29/09/2018

Quick Chickpea and Paneer Rendang

First of all, let me explain, this is not a rendang at all, because that is usually a meat dish, but I have used a rendang spice paste in it, so just go with me on this.

Rendang is a spicy, dry meat dish which originated from Indonesia. Rendang is traditionally prepared by the Minangkabau community during festive occasions such as traditional ceremonies, wedding feasts and Eid al-Fitr, but it also made across the country. It has, along with the main meat ingredient, coconut milk mixed with a fragrant paste of ground spices and herbs, including ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chillis and other spices. The paste I had was shop bought, but the fragrance of lemon grass wafted out at me as soon as I opened the tub.

I’d had to empty out a can of chickpeas as I needed the liquid in it (known as aquafaba) for a vegan recipe. It’s a fabulous egg replacement. This left me with a whole can of chickpeas to use up, so I added some petit pois to it for greenery, and then went with the flow.

1 x 400g can of chickpeas, well drained

2 handfuls of frozen peas, defrosted

5 tbs ready fried onions (I often use these instead of fresh ones at the start of a dish. They work cooked too!)

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

500ml coconut milk

2 heaped tablespoons of rendang paste

1 pack of paneer, cut into cubes

Smoked salt

Put the chickpeas and peas in a saucepan. Add maybe a tablespoon of vegetable oil and mix well.

Add in the onions, turmeric, cumin and coriander, plus the salt. Mix very well to coat.

Pour in the coconut milk, add 1 heaped tablespoon of the rendang paste, mix all around again so that the spices and the paste have been distributed properly, and leave to simmer on a very low heat while you fry off the paneer. I tasted it befire adding the paneer and added another tablespoon of the paste.

Paneer

Add 1 tbs of vegetable oil to a frying pan.

Add the paneer cubes, mix to coat them in the oil and turn the heat on, medium low.

When they gain colour on one side, turn them over and get the other side golden brown too.

Add the cubes to the chickpea/coconut pan, simmer for half an hour so they soak in the flavours, and then serve over rice. Or just eat it out of the pan with a spoon…

Quick Chickpea and Paneer Rendang i

16/09/2018

Kolokassi Kebabs Cypriot Style

Kolokassi is a tuber of little renown in the UK. It’s also called Taro, and it used a lot in Asia, even for cake making, and is what they call poi in Hawaii, where it is a staple. I know it’s hard to find here, and I apologise in advance for that.

I freely admit that I used to really dislike this tuber as a child, mainly because It Was Not a Potato in various stews. I did eventually get over my dislike of this hairy, weird looking tuber. I mean, I know it's not a potato, but it still has its place in the world. One day I was thinking about a recipe I had seen for celeriac shawarma, and was wondering how you'd go about that when I remembered I'd bought kolokassi and they needed to be used up.

Kolokasi

Photo from https://globalstorybook.org/10-traditional-dishes-try-cyprus/

They are a little weird looking, I admit, but I have grown to love their creamy texture in bean casseroles now. Finally. It’s only taken me nearly 40 years…I’ve not tried it mashed, so maybe I’ll give that a try next time.

There are warnings about this particular foodstuff, so heed well.

DO NOT eat this raw. Not even a tiny taste just to see. It's toxic due to its calcium oxalate content. (Calcium oxalate is associated with gout and kidney stones). It's also not very tasty unless you cook it.

It can cause irritation to the skin for some, so wear gloves when you prep it, or do as I do and hold it with a paper towel whilst peeling it with one of those Y shaped vegetable peelers. Don’t wash it, as it will get a bit slimy.

Some recipes say not to slice it, but to crack it. You slice in a small way then twist the knife to crack a piece away from the main tuber. I have just sliced it in the past with no problems though so do what you feel. I did crack it into chunks with a knife rather than slice it this time, so I got a quite fibrous end to the pieces, which is what I wanted as I wanted it to look a bit meaty on the skewers. I thought for some time about what spices to use, but then realized I was overthinking, so went with the ones I know to be used a fair bit in Cyprus. Cumin and cinnamon together make a lovely marinade all on their own, so you could just use those if you like.

2 large (6”-8” in length) kolokasi, peeled and cracked or chopped into chunks

2 tsp smoked cumin (or the usual unsmoked)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pul biber or chilli flakes (more if you like it spicy)

½ tsp garlic salt

1 tsp Baharat powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup olive oil

Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for an hour. (stops them burning)

Put the kolokasi in a bowl, add the olive oil and stir well to coat.

Add in all the spices and herbs, mix really well, and leave to sit and marinate for an hour.

I then threaded them on to skewers, but you honestly don’t have to. I was being Arty.

Place them in a roasting tin with sides, pour over any spiced oil left in the bowl. Yes it is a lot, but you will need it to baste the chunks.

Roast at 170C fan for 40 minutes, basting and turning to make sure they don’t stick.

At the end of 40 minutes, test them to make sure they are cooked all the way through. Poke them with a skewer, and if there is still resistance in the centre, put them back in for another 10 minutes.

Switch the oven to grill, and turn it up to 200C. You want slightly charred edges if you can. Baste again to get all the spiced oil onto it.

Serve it wrapped in a warmed pita bread, with lots of salad. Or just eat it right off the skewer…


Raw and cracked pieces scaled

Marinated pieces scaled

Cooked scaled