Lamb and Carrot Ragu

Not as hard as it seems. Really, I was surprised at how tasty it was considering I made it, and I’m bad at meat.

Lamb and Carrot Ragu

Lamb and Carrot Ragu

Inspired by a brunch I had somewhere in North Melbourne, but the recipe is mine

4 pieces round lamb bone chops – it has to be something with a bit of bone in it
8 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, diced small
1 red onion, chopped
5-7 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 tablesp tomato paste
1 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 teasp cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
1/2 teasp black pepper
Salt and sugar to taste

A pressure cooker

  1. Brown onion and garlic in some oil. Add the cumin seeds.
  2. While while that’s browning, chop the carrots. Then add the carrots.
  3. Same for the tomato – while the carrot browns, chop the tomato. Then add the tomato and a little salt.
  4. Mix it around and then close the pressure cooker lid. Pressure cook on high for around 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Clean the excess fat off the lamb. Open the pressure cooker (quick release), then add the lamb, tomato paste, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaves.
  6. Close the pressure cooker, and cook on high for around an hour.
  7. Open the pressure cooker (quick release), then boil off the excess water until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust the salt and sugar as needed.
  8. Serve over some small size pasta ūüôā

More Indian food that I have destroyed: Baingan Bharta (and corrupted BB pasta)

I love Indian food (the authentic spicy type). Lets get that out there and make it clear.

But for some reason I don’t seem to have the same level of horror when I corrupt Indian food versus when I corrupt Chinese food. I seem perfectly happy to make “Indian pasta” but if feel like a total weirdo if someone tells me that a certain dish is “Chinese / Thai inspired” but is actually western. No, I don’t have an explanation. Yes, I am really very sorry.

With that in mind I was debating whether or not to post this recipe.

See, I have found that authentic baingan bharta tastes really good over pasta with a shake of parmesan cheese. This was a discovery made when trying to figure out what to do with my leftovers.

Please don’t judge me. The below is a recipe for a proper baingan bharta. If you want to corrupt it by putting it over pasta, at least do it with the leftovers rather than the fresh food. That way my conscience will remain clear.

Baingain BhartaCorrupted pasta version

Baingan Bharta (Roasted eggplant ..curry? Not really curry)

Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe

2 medium sized eggplants
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 teasp  ginger, chopped
1 teasp cumin seeds
1/2 teasp garam masala
1/2 teasp chilli powder
Salt to taste

Note: I’m really lazy and didn’t skin my eggplants, if you are a proper maker of Indian food and not-lazy then you should remove the skin of your eggplant before mashing it into the tomato mixture in the pan.

  1. Turn your oven (200-220 degrees C) or grill. Prick the eggplants all over and rub with a little oil, then leave them roasting for half an hour to 40 minutes. You might need to turn them halfway.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan. Over medium heat, fry the cumin seeds until they dance a little. Add the onion, and fry until the onion goes soft. Then add the ginger and green chilli, and fry for a bit longer until that’s cooked too.
  3. Add the tomato and continue frying until the tomato softens.
  4. Chop up the eggplant (I don’t bother skinning it), and throw the whole thing in the pan. Stir and mash until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, and salt to taste. Cook a little longer so spices incorporate, then you’re done!

Raita is a Vegetable

Raita is what I make when I need a vege dish to go with my rice, and I don’t want to cook anything else. Yes, I know its a dip not a dish. No, I don’t care. I don’t care because when I have it in restaurants, I eat loads of it by itself with rice… so, I suppose that makes it a vegetable in my world.

Okay, come scold me now for my raita-mangling, I’m prepared for the onslaught!

This goes especially well with something spicy because the yoghurt and cucumber un-spicy-fies everything when your mouth has caught fire. That happens to me a lot, because I get a bit over excited with the chilli powder/dried chilli/chilli flakes/fresh chilli. I also often get it in my eyes, but it doesn’t help much for that. Don’t put raita on your face. Though people do use cucumber and yoghurt in face masks. Hm.

I suspect I’ve completely destroyed this recipe (as I seem to do with Indian recipes.. sorry). But I like it! It tasted good! So here’s the poor recipe I messed with if you want to meddle with Indian recipes too. I think I should probably call all my Indian recipes “Indian inspired” rather than “Indian”.

That’s it from me, I’m not feeling particularly inspired to write today. I suppose this is one of those posts which is more Lea-using-blog-as-recipe-binder rather than Lea-using-blog-as-excuse-to-ramble-weirdly-and-publicly. Everyone has those days right? A slice of cake and a cup of tea, and all will be well (and verbose) again. I’ll have a cup of tea now, actually.

Lea’s Mangled Raita

Taken from Niya’s World and abused. She didn’t have cucumber in it. I think it was meant to be a yoghurt dip. Oops.

1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 a tub of plain yoghurt – that’s about 200ml but a bit more or a bit less is fine
3 cloves of garlic
1/3 of a red onion – also an approximate measure, I had a big onion, if yours is small use a bit more
1/2 a teasp cumin seeds
A pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper
A little chopped fresh coriander to garnish, if you have it (I didn’t)

  1. Chop the garlic and fry it in a little oil. Cheat like me and blitz it in the microwave (on high, in a mug or a ramekin) in a little oil for about 30 seconds. If you use a mug, you had better designate a garlic-mug, because it makes the mug smell like garlic :). Leave it sizzling on the countertop, it’ll go a nice golden brown after a minute or two.
  2. Fry the cumin seeds in a little oil, until they dance and start to smell nice. No cheating with this one, because you need to watch that they don’t burn. Sorry team lazy. If I figure out how long this takes in the microwave, and at what setting, you’ll be the first to know.
  3. Chop the cucumber into little chunks. Also chop the onion.
  4. Mix the yoghurt, onion, garlic (which has cooled a bit by now), cumin seeds, salt, pepper, and coriander (if you have it). Then, pour in the cucumbers and mix some more. Tadaa! Easy veg.

Why I Don’t Like Food Colouring, and Tandoori Prawn

Because it’s cheating. That was a simple answer wasn’t it? Well really, I have no problem with food colouring when food is intended to be coloured (like rainbow cake, which is awesome), but I feel that it’s somehow unfair to colour savoury food to make it more pretend-tasty than it is.

I don’t have a problem with mock-meat though. I actually quite like it. I suppose the thought process is that mock meat is a meant to be a trick rather than fresh food anyway, so anything that makes it more exciting is a plus point.

Anyway, the reason why this came up is because apparently, tandoori uses red food colouring. I did not know this. Naive me, thinking that the red comes from secret spices!

The happy ending to this story is that you don’t need to use food colouring to get the nice red colour on these tandoori prawns, you only need to add enough chilli powder. Not a problem, I like chilli powder.

What follows is a surprisingly easy recipe for a surprisingly tasty dish. Take it from someone who usually avoids tandoori in restaurants because I’ve never had one I liked – too dry every time. I only tried making this because I had something similar to tandoori chicken at Bel’s place a week or so ago. Actually it might have been tandoori, I should have asked. I didn’t think it was tandoori because it tasted too good. This didn’t taste the same (so is it tandoori? or not tandoori?), but it’s okay, as I’ve mentioned I’m not exactly the most authentic of kitchen-experimenters around here.
Tandoori Prawn

Based on Aaplemint’s recipe, with a few exclusions depending on what I had in the kitchen. Specifically, I swapped out cumin powder for cumin seeds, and didn’t use any tandoori masala (you’re supposed to use a teaspoonful).

200g prawns – that’s about 10 or 12 depending on how big your prawns are
3 tablesp yoghurt
3 cloves of garlic
1 knob of ginger, about 1cm long and not too thick – like your little finger
Juice of a small green lime
1.5 teasp cumin seeds
2-3 teasp chilli powder – I used closer to 3 teasp
A pinch of salt

  1. De-shell and de-vein the prawns, leaving the tail on. That’s so you have a¬†convenient¬†little handle to grab the prawn with. ¬†I dumped mine in icy water afterwards while doing everything else, so that they would get nice and bouncy (restaurant tips!)
  2. Grate the garlic and ginger using the small holes on the grater (the one you use for parmasan cheese). Careful of your fingers, no one likes skin in their food.
  3. Dump all the other ingredients in a bowl with the garlic and ginger. Mix mix.
  4. Put the prawns in, and let them sit in the mixture for at least 2 hours, preferably. I’ll openly admit I only marinated for about half an hour and it turned out fine, but the taste is probably better if you marinate longer.
  5. Now I don’t have a grilling pan to finish it off, and I think it’d also work on a barbeque, but if you’re like me and don’t have any of these items….turn the oven on grill setting. Put the prawns in a non-stick baking tray and place the tray right up near the grilling elements. Wait about 5 minutes, until the prawns are a bit charred, then take them out and flip them over. Put them back in so that the other side gets charred too.

Counterfeit Indian Food

I really like Indian food but I can’t cook it for nuts. Ground nuts,¬†pistachio¬†nuts, cashew nuts, peanuts. I sound crazy now but I’m just trying to tell you how sad this makes me. Imagine, me, a confused Chinese-English girl in continental Europe, and the one thing I craved most for a whole semester in university was banana leaf.

Specifically, banana leaf from Nirwana Maju in Bangsar, with the crunchy oily snake gourd in batter, and loads of pickle and salted dried chillies.

I suspect I may have some underlying identity issues.

A friend (with amazing cooking skills) taught me this recipe, while I was in London watching her cook. And then I forgot it. And then I scoured the internet to try and find something even half close, which was really quite difficult. And then a certain Mr. B.Foot told me that it needs to have mustard seeds in it, else, why would you even do this? And so, here you go.

I don’t vouch for its authenticity, but it is one of my favourite cauliflower dishes, and I don’t usually like cauliflower that much. The person that taught me the original recipe was ¬†Indian, does that count?

If you actually know how to cook Indian food, feel free to have a good laugh at how I’ve traumatised a self-respecting cauliflower. And send me your grandmother’s recipe so I can have a go at humiliating another poor vegetable ūüėÄ

Dry Fry Cauliflower 

1 head of cauliflower
1 teasp of mustard seeds
2 teasp of  cumin seeds
1 teasp of  chilli powder (or 2 dried chillies)
1/2 teasp turmeric powder
1/4 teasp coriander powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)

  1. Separate the cauliflower into florets, preferably by hand. This is supposed to make it taste better but I don’t remember why. I just find it fun to pluck the bits off by hand.
  2. Add a tablespoon of oil to a wok on low heat. Chuck in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chilli. Wait for them to dance *wiggle wiggle*. They will also get more fragrant
    You need to believe me on this, they really will dance. And you should dance with them! Try playing ZeeTV* in the background to set the mood. ¬†But careful not to burn them, if you burn the cumin seeds it’ll taste weird. When the seeds darken slightly to a golden brown to a then it’s about done, if you wait until they are dark brown they’re burnt.
  3. Add the cauliflower and stir to mix all the spices in thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. Add the remaining turmeric and coriander powder. Mix mix!
  5. Taste…add more salt or chilli powder if you need to. According to me, it’s done when the cauliflower is still a bit crisp in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outside, because I like my vege underdone. If you over cook it, then the whole dish will become soggy. Though some people like that ūüôā

*A channel on Singapore TV that shows Indian movies of all sorts all day all night.