May 19, 2011 § 4 Comments
Akni is my favourite Indian rice dish. It’s so delicious that I was under the impression that its wonderful flavour was directly related to its level of difficulty. I could not have been more wrong.
I love that you only require one pot. I love that you only require 1 tablespoon of oil. I love that you are moist, even without the raita. I love that even if I leave you on the stove for too long, you are still as delicious. I love that I don’t need to cook for three days after preparing you.
2 tblspn oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
- Heat oil in a wide pot. Braise onions.
2 tsp whole cumin
5 cardamom pods, cracked open
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 cup of warm water
- Soak the spices listed above in the water for a few minutes.
- Add to the pot. Allow to boil for about 5 minutes.
1 chicken, cleaned and disjointed
1 tblspn ginger paste
1 tblspn garlic paste
1 tspn salt
2 tspn ground cumin
½ tspn turmeric
- Add the chicken and spices to the put. Mix well. Allow chicken to cook.
2 cups of chopped/grated tomato
3 tspn chilli powder
2 tspn coriander powder
2 tblspn plain yogurt
- Once chicken is cooked, add the ingredients listed above to the pot. Allow to thicken.
3 potatoes, each one cut into 4 equal pieces
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups of boiling water
- Add the above ingredients to the pot. Cook on high heat and stir often. Once the water has almost depleted, turn down the heat and allow to simmer.
- Serve with coriander raita (see recipe below).
500 ml plain yogurt
Green Masala (you will only need about 3 tspn)
- 1 bunch of coriander leaves (about 4 cups)
- 4 green chillies
- 1 tblspn garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tblspn lemon juice
- 1 tblspn olive oil
Liquidise all of the above ingredients. Even though you will only use a few teaspoons for the raita to be served with the akhni, the rest can be refrigerated and used to marinate chicken or in other dishes.
For the raita, mix the yogurt with about 3 tspns of the green masala. Serve with the akhni.
May 16, 2011 § 4 Comments
Saturday saw my second pizza baking attempt. Saturday also saw my first successful attempt 🙂 I used this recipe from allrecipes.com to make the base:
Amazing Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
- Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.
- Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top
The recipe says that it makes one or two pizza bases. I rolled out four decent sized pizzas. I didn’t manage to roll and stretch the pizzas into neat circles. I was more focussed on making sure that the bases were of equal thickness. I’m glad I was more concerned with stretching and rolling them thin, because the bases were excellent.
For the pizza sauce, I mixed equal quantities of store-bought pesto and tomato paste. I applied a thin layer on each pizza. I then topped the pizzas with mozzarella cheese before the real toppings. I chopped up a few tablespoons of de-pitted olives, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese for the toppings.
It was really delicious. I froze the other three unbaked, so I will just pop them into the oven when I’m running late with dinner sometime soon. I am looking so forward to it!
January 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
On Saturday night, after the hustle and bustle of the Shida Night Market, we went to a tea shop close to the Zhongxiao-Dunhua MRT station. I was taken aback by the very modern, funky decor. I don’t know why I expected a more traditional place. It’s not called the Permanent Revolution of Tea for nothing.
Our group had the enclosed lounge area to ourselves.
As soon as we sat down, the waiter brought over three little cups of dried tea leaves and asked us to choose one which he would then place in the burner. We chose the Oolong tea, because he said it the aroma is very calming, and it was close to our bedtime.
The menu was in Chinese. Now that I think back, we didn’t request English menus, so they might actually have some.
Again, we told the group to order what they thought was fitting for us, so they ordered a variation of Green Tea for me and a pot of Taiwanese Oolong for A.
We were both very pleased with our teas. They were smooth and rich in flavour. They were also very cleansing and fresh.
We also had a plate of sweet treats to share with our teas.
I ate most of the Sesame sweets 🙂 I love sesame seeds. I have even been adding black sesame seeds to my cereal in the mornings recently.
I strongly recommend anyone in Taipei City to visit this tea shop and experience a modern twist on a Taiwanese tradition. Visit the website at http://www.wretch.cc/blog/prottea if you can read Chinese 🙂
January 9, 2011 § 5 Comments
Yesterday saw a night out on the town with A’s colleagues. I decided before we stepped out that I would experiment with Taiwanese speciality foods, because it’s not everyday that we have a group of Taiwanese friends guiding us through the market and explaining to stall owners that we do not consume certain animal products.
The Shida Night Market is positioned close to my Chinese school, yet we had not been there previously. Taipei has many night markets, which often stay open until the early hours of the morning. As soon as we walked out of the MRT station, we were in the midst of crowds of youth, many of whom probably attend the National Taiwan Normal (don’t ask) University close by. Our group of 7 managed to keep together through this:
The market hosts a range of stalls and stores. There are many xiaochi (small eat) stalls, jewellery stores, fresh fruit and fruit juice stalls, clothing stores and even a stationery store. Our first stop was a famous Crepe stall. This was not the conventional type of French crêpe that I am more familiar with, but a more firm “crêpe” which is rolled into a cone and stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings of your choice. The menu was in Chinese, so we asked his colleagues to order what they felt was fitting for first-timers. We were presented with this a few minutes later:
It was HUGE! This picture does not to justice to the size of this monstrosity. The fruits inside were really fresh and juicy. The ice-cream was so-so and the crêpe was not very crêpe like, but is tasted pleasant nonetheless. The fresh cream was slightly sweetened and it went very well with the crêpe and fruits. I was happy we got to sample this baby.
I was not as happy to sample one of these poor excuses for food:
I mentioned to one fo the girls that I had not tasted Stinky Tofu as yet. She immediately rounded up the troops and directed us into a little alley leading to a busy restaurant. My suspicion that the horrid smell on the road of our hotel a few weeks back was in fact the Stinky Tofu, was confirmed. Once the fried tofu arrived, the girls casually picked up their chopsticks and began to dig in, one by one. I followed suit soon afterwards. If they swallowed one after the other with such ease, it couldn’t be so bad, right? WRONG! I broke my block in half and bit into it. The texture was similar to halloumi – not bad at all. It was also crunchy on the outside because it was deep-fried. It was fine, until I started to taste the smell (if that makes any sense). It’s almost as though the stinkyness of the Tofu comes into the taste at some stage while you’re chewing it – hard to explain. A managed to snap a picture of my expression while I was biting on it. I did not know that my face could look that ugly. No, I will not share. At least I didn’t almost throw up, like he did. Luckily his colleagues mistook his almost throwing up for almost crying. I don’t know which is worse.
We ventured back into the market after the tofu experience. I bought some hand cream which costed much less than it would in a regular chain store. The girls mentioned that if you buy products in a store (no matter the size), they are generally originals, but we should be wary of what the street vendors sell.
Once our stomachs had settled from the half-a-tofu we each consumed, we braved ourselves through the doors of another little restaurant. This time, we sampled a stew of mixed vegetables, which is supposed to be similar to Hot Pot (another Chinese speciality). I think A‘s colleagues were set out to feed us something more appetising than the ‘Tofu. This dish did not disappoint.
It is pretty much made up of a hot water with spices and herbs, into which fresh vegetables are dipped. Very simple, yet very delicious. The vegetables were mostly local favourites, such as a variety of mushrooms and baicai (Chinese cabbage). Even though it was hen la (very spicy), I probably ate more than anyone else on our table. The restaurant did not serve any cold drinks, so we went to the 7/11 down the block and got some drinks to sooth our taste buds. I had a papaya milk drink . It was perfect.
After much deliberation about where to visit next, we settled to go to a tea emporium close to our home. I will write about that in my next post.
How to get to Shida Night Market: Take the MRT to the Taipower Station stop and then just follow the crowd. You will find it 🙂 If you’re still battling, walk down Luosifu Road in the direction of Guting MRT station and turn left onto Shida Road.
January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
A cooked chicken curry last weekend and (as always), there was cooked white rice left over. I refuse to throw perfectly good food away. I usually freeze the rice until the next time we have a rice dish, but my freezer in the new apartment is tiny. So this is what I came up with:
Leftover Savoury Rice
- 1 tspn of chopped garlic
- 1/2 a white onion
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 1/2 tspn white pepper
- sprinkle of any herbs you have
- 2 tspns lemon juice
- 1 chopped up green pepper
- 1/2 chopped tomato
- About 2 cups of leftover rice (I had basmati)
- A dollop of tomato sauce
- A dollop of Nandos sauce (Yes, I brought some in my bag from Sweden)
- Some chopped up fresh coriander
- Braise the garlic and onion in a frying pan – wait for the onion to soften
- Add the tomato, green pepper, spices and lemon juice – allow the green pepper to soften
- Add the rice, sauces and coriander
- Mix well
It was haochi (delicious in Chinese). You could probably serve it as a side dish with some meat/chicken/fish.
January 2, 2011 § 3 Comments
My lovely neighbour brought over a plastic bag full of citrus limetta (sweet lemons) earlier in the week. At the time I thought they were lemons because they were yellowish-green in colour. I was wondering what I would do with them because I already had a full bottle of lemon juice in fridge. When I was cooking on Friday, I decided to use some fresh lemon in my marinade and sampled some juice before I added it in – luckily so, as it turned out to be very sweet. I should have noticed because the fruits were now a darker shade of yellow, almost leaning towards orange. My friend just clarified that these are actually sweet lemons (and not oranges as I had thought). They typically grow in South East Asia and the Meditteranean regions. I don’t think we get any in South Africa.
I have no electric or manual juicer because our container hasn’t arrived from Sweden yet. I was really craving fresh juice and I didn’t want to waste the fruits, so I squeezed them by hand. That was some serious commitment to vitamin C. My hands were so sore afterwards, but it was well worth it. The juice was so incredibly sweet and delicious that if I bought it, I would have thought it was sweetened.
December 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
Yesterday was my second wedding anniversary. When I reflect on these 2 years, I am reminded of how wonderful the time we spent together has been. Sure, like with any other relationship, it takes a lot of effort and there are bound to be some rough patches, but at the end of it all, it is so worth it. Marriage has been wonderful to me (praise be to God). I am now snacking on what was part of my anniversary present:
Swiss fruitty chocolate. It is absolutely divine – rich and creamy, but also fruity and tangy. I am in heaven!