Friday, 13 April 2007

Poor Old King

I make no claims as to authenticity. I use what I have on hand and what tastes good. I combine cuisines without shame and take short-cuts all too frequently but I don't think my dishes are any worse for it. Rather they seem to benefit from a few cultural influences and hit the table a little more quickly than the originals. Here I've combined Middle Eastern influences with Indian.

These dishes would work well with either bread or rice, a simple salad of diced cucumber, tomato and red onion and a side of natural yoghurt.


The story goes that there was once an Indian Maharaja who had a great love of kebabs be they skewers of chicken, the whole bird or lamb cutlets. This poor royal had the great misfortune to become toothless in his old age but was determined not to give up his favourite food. He commissioned his chef to create a kebab that was so tender and soft even if he could consume it. So the clever little chef came up with this gem for his toothless king. I've eaten several versions of this dish but nobody knows the original recipe for two reasons. Firstly because being a largely oral culture these things are often lost with the passage of time or distorted Chinese whispers style. Secondly because there was a great tradition of famous chefs keeping their recipes in the family so their offspring would be sure of employment if they were associated with dishes of such fame that nobody else knew how to prepare. This is my version.

450g lamb mince
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
few strands of soaked saffron with soaking liquid
2 tbsp thick natural yoghurt
2 tsp red onion water*

*Puree a red onion and then squeeze out the liquid from this mixture. The puree can be used as a base for curries but for this you want the water. These kebabs cook so quickly there is insufficient time for the onion to cook through and a raw onion taste would be overpowering.

In a food processor, combine the mince, spices and saffron with the soaking liquid, yogurt and onion water. Puree until smooth. The texture of this should be like a spreadable pate to ensure toothless diners have no trouble. Form the mixture into cigar or round patty shapes and refrigerate them overnight so the flavours can infuse.

In a tandoor oven or on a covered bbq flat plate cook the kebabs on a very low heat, turning once. It shouldn't take much longer than 10 minutes. Allow to rest before serving.

Smoked Eggplant Dip

If you are unfortunate enough to be serving picky eaters that express a dislike for eggplant, don't fear! What they don't know won't hurt them and this tastes vastly different to the original product so they're unlikely to know any better.

1 large eggplant
1 tsp minced garlic
2 roast garlic cloves, skins removed
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dukkah

Roast the eggplant over a gas flame or bbq until the skin is charred and black. Rest loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes before removing the skin. Blend with the remaining ingredients and serve as a dip or accompaniment.

Moong Dahl

1 cup green mung lentils
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ghee
1 tsp oil
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 diced onion
1 tsp corriander power
2 tsp cumin power
1 tin diced tomatoes
corriander leaves
natural yogurt

Soak the lentils overnight. In a large saucepan cover lentils with water and cook with salt, sugar and tumeric until softened- around 20 minutes. In a separate pan sautee 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds and a 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds in the ghee and oil mixture. When they begin to splutter add the grated ginger and minced garlic. Allow these to cook off before adding the diced onion. Allow the onion to soften before adding the corriander powder and cumin. Sautee for a couple of minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes. Once the tomatoes melt into the mixture add this to the softened lentils. Cook over medium heat for around 10 minutes. Serve garnished with corriander leaves and a dollop of natural yogurt with rice or bread.


Brilynn said...

You've got so many great flavours happening, I love lamb!

Anh said...

Yummy Truffle! :) What a great flavours there!

Rose said...

It looks delicious. It is great that you allow your self to experiment other cuisines without being afraid of it and with bringing your own touch to it. Fantastic work