A smidgen of this and that…

With the holiday break having come and gone, the activity in my soulofthehome was replaced with braais and a repeat of tried&tested recipes. Kept it simple, kept it easy and fuss-free and kept it as minimal time spent in the kitchen as possible.

Why?

For one, I’m always the one who gets going with all other components of the braai, apart for the fire & the actual braai’ing of the meat etc. So, I was a bit braai-verskrik (as SA slang will term it), and really wanted to perfect the art of braai’ing right from the tipping of the charcoal into the braai stand. Between Better Half, my mum & my braai-expert cousin – I reckon I can now get a fire going ;) Then the excitement at the thought of learning how to braai fish (too terrific!), veggies & the thought of copying my cousin’s feat at braai’ing an entire leg of lamb. Jee whiz, so I was really distracted from the literal soulofthehome space.

I must confess that I lacked oomph to bother with creating new meals, indulging in different tastes and methods this holiday break. Resorted to grills, pastas and the basic, easy meals to keep Better Half and I sustained. Not much/any baking even either….

I can however share with you that once you’ve discovered poached eggs, there’s no turning back. I can’t bear the sight or smell of scrambled eggs. Boiled eggs are now only left for traditional Indian rice meals & fried eggs can be Better Half’s indulgence when he desires (which seems to be rare these days. Go… health!) So, runny/soft poached eggs on a slice or two of wholewheat toast with a great deal of Lea Perrin’s hot sauce & cracklings of black pepper. I Love! Poaching eggs requires the patience of simmering & the carefulness of tipping the egg gently into the simmering water & all the same, removing the poached egg with a slotted spoon. It’s really easy to do and (so!) quick and (very!) healthy AND divine-tasting! Simmer water, add in some vinegar and tip in an egg one at a time. I have them simmer on a medium heat for 4 minutes max, to ensure that the yolk oozes beautifully once cut on a slice of toast.

I’ve also discovered a range of biscotti worth baking! Better Half loves biscotti and so, a few batches of a ‘healthy’ biscotti got my soul stirring (and his…). Olive oil and brown sugar were the healthier ingredients amongst the standard list of baking items. Add in some choc chips (dark chocolate if you wish to trump the list of healthy ingredients) & pecans. Divine. I’ve come across some interesting combinations: chocolate & orange, coconut too. Will share as I attempt on some that turn out successful.

Choc-chip, nut biscotti

Choc-chip, nut biscotti

Leg of lamb was also a part of the soul stirring efforts all this time. My first attempt. Ever. Definitely not the last. Slow-cooked lamb. Slow cooking is imperative. Getting the meat to literally fall off the bone. Sweet shoulder of lamb, perfect for two with leftovers for a decent sandwich the next day. Oven roasted for 3-4 hours with a great deal of patience & confidence that once the 4 hours are complete, the lid is lifted, there lies a tender, juicy lamb roast. The gravy turned out surprisingly swell! Definitely worth the effort. I’ll most certainly do the full-swing oven method (rather than the common, yet still successful stove-top method of sealing the meat and then sticking in the oven): raising the oven temperature over 200C, then sticking in the double-foiled roasting pan into the oven, immediately turn down the heat to 140-160 and slow roast for a good, coupla’ hours. Leaves one to twiddle thumbs (or prepare the side dishes to complement the roast) in that time.

This beauty marinated in the fridge for 3-4 days before hauling it out to room temperature on the day of The Roast

This beauty marinated in the fridge for 3-4 days before hauling it out to room temperature on the day of The Roast

Shoulder lamb roast flanked with roasted veggies & the mandatory baby onions

Shoulder lamb roast flanked with roasted veggies & the mandatory baby onions

Nothing beats homemade gravy!

Nothing beats homemade gravy!

Had a cheesecake interest too, thanks to my cousin who gifted me with a mini-individual cheesecake pan. Customised with a loose-fitting base per individual pan to effortlessly yield a dozen dainty cheesecakes. I personally prefer making and eating a fridge cheesecake. It’s dead easy, no fret about how the cheesecake’ll set once out of the oven & in the summer season, a chilled cheesecake is more appetising. I’ve learnt that lemon juice acts as a stabiliser (the recipe I attempted used lemon juice, no gelatine). Ensure that a good quality cream cheese is used. I added cinnamon powder to the biscuit base (a definite win on flavour and subtle aroma).

Plain cheesecake, topped with crumbled Aero Mint

Plain cheesecake, topped with crumbled Aero Mint

So with routines back in motion, I’ll be flipping the pages of the purple Indian Delights more often….onward to the next post!

Lousy photos, sorry  – that’s what I get for using my cellphone camera. As for evidence of the braai fire, this lies on Better Half’s phone camera (at the time of this post, unavailable) and as for the poached eggs, I’ll have to share in another post, another time when I remember to pause with the chowing & instead snap up a photo :)

This mini, portable braai stand was so convenient and easy to assemble & dis-assemble!

This mini, portable braai stand was so convenient and easy to assemble & dis-assemble!

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Posted in Hiatus, Treasury of SA Indian Delights, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Very Easy Zarda (Jardo) – page 188

Well, here I am… after a longer than planned breakaway from soulofthehome… Meanwhile, the physical soulofthehome has not stopped any activity, well…..maybe for a month I didn’t do much at all! But since, been back in it, across mine and my mum’s culinary spaces.

After spending extended periods with my folks in Johannesburg, I’m now resettling back in my married-home-city, Durban ;) with a grateful heart to Allah, for my dad journeying the road to recovery of his health.

I’ve not delved into attempting new recipes for purposes of the project, and simply stirred up meals that I have tried & tested repeatedly. I’ve introduced my mum to some, to hopefully create some variety in her cooking space, and for the sake of my folks’ palette enjoying new tastes and flavours, and they’re enjoying the shuffle of the repertoire. Win!

So what brings me to blogging something then, is the opportunity of Eid(-ul Adha), when I devised the menu for the day, and together with my mum, we served a hearty lunch. Given that I planned leg roast with veggies for the main course, (sans biryani) – it seemed considerate to the tums to serve a rice starter, Jardo. I recognise it being tradition in many homes to serve Jardo as a starter, then follow it up with a main course rice dish, biryani. No chance to breathe and digest and even have a second thought of indulging in desserts, as there’s always these two-rice-meals that leaves one feeling more than filled up!

Mum tackled the leg roast (her speciality), whilst I prepared the sweet dish, Jardo and the veggies & did the rest, across the side dishes & desserts/baking. It was a really enjoyable space, preparing for Eid as a hostess. Alhamdulillah.

As for the recipe, the jardo method is indeed ‘very easy’ as explicitly stated in the recipe heading. I made half the recipe, using bimri rice (instead of Tastic). Followed the recipe to the tee but only finished off the jardo with a lot more slivered almonds, sultanas and yes, fresh dates and coconut!

Just be mindful not to ‘over-stir’. My mum guided me on this, as you will want to stee(i)r away from mushed-up syrupy rice. Be patient and let it steam and infuse with the syrup all on its own, without the mechanics of frequent stirring (unnecessarily).

I added in pineapple to convert it to Solah, as the method suggests. This addition is not familiar to me, in our families’ cooking of this sweet dish, but it’s a lovely addition and I will not hesitate to add this in the next time I prepare Jardo/Solah. However, I used the remaining titbit of canned pineapple crush with a wee bit of the canned syrup instead of the fresh fruit itself. (I landed up being efficient with ingredients, so prepared the ‘pineapple dessert’ and had some canned pineapple crush leftover)

Verdict: It’s certainly a very easy sweet dish to prepare, and nothing complex especially for a novice. Be mindful not to over-stir, and to aid the steaming with regular splashes of water to prevent the syrup from sticking/catching. End result you’re working toward is a moist, sweet, but not sticky-slodge sweet rice. Don’t skimp on the nuts, coconut, sultanas and dates – it really does complete this yum sweet dish! Serve with the mandatory papar!

Apologies for the really poor quality pics – taken in Joburg, on the Eid lunch table with my cellphone! As for the ‘pineapple dessert’, no photo evidence of my attempt – so I’ll need to make this one again sometime soon and then blog the details. Safe to say, it’s worth making again, especially for this hot season we’re heading toward in South Africa

Cellphone photo taken – poor quality! Sweet rice/jardo finished with generous tosses of sultanas, fresh dates, coconut & slivered almonds!

Posted in Desserts, Easy Peasy, Rice, Treasury of SA Indian Delights | Leave a comment

Ramadhan (screech….) Brake!

So somewhat one’s usual routine comes to a halt, and a more devoted focus to prayer is given during the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadhan.

I tend to keep things familiar in the soulofthehome, and will be tapping into my standard repertoire of meals, for the sake of convenience, ease and guaranteed satisfaction; especially after a 12-hour odd day of fasting, for the entire month.

If you’re also enjoying Ramadhan, my best wishes to you :) … and to all, I can’t wait to be back in my soulofthehome experimenting, exploring and sharing! See you in a month…or so.

Ramadhan Kareem

Image!

Posted in Treasury of SA Indian Delights | Leave a comment

Poppy Seed Cake – page 194

Rather, Lemon Poppy Seed cake.

Straight-forward caking and baking. The only impatience was getting the rind quantity ready. I don’t have a nifty gadget, so pretty much grated it off the washed fresh lemon. The rest of the beating and combining: usual jiffy stuff. I used Wooden Spoon margarine rather than butter (only because I had the former available). I made certain that I sifted the dry ingredients twice (as per the recipe instruction).

I baked the batter across two pans, one rectangular loaf sized-pan and the other was a square pan. Perfect!

I didn’t do the final step of poking holes into the baked cake and soaking with syrup. It tasted lovely without the syrup, but am sure the addition of the lemon, sugary runny goo will be irresistable (but I wonder if the cake will be susceptible to breakage. It is a very moist cake).

Verdict: The cake is indeed really soft and definitely lovely and spongy. Better Half and I have been tucking in for the past week without boredom. He considers it a ‘fresh’ taste. I love, absolutely love the texture of the poppy seeds and admittedly the lemon/citrus spike to offset the guilt of ‘cake indulgence’. Will be made again and toppled into muffin pans, so that these beauts can be slotted into the lunch box!

Posted in Baking, Treasury of SA Indian Delights | 2 Comments

Brinjal Lagan (Mousakka) – page 52

From Latkes of the Jewish cuisine, to the Greek’s Moussaka!

I chopped-and-changed a number of things that were spelled out in the ingredients and especially the method, so please refer to the original recipe should you wish to attempt the one in the book.

Moussaka essentially is a layered meal, with brinjal at the bottom, toppled mince thereafter and then the thickish sauce poured over and rounded up with sprinkling of cheese and breadcrumbs to complete the layered dish. I instead melded the veggies into the mince, so that there would be no resistance from separating veg from meat in our home once we tucked in ;)

My version went like this:

– Top and tail washed brinjal/aubergine/eggplant (I used 3 baby sized ones) and slice into half-inch cuts. Sprinkle with coarse salt and set aside for a short while (half an hour). I’m not sure what’s the purpose of this, but did so at the time…
 
– In the meanwhile, add washed mince (I used steak mince, 250g) + half an onion, sliced + some ghee/oil to a pot and set to heat and braise until cooked and dry(ish).
 
– Have ready to add: 1-2 cups of pulverized fresh tomatoes (I love a moist mince curry) + just under a 1/4 cup tomato puree (especially for colour) + few squirts of lemon juice + salt + white pepper + wet red masala + dhana powder. Allow to simmer until well combined, rightly textured and still quite moist. You then have your mince component ready..
 
– While the mince is simmering to completion, saute the sliced brinjal in some olive oil (I cut them further into inconspicuous wedges so that carnivorous-Better Half would still enjoy the meal ;) ) and also added in some sliced green pepper. Saute until cooked but not entirely softened. Drain well and stir into mince. (The recipe suggests layering the brinjal – I instead tossed the veggies into the mince mixture so that Better Half wouldn’t fuss about the brinjal, and also the way I sliced and prepared it made it easy to cross-over to brinjals for one’s first-try as opposed to hitting the eyes and palette with thick brinjal cuts layered in between a hearty mince meal)
 

Sauteing the veggies in olive oil

 
– I then prepared a basic white sauce: braised flour with ghee and then added in milk and seasoning (basic salt, black pepper and some dried thyme, or any mixed herbs you might have). I was looking to achieve a runny white sauce as the beaten egg was still going to be added in to the meal and a compact mousakka wasn’t what I wanted to land up with, even though all servings of mousakka are usually solid and firmly shaped as a slice serving…
 
– I then spooned the mince mixture (with the tossed, sauted veggies in it already) into a pyrex dish, then stirred in the white sauce and then lastly combined the single, lightly beaten egg into the entire mixture. Set it aside in the fridge and hauled it out closer to dinner time for baking and serving (so yes, can be prepared ahead of time).
 
– I omitted grated cheese to cover the meal, but instead used a lot of very finely, blended bread crumbs. Baked it at 180C until the sauciness reduced a bit and the dish could be dished out as a less-than-wonky slice serving.
 

Verdict: So I mentioned in an earlier post that I have developed a sense of knowing, before even tasting the meal, whether a new dish will be a win or fail. This was most definitely a win long before I tasted it. What-a-win! Better Half gave a literal thumbs-up and we both were impressed (and relieved!) that he enjoyed the veggie component without a fuss. I will definitely be making this meal again. As I told Better Half, think of it as lasagne without the pasta sheets! ;) The breadcrumb finish was a definite win for both of us too

Posted in Casserole, Mains, Treasury of SA Indian Delights, Winter Warmers | 1 Comment