Thursday, June 16, 2011

Naan Bread

I should preface this by stating I'm not Indian. I've never been professionally trained in Indian cuisine (or any other type of cuisine actually!) This is not a traditional recipe and it's not cooked in a traditional tandoor clay oven. This is just me trying to re-create a very difficult recipe in the average domestic kitchen.

Naan Bread
Makes 4

1/3 cup milk
1 tspn dry yeast
180g bread flour
1/4 tspn baking powder
1/8 tspn salt
1 tspn sesame seeds
1 tspn nigella (or kalonji) seeds
2 tspn vegetable oil
1/3 cup natural yoghurt

Warm the milk (in the microwave or on the stove) until it is lukewarm, then stir in the yeast and set it aside for 5 minutes.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl then mix in the sesame and nigella seeds. Tip in the milk, oil and half of the yoghurt. Mix the dough well with your fingers or a fork. If the dough is too dry then add a bit more yoghurt. If it's too wet then add some more flour.

Once you get the dough to a good consistency (soft and tacky, but not sticky), turn it onto your kitchen bench and knead it well for 5-10 minutes.

Rub a small amount of oil on the inside of a large clean bowl, gently put the dough into it then cover and leave the bowl somewhere warm for a few hours - until the naan has doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 200C and lay some baking paper on the bottom of a good-sized baking tray.

Slice the ball of dough into quarters and gently roll out each quarter until they are about 6-7mm thick. Carefully place the naan onto the baking tray. To keep the bread from drying out too much in the oven, dip your fingers into a small bowl of water and flick the water droplets over a piece of dough. Repeat this for each piece of naan.

Cook the bread on the top shelf of the oven for 8 minutes, then turn the naan over and bake for further 6 minutes.

Lamb Kheema

Lamb kheema is a dry-style Indian curry using lamb mince (although you could try using beef or chicken mince if lamb mince isn't available). This is one of my favourite curries and I always serve it with naan bread and a gingery tomato chutney.

Lamb Kheema
Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
8cm piece of ginger, grated
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 bay leaves
500g lamb mince
1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tspn ground turmeric
1 heaped tbsp of tomato paste
2 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 tspn garam masala
1 small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently saute the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and bay leaves until the onion is translucent and the mixture is aromatic. Add the lamb mince and gently brown it.

Add the ground coriander, cumin and turmeric and mix it well into the lamb mince. Cook for 2 minutes and let the spices infuse the meat. Stir in the tomato paste, then stir in the yoghurt and cook the mixture for another 2 minutes. Add half a cup of water, stir it in, then cover the pan and leave the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the peas and garam masala, season well with salt and pepper, cover the pan and leave to cook for 5 minutes. If, after this, the mince still looks a bit watery, leave it to simmer with the lid off to evaporate some of the excess moisture.

Remove the pan from the heat, remove the bay leaves, stir in the chopped coriander and serve hot with a tomato or mango chutney and any form of Indian bread.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Minestrone Soup

It's winter here in Australia and I just adore cooking creamy pasta dishes, coconutty curries and rich casseroles. But you can have too much of a good thing so when I feel a little too indulged in rich wintery foods, I make this very light and reasonably healthy minestrone soup which is packed with veggies.

Minestrone Soup
(Serves 4)

Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 celery stick, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large potato, diced
1 zucchini, diced
80g green beans, cut in half
1L beef stock (use veggie stock if you're vegetarian)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup macaroni
Grated parmesan

- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion. Gently saute until it begins to look translucent, then add the garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaves and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes then add the potato, zucchini and green beans. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

- Add the stock and tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occassionally. If the soup looks like it's drying out, add some hot water.

- Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then add the macaroni and cook for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Season well with salt and pepper then serve the soup in big bowls with the parmesan sprinkled over the top. (And if you're like me, you'll want some crusty, buttery bread on the side to mop up the liquid too!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Best Meatballs Ever

These meatballs have been evolving for as long as I've been cooking. Originally they were basic meat-garlic-egg-breadcrumb meatballs but they've slowly morphed into Italian pork meatballs that are packed with flavour.

The Best Meatballs Ever
Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
80g pine nuts
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
500g pork mince
1 egg
65g breadcrumbs
5g basil leaves, roughly chopped
30g parsley, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tspn fennel seeds, ground
200g ricotta
1 lemon, zested
1 quantity of fairly plain pasta sauce (either from a jar or homemade)
350g pasta

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and gently fry the onion and pine nuts until the onion has turned translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Combine the pork mince, egg, breadcrumbs, basil, parsley, fennel, ricotta and zest in a large bowl with the onion mixture and a decent amount of salt and pepper.

Roll two tablespoons of the mixture into a ball and flatten it slightly (to make it easier to cook!) Do this for the rest of the mixture.

Heat some olive oil in a large non-stick fry pan and fry the meatballs until they are golden on the outside and cooked all the way through.

Cook the pasta until al dente and tip the pasta sauce over the meatballs to warm up.

Serve the pasta with the saucey meatballs on top and enjoy the best meatballs ever.