions for 40 minutes

When the onions were finally ready I retuned the squid to the pan and heated it through before serving.

I then quickly made the pa amb tomàquet.  I cut two large slices of bread and toasted them lightly to give a crisp surface.  I then rubbed the surface with garlic and then with half a tomato each.

Rubbing with garlic and tomato

To finish them off I sprinkled over salt and olive oil and mixed everything together with the end of my loaf of bread and my second dish was finished.

The finished breads

My Catalan food all served up

I enjoyed both dishes a lot, although I’m not entirely sure they went that well together.  I had thought that the cool tomato would complement the spicy heat of the onions, but in the end I found the raw garlic taste on the bread overpowered both!  The squid dish was unusual but I really liked it.  Given its simplicity the flavours really shone for me and the sweet spicy onions were a great foil in texture and flavour to the salty yet sweet squid.  The amount I cooked proved to be more than enough for two so I shall be eating it again, although I do have slight misgivings over how well squid will re-heat!

Onto the race.  This was once again a thrilling race with an electric start involving home star Fernando Alonso coming through from 4th on the grid to claim 1st place in the 1st corner.  Unfortunately for him his car wasn’t up to the task and although he held everyone off till the first round of pit stops he then lost his lead and eventually finished 5th.  There were plenty of different strategies  being used and Jenson Button used his three stop strategy to claim 3rd after a horrible time getting off the line.  Vettle won once again, but for once he also had to work for it.  He not only making some good overtaking manoeuvres for once, but he responded well to being under pressure from 2nd place finisher Lewis Hamilton for the majority of the race.  A word of congratulations for Nick Heidfeld, who finished 8th after starting 24th due to his car dramatically catching fire in practice three.

One final foodie note, for our evening meal we decided to stick with the Spanish theme and give Carrefours paella in a box a go (I don’t normally go for this sort of thing but having spent a lot of time cooking earlier I didn’t feel like anything complicated!).  The box, it turns out, contains a tin of meat seafood, vegetables and juice, a packet of rice and a sachet of spices.

Paella in a box

This was all shoved in a pan together with some water and actually produced a pretty credible meal.  I was genuinely surprised to find chicken legs and real pieces of meat and fish in there.  Not bad at all for meals in a tin!

The finished box paella

Posh fish fingers – with two disastrous accompaniments

June 11, 2010

Over the last few months I’ve been following Great British Menu on BBC2, and despite my extreme disappointment that James Sommerin didn’t make the final for Wales (I love his food!) I thoroughly enjoyed the series.  The shows containing the final menu choices and the banquet itself were shown last week, and I felt very inspired by the fish course of “Mackerel with Gooseberries”, thinking this was something I could adapt at home.

The actual dish that made it to the banquet consisted of a fillet of mackerel wrapped in bread with mustard and pan fried, accompanied by gooseberry wine jelly and gooseberry puree.  Kenny Atkinson’s recipe can be found here complete with a picture of how it should look !  Although great for a dinner party, the gooseberry accompaniment took far too long to prepare, and didn’t look substantial enough for a week night tea so I decided that I would come up with my own additions.

Unfortunately I didn’t really think about that when I went to buy the mackerel, and when I arrived back home I discovered that I didn’t have that much to hand.  To replace the gooseberry element I wanted something that was quite sharp, to cut through the fattiness of the mackerel fish finger.  I decided to cook some red cabbage in red wine and balsamic vinegar, figuring this would have the required sweet and sour flavour.  Finally I needed some carbs to bulk the meal out.  After scouring my cupboards I found a tin of potatoes, trying to make them slightly more exciting I decided that it would be a good idea to roast these.

To actually start cooking the meal I began by draining the potatoes and sticking them in the oven (at about 200C) coated in oil and salt to roast and crisp up.  I then sliced up some cabbage and set this on a low heat (covered with a lid) with about 50 mls of red wine and 20mls of balsamic to cook down.

Next I pin-boned my mackerel fillets.  I must say that when I started I had no idea how difficult this would prove to be.  The bones were quite tough to remove and many snapped instead of coming out cleanly leaving me poking around in the flesh with my tweezers.  The end result was not the prettiest looking bits of fish I had ever seen!  When I was finally finished (and covered in bits of mackerel) I rolled out my bread which was to be wrapped around the fish.  For this I used slices of white bread (medium thickness), which I cut the crusts off and then flattened with a rolling pin.

The mackerel fillets after being pin-boned (butchered!)Rolling out the bread

To assemble the posh fish fingers I brushed the bread with Dijon mustard before placing the fillet inside and wrapping the bread around.  I then trimmed the ends of the fillets to make a clean rectangle before pan frying the parcels.

Making the fish fingers

A finished posh fish finger

After about 3 or 4 minutes cooking each side these were cooked and it was time to serve up.  I retrieved my potatoes from the oven and was pleased with how golden they had turned out and then finally I added the cabbage to the plates.

Frying the fish fingers

And so onto the eating…  Well the potatoes may have looked nice, but they were really dry.  The addition of copious amounts of mayonnaise made them edible, but really not something to try again.  The cabbage looked great too, it didn’t even taste too bad, but somehow I had managed to give it the texture of rubber and no amount of chewing would break it down rendering it inedible.

The Final Dish

The redeeming element on the plate was the mackerel fish finger.  The fish was soft, the bread was crispy and the whole thing tasted great.  I should have just served up plates of these!

I would definitely make the fish fingers again, and if I can find the time I would love to try the proper accompaniments or else serve them with some salad as a starter.  I certainly won’t be giving my accompanying choices a go again!