Golden Spiced Eggs

This lifts simple boiled eggs to a new level, and served with steamed vegetables and plain rice this becomes an easy delicious meal for one of those, “What can I cook tonight?” dilemmas.

You probably already know that Eggs do not belong in a fridge!  If you are one of those souls whose eggs live in a dark chilly cave, please, please bring them out and let them reach a normal temperature before using.  Then if you’re feeling brave try leaving the next eggs you buy just in your store cupboard.  You will find that, not only do they taste better, because they don’t pick up the smell and flavours of things they’ve shared their frigid cell with, but they do not go off – well, not unless you don’t use them for a couple of months or so!

Ingredients to serve 4 hungry folks!

8-10 large organic Eggs; 2 x 400 ml cans of Coconut Milk, well stirred; 1 Onion, finely chopped; 2 fat Garlic Cloves, finely chopped; a large, ripe, sweet tomato, chopped well; 2 tsp Ghee or Veg/Rice Oil; 1 tsp Turmeric; 2 dried Red Chillies, crushed; Sea Salt; a bunch of fresh Chives – preferably with their delightful lavender coloured flowers on too – they are perfectly edible!

First boil the eggs ’til they are [just] hard.  Try and get them hard enough to not fall apart when cut in half, but not so hard that you could use them for golf balls!  Pop them in a bowl of cold water to cool down, and then shell and cut in half.

Using a largish, high sided, fry pan warm the ghee or oil.  Gently stir and saute the onion and garlic til golden brown. Add the tomato and continue to cook ’til it has softened.   Add the turmeric to about 600 ml of your coconut milk, then stir it slowly into the mixture.  Then add in your crushed chillies and a small sprinkle of salt.  Bring it to a just bubbling simmer for a couple of minutes, then slide in your egg halves.  Give the whole another 2-3 minutes to warm through then carefully transfer to a warmed serving dish.

Chop your chives to 2/3″ long and dress the golden eggs with them and arrange the flowers around the dish.  It looks superb, but as you can see is ‘easy-peasy’ to do!

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Nepalese Spicy Chickpeas – Quick and Easy!

Those Europeans who trek the high paths through Nepal get used to simple daily meals of Daal and Rice. But such are the talents of a good Nepali cook that you can prepare yourself for differences of taste and texture such as would test the talents of any Asian Escoffier.

This quick and simple meal claims no such merits, but……….. Friends who have tried it [even confirmed carnivores] often say [in a casual, but entirely unconvincing manner] “Oh, if we’re having a curry evening next week is there any chance you could do that Gurkha Chickpea thing…………………”

Ingredients:

2 ‘banana’ Shallots, chopped in fine rings; a sweet, ripe, Tomato, chopped fine; 3 fat Garlic Cloves chopped fine; 1 tsp Chana powder [see my previous post];  1 Green Chilli, cut a slit down lengthwise; 2 x 400 g  cans of Organic Chickpeas, drained [or about 1 lb of dried chickpeas soaked overnight].

Have to hand: Lemon juice; Black pepper; Sea or Black salt; 1 tsp of Ghee [clarified butter] or if unavailable [tut, tut, you really should have some!] 2 tsp Rice Oil

Heat your ghee or oil in a raised side frying pan, and saute the shallots til golden.  Then add the garlic, chilli and chana powder, and stir well in.  Grind over a good amount of fresh black pepper, and stir in, allow to simmer.

After a few minutes add the chickpeas, and tomato and a splash of lemon juice.  Stir and simmer for about 10/15 mins. Check for taste and add a little salt if needed.   Serve piping hot with a simple Jeera [cumin] Rice or plain Roti.

Ayo Gurkhali!

Nepalese Chana Masala Powder

Chana powder is an essential ingredient in many Nepalese dishes.  But not yet, thank goodness, found in the dusty spice archives of your local supermarket!

It is however simple to prepare, using many ingredients you probably have to hand already, and perhaps one ‘secret’ ingredient.  This you may have to search a little for but, like any quest, when found it becomes a treasure indeed.  It is Anardana, or dried pomegranate seed.  My source is http://www.theasiancookshop.co.uk a wonderful source of all things spicy with a superb delivery service too!

I’m assuming you have a mortar and pestle to hand, plus a suitable airtight container to store the mixture in.

Ingredients:

Pomegranate seeds [Anardana] 1 tbsp; Coriander seeds, 3 tbsp; Cumin seeds, 1 tbsp; Black Cardamoms broken open for the seeds inside, 2 tsp; Black peppercorns, 2 tsp; Cloves 1/2 tsp; Cinnamon stick, about 4″ [chop up small with poultry scissors to start]; Dried red chillies, 8; Sea or black salt, 1 tsp.

First gently roast the Anardana, Coriander and Cumin seeds together in a dry pan.  Do not overheat  Then allow them to cool.  Put all your spices in a mortar and grind them well with a pestle until finely ground and melded together.  I generally resist using grinders for this task as I feel it smashes all the aromatics out of spices.  Just offer up the effort put into your handiwork as a blessing for those who will share and compliment you on your delicious meals in the future!

Finally use a  sieve [not too fine mesh] to take out some of the chaff, which will undoubtedly remain from the Cinnamon sticks.  Then store in a clean, dry, screw top container.  Try to find one which will just about be filled with the mix, leaving little airspace, and top up with freshly made Chana when you run out.

I will follow with a quick and simple Nepali Chick Pea recipe which your Chana mix will transform into a favourite recipe, which your guests will love, vegetarian or otherwise!

Alloo Bodi Tama – Nepalese Potato and Black Bean Curry

For those Curry aficionados, and I count myself blessed to be one, there is a growing number of Nepalese Restaurants  in the UK offering something different from the [ I think boring as hell!] usual fare of ‘Tikka Masala’ or ‘Bangalore Phal’ – hot as possible, cos I’m a REAL MAN!

To those who enjoy such bastardised dishes, fine.  But they are a world away from the subtle spiced delights of the Asian Sub-Continent.  This is a staple Nepali dish, fine as a main course for vegetarians, or as an accompaniment to Lamb or Goat dishes.

Ingredients:

200 ml of organic Sheep or Goat’s Yoghurt; 400 g Bamboo Shoots [if you have a choice select those broader thick shoots, similar to thin leeks], cut to thin slices then cross-cut smaller if necessary;  400 g tin of Black-eyed peas or beans rinsed [or overnight soaked if dried];  400 g tin of organic tomatoes, chopped;  1 lb potatoes [waxy new varieties if poss.] peeled and cut to about 1/2″ pieces;   1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly;  2 fresh red chillies sliced into rounds, seeds and all!;  2 cloves garlic finely chopped;  1/2″ fresh ginger finely chopped; 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper;  1 tsp cumin powder;  1/2 tsp turmeric [or better still one short piece of fresh turmeric finely chopped]; 200 g thick yoghurt;  1/2 pint organic veg stock;  handful of fresh, roughly chopped Coriander as garnish;  2 tbsp Rice oil.

Heat the oil in a deep fry pan, with a lid if possible.  Throw in the red chillies and stir ’til darkened, then add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry ’til soft on a low heat.  Turn the heat up slightly and add the spices stirring ’til incorporated into the mixture.  Turn back down and then add the potatoes and saute for about 10 minutes covered, just checking that they don’t start to burn.  Add the beans, bamboo shoots and tomatoes, stir and allow a few minutes to heat through.

Mix the yoghurt with about half of the warm veg stock.  Add carefully as it will have a tendency to curdle if the stock is too hot.  If it does use a fork and…..beat it within an inch of it’s life!   Add to the curry and stir in well.  Turn up the heat ’til you see it just beginning to boil then turn down and allow to low-simmer for about 20-25 mins.  If the sauce gets too dry add a little at a time of your remaining stock.  Then when the potatoes and beans are tender and ready, garnish with the coriander, and enjoy.

Naan bread or similar Roti are all you need to go with this.

Ayo Gurkhali!

I shall be following with reviews of two of my favourite Nepali restaurants, one in Edinburgh, and one in Spalding, Lincs. !!!!

Spicy Crisp Broccoli

I find this a great accompaniment to richer curries as, done properly, it retains the fresh clean flavours to cleanse the palette between mouthfuls.

Ingredients:

A good sized head of Broccoli, a little over a lb in weight, and make sure the florets are dark green.  Cut the florets off and don’t waste the stalk.  Finely slice it into thin rounds.

2 tbsp light oil [I have had good results using Rice Oil with this]; 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced; 2 tsp cumin seeds; 2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and sliced into thin rounds; 1 heaped tbsp gram [chickpea] flour; 1 tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp ground coriander; 1 tsp ground cardamom; 1/2 tsp sea salt;  3 tbsp water.

Mix the gram flour, salt, ground cumin, coriander and cardamom together in a small bowl.  Use a largish frying pan, with a lid, and heat the oil.  Add the cumin seeds, chilli and garlic, then stir-fry for a couple of minutes, taking care the garlic browns but doesn’t burn.  Then add the broccoli, turn up the heat and stir-fry for about 3/4 minutes.  Turn the heat down low and add the gram flour mixture, sprinkling it evenly and stirring it in.   Add the water and stir then cook for a further 6/7 minutes.  Serve immediately.

apanē bhōjana kā ānanda!