Monday, 19 January 2015

Afghan Style Qabuli Pilau with Beef

A few months ago, my family and I had a delicious Kabuli pilau or pulao from a local Afghan takeaway. Though I'm used to traditional Bengali pilaus which have a little bit more spice in them, the Afghan counterpart we tried was fragrant and flavourful. I determined then that I just had to try and recreate the recipe.

So I trawled through the internet in search of a recipe, however, finding an authentic recipe was a bit harder than I imagined. I wondered if perhaps Afghan cuisine shares some similarities with Bangladeshi cooking in that it seems to be a lot of home cooking passed down through families. Or perhaps I was just using the wrong search terms in Google??

Anyways, whilst I was researching, I found that Kabuli or Qabuli has many varieties, with some using beef, lamb, or chicken. As we usually eat lamb or chicken in our pilaus, I decided to try beef. The thing that ties together all of these different versions though is the carrot and raisin topping.

Raisins of course can be quite a contentious issue when it comes to savoury food. Some people just can't deal with them at all. I quite like them however and I definitely think the sweetness off the raisins alongside the carrot complements the rice and meat. Nevertheless, I will say that the pilau tastes just as good without the carrot and raisin. In my own recipe, I used ghee and cinnamon both of which give a sweet and fragrant aroma.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Barley Tea

This is a recipe shared to me in the summer by a friend of mine. I had never heard of using barley in a drink before this. Upon some later research, I found that barley tea is actually a popular beverage in Japan and Korea. However, whilst these traditional recipes seem to use mostly whole grains of barley, this recipe here uses ground barley which is lightly toasted to give a nutty taste. My friend served me this tea with some ground whole cardamom and I also like to add some cardamom which gives the drink a masala chai taste.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Blueberry and Lemon Scones

I think of myself as a bit of a hypothetical baker. You see, in my head, I am a pro in the science of baking. I skim through recipe books and pinterest and think to myself, yeah I could totally do that.

Sadly, reality does not always meet up with our expectations, and baking can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for me. I am the type of cook that loves to feel my way through things. A pinch of this there, a dash of the other there. As such, the precision that is required in baking can sometimes escape me.

But this blog is meant to trace my culinary growth and so I am making a concentrated effort to confront my baking demons. So know that when I do post a successful baking recipe on here, it is with the assurance that if a novice like me can do it, anyone can do it.

The last time I tried to make scones, I somehow managed to produce boulders or rock buns or something like that. I distinctly remember staring at them with a furrowed brow as I tried to rack my brain on exactly what I had done so wrong.

It was only after some later research that I realised that I had committed the cardinal error of over working them. So when I tried making them this time round, I made sure I handled the mix with the utmost care. I do believe that the technical term for this handling is 'chafing'.

But humourous baking terms aside, as long as you're not kneading the mixture, scones are a pretty forgiving baking project. I was able to flavour a basic scone recipe with bluberry and lemon with relative ease. My end result were scones that looked slightly crispy on the outside but were soft and fluffy on the inside.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Pan Fried Yoghurt and Lemon Salmon

Yoghurt and Lemon Salmon

It's that time of year again. When we reflect on our eating habits over the last few months with scrutiny and sometimes guilt. For instance, did I really manage to eat a whole tube of pringles all by myself in one sitting? And yes, that shamefully did happen to me recently. Or, have I actually scoffed my weight in chocolate in the last few weeks? (Sadly, I'm guilty of that too...)

But whatever your reasons, trying to eat more healthily is always a noble aspiration and really not that difficult. Take this salmon recipe for instance. It can easily be whipped up in 15 minutes and not only is it packed with protein and healthy fats, the salmon itself is brimming with flavour. By marinating the salmon in the yoghurt and lemon, even for a few minutes, the fillet stays so tender, it almost melts in your mouth. While Bangladeshis are notoriously known for their love of fish, I can sometimes find salmon a bit overpowering in taste and smell. However the lemon juice and yoghurt along with the slight kick of chilli cuts through the salmon so that even the fish-phobic would enjoy this dish.

Serve this with a salad for a easy lunch or light dinner. Or, if you were after a bit more bulk, you might want to add a healthy grain to the salad like quinoa or bulghur.