Thursday, 22 October 2020

Thai - Chicken in green curry

 Thai Chicken in Green Curry

Gaeng Khio

often called Gaeng Khio Wan- sweet, the colour of this curry is dependent on the green chillies and other greens used to prepare.  A green curry paste is the basis of the curry. Like every good recipe preparing it at home is the best. Thai pastes are generally hand ground for authentic results, not for all of us. Using a mortar and pestle and a strong arm, one can get a beautiful paste. Nothing a good machine cannot process and yet there is a stark difference. 

Serves 6

The Green curry paste is made up of

4 Roots of the corriander leaf - bottom part of the stalk
4 garlic cloves
2 hearts of lemon grass - the white part at the root of the stalk
ginger 1 tsp
Galangal 1 thumb size grated
zest of a lime
4 green chillies
2 to 6 birds eye Thai chillies green or red - the spice level is intense

2 cup of good chicken stock
400 ml coconut milk or cream 

Add this to your taste if you prefer it more pungent, sweeter or sour. 

1 tsp Tamarind
2 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp shrimp paste
4 small crushed shallots 
2 tbsp fish sauce
Optionally a Japanese soya that is flavourful and not as salty 1 tbsp Tamari

1 1/2 kg chicken pieces

To flavour you will need
Kaffir lime leaves
3 sliced green onions
handful of Thai basil leaves
cupful of bamboo shoots
8 Thai baby eggplant, slit or halved 

For the curry
In a pan heat a touch of oil and sizzle the paste adding chicken stock as needed.

Add 2 tsp of corn flour to thicken allowing the mixture to boil and bubble.
Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.
Once it is free of lumps add the rest of the chicken stock, coconut milk and flavour the curry with the tamarind palm sugar fish sauce and tamari.

Add the pieces of chicken and vegetables. Cook for 10 minutes after it comes to a boil or until just done.  

Add Kaffir lime leaves, sliced green onions, Thai basil leaves, bamboo shoots,  Thai baby eggplant, 

Thai- Beef red curry

 Beef in Red Curry

Gaeng Phet 

The red curry paste is best made at home. It has a base of a few ingredients which can be ground and frozen. You can then add whatever you wish to build up the flavour of your beef, chicken or duck meat. 

While generally meats are used in Red curries a whole fish fried and served can be just as delicious. 

The Red curry paste

10 dry red chillies
2 to 6 bird eye Thai chillie or any other red chillies - Thai chillies are extremely hot
1 tsp salt
Galangal - thumb size or a paste
2 hearts lemon grass - the white part in the root of the stalk
3 red shallots - ground to a pulp
1 pod of garlic
2 roots of the corriander leaf stalk
Zest of a lime
Toast and grind
10 white peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp corriander seeds

optionally 1 tbsp of shrimp paste

1 1/2 kg of beef in half the paste

You will also need
500 ml coconut milk or cream
Kaffir lime leaves
Julienne of red chillies - non spicy
Handful of Thai basil
1 tbsp fish sauce
lime juice

In a large wok heat a drop of oil and fry the other half of the paste. Once aromatic add the meat in and keep frying until you think the spices are cooked. Pour in 500 ml of coconut milk or cream, keep stirring and bring it to a boil.
Kaffir lime leaves, slit chillies or large green chillies - capsicum, Thai basil, palm sugar and fish sauce.
Taste for balance. Serve with boiled rice. Mango salad and papaya salad are great sides. 

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala

Prawns - Thick Curry Sauce

Prawns in a thick curry sauce.

Panang Phanang Phanaeng Curry.

There are as many types of curries as the clouds in our skies. Versions of a curry originating from the geography gives it their names.

Panang curry is also called Phanang and Phanaeng. It is a thick curry prepared from the basic red curry paste and added layers of flavour. Primarily  it must be  sweet and salty while having a bold nutty flavour with the addition of toasted, roasted peanuts - or peanut butter. Generally from the central and southern regions of Thailand it is delicious. Served with boiled rice or even a roti, paratha it can be a soul warming comfort food. 

Not to be confused with Penang in Malaysia or their cuisine.

This curry is meant to be thick.

Serves 6

Grind together

10 dry red chillies
2 to 6 fresh birds eye or red chillies - spice heat can be intense
4 shallots - ground to a pulp
6 cloves of garlic
1 thumb size galangal, grated or a paste
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp palm sugar
4 white hearts of the lemon grass 
1 tsp fish sauce
Zest of 1 makrut lime 
Juice of the lime
2 tbsp finely crushed peanuts or fresh peanut butter
400 ml thick coconut cream
3 cardamom pods
Handful of Thai Basil leaves

Optionally add either 
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp white pepper

2 lb prawns - keep the shells aside.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric

Oil to cook in. 

Heat a little oil and pan fry the prawns on a high flame just flash frying them. Remove and keep aside. In the same pan add the shallots saute until golden brown and add the ground chillie and rest of the spices. Keep stirring until all the aromas are fragrant. Add water as needed(coconut water or coconut milk can be substituted). Add the peanuts, cardamom, lime juice and mix well.
Add the coconut cream and bring to a boil, until required thickness. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the prawns and let it simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.  
Add the fresh basil and give it a toss. Serve immediately. 

Photo credit Niloufer Mavalvala

Friday, 16 October 2020

Stir fried Noodles

 Stir fried Noodles

Egg noodles

These noodles are wonderful to stir fry adding whatever you fancy eating at the time, or what you have in the fridge waiting to be eaten up!

Noodles are best when they are crisp and soft. It needs the contrast. To be able to achieve that - dunk the fresh egg noodles into hot boiling salted water. Do not over cook at this stage, remove the noodles and allow the water to be drained off. The noodles should be fairly 'dry' even if you have to leave them under a fan or in the fridge to help. Making small nests can help you fry them evenly and quickly.

Mis en place- things in place before your begin your cooking is very very important to get a good result. Chop your vegetables, keep the dishes to remove in ready, keep your sauces ready.

Serve immediately.


Serves 6

1 lb/ 1/2 kg egg noodles - fresh is best
Partly cooked in hot salted water and drained
divide into 4 nests or more

2 skinless, boneless thighs of chicken, thinly sliced
300 gm of shelled prawns

Marinated in a mix of
4 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soya sauce

If you wish to make it slightly spicy add a hot sauce or chillie flakes or chillies to the mix.

3 cupful of diced vegetables - fresh is best
green beans
shallot - onion

12 finely chopped green onions

liquid - chicken/vegetable stock or leftover orange juice to use as you need to 

In a hot wok add
1 tsp of oil and start frying the noodle nests one at a time.
Flip and move around, allow to get crispy on the bottom - a crusty golden brown is cooked enough - remove and keep aside. Continue to cook all of them.

Now keep adding a touch of oil and caramelise the green onion, the shallot onion and then the other vegetables. Add spoonfuls of liquid to release the caramelisation from the bottom of the pan. Remove and keep adding on top of the noodles. 
Lastly stir fry the protein of your choice. Chicken- prawn or beef.
Once cooked through toss the noodles and vegetables with the protein and serve in bowls.
Fry the eggs in your wok and top each bowl with one.
Serve immediately.

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala

Crispy Fried Beef Chillie

 Crispy Fried Beef Chillie

From the Schezwan Sichuan Schezuan region this dish is spicy and aromatic.

Regional cuisine in China is vast, and this type of food is popular among the subcontinent of India Pakistan Sri Lanka and extends to UAE where the residents are largely from the sub-continent. 

Spicy and flavourful this Chinese dish is adopted by the locals wherever they may be cooking it up and serving. It is adapted to their food palates and often spicier than the Chinese folk would eat.

Crispy fried beef should be double fried for best results. It helps retain the crisp finish to this dish- essential to the title. 

Serves 6

2 lb/1 kg beef - sliced thin and long
1 1/2 cup potato flour or corn flour or cornstarch

Grind together 
3 cloves of garlic
1 thumb size piece of ginger
1 small onion 
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

Marinate the meat for 20 minutes
sprinkle half the potato flour on it - leave it for another 10 minutes
Heat the wok with
1/4 cup oil

Sprinkle the meat with the rest of the potato flour coating it twice, and ensure each piece is separated with the help of the flour, a fork and your fingers.
Cook each piece to a sizzle. Not more than a minute.
Remove on a kitchen paper.

To prepare the sauce
boil together 
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 rd cup soya sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine or rice wine vinegar or sake
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin

Bring it to a boil. Add a mixture of  upto3 tsp cornstarch/corn flour with 6 tsp water mixed until smooth. This depends on how thick you would like your sauce to coat the meat in.

Sprinkle it with sesame and diced green onions, and serve with a bed of rice.

The meat has to be best quality and cut against the grain. A tenderloin is the best choice, but sirloin and flank can also work. 

When ready to serve you will re heat the meat in the same oil for a second or two. Its better not to reheat as it is best when freshly prepared.


Thursday, 20 August 2020

Kabuli Pallau - Qabuli Palao

Kabuli Pallau
Qabully Polau

This rice dish is typical of the region in and around Afghanistan. It is served on its own or a dish of yogurt on the side. Moist and subtle the flavour of this dish is from the bone broth made from your lamb shanks. The richer and deeper the flavour of the broth the bolder the rice. Left over rice can be eaten with a fried fish or kebabs. 

I have often eaten this in London, where one gets the most authentic restaurants from every region of the world. This is a recreation - my version of what we have been enjoying for the past decade. 

A rice and meat dish with lots of subtle flavour.

Serves 6

4 lamb shanks
4 small to medium onions
12 each of cloves, pepper corn, cracked cardamom pods 
1 stick of cinnamon
two pods of garlic - whole
12 cups water
2 cups rice - washed and rinsed 
A simple syrup of 1/2 cup sugar + 1 cup water
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tbsp candied orange peel
2 carrots, peeled and ribboned or julliened 
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp  cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt or to taste
Optional to decorate: a handful of raisin  and almonds You can also add a few dry apricots - khobani to this dish. 

In a pan heat a knob of butter and oil. Brown the lamb shanks all over until completely caramelised. Add the onions and allow it to saute for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and then the water. Bring it to a boil and cover. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook this for 3 hours. Or until the meat is tender. 
Remove and strain the broth. Keep aside.

Wash the rice, at least ten times until the water runs clear. 
Make a syrup with the sugar and water and add to this juice of one lemon, orange peel and the  carrots.

In the larger pot ( now empty)  saute` the tomato paste, cumin, garam masala salt and the cooked lamb. Use a little of the 4 cups of broth to bring it all together.
Place the raw washed riced in the pot. Pour the broth over and on high heat bring it to a boil. Let it cook until the broth has almost evaporated, allowing you to see the rice surface to the top. This will take 10 minutes. Pour the syrup with all the other vegetable and fruit in it. Cover this with a damp parchment - place it all the way down to touch the rice. Cover with a tight lid to avoid the steam from escaping.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes. 

Turn the stove off and let it rest for another ten minutes. Serve sprinkled with raisins and almonds that have been lightly toasted.

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

This one is for a quick weekend fix. Going against my constant nattering about how only "bone-in" meats and fish give the dish its rich flavour, I do have to get off the track from time to time and cave in my strong and sincere belief! 

So here is one for the boneless fans to gloat over. 
I am going to make this in the oven but you can use the stove-top just as easily.
The rice is cooked from 'raw' so that helps one less pot to wash. 
Make it your own, add your favourite spices to it if you feel like it. Just enjoy what you cook.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
13 x 9 roasting pan/dish
parchment paper
5 pieces of foil larger than the dish

1 tsp oil
1 tsp ginger 
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chillie powder - or 1 tsp red chillie and 1 tsp green chillies
salt - 2 1/4 tsp in total
3/4 tsp garam masala -
1 tbsp tomato paste 
1 cup crushed fried onion
3/4 tsp corriander powder

1/2 kg chicken thighs in cubes/chunks/ about a square inch is good size
1/2 kg potatoes peeled and in cubes the same or similar size as the chicken

1 cup yogurt + pinch of salt+ pinch of sugar
1/4 tsp crushed saffron

2 cups rice
4 cups hot boiling water +the salt
bay leaf
whole cardamom or its husk

Heat a tsp of oil and add the spices, stir and cook for a minute until aromatic.
Add the onions and chicken pieces. mix well, cook for 5 minutes and add the potatoes.
Stir well and cover the lid to steam for five minutes on a low flame.

In the meantime wash your rice 10 times until the water runs clear.
Boil your kettle of water
Mix the yogurt with saffron a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar.

Transfer the chicken and potatoes to your dish, pour the yogurt over it, spoon the raw rice all over and place the bay leaf and cardamom. Pour the boiling hot water over this, place the wet piece of parchment on top, and seal the dish with your foil ensuring no steam can escape.
Place your dish on a hot water bath in the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave for another 20 minutes. Serve.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Vengna nu achar - pickled aubergines/eggplants

Vengna nu Achar
Pickled aubergines or eggplants

It was a ritual to pickle most vegetables in season. Parsi food was no different. An abundance of locally grown vegetable that had the remotest chance of going bad were generally pickled to prolong its life and offer it as a side over the longer harsher winter months. 
This pickle with all the wonderful #parsifood flavours is no different.
A recipe shared by my friend and superb cook Zenia who takes delight in absolute perfection. While I have tweaked it to include the authentic ingredients used centuries ago, I hope you will all enjoy it at leisure. 

This recipe will make just over 1/2 kg or a lb of pickle.

500 gm/ 1.1 lb eggplant 
Grape seed oil
1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger 
1 tbsp crushed fresh garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
12 curry leaves
1 tsp red chillie powder 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 green chillie slit
3 tbsp fruit vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp crushed jaggery

Wash and dice the eggplant in small equal cubes.
Heat about 3 tbsp oil and add the eggplant, stirring it gently. Lower the heat and allow it to cook for about 15 minutes or until you can see it is soft. It should not turn to mush.
With a slotted spoon remove it from the pot. In the oil add the ginger garlic salt mustard seeds curry leaves, mix well and add the chillie and turmeric powders.
Finally add 3 tbsp fruit vinegar and a piece of jaggery to get the sour and sweetness to this.
Mix the eggplant with the cooked masala mixture. Top with the green chillies. The residue of the heat will cook the chillies and keep them firm.


You may increase the number of green chillies if you prefer it hot. 
Adding crushed red chillie instead of red chillie powder is an option.
To preserve it for longer, pour a couple of tablespoons of hot grape seed oil after you bottle it. 
Fruit vinegar refers to apple cider vinegar or any other made of fruit.
Jaggery refers to pure cane sugar that is unrefined.
Fresh curry leaves are a must in this pickle.
While picking an eggplant always take the one that feels light and is firm. This helps it being with less sacks of seed.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

World Central Kitchen - a fundraiser

Blogging is all about storytelling. Instead of people being the center of attention on my blog food is the star. Recipes unfold the story it holds within each picture. 
We all have a story to share.It just unravels in many different ways. Here 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.
I collaborated with them and have pledged to share 50% of all sales made through amazon of my self published cookbook The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders.

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. Each sale is important and will help achieve the goal.

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

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

Caramel Flan

We are currently running a fundraiser to help World Central Kitchen. Please join in if you can.

Caramel Cheese Flan

In a pan combine   
4 ozs of sugar
2 ozs of cold water

dissolve on a low heat, mixing it constantly so it does not boil before every crystal is melted.

Once all the sugar is melted, boil it until it becomes the colour you desire. A golden amber will be sweet while a dark colour will be bitter sweet.
Immediately pour it into a ready 9 inch cake pan.
Set aside.

In a liquidiser mix together
11 ozs milk
10 ozs condensed milk….1 can
7-8 ozs evaporated milk
1-2 ozs sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
 Optionally add a tbsp of rum or cognac
Blend  briefly
With the machine running add
8 ozs of cream cheese in small pieces at room temperature
4 large eggs at room temperature only to combine do not over beat.
Pour into the prepared caramel pan.
Preheat oven to 350 and place it on a tray of hot water. Lower the temperature to 300 degrees after first 5 minutes and let it set for 45 minutes. It should be firm but wobbly. Shut the oven and keep it inside for a good hour to cool down and set properly. Remove, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Over turn on a platter and serve cold with berries.


This can also be made in a 10" pan.

A little jiggle in the center when cooking time is over ensures the flan will not be overbaked. 

To read about an ancient cuisine you can purchase my cookbooks called The World of Parsi Cooking; Food Across Borders and The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.  

Photo courtesy Sheriar Hirjikaka