Monday, March 21, 2011


This menu for the last couple of weeks was all over the board, in regards to the nation of India. We covered almost every region in two weeks; from the North, South, East and West. Our menus consisted of a pineapple smoothie, vegetable samosas, Chicken korma kashmiri style, cucumber/tomato/onion Katchumber, Spinach with Curd Cheese, Red Kidney Bean Dal, Mushroom Rice, Flat Bread, Banana Erccherry, fermented lentil crepes with potato masala stuffing, shrimp curry, kerala-style lamb, cauliflower fritters, basmati rice, deep-fried puff bread, yogurt with cucumber and mint, and spiced tea.

The pineapple smoothie was very easy...just add the ingredients and blend. It included buttermilk, fresh pineapple, sugar, yogurt, and a dash of salt. We garnished the drink with chopped pistachios and lime zest. The vegetable samosas reminded me of another stuffed pastry with veggies and seasoned with lemon juice. The Kashmiri chicken was relevant to the three stage Indian cooking style. First I warmed the spices in the hot oil and added the vegetables to the gravy; I then stewed the pan seared chicken in the gravy until done.

John made the cheese for the spinach curd cheese dish and it turned out great. It was made my mixing milk and yogurt; then adding lemon juice and salt to create the curd. It was hung to dry in a cheesecloth (finally making cheese in a cheesecloth; not just tying up spices) until it was firm. careful not to overcook your spinach; finish browning the cheese before you start on the spinach.

The red kidney bean dal is a mixture of cooked kidney beans; some mashed with heavy cream, garam masala, dried chiles, lemon juice and salt. It was actually very good...kind of reminded me of Indian re fried beans. The banana erccherry is a mixture of ripe banana, coconut, mustard seeds, green chiles (jalapeno), curry leaves and then made into balls and fried golden brown. I loved these was a mixture of sweet, spicy and savory. Here are some of the photos of our work...please excuse the blurry photos; the camera didn't want to focus that day.





Monday, March 7, 2011

Wrapping up Africa

In finishing our tour of the African cuisine; I have found that use of local ingredients and the application of heat were important in practically every dish. Our menu consisted of banana and chili fritters, Congo chicken soup, lamb/pork kebabs,  yellow rice with raisins, grilled tilapia (we used hog snapper), African hot sauce (we used guajillo peppers), and Irio (a mash of potato, spinach, corn and peas).

Ryan made the banana fritters and they were awesome! They are made by mashing together bananas, onion, tomato and chilies. Add ginger, salt, flour and water to the mixture; be careful not to overwork the mixture. Deep fry the fritters (shapped into balls) and drain on paper towels. You can serve them hot, cold, as a snack or with a meal. We served the fritters with the African hot sauce. To make the hot sauce you combine chili peppers (with seeds and stems removed), green bell pepper, garlic cloves, onion, tomato paste, water, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor. After you make the paste heat it over medium heat; simmer for about an hour, cool and serve. The sweet fritters were great with a little heat from the African hot sauce.

The Congo chicken soup is a peanut butter and chicken soup. You start by simmering the chicken in chicken stock and then shredding the meat. Saute garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent; add red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Combine the chicken broth used to simmer the chicken with tomato paste, peanut butter and stir till smooth. Finally combine all the ingredients and simmer until soup is thickened. We served it hot with slices of jalapenos and chopped peanuts over the top of the soup.

I made the kebabs; which featured lamb and pork along with dried apricots which were cooked in sherry. The meat was marinated in tamarind paste, garlic cloves, diced onion, white vinegar, apricot jam, granulated sugar, olive oil, garam masala, and a slurry made with red wine/ cornstarch. Make sure you soak the wood or bamboo skewers so they don't burn on the can also cover the tips with tin foil. Drain the meat from the marinade and reserve the rest...thread the lamb, apricots and pork onto the skewers grill till nice char is formed and place in the oven if possible (if no oven slow cook them on the grill to make sure the pork is not pink).

Natalia made the yellow rice with raisins and grilled hog fish. The rice is made by coiling water and dissolving the dry ingredients...turmeric, sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon stick, raisins, and lemon zest. Add the rice after the dry ingredients dissolve and reduce to a simmer; cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for about another 5 minutes; then fluff with a fork and remove the cinnamon stick when serving. As for the hog fish, Natalia marinated the fish in a mix of vegetable oil, onion (diced), green bell pepper (diced), fresh lemon juice, vinegar, cayenne and salt. After marinating for about an hour remove the fish from the marinade, grill, broil or saute...and serve with the African Hot Sauce. We served the fish sauteed on top of a bed of the yellow rice and a swatch of African hot sauce.

The final dish was a side dish for the kebabs and it was made by simmering diced raw (skinned) potatoes, fresh spinach, sweet peas and corn. After simmering and the potatoes are tender, drain the liquid and mash the combination. It looks like baby food and it's really good! Overall the menu had a lot of heat in it and we executed it on to India.

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