Cauliflower Indian/Chinese- Gobi Manchurian via Kerala

I have been trying to be healthy. No cheese, less wine, no chocolates and none of those other things either, but it’s getting boring. Looking at the big cauliflower lurking in my fridge, I considered another salad or a lean stir fry, but my body yearned for something more satisfying, something fried!  Time to attempt my first Gobi Manchurian.

Image

I first came across this Indian – Chinese dish in Fort Cochin, Kerala, India in 2012. Once discovered, we ate it every second night at Casa Linda.*

Image

On returning to Melbourne, we sourced some very tasty versions in Sydney Rd, Brunswick.*  Gobi Manchurian is a spicy Indian cauliflower dish incorporating Chinese elements in the sauce.  Serve it with fat white rice, such as Sunrice medium grain rice. I noticed that Keralans don’t use Basmati  and I have come to appreciate medium grain rice again. Oh, to return to Kerala,  God’s own country.

Image

The recipe is a version from Saveur, but I have altered it slightly.  This makes a piggy amount for two, or serve with another dish, for example dhal, for four.

Ingredients.

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2- 5 cm. pieces peeled fresh ginger (1 cut into thin rounds, 1 julienned)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  •  salt
  • 1/3 cup cornflour/ cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup  plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp.red chilli powder
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. plus 1.5 tbsp. soy sauce
  • Peanut or canola oil for frying
  • 1 small onion,finely chopped
  • 2-3 chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup tomato sauce/ketchup
  • 1 tsp.or more sesame oil
  • 1 scallions, thinly sliced
  • coriander leaves

Method

1. Purée garlic, the ginger slices, and a little water in a blender; set aside. Boil cauliflower in a pot of salted water until tender, 6–7 minutes; drain.

2. Whisk together cornstarch, flour, chilli powder, 1⁄4 tsp. salt, and a little pepper in a bowl. Stir in half the garlic paste, 1 tsp. soy sauce, and 1/3 ( approx) cup water to make a batter.

3. Pour oil into a large deep wok to a depth of 3cms; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, dip cauliflower in batter; fry until golden, turning, 5–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.

Image

4. Drain all but about 3 tbsp. of the oil. Add onion; cook for 3–4 minutes. Add chilli and remaining garlic paste; cook until paste is lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little water. Boil; lower heat to low; simmer until thick, 1–2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; toss cauliflower in sauce to reheat.

Image

5. Garnish with remaining ginger, scallions, and coriander. Serve with white rice and yoghurt or raita.

*Casa Linda, Dispensary Road, Fort Cochin, India

*Bilal, 860 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Australia 3056

Image

Ode to Garlic and a Simple Bruschetta

There are hundreds of Italian proverbs dealing with garlic. Some deal with the puzzo or stench of garlic: others sing its praises. My favourite is  L’aglio è il farmacista del contadino –Garlic is the peasant’s pharmacist.

Image

The benefits of garlic:

  • Throughout history in the Middle East, East Asia and Nepal, garlic has been used to treat bronchitis, high blood pressure,TB, liver disorders,  rheumatism, diabetes and fevers.
  • According to many studies, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease,  and blood pressure.
  • garlic is said to lower levels of osteoarthritis in women. Image

The list of health benefits goes on and on. I add garlic to nearly every savoury dish I cook, but raw garlic has greater health properties. Add raw garlic to guacamole, babaganouge, humous, salsa verde, aioli, garlic butter, salad dressings. Slice it raw onto pizza, fish, tomatoes. Or make some bruschetta.Image

To celebrate this season’s garlic crop, dried and carefully plaited by Alessandra, I am making some simple bruschetta, using the best sourdough bread from St Andrews Bakery and a premium Cobram extra virgin olive oil. Slice the bread thickly, brush with Extra Virgin olive oil, and grill in a ridged pan, pressing down to get nice charred marks. Remove, rub with lots of galic, and add more oil.

Image

“Non piangere” – disse l’aglio alla cipolla. “Non fiatare” – rispose la cipolla.

“Don’t cry” said the garlic to the onion. “Don’t breathe” replied the onion.Image

If everyone ate garlic, no one would detect the smell on others. However , chewing parsley leaves or eating yoghurt will neutralise the smell.

Image

Are you a garlic devotee?

 

Almond and Honey Spice Cake for La Befana

The Epiphany, January 6th, is celebrated in many places throughout the world in various ways. It signifies the Three Wise Mens’ visit to the infant Jesus. In Italy, the focus is on La Befana, a benevolent old witch, who delivers gifts to children. Traditionally, the gifts consisted of toys, caramelle and fruit or carbone, a lump of coal and some garlic if they had been naughty.

Image

Legend has it that Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of the Jesus. ( I only own two!)  They asked her for directions as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know the way. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework and sweeping.  Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to find the three wise men and Jesus. That night she was unable to find them, so to this day, La Befana flies around on her broom, searching for the little baby and visits children with gifts on the evening of January 5th.

Australians don’t celebrate the Epiphany but there is something very appealing about the idea of a crazy witch riding around on her broomstick looking for Jesus. I can relate to this figure. Tonight we will eat an Almond and Honey Spice Cake because we have been good, and something very garlicky because we have been naughty too. The recipe lives in my tried and true handwritten recipe book.

The cake

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 75g castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g almond meal
  • 1/2 cup fine semolina
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk.

The Spiced Syrup

  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

The Orange Honey Cream

  • 3/4 cup thickened whipped cream
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons finely grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 180c ( 160c fan forced). Grease a 20 centimetre deep round cake tin, line base and sides. Beat the butter, sugar, honey and spices in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Fold in the almond meal, semolina, baking powder, and milk. Spread mixture into the pan and bake for around 40 minutes. Stand cake for 5 minutes, leaving in pan.

Image

To Make the syrup. Stir ingredients in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves. Boil uncovered for 5 minutes to thicken syrup. Pour over hot cake. Cool cake to room temperature.Image

Place the cake onto a serving plate. Decorate with the remaining spice ingredients. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Serve with orange cream (Beat the ingredients together and serve at room temperature.)

Image

The cute little poem is known by all Italians.

La Befana vien di notte                   The Befana comes at night
Con le scarpe tutte rotte                  With her shoes all tattered and torn
Col vestito alla romana                    She comes dressed in the Roman way
Viva, Viva La Befana!                       Long Life to the Befana

Per Alberto, Quest’anno, soltanto carbone.

In My Kitchen. January 2014

Happy New Year. It’s time to reflect, to plan and to clear out the old and unwanted from our kitchens and our minds!  I remember reading an interview with Germaine Greer years ago, where she described her favourite New Year’s Eve activity. She laundered and pressed all her fine white Italian linen. I have also begun this task. Image

Grazie Mille, many thanks, to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen. It’s a chance to have a peep into the many kitchens around the world and get inspiration from the small detail of  every day life.

In My Kitchen are the last of the peaches from our tree. Nothing compares with the taste of a warm, fully ripe peach freshly plucked.Image

These two little woven containers prove so handy in summer. I purchased them in Bali this year. They prove invaluable in summer for carting the cutlery outdoors.

Image

I cannot resist buying Panforte each Christmas, and I usually receive a couple as gifts also. They bring back memories of Siena, and Monteriggione nearby, where I was a student many years ago.

Image

These little terracotta bowls were purchased at the Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick. They sit on my bench, still unused, reminding me of tapas and summer plan for ‘al fresco’ dining.Image

This little pink grater comes from Chiang Mai in Thailand, purchased for 20 Bhat- less than $1.00.  So handy for summer salads.Image

And finally the Zucchini Plague has begun. My favourite zucchini recipes are re-appearing, some are being rehashed and updated and will appear in the next few posts.Image