Rajma (Red Kidney Bean Stew)

The Punjabi happy meal…

  

Growing up as a Punjabi kid life was very simple. There were three commandments to live by. First, beta nashta  kha lo ( eat your breakfast kiddo). Second, beta khaana kha lo (eat your lunch/dinner kiddo). Third, beta kuch aur kha lo ( eat something else kiddo). Life was all about breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything else sort of fit around it. 

Besides the three commandments one thing common in every Punjabi kids life is the Punjabi Happy Meal. No it’s not McDonalds because no self-respecting Punjabi mother would dare to feed their child that. It’s Rajma Chawal! A red kidney bean stew served on a bed of steamed basmati rice. Nothing says happy meal and happiness like this dish in a Punjabi household.

There is such depth and flavour in this curry.  It is like a mother has squeezed all the love out of her heart and put it straight into Rajma. 

  

Ingredients: 14 Cooking time: 90 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 400gms of Rajma (kidney beans)
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • Four medium tomatoes, grated
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One large bayleaf
  • One teaspoon of cumin seeds 
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of coriander powder
  • One teaspoon of chilli
  • Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Quarter teaspoon of asafoetida (hing)
  • Three tablespoons of ghee
  • Salt to season
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (for garnish)

Soak the kidney beans overnight or at least for five to six hours. This helps to break the protein, soften the beans and cook them quicker.

In a pressure cooker or a heavy bottom saucepan add the beans. Cover them with water, add cinnamon and bayleaf. Cook until the beans are soft and can be mashed between two fingers.

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For the tadka (tempering), heat ghee in a saucepan. Add asafoetida (hing), cumin seeds, once aromatic add onions and cook until onions are lightly browned.

Now add grated tomatoes, key for this stew is use the freshest tomatoes. Add all the dried spices. Cook on a medium heat for 10 to fifteen minutes.

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Add the beans and the broth. Season with salt. Cover the saucepan and let the stew cook on a low heat for about an hour.


Your lipsmackingly delicious kidney bean stew or Rajma are ready. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve over steamed basmati rice and enjoy this happy meal with your beautiful family.

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Fasolakia (Green Bean and potato stew)

OPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…

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Wow! after an almost month-long hiatus, I am finally back! You must be wondering where I have been? Well nowhere really! I was just busy growing a baby in my last month of pregnancy and now enjoying every moment with my beautiful son Samuel Kabir. I am sure now you will pardon me for leaving you wanting some lip smackingly delicious recipes.

I won’t blabber on with too much of a story because you never know when my sleeping dragon will awaken and demand to be fed. So without further ado check out today’s vegetarian recipe which is inspired by the beautiful mediterranean flavours and comes from Greece. I know right just when you thought the Greeks were all about lamb.

Around our travels in Greece I did struggle as a vegetarian but only until we got to the beautiful island of Crete. Here I discovered loads of simple, quick and lip smackingly delicious vegetarian dishes and Fasolakia is just one of them. A beautiful green bean stew cooked in a rich tomato sauce topped with loads of feta and olive oil. I have also added some potatoes to make it a bit hearty. Aaahhh!!! Gotta love that.

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Ingredients: 12     Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms green beans, ends trimmed
  • Four medium potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 400 gms of crushed tomatoes (I used canned)
  • One large brown onion, finely chopped
  • Three to four pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One cup of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Quarter cup of fresh dill, chopped
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Salt to season
  • One teaspoon sugar
  • Goats Cheese or Feta Cheese to garnish (optional)

In a heavy based pot heat three tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion, garlic and two tablespoons of chopped parsley and one tablespoon of chopped dill. Cook until the onions are translucent and the mixture is aromatic.

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Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until a layer of oil surfaces on the top. Now add the potatoes and cook until slightly tender. Then add the beans, followed by the remaining herbs, lemon juice, three to four tablespoons of olive oil, sugar and season with salt as required.

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Now add one cup of water and cover the pot. Let the potatoes and beans simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Remember the beans in this dish are meant to be soft and mushy so don’t fret if you happen to leave it longer that 20 minutes to simmer.

Fasolakia is ready to serve, garnish it with crumbled feta or goats cheese, drizzle some olive oil on top, add a wedge of lemon on the side and serve this lip smackingly delicious stew with some chargrilled sourdough bread. 

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Zuppa di Pesce (Italian Seafood Stew)

There is nothing more romantic than Italian food…

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If there is one cuisine that isn’t fussy or fancy but is all about jaw dropping flavour, it is Italian! Italian food is like a romance with food, where you feel every texture, taste every flavour and gradually fall in love.

One thing other than the fresh ingredients that makes Italian food lip smackingly delicious is – the passion of the people! Italians are just so passionate about their food. When you hear them describe their favourite meal or even just talk about what they ate for dinner last night, there is just so much passion with which they describe every detail and every flavour.

Today’s recipe is inspired by Italian flavours and passion. This seafood stew is a dish you could expect to find in the South of Italy, being enjoyed in the homes of local fishermen or fine dining Amalfi coast restaurants. The key to this dish is using the freshest ingredients, especially seafood!

Ingredients: 14.  Cooking time: 60 minutes
Serves: 6
  • 1.5 brown onion chopped
  • Six to eight roma tomatoes chopped
  • Four pods of garlic minced
  • 12 king prawns shelled and deveined
  • 12 prawn heads
  • One cup of fresh white fish fillets sliced 
  • 12 mussels scrubbed and debearded
  • One teaspoon of dried oregano leaves
  • One teaspoon of dried basil leaves
  • One teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes
  • One bay leaf
  • One tablespoon of chopped continental parsley roots
  • 375 ml of white wine
  • Six tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt to taste

In a cast iron crock pot or saucepan add six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. I used my Tuffsteel cast iron crock pot, it is a great investment when cooking dishes that require longer  to cook, as it distributes the heat evenly.

Once the oil is heated add one bay leaf and chopped onions. Let the onions cook until lightly browned.Now add the minced garlic and the prawn heads, this is what gives the stew its rich flavour. Stir the onion mix and cook it on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and give all the ingredients a good stir. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the tomatoes cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes. 

FullSizeRender (19)Now add 375 ml of white wine, I used Jacobs Creek Chardonnay.  Throw in the dried herbs and chilli flakes, stir the gravy and let it simmer for 20 minutes on a medium heat. This will allow the wine flavours to blend with the tartness of the tomatoes and the ocean flavours of the prawn heads.

By this stage you should be smelling those delicious aromas. Now add three cups of water, salt to taste and let the gravy simmer for another 20 minutes.

image3Your stew is now ready for all that fresh seafood. Remember the key to any good seafood dish is perfectly cooked seafood and because of that time is of the essence! Turn off the flame and start adding the seafood to the stew. First add the mussels and stir the stew, once they start to open slightly add the white fish (I used fillets of John Dory, Flake and Perch) and lastly add the prawns. Place the lid on the saucepan for two to three minutes, the temperature of the stew will cook the seafood.

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This LSD stew is now ready to serve!!! Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread, al dente linguine or by itself. LSD promises to rekindle your food romance and perhaps even teleport you to the beautiful Amalfi coast with just one bite.

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