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I like to make roasted eggplant/aubergine for baba gahanouj, bharta (etc.) on coals that impart a wonderful smoky flavour. I've had good success doing it in a barbecue (actually a Big Green Egg). So, now that it's winter, I thought "why not try it in the fireplace, after the fire has burnt down to glowing coals?" I cut a few slits in the eggplant so that it wouldn't explode, did NOT wrap it in foil, thinking that would just seal out the smoky flavour, and popped it into the fireplace (with glass doors) for 15 min. It came out looking good, perhaps a little under-cooked, but basically OK. The taste was TERRIBLE - very strong flavour of fire place ash. I only had a couple of bites, despite my Methodist ancestors looking disapprovingly over my shoulder, because it really was bad. So has anyone else tried this? I'd like to make it work. Should the eggplant be wrapped in foil? Should I wait until the coals have died down further? Does it depend on the type of wood? This was mainly aspen - crappy firewood at best, but it was free (Methodist ancestors won this time.).
I make this a lot. Traditionally served with dosa, but great with all kinds of Indian food, even just scooped up with bread or pappads for a snack. Although it's slightly different every time, depending on the tomatoes and chillies used, plus the strength of the tamarind, it's easy, quick to make and always delicious.
In a blender - half a medium red onion chopped, 7 dried red chillies broken up a bit, 2 ripe tomatoes chopped, 1 tsp of sea salt, 3 tsp tamarind paste.
Whizz until purée like about 2 minutes.
In a sauté pan over medium heat add 60 ml sesame oil (gingelly), when it's hot but not smoking add 1 tsp black mustard seeds.
Quickly cover the pan to prevent escape and sizzle for a minute.
Add 1 tsp of urad dal (black lentils, skinned and split they are light grey).
Fry until golden, another minute or so.
Throw in about 20 curry leaves. These splatter so cover the pan again.
Lower the heat and add the blender contents.
Simmer, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until you get a runny jam consistency.
Ta da !
Every now and again I come across a recipe that is awesome.
It started with a discovery in my local South Indian take away near work. This is a true South Indian place, not your usual run of the mill Indian restaurant which we get around here.
In the bain marie was a red, slightly oily, dry spiced chicken dish scattered with onions and green coriander. A dish with no name. I asked what it was, and they replied it was "spicy chicken". I bought some and I was hooked.
It was obviously a favorite of patrons as there was never a day when this dish was not in the bain marie and it sold out quickly.
Here is my take on that recipe, which I believe is called Double Chilli Chicken.
Apologies in advance, but I dont work to quantities when cooking. Hopefully you can make your own judgement but just ask if you want more clarification.
The ingredients you will need are:
- oil or ghee (mustard oil if my wife is giving me grief over health, ghee for best flavor)
- Chicken mini drumsticks (about 1kg)
- About 3 brown onions, cut in half and then sliced (red onions would be better, but I only had one for garnish)
- About 20 curry leaves
- Sliced ginger
- Sliced garlic
- 10 to 15 whole dried chillies (I remove most of the seeds)
- Ground dried chilli powder (medium hot)
- Ground coriander
- Ground black pepper
- Jaggery or Palm Sugar
- Lime juice
- Chopped fresh coriander for garnish
- Chopped red onion for garnish
I start with a heavy base fry-pan that has a fitted lid and add the ghee.
Choose a dried whole chilli of your liking and remove most of the seeds, as they can burn and become bitter.
Saute your dried chillies in the ghee for a few minutes
You will notice they start to darken quickly
Don't let them burn, but take them a bit darker than shown in the photo above and then remove into a spare bowl to cool with a slotted spoon. You can leave the ghee and seeds. Quickly add the onions to stop the remaining seeds from burning. Add salt to help the onions cook.
I should have also added the curry leaves to the oil first, but I forgot so I added them later.
As the onions soften on the heat, finely julienne some fresh ginger and slice some garlic. Exact quantities dont matter so adjust to your preference.
Add the garlic, ginger and chillies to the pan once the onions soften and take on some colour
After a few minutes of cooking out the garlic and ginger, add the ground coriander and chilli powder. Again, exact quantities don't really matter but I used about 1 Tablespoon of each. What matters more is the quality of the ground powders. The coriander is ground in my coffee grinder just before use, and I make my own chilli powder from dried Spanish Padron chillies I grow each summer. If you can, always make your own ground spices. For the ground chilli powder, remove the seeds before grinding as you will get a redder product.
A quick word on chillies : There are hundreds of varieties, but I choose the Spanish Padron due to the balance between heat and flavour. I want an intense chilli flavour without searing blow your head off heat, and this chilli has that right balance.
Stir the powders into the onions and cook for a few minutes.
Add the chicken and arrange such that the chicken has good contact with the bottom of the pan. We need this to get the meat to release its own moisture, which is what makes the sauce and prevent the dish from burning
Cover with a lid and lower the heat. After 5 minutes you should notice some liquid from the chicken. This increases to a maximum around 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes but don't remove the lid until 15 minutes have elapsed.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare some jaggery or palm sugar and squeeze the juice out of one lime.
After 15 minutes of cooking with the lid on, remove the lid, add the jaggery and lime juice, and now increase the heat. What we are going to do is evaporate the remaining liquid and turn it into an awesome sauce that sticks to the chicken.
For another 10 minutes, you will need to pay careful attention to ensure the dish does not stick and burn. You need high heat to help caramelize the sauce and constant movement. Taste for seasoning. Add extra salt, lime juice and heaps of black pepper.
Prepare some slived red onions for garnish.
And some roughly chopped green coriander. This stuff grows like a weed in my garden as I let the kids loose with the seeds and they scatter them far and wide!
Serve the chicken on a bed of steamed basmati rice
And garnish with onion and coriander. Serve and enjoy with a glass of cold beer. Awesome stuff!
We're 50 something Aussies who enjoy travelling, eating, cooking, markets, kitchen shops, cooking utensils, animals & plants (often food related), architecture & photography (both kitchens and food) and exploring different cultures (of which food is a big part). The trip was January 14 - February 6, it was just marvellous. My favourite meal is now masala dosa with sambar, I had many. Here's some highlights of the food.
A late afternoon snack of Sichuan pepper squid was washed down with a beer at the Ajantha Seaview Hotel on the promenade in Pondicherry. It's a colonial building with a first floor terrace overlooking the colourful display of women in their finest, and the Bay of Bengal. We're here on a Monday public holiday for the Pongal festival, a four day celebration of the harvest, with many different ceremonies and traditions.
A visual bonus, cows (and sometimes goats) get their horns painted and wear flower garlands or other decorations.
By Phill Bernier
I came across this term, Bunooing, which I'd never heard before. I had a look around to try and understand the method behind it, but came across a number of inferences on what bhunooing is and how it works, some of which were conflicting and a little confusing. I would be very grateful if someone could clear this up for me and perhaps answer a few questions. This is my understanding of bhunooing so far:-
Essentially, this is a method of releasing essential oils that are cooped up in your dry spices and leaves too. The types of spices used are the hard spices such as cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seeds etc. As I understand it powdered spice can be added, but nearer the end of the bhunooing process.
The thinking behind this method is that spices take on moisture over time which dilutes the essential oils in the spices. By slow frying the spices you are gently evaporating the water and releasing the concentrated essential oils from the spice which enhances the power of spice, giving it more punch.
The bhunooing process can be used to make a vibrant base for your gravy. To do this, heat a good amount of oil on high and then bring it down to a medium heat. Add your spices and onion and slowly fry until the onion turns a light brown. At this point add your liquid/ gravy.
Some questions that I have are:-
Why heat the oil to hot and bring to medium? Why not just heat to medium? Does bhunooing always have to include onions? The first time I tried this, the onions absorbed all of the oil after a while - is this okay? Or does it mean that I used too much oil? Is this the same, or does it have any relation to the bhuna? I have come across articles and recipes that refer to bhunooing and suggest that it's (perhaps) just the process of slow cooking ingredients on a flame/ hob - is this correct? How long should I be frying the spices for? I would be very grateful for any help you can provide.
Thank you in advance
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