Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Duck in Coconut Sauce; Thai style

                                                   Duck in a Thai style Coconut Sauce    

Simple yet fresh very fragrant flavours, this is a comfort food. 
You can prepare each part in your kitchen or even buy ready to eat smoked duck breast.
Using egg noodles is my favourite but any kind of noodles, rice vermicelli and even pasta could work well. The clean light flavours of the sauce should leave your palate pleased!







Will serve 4 to 6 persons

Prepare the Duck

Wash and score 4 duck breasts.  Making sure  only the fat is scored and not the actually meat. 
Rub in some salt gently massaging it. 
You may roast, grill or sear the duck breasts in the following ways.

Roasting 
Preheat  the oven to 350F/180C and cook on the fat side up, for 30 minutes until golden brown. Testing it with a wooden skewer ensures the duck is cooked.

Grilling
If grilling cook duck on fat side down for 10 minutes, on a medium flame, and then turn it around for another 7 minutes. 

Searing
If searing in a pan, no oil is necessary. Heat the pan and sear fat side down for 10 minutes on a medium flame and then on the other side for another 7 minutes.

For any of the methods after cooking it, remove and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and add to the sauce to infuse for 4 hours and up to 48 hours.


Coconut Sauce
In a pan bring to a boil
2 cups chicken stock

14-oz/400ml coconut milk
4 crushed lemon grass stalks; with the back of a knife
1 tsp size galangal or fresh ginger root, in pieces
4 stalks corriander root
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 bird thai red chilie, finely chopped

Add at the end for infusion 4 kaffir lime leaves, dry or fresh



This is best served with egg noodles ( or any noodles) that have been cooked as per instructions. Drain the water, and pour all the coconut sauce over. Submerge all the noodles properly allowing the sliced duck to sit over it. Cover and infuse for 20 minutes. Gently reheat and serve immediately.

Tips

The combination of the above ingredients is now available in boxes called Aromatic Thai Fragrant Spices. If using the prepared dry spices add 4 tbsp for this quantity.  
However you will still need to add fresh or dry Kaffir Lime leaves and an inch of fresh ginger when you add the noodles to infuse for a perfect finish.

While boiling the noodles add  a stalk of lemon grass, fresh grated lemon peel, salt and oil. This give the noodles a wonderful burst of flavour.

If you prefer to serve this with sticky coconut rice; you may need to thicken the sauce by boiling it further to reduce the liquid.

Other noodles you may like to try are udon, soba, quinoa or rice vermicelli.

Adding 4 tbsp thai nam pla/ fish sauce can make the flavour stronger


For recipes on Parsi Food read my cookbook The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.





Monday, 27 March 2017

Crab Cheesecake


Crab Cheesecake ~ Savoury

A decade ago I had put together a cheesecake cookery demonstration for a wonderful group of ladies who wanted to have an enjoyable day out together. Since eating 5 kinds of desserts did not sound too appealing I decided to make something savoury; a cheesecake with crab meat. Although unfortunately I do not have the recipe of that day in my archives, I have always wanted to recreate it and here it is created, devoured with affection and much appreciated. There was no choice but to upload it immediately for posterity!









Makes one 9 or 10 inch/23cm or 25 cm spring form pan; lined with parchment paper.

Filling

424 gm/ 1lb fresh crab
200 gm/ 7 oz paneer/cottage cheese
125 gm /4 oz jalapeno cream cheese
125 gm/ 4 oz garlic and herb  cream cheese
1 1/2 cups cream
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs 
2 egg yolks
Juice of one lime; divided in half for inside and after to brush
generous sprinkle of tabasco
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
12 small pickled peppadew red pepper
4 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp fine chiffonade of basil

2 cups smoked gouda + herbed gouda, grated

For the crust/base
1 clove of garlic
3 cups bread crumbs 
2 1 tbsp salted butter 

In a food processor with it running, drop in the clove of garlic, add the bread crumbs. Pulse a couple of times. Add the butter and keep pulsing until well mixed.

Remove into your prepared pan and press it down. Ensure the sides are properly covered preferably going higher then the parchment and no cracks are visible for the liquid to leak through.
Place on a large foil pulled up on the sides and place on a baking tray.

In a 350F/175 C degree place the pan to dry the the bread to prepare the crust. it should take about 10-12 minutes. It needs to be very light golden brown.
Once done allow to cool for a few minutes and sprinkle the gouda cheese all over.

In the meantime, in the same food processor prepare the filling with
adding the paneer , all the cream cheese's', peppers, eggs. Once it is smooth add the rest of the ingredients like cream, milk,lime, tabasco, sugar and salt. With the pulse button add the red peppers. 
In a large mixing bowl  place all the crab and the chives and basil . Pour the cream cheese over and mix well. Pour into the pan. Place on a cookie sheet and lower the temperature to 300F/145C to bake uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour until it is just set, lightly golden on the sides. Brush the rest of the lime juice all over. Serve warm.

Tips

The crab should be fresh. 
Vacum packed crab that has been hand picked is available in the seafood section in tubs. 
If you are picking your own, 2 large crabs will be enough. Simply dip the crab pieces at room temperature in salted boiling water for 5 minutes and it will be done.Do NOT overcook the crab as it will get like cotton wool and will be wasted.


The base can also be made up of crushed tortilla chips or corn bread, or any kind of bread that is stale. The butter is to put the crumbs together. The garlic is for the slight pungency it needs.
Left over garlic bread is another option.

The idea is to use already flavoured cream cheese is to save time, yet using more paneer, cottage cheese and flavouring it yourself with pickled or fresh jalapenos, garlic and herbs is completely an option.

Layering the grated cheese at the bottom saves the base from getting overly soggy. 
I picked smoked Gouda as it melts beautifully but any favourite sharp cheddar, jalapeno cheese, gruyere, smoked cheese will work well.
Fresh and not processed cheese works best.

Using only half and half (where available) is also an option.

Remember It will set and continue to cook for a few minutes hence the jiggle in the center is a must to keep it creamy and moist.
It is best served fresh. 

You can read about the history, origins and more about Parsi Food and more in my cookbook The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Caramel and Walnut Cake

Caramel and Walnut Cake

A favourite of mine for many years, Navroze seemed the perfect opportunity to make this for my dessert table.

It is a tad creamy, a bit sweet for the 21st century, but the nuts helps it cut down on the richness and creaminess leaving behind morsels of simply delectable bites to melt in the mouth! 
Not for the faint heart, be prepared to either make some caramel, or take the simpler option of buying it ready to use at a deli/confectioner close by.
Mine was a salted caramel, adding a bit of salt after each bite devoured, something I personally love. 







Serves 12 -16

Cake

3 cups walnut halves
6 tbsp plain flour
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp coffee granules
1 tsp vanilla

6 egg whites
2 tbsp sugar

Prepare two pans approximately 24 cm/ 9 1/2 inch. Line with a parchment in each and butter it well.


In a food processor pulse together the walnut, flour, baking powder and salt. The mixture should be like "crumbs" and not fine.

With an electric beater beat the egg yolks, sugar, coffee granules and vanilla . Whip for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. 

In another bowl beat the egg whites until light and foamy, slowly adding the sugar half way through. The egg whites should not be dry and beaten only until soft peaks are formed.

Now fold in 1/3rd of the egg white. Alternate by adding 1/2 the walnut crumbs. Repeat with egg white, walnut and finishing it off with egg whites.

Divide the batter in two, pouring it into the prepared pans.

Bake in a preheated oven of 350F/ 175C for 22 minutes.
The cakes should start to leave the sides of the pan. Run a knife immediately. Allow it to cool completely.
Over turn and ice with cream, sprinkle with caramel place the second layer of cake. Cover with cream and decorate with slivers of caramel.
Keep refrigerated, preferably covered.


Icing
2 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar


With an electric beater whip the cream until ribbons form, adding the sugar slowly half way through.
Keep chilled.

Caramel
2 cups sugar
1 tsp sea salt

Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a pan heat the sugar until it is all melted and is a golden caramel colour.
Immediately pour it on a cookie sheet as quickly as possible, and as thin as possible.
It will start to cool and form immediately. Sprinkle the rock salt all over as quickly as possible. Now leave to cool thoroughly.
Place another parchment sheet over and with a mallet break into shards.
Keep the larger full pieces aside for the top and use the rest in the layer. 

Tips

Walnuts should be fresh and not rancid. Taste one if you are unsure of its age.
Pulsing will ensure the mixture turns into crumbles. This also prevents the oils from the walnuts to be released.

Although eggs separate best when they are chilled, preventing the egg yolk from breaking, eggs should be used for this cake at room temperature.
If there is even a drop of the yolk in the white, it will not beat properly. 

Coffee granules refers to the instant coffee granules and not the powder  or beans used for brewed coffees.

Cream must be chilled. It helps if the beaters and bowl are also chilled especially if you live in a warm climate or work in a hot kitchen.
Whipping cream is 38%+ fat content. Not less.

Caramel is often made with water added.
If you wish to do that, add 3/4 cup cold water. Make sure all the sugar is first melted before the water comes to a boil. Otherwise the caramel will be crystalised and will not be usable.
If you do not have parchment paper, butter the cookie sheet well, turn it over before you try to break it.

Sea salt is referred to pieces of salt crystals used in a salt grinder. It cannot be substituted for normal salt.

It stays fresh for only up to 24 hours.





Celebrating 200,000 Hits





Niloufer's Kitchen
Published by Niloufer MavalvalaMarch 17


I’m so happy to announce that Niloufer’s Kitchen has reached 200,000 hits on the blog! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your ongoing readership and support. What an incredible journey it has been walking with each of you to reach this remarkable yet humbling milestone.
The Blog has featured cuisines from over 50 countries and to mark this very special day, Niloufer’s Kitchen has been invited to be part of a program called #FoodWithoutBorders. Undeniably, food brings us joy, builds friendships, promotes fabulous ‘’foodie’’ discussions and most importantly creates cultural awareness. Food provides a wonderful opportunity to embrace our differences and connect with people from every corner of the world. Here's to sharing with many more! 







Sunday, 19 March 2017

Falooda ~ Navroze Festivity

Falooda

In the Persian language (referring to a 'smoothie')  we call it Faloodeh or Paludeh; while the word Falooda is a Hindi and Urdu word, Faluda is Bengali for the same.

A cold milk drink, much like dessert, it is traditionally made up of a rose syrup, chilled whole milk, white tiny thread like vermicelli made up of cornstarch, tukhmuria or basil seeds that have been soaked in water for a few hours to re-hydrate and blossom and often topped with fresh vanilla bean ice cream. Optionally, favourites like raspberry or strawberry ripple ice cream and even saffron ice cream may be added making it only more delicious. The Persians often serve their Faloodeh with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of pistachios which can be rather refreshing. I like mine with a scoop of lime and coconut ice cream! 



A chilled Falooda, rose syrup, tukhmuria and sev, topped with vanilla bean ice cream


The vermicelli and seeds with ribbons of syrup

Makes 6 glasses
6 cups chilled whole milk
12 tsp red rose syrup/raspberry syrup
12 tbsp  cooked vermicilli /sev 
12 tsp pre-soaked tukhmuria/basil seeds
12 scoops of vanilla bean icecream

In 6 tall glasses pour the milk, add the syrup, vermicelli, seeds and top with ice cream of your choice. Serve immediately with a long spoon or a straw.
Tips
Ice is often added to ensure its very cold. It may dilute the flavours.
Cubes of raspberry or strawberry jelly/jello was often added instead of ice to keep the flavours from diluting!
Pre soak the tukhmuria / basil seeds for an hour or more in water. Strain and use.

Cook the cornstarch or arrow root sev/vermicelli for a few minutes until just cooked through, strain and add ice cubes to store. This ensures each strand stays separate and does not stick together. Add a pinch of salt while cooking.
Rose syrup can be made at home or bought from larger Indian and Persian Stores. It should be pure rose flavour and not made up of any kind of essence.

Pick you favourite ice cream here are a few to pick from

Tukhmuria seeds atop the scoop of icecream


For more Parsi Food recipes, origins and history of this ancient culture and food click on my cookbook
The Art of Parsi Cooking;reviving and ancient cuisine.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Puvha ~ Flattened Rice Pudding

Puvha ~ Flattened Rice Pudding


Traditionally prepared by the Parsis on a full moon night, it is a milky dessert made up of flattened rice and almonds, lightly laced with rose water, vanilla and a sprinkling of cardamom and nutmeg.  Particularly traditional on family picnic nights  especially in October when the Harvest Moon is at its largest and brightest. Families sat by the sea to enjoy this delicacy enjoying the fresh air and the cool sea breeze.







Serves 6 to 8 persons

4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup flattened rice
1/2 cup ground almond
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp rose water

In a pan stir on a low fire until completely dissolved the milk and sugar. Add to it the salt, flattened rice. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Continuing on a low flame, add the almond powder and cook till thickened to the right consistency of choice. Another 30 minutes. Add the vanilla and the rosewater, cardamom and nutmeg. Mix well and cool.
Garnish with rose petals.

Tips
The consistency of this pudding is creamy but still in the liquid state rather than a solid one.
Sometimes it may thicken after cooling. Add a little milk to thin it out if needed.

If rose water is unavailable do not add an alternate.
Pure rose water is fragrant and rose essence is very different.

Pistachios are often added to this for texture and flavour but just an extra.

One can also find flattened rice in pink leaving a hue behind when cooked.


For more Parsi Food recipes, origins and history check out my coookbook
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.


Irish Stew

Irish Stew

Many recipes share their food history. Cultures and borders have crossed and intertwined since time immemorial. Unravelling its lineage is often most fascinating.
Researching the origins of the wonderful comfort food called Irish Stew ( a simple hearty meat and potato dish) I happened to stumble across the interesting cross over of a French dish called Blanquettes; the very elegant French comfort food is pretty much the same, yet finished off with a silky egg yolk and cream rather than the rustic flour-butter roux and milk that is more typical of the Irish. Here is my version of the recipe definitely Parsi Food style!







Serves 6 persons


1 tbsp oil
I kg bone in lamb/mutton/goat/veal
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large onion
2 green chillies 
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger 
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 large carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
20 very little pearl onions
6 whole cloves
12  whole pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup green peas
1/ 4 cup plain flour
60 gm salted butter
1 cup whole milk

In a pan add the oil,meat and salt. Brown till the colour of the meat turns to a light caramel and the oils of the meat are released. Now add the grated onions,green chillies,garlic and ginger. Mix well. Add 4 cups of hot water, bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. 
Add the potatoes, carrots and the pearl onions, cloves, black pepper and cinnamon stick. Cover and continue cooking for another 45 minutes. Check how much of the gravy has evaporated, if the meat, potatoes are very soft and well cooked. 
In a small bowl with a fork mix the flour and the butter, until it resembles little pebbles. Add this to the pot, stir well and bring to a boil. Allow it to cook until most of the water has evaporated and the gravy is fairly thick. Now add the cup of milk and mixing well allow the gravy to be nice and creamy.
Serve with warm crusty bread and wonderful Irish butter.

Tips

The green chillies and small pearl onions are an option. 

You may reduce the oil but not the butter nor the milk. You may need to add a tad more milk if you find the gravy to thick for your liking.

Perfect for a cold wintry day it is a soul warming comfort food.

For origins, history and trivia of authentic Parsi Food my cookbook The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine is available.





Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Fried Rice ~ Chinese style

    Fried Rice

Left over boiled rice can be refreshed easily with an easy recipe like Fried Rice. Add your own choice of vegetables, an egg or two and a bit of liquid flavours to get it together.
Use a large skillet or a wok to toss and mix well and preparing it on a high flame helps.

It is tasty enough to eat on its own for some of us rice lovers, but goes well with sweet and sour chicken and chilli stiry fry beef.


Fried rice with eggs and vegetables

Serves 6 persons
2 cups boiled rice, cooled completely

1 tsp oil
1 tsp salted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 diced carrot
1/2 cup peas
4 chopped green onions
a handful of green beans
1 thinly sliced chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped prawns
optionally 1/2 cup of crab meat or lobster meat
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp lite soy sauce
1 fresh lemon or lime
3 tbsp Mirin


In a pan heat the butter and add the 2 beaten eggs to make a very thin crepe like omelette. You may make it in two batches if you prefer.
Remove to a cutting board roll it up and make chiffonades/ thin long slices.
Add the oil to pan fry the chicken until just done. Season with salt and a hint of red chili powder or paprika. Do not over cook. If you are using prawns/shrimp stir fry them, also seasoning them. Sprinkle the chicken/shrimp/prawn/crab/lobster  with fresh lemon juice.
Keep it aside. Now pan fry all the vegetables and keep those aside.
Ensuring the same pan is hot continue with adding the cooled off rice.   large-spoon by spoon keeping on tossing it as it catches a bit of the caramelised juices. Add the soy, mirin, sesame oil. Continue to toss. Once you find everything is hot and ready mix in the pan-fried chicken/shrimp/prawn/seafood of choice, the vegetables and the egg omelettes.
Once it all comes together serve immediately.

Tips
Boil together in salted water 2 cups rice.Drain and cool over night in the fridge.
For best results, cool and store covered on a large flat tray.

To make an omelette add an eggyolk if you have an extra one.

Use your favourite vegetables, bok choy, green beans and corn also are good substitutes.

Keeping it vegetarian is an option to consider if you are serving it with another protein.

This recipe is most versatile, use rice wine vinegar, chicken or other stock/broth. Add some chillie sauce or any of your favourites like pickling vinegar from a jar! 
Make it your own, flavourful and fun!



Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Blue Cheese Tart

                                                   

Cheese, Nut and Pear Tart

Not for the fainthearted, this tart is an acquired taste. A love it or hate it scenario its pungent smell, and the sweetness of pears baked in a home made crust; its best served with a salad.




Pears, macadamia and bluecheese 


Line a 9” tart pan with parchment paper.

Pastry
In a large bowl sift together
1 ½ cups flour
1/2 tsp of salt
Add
4 oz/125 gm butter at room  temperature
Crumble with your fingertips to resemble breadcrumbs. 
Now add to it 3 tbsp of ice cold water bringing it together forming a soft dough.
Allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Roll it out into the tart pan.
Prick it all over. Bake in a preheated oven of 350F/180C degrees for 10 minutes check to see if it is 'dry' so as not to be soggy once the liquid goes in. Turn off the oven and leave it for another 5-7 minutes until just crisp.

Slice 2 pears. Toast 1/4 cup macadamia/hazelnuts/walnuts OR pecans. Roughly chop them. Crumble 8 oz/250 gm  blue cheese. 

In a bowl beat together
10oz/300gm cream … you may substitute a portion of it for milk
2 eggs
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper

Assemble
Layer the tart with the pears, sprinkle half the cheese and nuts. Pour in the liquid mixture.Top it with cheese and nuts.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 –40 minutes until golden brown.
Switch of the oven when still just a bit wobbly in the center
Let it rest with the oven switched off until set and the skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips
I do not peel my pears, but its your choice.
You may use 2 egg yolks for every egg, if you have any leftovers you wish to use up.

Cheese can be strong or mild so use your favourite one to enjoy the tart.







Monday, 27 February 2017

Thai Chicken Curry


Thai Chicken Curry

There are a variety of Thai Curries. This particular is best served with chicken tenders or prawns. Your choice of Saffron, Coconut or simple sticky rice can be served with it.
The trick is to thicken the curry ready to eat before adding the chicken or prawns and cook only until just cooked through. 



Thai Curry with Chicken




Serves 6 persons

Ingredients

900 ml/32 oz coconut milk
2 small onions
6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp  fresh ginger
3 -6 thai red birds eye chillies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 stalk of lemon grass
½ tsp fish sauce
Adjust the chillies
A handful of fresh coriander
A few small pcs of galangal
4 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
A few Thai basil leaves
Optionally some fresh mint and 3 cardamom pods


In  large pan boil the coconut milk and add the  smooth puree of onions, garlic, ginger and red chillies. Also add the salt, sugar and lemon grass.
Let it cook on a low flame for 45 minutes to halve and thicken.
Now add the fish sauce, galangal, lime/lemon juice, basil leaves and the mint and cardamom. Also check for the spice and add the extra red chillies if needed. Bring to a boil, and lastly add 12 small pieces of chicken breast tenders. 
Cook for 5 minutes on a high flame to prevent the curry getting thinned down with the water within the chicken. Cover and let it rest for another 10 in the pot. Check to see its cooked through and do not overcook.


Serve with fresh boiled rice or coconut rice and a mango salad.

Tips
You may use two to three breasts of chicken cut into 6 thick strips each if preferred instead of the tenderloins. If you prefer using the thigh meat, cut into 4 squares each and cook for an extra 10 minutes or until cooked.

You may substitute chicken with prawns. About 1 1/2 lb/700 gm for this recipe.

Galangal is a young ginger with a distinct fragrant flavour available in Asian Food Stores. It is best used in pieces and not ground up as it is  hard to get it  smooth in texture.

Red and green birds eye chillies are rather fiery. Do not get fooled by the size of them. Removing the seeds will lower the heat levels. I would use 3 to start off with.


For more curries, a variety of rice and much more on the origins of Parsi Food check out the cookbook The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine. 

More on this blog
Saffron Rice
Coconut Rice
Kuku Paka
Caldin







Picture courtesy Samira Victor-Henry