Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Fundraising for World Central Kitchen.

















Blogging is all about storytelling. Just instead of people being the center of attention  on my blog food is the star using recipes to unfold the story it holds. 
We all have a story to tell good, bad or funny to share. It unravels in many different ways. This is mine.

Today I am using my blogging platform to reach out to share a  heartwarming story of the human race, set in the 21st century where people are dying, from an unknown virus. It is relentless, killing the young and the old, the rich and the famous and everyone else in its path. 
Except it is so very real as it is terrifying.

People have always needed people - now more than ever before. So many people are in dire need. Simply in dire need of food to survive. leaving their reasons aside let us focus on the angels who make this possible.

Among many in this world I came across World Central Kitchen - the brainchild of Chef Jose` Andre`. A true citizen of the world who keeps no borders and has no boundaries to reach out to.
I collaborated with them and have pledged to share 50% of all sales of my self published cookbook The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders available from amazon.

Please may I request you to go ahead and buy a copy to help us help them do what they do best. To tell them we are on their side proud to be a supporter. Every individual helps in the largest way.

Thank you in advance. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay blessed.
Niloufer Mavalvala. 

Links to what is Parsi food ?
A sneak peak to this cookbook
An introduction to the cookbook
Reviews

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Assamese Mustard Fish Curry




Fish Curry with Mustard


Traditionally thin, tangy and just a bit spicy this Assamese fish curry is an adaptation of my cousin Pria's family recipe. Recalling one of the most delightful dinners we shared a decade ago I felt the need to prepare it and relive the delectable flavours. This fish curry is simple to prepare and served with boiled white rice. 
Sharing food with family is perhaps the greatest asset that mankind has to offer. Embrace it with love and affection. The simplest of joys brings the greatest of pleasure. 


A fish curry with layers of flavour

A thicker gravy if you prefer!

 Serves 6

4 tsp mustard seeds or 2 tsp Indian mustard powder - dalaili Rai      
1 lb/ 500 gm fish fillets  - preferably white fish Tilapia pomfret, haddock, cod loins
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
4 green chillies split
3 tsp oil
1 finely chopped onion
half-inch cube ginger peeled and chopped fine
1 finely chopped medium sized tomato
1 cup water
optional 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh corriander/ cilantro 

Prepare mustard paste by soaking mustard seeds in a small bowl with enough water to cover completely for 2 hours. Drain water and grind it into a paste in a blender adding water as necessary. It should be a fine, foamy and very thin liquid paste.

Prepare the fish by cutting them into desired size. Coat them with the turmeric and salt. Leave aside until at room temperature. In a skillet shallow fry the fish to a golden brown. Remove the fish and keep aside. 
         Continue in the same skillet to saute the onions until soft. Let it cool for a few minutes. Grind the ginger, tomato and the onions. Tip it back into the skillet and add a cup of water and the green chillies. Cook until the mixture is cooked through and to your desired consistency. Place the fish in.  Slowly pour the mustard paste . Use a strainer if its not smooth. Simmer for a few minutes. Taste for salt and add the corriander leaves if desired. Squeeze the juice of half a fresh lemon. Serve it hot with boiled white rice.

Tips

You can cook the fish in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 20 minutes. Turn it over to ensure a golden brown crust on both sides. Using a parchment paper and do not overlap the pieces of fish.

If you are unable to get mustard seeds use the mustard powder - dalaili rai. Mix it vigorously with warm water and leave it to intensify in flavour. 
Don't get deterred by searching for the right mustard, give it a shot with prepared dijon mustard if you must. 

Photo Credit : NIloufer Mavalvala

Citrus Marmalade


Marmalade

There are plenty of methods to make jams. Marmalades from the jam family, is different because it is made up wit the whole fruit and generally only used for citrus fruits. 
Originating from the Portuguese word marmelada it is currently associated with a typical British breakfast. Here is my family recipe made with a grapefruit, several variety of oranges like clementine, mandarin and navel oranges which gives it a wonderful bold flavour.






Bitter Marmalade
Makes 4 kg of Marmalade

3 kg mixed citrus fruits - oranges, mandarins, clementine, grapefruit, sweet lemon
1 1/2 kg sugar
1/4 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup of whisky, vodka or gin 

Wash the fruit  and boil the whole fruit for 40 minutes. 
Remove the fruit - discard the water. Slice each fruit horizontally, remove the seeds.
In a food processor either pulse the cooked fruit or push it through your slicer blade.
Keeping it as thick or thin cut as desired.

In a deep thick pot pour the sugar, top it with the warm cut fruit. Add the salt and lemon juice.  Mix it well. On a low flame mix the jam until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Keep brushing the sides with cold water to clear the sugar crystals. Bring it all to a rolling boil, keep uncovered and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. The mixture will be sticky. If you like a tight jam, boil it further.

Optionally, add the whisky, gin or vodka.
Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and remove from the fire. Place in a sterilised jar. Store in a cool place.

Tips

This marmalade  recipe is for slightly bItter flavours.
For a medium marmalade add 2 kgs of sugar. 
For a sweet marmalade add 3 kgs of sugar. The addition of more sugar will take longer to melt and longer to cook it to a required thickness.

Thin skinned fruit makes the best marmalade.

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala

Brown Butter

 Brown Butter


The significance of using brown butter can never be overestimated. It adds to the colour, texture and enhances the flavour of the food. The process of preparing the brown butter creates a nutty caramelisation transforming the solids to perfect bites of salty droplets of goodness.

Parsi food has included this method of butter in its delicacies for centuries, as have other regions of the old world like Syria, Iraq, Iran etc.
Daar ni pori, the badam pak and mava nu cake are the common ones that use brown butter in their recipes.
Ghee is often replaced with brown butter as an alternate.

It is tried and tested to use as a simple "sauce" over ravioli, white fish, bread and butter pudding, banana bread, fry steak and eggs in or prepare a vegetarian rice palau. Topping it as a tarka on dal/lentils is commonplace. 
Beurre noisette (literal translation being hazelnut butter) is the French way of including brown butter in their pastry and cakes. They are often known to use it as a savoury sauce over omelettes, chicken, fish, pasta and winter vegetables.

It can be safely stored in the refrigerator for a month. 

Kofta Curry

Kofta Curry

The word Kofta arises from the Persian word Koftan meaning to pound-ground as one does to make the meatball from ground meat. The word "rissole'' can be the English reference to what one is preparing.  

While there are a variety of Koftas, from plain meatballs, to ones that are filled over a boiled egg or half of an egg to keep it smaller - called Nargisi Kofta. The Kashmiri Kofta is often sausage shaped and pan fried in oil infused with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves to add flavour.  Koftas are served with yogurt, raita and naan. 

Yet the Kofta curry is very different. These koftas are often cooked in the curry itself allowing them to be soft and supple, as they should be, melt in the mouth and silky cream like to taste. Delicately flavoured they are  an absolute foodie delight. 
Growing up I only ever remember having the perfect kofta curry in my neighbours home in London. An elderly aunt, Roshan aunty was a friend of the family, an exceptional cook with a heart of gold. I may have been just 18 but can literally recall the flavours. When I asked her she said, its always the ingredients. The meat and the malai- cream makes it special. 
While I am unsure if she will find my recipe exacting, its the closest to hers I have been able to capture. 

Traditionally beef is used but she used lamb and so have I. The curry one finds is a tomato based yogurt infused. But I have followed my dream of getting it like hers. 


A malai kofta curry with saffron rice


1/2 kg or 1 lb lamb or beef ground meat
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
8 tbsp milk powder or thick cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chillie powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masalo


Curry

Grind together 

3/4 cup sweet cashews
1 cup of tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes
2 green chillies
1 cup fried onion
6 full stalks of corriander 
1 stalk fresh mint
1/2 tsp garam masalo
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
2 dry large red chillies or 1 tsp red chilli powder

Cook this in a pan for 10 minutes until the oils separate. 

Add 2 cups of coconut water, mix well and bring it to a boil. 

Serve hot with white boiled rice, coconut rice, saffron rice or lemon rice. 

Tips

Using milk powder helps it bind easily and yet once soaked into the curry the kofta remains soft and succulent.  

Once the kofta is browned all over, cover the pan to allow it to steam cook. This allows it to cook and keep soft at the same time.

If you prefer a non nut based dish, use crushed sunflower seeds. Chestnut flour is also an alternate. 


Photo Credit : Niloufer Mavalvala






Spiced Lamb with Orange Rice


Spiced Lamb Curry
served with
Rice cooked in chicken broth and orange juice


Childhood memories are often made up of food. We relate events and occasions, both happy and sad ones, to what we ate. I am no different and associate certain moments with the aromas of our buzzing kitchen. Cheese cakes were for dinner parties, brownies for weekend treats. Rice was a must for lunch - we ate a full lunch as a family every day of the week.
This particular curry is very mild on the spice and bursts with subtle flavour. Nothing close to a Parsi food dish nor even an Indian one. The rice compliments the gentle yet asserting flavours. Like ours Its perfect for the family that has members who love eating a mild curry but love bold flavours. The green chillies are for the other members who need to have their meal spicier. It works well. This is my mother's recipe which she still considers a favourite  and  my youngest loves it too. 



Lamb potatoes cooked in yogurt served with orange rice


Flavourful rice cooked in broth and fresh orange juice



Serves 6

Spiced Lamb Curry

2 tbsp butter or oil
1 1/2 lb  / 750 gm pieces of lamb/mutton/goat with bone
2 tbsp butter or oil
1 cup of fried crushed onions
1  1/2 tsp garlic 
 1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp corriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
6 whole green cardamom pods, broken
1/2 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne
2 tsp paprika
2 large green chillies 

1 cup thick yogurt + 1/ cup water + pinch of sugar+ pinch of salt

3 tsp lemon juice
1/2 lb /250 gm potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into chunks
3 large skinned tomatoes in quarters


In a large pot heat the oil and brown the pieces of meat all over. Add the fried onions and the garlic, ginger salt, corriander, cumin, cayene, paprika powders. Then throw in the cracked cardamom and slit green chillies. 

Add in the yogurt mix. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. 
Add the lemon juice, potatoes and tomatoes. Cook for another 40 minutes until everything is tender.
Serve immediately with the orange rice.


Rice cooked in chicken broth and orange juice.


Serves 4 to 6


Orange Rice

1 1/4 cup rice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp butter or oil
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup orange juice
4 finely sliced green onions all the way down to the greens
zest of one orange and one lemon

Wash the rice, Add it to a pot. Add all the other ingredients, bring it to a boil until you can see the layer of rice. Cover, lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes, Cooking the rice until tender and flaky.
Garnish it with orange segments, almonds and fresh mint or corriander. 

Tips

You may wish to buy freshly squeezed orange juice instead of prepackaged stuff.
Adding adobe chillies if you don't have paprika works.
Adjust the salt if your chicken stock is salty. 


Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala





Strawberry Jam


Fresh Strawberry Jam

Growing up in Pakistan there was no strawberry to be bought until I was in my late teens. However loving store bought strawberry and raspberry jams I was thrilled when on one of my frequent visits to Bombay- Mumbai now, I got to hull, chop and make delicious strawberry jam with my Villie fui. I clearly remember sealing the bottles and bringing them home with me knowing they would be treasured for a while. Short while, lol.  As the years rolled by people started growing strawberries on their roof tops and soon we got to buy punnets of delicious fresh strawberry in season for a price. I often made this jam as anything fresh and home-made seems to way surpass anything one can purchase in a jar or can. 
Here is the simple fruity jam I share with you to try out for yourself. 

Fresh strawberry jam

Makes 1 1/2 kg or 3 lb of jam

1 kg- 2.2lb fresh hulled strawberries
1/2 kg - 1 lb sugar
juice of one lemon or lime
1/4 tsp salt

Wash clean and chop the strawberries in cubes
In a pan add the sugar, top with the strawberries lemon juice and salt.
Leave aside for an hour
On a low flame mix the jam until all the sugar crystals are dissolved. Do NOT let it boil.
Use a brush and cold water to wipe the sides down.
Once all the sugar is melted bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes, Check for thickness.
Fill in sterilised jars and cool completely.
Refrigerate up to 1 year.

Tips
Keep the size of strawberries equal
if you prefer it mushed rather then in chunks, slice the strawberries thinly instead of cubes.
Apple is a perfect pectin to add to this. Use just a very finely chopped quarter of a peeled apple to this while starting to cook. 

French Bean and Meat Stew

French Bean and Meat Stew
Frenchbean ma gos

Ma gos or with meat is how most Parsis eat their vegetable and meat. They did that with the influence of their Persian ancestors after all we are the people from Pars now mainly in India and Pakistan and more recently in North America. Have we all forgotten the "ma gos"? Yes, to a fair extent we have. The revival of this ancient cuisine in the past 5 years is remarkable. It is with much passion that the younger generation has started to embrace all things Parsi with much love. They may or may not have the luxury of revisiting India and Pakistan for a holiday but have so much access to our delightful, simple and healthy cuisine. 
They are all turning to their grandparents for and encouragement. It is a good feeling to chat about it on facebook pages, have cooking demonstrations and now make videos on sharing how simple it can be. 

This particular dish has subtle flavours. It is not spicy, nor oily nor complicated. Using fresh French beans is always the best.






1 tsp oil
1/2 kg - 1 lb bone in meat - lamb, mutton or goat
1 1/2 tsp crushed ginger
1 1/2 tsp  crushed garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup crushed fried onion
3 tomatoes that are finely chopped - 1 cup
3 finely chopped green chillies
1 kg -2.2lb french beans preferably cut at an angle

Heat the oil and add the meat to brown all over. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, salt and fried onions. Give it a good stir. Add 1 cup of water, bring it all to a boil and cover the pot. Lower the heat and cook the meat for 30 minutes. At this point the water should be almost evaporated and the meat half done.  Add the tomatoes, chillies and the french beans. Mix well, cover and cook for another 30 minutes. 

Optionally add a pinch of sugar. It will bring out the natural sweetness of the beans. 
Its on the very same basis that one adds salt to food. 

Tips

The dish should be lushy and not watery at all. If there is any water like residue left over, turn the flame on high for a few minutes leaving the pot open to allow it to evaporate. 
Do not turn the beans to mush. It should be cooked through but not pulp up.

This recipe is for fresh beans. If you are using frozen ones, leave it on a kitchen paper overnight for the water to be drained. Or you can dry them off in an oven and add it much later in the process, ensuring enough time to absorb the flavours. Or you may even stir fry the beans allowing the water to evaporate before adding it to the meat and spices.


Bread-end Brown Butter Pudding

Bread-end Brown-butter Pudding


Preparing puddings from leftover crust ends of cut sandwich bread is a simple way of not wasting food. Freeze the bread in a ziploc and use as needed. Here there is about 3 cups worth of crusts. Flavouring it with all your favourite spices. Add some nuts and raisins for texture. Sweeten it to taste. And butter the dish very generously. It will be perfect each time.   



Bread-end brown-butter Pud.

Serves 6 to 8

8x5 inch baking dish
8 inch sq cake pan
Preheat the oven to 300F


2 tbsp salted butter
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 cup almonds and raisins
1/3 cup brown butter

Lavishly butter the dish. place all the bread-ends. In a bowl mix the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla and spices.
Pour it over evenly. Sprinkle with nuts and raisins.
Pour brown butter all over.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. There should be a wobble. Turn the oven off and leave it to set for another 30 minutes.
Serve with creme anglaise or Vanilla bean ice-cream


Tips
For a more decadent dessert add 1/2 tsp saffron and prepare it in half and half.
Substituting a cup of cream for a cup of milk is another option.



A cut serving of the pudding

Preparation to the pudding

Photo Credit : Niloufer Mavalvala

Friday, 1 November 2019

Jhinga na Kavab - Prawn kebabs


Prawn kebabs
Jhinga na kavab - the modern way

For years we have always enjoyed the best jhinga na kavab at my mother's dining table. I realised they were 'different' from the traditional ones we were served with Dhansak at ghambars- community meals, picnics or in other homes we ate at. I continued to love those my mum prepared, you could really taste the prawns, never minced, never overpowered with binding that is necessary of kavabs if one is to fry them easily without them collapsing. She prepared them like a biscuit never like a ball. 

Years later I decided to give it a try, while they are easy to make, they are messy to fry. And so I turned it into an omelette style simply to cut and share. Everyone loved them. My daughter decided to make these for a pop up last month, and was creative enough to turn them into muffins, after all modern day food is more theatrics if you want the brownie points!! 

While it's easy to prepare as an omelette or in a muffin pan it all tastes divine. So go ahead and make them whichever way your family can enjoy it. 




Jhinga na kavab, scooped into muffin pans and baked

Makes 24 kavabs 

1 lb /450 gm prawns - peeled, washed, deveined and cut into 3 pieces each
1 tsp salt
6 finely chopped green chillies
2 medium seedless finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh corriander
1 cup fried crushed onions lightly golden
1 sliced white bread into crumbs
3 eggs - well beaten

Hot oil to fry or brush the pan with

In a bowl place the prepared prawns. Salt them and toss well.
Now add the green chillies, tomatoes corriander onions and bread.
When ready to bake add the eggs and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. 
Brush the muffin pan with cooking oil like safflo. Heat the pan brushed with oil.

With an ice-cream scoop place the prepared mixture of the kavabs into the heated muffin pan. Top with a teaspoon of hot oil on each kavab-muffin. 
Place the tray into the oven for 17 to 20 minutes.
Remove and serve immediately.

You may choose to make it on the stove top like a big omelette to serve family style. For that increase the eggs to 6. This quantity makes 2 omelettes.

Heat a 9 inch skillet with a teaspoon of oil until very hot. 
Beat 3 eggs very well and pour into the hot skillet, immediately add 1/2 the prawn mix and cover the pan. Give it 2 minutes shaking the skillet. Keep the pan covered and make sure it's cooked through. Flip over on a plate and serve in wedges.

Alternately you can deep fry them in hot oil. To do that.
Chill the mixture. It needs to be sticky firm enough to handle with two spoons. You may need to adjust the ingredients by adding another slice of bread or adjust the eggs. You will also need to chop the prawns into smaller bites. 


 Photo Credit Niloufer Mavalvala



Shamineh Mavalvala made these for her home and shared it with us.