In and Out of Blogging

Vine leaves

Sapanca walnuts

In an Istanbul traffic jam, half a fig passes hands. Plump and purple, glistening in the afternoon sun. A smile radiates a man’s face. His pleasure warms my heart.

The fig was a gift from a generous vendor at a wonderful weekly market in Sapanca in Turkey where we’d just finished a week’s workshop on food and photography. The man was a fellow participant at the workshop. I’ve taken a lot from the trip, and not just in the kilos of pepper flakes and helva in my suitcase! More about the helva as well as about what I’ve learnt will come in another post. For I am back to blogging.

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Sri Lankan-style chickpeas for Lisa

I’ve created this dish especially for a blogging event run by a one of my favourite bloggers, Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen. The event is No Croutons Required, and the this month’s topic is chickpeas. I really wanted to take part, partly because I haven’t in ages, and partly because I really love chickpeas myself. After a bit of thought, I decided to adapt one of my favourite veggie Sri Lankan recipe, varar, adding caramelised shallots, coriander and lemon juice. The result is a gorgeous warm salad of chickpeas flavoured with caramelised shallots, curry leaves, coconut and lemon juice that goes great with many Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and it’s also delicious on its own as a snack. I love it. I hope Lisa will like it, too.

A note on chickpeas. I really notice a difference in flavour between tinned and dried chickpeas, and for me, this is one instance when it’s worth taking the time to soak and cook the chickpeas. They’re so much nicer like that! I can even eat them as popcorns after they’ve just been cooked – they really are delicious. But if you really really can’t be bothered, then next time you’re in your favourite Asian supermarket, pick up a tin of East End brand of chickpeas. They’re the tastiest ones I’ve found. Still, for hummus and falafel, I’d soak and cook my own chickpeas.

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas salad

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SOURCE:  Inspired by Jasmine’s varar

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min, if the chickpeas are ready

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min, again, if you’re not soaking your own chickpeas

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 1 as a salad, 2 as a small side dish

 

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INGREDIENTS:

a little vegetable oil

2 medium shallots, halved and then sliced thinly

1 green finger chilli 

a small handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

1 cup of chickpeas (cooked, or tinned)

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1 heaped tsp chopped coriander leaves

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METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add the shallots and the chili. When the shallots start going brown, throw in the curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the shallots are completely caramelised. Then, remove half of the mixture and set aside. (This will be sprinkled on top when the dish is done).
  • Return the pan to the heat, and add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add the chickpeas to the pan, and a couple of tbs of water (or chickpeas soaking water), and warm the chickpeas through. Then in goes the coconut and a pinch of salt. Stir it and cook for 30 s, again until it’s warmed through.
  • Just before serving, add lemon or lime juice, chopped coriander and some more salt if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining shallots and serve. Enjoy!

 

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More Sri Lankan food at Maninas:

 

The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen Kulambu)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

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And more chickpeas recipes:

My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds (V) – This is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!

My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  (V)

Chana Masala (V) for RCI Punjab

Chana masala from scratch (V) – No shop bought spice mixes!

 

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MLLA21Logo

I’m also submitting this post to to MLLA-21 hosted by Mirch Masala, and started by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry

We’re continuing on the fragrant Sri Lankan curry leaf trail. Next stop: a gorgeous pineapple curry. Hot, sweet and sour, permeated with the addictive fragrance of curry leaves.

The trick is to cut pineapple into medium chunks, and warm them through gently, taking care not to overcook them. In this way, as you bite into the pineapple pieces, fresh juice oozes out, delicious and tart.

The photo below was taken by my friend A.

 Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry

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SOURCE: Jasmine

PREPARATION TIME: about 15 min

COOKING TIME: 3- 5 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish

 

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced OR two small shallots, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

a handful of curry leaves

1 dsp Sri Lankan chilli powder (or less if you prefer less heat)

1/2 large pineapple, chopped into 2 cm chunks

 

METHOD:

1. Prepare your ingredients first, as the cooking happens in quick succession. Chop the pineapple, slice the onions, get everything ready.

2. Time to start cooking! Heat some oil, in a wok or a wide pan, on medium high heat. Add mustard seeds to hot oil, and when they pop, the onion and the curry leaves. Cook until the onion is soft.

3. Next, add the chilli powder, and fry for about 30 s or so.

4. Add the pineapple, and stir fry for a few minutes, taking care not to overcook it. You just want to heat the pineapple through and coat it with the spicy mixture.

Serve this side dish as a part of a larger meal, Sri Lankan, or even Indian. I even served it with a Thai red curry once, and it worked really well.

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 More Sri Lankan Food at Maninas: 

 The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen kulambu)

 

 

 Weekend Herb Blogging 

This is my entry for this week’s WHB, hosted by Huan from Eat.Read.Live.

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My Morrocan-inspired chickpeas

Addicted to chickpeas? Who me? No…. OK maybe a little bit…. OK maybe a bit more…. :)

Here’s a confession: I played with chickpeas and my spice rack once more! And let me tell you, it was delicious! positively yummilicious! Which is why I’m sharing the recipe with you! But let’s not waste time! Here’s the recipe!

 

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My Morrocan-inspired Chickpeas

 

SOURCE: momentary inspiration, own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME:  30 – 45 min (not sure)

SERVES: 2 – 3

CUISINE: Morrocan-inspired

 

INGREDIENTS

 

1 tbsp cumin seeds 

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1.5 cm ginger

3 small carrots

2 tsp crushed red chilies

1 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)

 

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ras el hanout

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp cayenne pepper

40 g harissa

a little water

salt and pepper

 

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

 

2 cans of chickpeas (East End is my favourite brand at the moment)

 

a small handful of raisins

 

METHOD

 

1. First, toast the cumin seeds until they start to release their aroma. When done, take them out of the pan and leave to cool. Crush them with pestle and mortar and set aside.

2. Now melt the ghee and fry the onions until golden.

3. Add ginger, garlic and carrots. Continue frying until the onions are brown.

4. Add the spices, including half the cumin, and fry for a minute. Then, add the harissa and fry for a few minutes again. Add a little water if necessary.

5. Add the tomatoes and cook until the fat starts to separate, and little specks of ghee appear on the surface of the sauce. The onions will have almost melted, and you will get a thick spicy paste. At this stage, adjust the spices according to your taste. Add a bit more of what you think necessary.

6. Add the chickpeas to the mixture and stir, adding a little water if necessary.

At this stage, I put the rice to boil, so I must have cooked them for another 10 minutes at least.

7. 5 minutes before the end stir in the raisins. At the end, stir in the rest of crushed cumin seeds.

Serve with couscouos or rice.

 

 

Verdict

Loved it! And would make it again! It was spicy though (with all the cayenne, crushed chilies, harissa…), so adjust the level of heat according to how hot you like it/can take it! :) The lemon in the harissa gave it a lovely sour tang, which went well with the earthiness of the cumin stirred in at the end. Also, I loved the contrast between the structures of chickpeas, carrot and raisin. Speaking of carrots, I could have done with more carrot in the stew, so add some more if you wish. Add a bit more garlic, too.

I was going to serve it with a garnish of friend onions and garlic on top, but had no time. Try it, if you want!

You can have it as a vegetarian main course, and even as a side dish. Make loads and take leftover to work for lunch!

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Other chickpeas recipes at Maninas: Food Matters:

Chana Masala V

Catalan Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Almonds  V – my addaptation of Melissa’s recipe

Another twist on Catalan Chickpeas V

 

inspired: grilled halloumi with red chili, basil, lime juice and olive oil dressing

halloumi is a type of mild cypriot cheese, that holds its shape well when grilling. also, because of its mild taste, it combines really well with other flavour. great for experimentation! 

feeling inspired, here’s what i came up with.

 unfortunately, no photo this time. visually, it looked fantastic, but i didn’t remember to take the photo until i finished it off! oops! :)

 i had it as a light and quick lunch with some crusty bread.  serving it as a starter at a dinner party would be a great idea, too. or, make a larger quantity of tomatoes and other veg, and turn it into a big salad!

btw, i love these spontaneous posts!

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 UPDATE 13 September

looks like i can’t stay away from my halloumi. i made it again! here’s a pic!

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grilled halloumi with red chili, basil, lime juice and olive oil dressing

 

SOURCE: momentary inspiration, own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min

COOKING TIME:  3 min

SERVES: 1

CUISINE: Fusion

INGREDIENTS

 

 Grilled halloumi

4 slices of halloumi

a squeeze of lime juice

a dollop of good quality olive oil

a good pinch of dried red chili flakes

some freshly ground pepper

 

Tomato salad

1 large tomato, sliced

a few leaves of fresh basil

a tiny pinch of salt

 

METHOD:

1. Prepare the salad: slice the tomato and tear the basil leaves in small pieces. Mix, add salt, and put on a plate.

2. Heat the grill pan/grill. Grill the halloumi until nice and brown on both sides.

3. Place the grilled cheese on the plate next to the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cheese and the tomatoes with lime juice, olive oil, chili pepper and ground pepper.

 

Verdict:

Delicious! Will make again. and again. and again! :)

 

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Update:

It’s the 100th Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) event this week!!! Isn’t that impressive? I definitely think it is, and I’m submitting this post to celebrate this event! The recipe features one of my favourite plants, basil (which I grew myself!), so it’s only right that I do so! Let’s not forget, this event was started by Kalyn of Kalyn’s kitchen. Here’s where you can find the rules if you’d like to take part, and here’s where you can find out who’s hosting the next WHB. WHB #100 is hosted by Katerina of Daily Unadventures in Cooking.