Tag Archives: oil

Spicy Egg and Potatoes

So, it’s not yet noon and I sit here eating curry. “Why?”, I hear you ask. It is because of the following conversation:

Me: Ooh, that looks good. I want to make something like that.
Also Me: What, now?
Me: Yes!
Also Me: But it’s 10:30AM and we haven’t eaten yet. That’s clearly not breakfast food.
Me: I don’t care.
Also Me: Lets eat something sensible.
Me: WANT!
Also Me: Oh fine. Be like that.
Me: Yay! Curry!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve recently been linked to by Naughty Curry (given that I had about 5 people reading this before, the chances are you came over here from there in the first place). Consequently I’ve been browsing their archives, and encountered a number of interesting spiced egg dishes. This one in particular inspired me.

Of course, by ‘inspired’ I don’t mean to imply that I followed the recipe or anything so dramatic. That would just be silly. The dish looked nice: I certainly wouldn’t say no if someone handed it to me (indeed I would probably be saying “Mind if I have some more?” in short order), but for various reasons I didn’t really feel like making the specific dish. I’ve recently perfected my sweet and spicy coconut curry sauce recipe, so I’m a little tired of coconut. Also I tend to prefer to cook somewhat drier dishes, and do not as a rule include tomatoes in my cooking. So, when I say inspired what I really mean is “Wellll… there’s egg in it. And onion and stuff”. After all, I’m sure I know better about cooking Indian food than someone who’s merely from India. Right…

Also, while browsing other sites linked from Naughty Curry I encountered this article. Very different from how I do things, but that doesn’t neccesarily mean it’s wrong. I am not above learning new things. So, I figured, why not?

Anyway, onwards and forwards to the recipe itself!

What I used:

2 medium red onions
4 medium-large potatoes
3 eggs (well, sortof).
2 large cloves of garlic
1.5 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp black onion seeds
3 dried red chillies
0.5 tsp turmeric
A bit over 0.5 tbsp course sea salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil

What I did:

Ok, the first thing to do is to cook the eggs and potatoes. The potatoes are unproblematic – bung them in boiling water until they’re soft enough. (Saying that, I screwed up and undercooked them slightly, but this proved not to be a problem).

I hard cooked the eggs, following the instructions from ‘The Good Egg’. The basic instructions go like this: Bring to nearly the boil, take off the heat and cover. Leave to sit for 15 minutes. Then replace the hot water with cold, add some ice and leave to cool.

I’d gotten to the leaving it to cool stage and had left it for about 5 minutes when I realised that she recommends you crack the top of the egg slightly. Presumably this allows the egg to peel away from the shell as it cools. So, I took one of the eggs and tapped it lightly against the side of the pan.

Splurge!

The egg broke apart to reveal white barely cooked egg goo. I was not impressed.

I have no idea what I did wrong, but I solved the problem with the remaining two by sticking them back on the heat and boiling the hell out of them. When I took them off the heat they were cooked perfectly.

Anyway, on to the actual recipe.

First I dry fried the whole spices to toast them lightly. Then I transferred them to a mortal and pestle and crushed them a little bit (not completely – about a quarter of the spices got powdered. The rest remained whole or slightly broken).

After I’d removed the spices I diced the onion coarsely and put it in the pan with the salt (and no oil). This fried surprisingly well all told – I think the salt really did help here. After about 5-10 minutes frying I added the spices to the onions.

At this point I observed that things really were burning onto the bottom of the pan quite spectacularly. That was unfortunate – if I let this state of affairs continue I would never ever get the damn thing clean. So I applied the standard steam cleaning trick: Push the food out of the way, pour a bit of water onto it. Let that steam for a moment to loosen the burned on stuff and then (before it all evaporates) scrape like hell with the spatula. Move food around to uncover a different part of the base, repeat. This done I continued to stir it and didn’t need to do this again until I was already going to be adding some water anyway.

While that was cooking I diced the potatoes into cubes a bit under a cm on a side. I added these to the onions and then added the oil at this point – I wanted to make sure the potatoes were properly heated as they were undercooked. In the end this was probably unnecesary as I decided to add water to the mix to cook them, so after frying for another few minutes I half covered it with water, put a lid on the pot and left it, stirring occasionally. It probably took about 5-10 minutes before the potatoes were cooked.

At this point I was thinking it looked very brown, so I added some turmeric. Now it looked very brown but had turmeric in it.

Then I chopped the egg up (to about the size I would use for egg salad), added it to the mix and stirred for a little longer. The result was a rather unappetising looking brown mess.

Conclusion:

So, I now had a plateful of the aforementioned brown mess. Oh well, I suppose I’d better… Wow. That’s really good.

Ok, this was by no means perfect, but it was pretty damn good. It had a really strong hot spicy flavour to it which many of my curries lack. Not subtle by any means, but very nice. Also, surprisingly, it wasn’t nearly as hot as it might have been – certainly not mouthburningly so. It could easily afford to have another chilli or two in it. This flavour owed an awful lot to the new way of cooking onions. I’m not saying I’m a total convert by any means – it probably wouldn’t work that well for some of my other dishes. It is however very nice in something like this.

What I’d change if I did it again: Firstly, the potato and egg combination was a mistake. It wasn’t bad mind you, but this would work much better as a straight egg dish or a straight potato dish. Secondly, I’d use a bit less salt. The saltiness was nice but just a little too strong.

Other than that, definitely a dish well done.

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Persian Rice and Lentils

The cookbook I approximated this from was “Persian cooking for a healthy kitchen” by Najmieh Batmanglij (whose name I freely admit I couldn’t pronounce if my life depended on it).

I’m afraid I’ve been rather bad with this one. I actually cooked it almost a week ago and never got around to putting it up. Thus my memory might be a bit shaky on the details.

What I used:

3 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dates
Two medium red onions
Lots of olive oil
1 tsp cardamon seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
Half a stock cube
Salt
1tbsp Brown sugar
Juice of one lemmon

What I did:

I started off by cooking the rice in the usual fashion.

Well… almost the usual fashion. The usual fashion doesn’t involve starting to set up the rice cooker and suddenly thinking “Hmm. That tingles. Actually, you know, that’s rather painful, ’cause I’ve JUST PLUGGED MY HAND INTO THE MAINS.” This was followed by several minutes of cursing, resetting the circuit breaker and throwing away the broken rice cooker.

So, cooking it on the stove top instead. Still, business as usual – I didn’t have a rice cooker . Repeatedly washed and soaked it in cold water, drained it and then brought cooked on a high heat with 5 cups of water until it was nearly dry. Then I drained off what water was left and set it aside.

While I was doing this I covered the lentils in water, added the half stock cube and cooked these until they were soft. Then I drained them and kept the cooking water.

I dry fried the cumin and cardamon, then crushed them in a mortar and pestle (which is more work than one might expect). Then I fried the onion with some salt, the sugar and plenty of olive oil. I added the crushed spices and the cinnamon. Once the onions were softening I added the raisins and dates. I continued frying them until the onions were properly cooked, then added the lentils and about 2/3 of the remaining rice and fried for a few minutes longer before taking it off the heat.

The next step of cooking involved baking the mix. I took the remaining rice and mixed it with some of the oil and cooking water from the lentils and used it to coat the inside of a deep ceramic baking dish. This was meant to form a nice crust around the main dish. I then packed the rice/lentil/everything else mix tightly down on top of it, poured on a bit more of the cooking water and the lemon juce then drizzled the top with oil.

I then baked it for about 45 minutes in a medium-hot oven. I served this with roast butternut squash and a salad.

Conclusion:

This was basically a good recipe. There were some problems though. First of all, the attempt to make the crusty outside failed completely. It’s possible that if I’d cooked it on a higher temperature it would work, but really I’m not sure it’s needed. Also the recipe could have used a bit more cumin and more salt. Finally, I thought the rice dominated too much over the lentils. I’d probably take out about half a cup of rice and add in another half cup of lentils. This is probably because it’s originally meant to be served with meat rather than as a main dish in its own right.

The recipe called for candied orange peel, but we didn’t have any to hand when I made this. If I make it again I’ll definitely include it.

Overall though, definitely something to make again. The sweet flavour offset the lentils nicely, and it was a nice slightly exotic dish for not too much work, electrocution aside.

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Vegetarian Mole

Yeah, I’m experimenting with the chocolate and chilli combination again. This time as a main meal. I’d recommend not telling people what’s in this until after they’ve already finished – my dad liked it, but once he realised the flavour was chocolate he found it a bit odd.

By the way, if you’re wondering why I always use red onions, it’s not because of any flavour preference. Our crop of red onions was good this year while our white onions failed rather dismally.

What I used:
Sunflower oil
2 medium red onions
2 red chillis
Lots of salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup treacle
About 3tbsp brown sugar
2 cans of kidney beans
Boiling water.

What I did:

This is about as embarassingly simple as you’d expect. I chopped up the onions, fried them in sunflower oil with the salt for 5 minutes. I then diced the chillis and removed most of the seeds (I needn’t have bothered. I keep forgetting how unspicy these chillis are) and added these to the mix. I let it cook for another 5 minutes before adding the garam masala and cocoa. (I added a little bit of water as well to keep it moist at this point).

After a few more minutes I added the beans, stirred until the beans were thoroughly coated and then added the treacle and sugar, covered everything with water and transferred it to the oven. I cooked it there for about 30 minutes.

Conclusion:

I liked it. I will agree with the assessment that it was a bit odd, but I thought it worked. That being said, it probably won’t go on my list of meals to cook on a regular basis.

It could use being a bit spicier (this is a function of the chillis I used) and to have slightly less water – I didn’t think the sauce was thick enough. I served it with white rice, pan fried squash and a broccoli, chickory and sesame salad.

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Pseudo-African Peanut and carrot stew

This was (very) loosely based off this recipe.

What I used:

Lots of sunflower oil
3 small white onions (close to shallot size)
1 medium-small red onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 tbsp of cumin
1/2 tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 tbsp of dried crushed chilli
3 cups of salted peanuts
8 medium-large carrots
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 kallo yeast-free vegetable stock cube
Water

What I did:

I needed to use the food processor for the peanuts anyway, so I decided to be very lazy with this recipe and use it for all my chopping purposes. So I shoved the onions and garlic in the processor, pulsed it for a bit until they were fine and started frying them in oil as per usual. I added the sugar, cumin and chilli here.

I fried them for about 5 to 10 minutes, and while they were frying I pulsed the peanuts and the carrots in the blender (seperately). I then added the peanuts, fried for a bit longer and added the carrots as well. I continued to fry this for another 5-10 minutes, then added the tomatoes, stock and boiling water to cover it.

I simmered this for about 20 minutes before deciding it wasn’t cooking fast enough. I then transferred it to the hot oven on the aga and left it for another 20 minutes. When I took it out almost all the water had evaporated, so I added a little more, stirred it and stuck it in the simmering oven to keep warm and cook slightly more. It was probably in there for 10 minutes before we ate. I served this with whole wheat African chapatis, which are like Indian chapatis except that they’re from Africa. (I’ll include a post on chapatis some time – I’m really struggling to get the damn things right).

Conclusion

I’d say this was a success. It wasn’t perfect, but it had a nice flavour to it. Simple, but slightly unusual. I’d probably use fewer peanuts in future – maybe two instead of three cups. Possibly a touch more chilli as well.

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Butternut squash risotto

This is a much more basic recipe than the others I’ve been playing with, but it was really nice so I’ll include it anyway.

Vegetarian risotto has a danger of being a bit boring. The butternut squash in this offsets that nicely without adding a lot of work, making for a really nice easy dish. This follows a similar recipe in the reader’s digest “Pumpkins and squashes” cookbook.

What I used:

A cup and a half of risotto rice
Half a butternut squash
Two small red onions
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
One kallo organic vegetable stock cube
Boiling water
Olive oil

What I did:

Pretty much what you’d expect. Diced the onions, fried them in olive oil. Peeled the squash and chopped it up into cm cubes then added it to the onions along with the thyme. After a few minutes more I added the rice, stirred for a bit longer and then cover with vegetable stock and boiling water. I let the water cook off and topped it up once or twice until the risotto and the squash were both well cooked and slightly glooy.

Conclusion:

This was actually really nice. I’m sure a lot of this was that I used a good stock for it, but the combination of the risotto flavour and the butternut squash was a definite winner. The fact that this was unbelievably easy to make was a definite point in its favour as well. I’ll absolutely be making this one again. I served it with a mushroom omelette for added flavour and protein, and there were enough leftovers to have the risotto for lunch the next day as well.

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