Nizami Egg Paratha with vinegar onions

Simply delicious! Inspired by the culinary genius of the Nizami chefs of Golconda and Bijapur, a few hours drive from the Konkan coast near Karnataka, this is a fabulous egg roll. Good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If making dough is too time consuming you can substitute with partially cooked frozen Parathas- the Malaysian Parathas and Rotis in frozen sections are also a good option. 

Ingredients for 7-8 parathas about 5 inch triangles

  • Paratha dough 
  • 2 cups atta
  • 2 tbsp maida
  • 3 tbsp melted ghee
  • 1 tbsp milk plain
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Room temp Water as required
  • For the egg filling
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2 Indian green chillies finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or coriander leaves
  • ghee for frying
  • For kachumber
  • 1 cup very finely chopped red or red or white onion soaked in 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Method:

  1. Stir vinegar into onions and set aside.
  2. Combine ingredients for dough and knead into a shiny and smooth dough. Cover with a damp cloth and rest in a cool place 30 minutes. Then divide into equal size balls of 3 inches.
  3. Dust a clean, flat surface lightly with whole wheat flour and roll each ball into a round Paratha about 3-4 inches wide. Rub surface with a little ghee and fold it in half and then again in half. Then roll again into a 3inch round paratha and repeat the process. Let the triangles rest covered with damp cloth for 15 minutes.
  4. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Gently blend in whisked yolks, green chillies, onions and coriander leaves in a bowl. Add the salt just before you use the omelette mixture. Reserve.
  5. Heat a flat, cast iron griddle or non stick pan or tawa on a low flame. If you are confident heat two griddles side by side. 
  6. Roll out your resting paratha triangle into a 5-6 inch side triangular paratha.
  7. Place one Paratha on the warm but not hot surface and cook both sides slowly, pressing down on the bread gently with a flat spatula to ensure even and slow cooking. Don’t blister the bread. Its important the dough cooks inside before it cooks outside.
  8. Add salt to the omelette mixture and whisk well.
  9. When both sides of the paratha are lightly cooked but not brown and a little puffy, slit open the pocket filled with air and spoon in 4 tbsp or more egg mixture very slowly, spreading as evenly as possible inside the flap.  Then close the flap. Let it cook slowly till egg firms up a little. Cover briefly with a lid to speed up the cooking. Do not steam the paratha too much or it will turn soggy.
  10. Flip paratha over and cook. If egg spills out thats normal.
  11. Spread a teaspoon of ghee over the Paratha and flip. Raise heat to high flame and cook 30 seconds until golden.
  12. Spread a little ghee on the side facing upwards, flip and cook again until golden and flaky.
  13. Slide or lift Paratha off the griddle on paper towels. Let cool 2 minutes. Spread a teaspoon of vinegared onions over the egg and gently roll the Paratha up.
  14. Slice in half and serve warm. Repeat with remaining parathas.

Christmas Cake adapted from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy 1765 edition

A SWEET CHRISTMAS TALE

The story of your favourite Christmas Desserts

Tara Deshpande 

Christmas is possibly one of the busiest times of year for a baker.  Cookies, cakes and puddings are on everyone’s menus. Yule log cakes, Figgy pudding, sticky toffee pudding, rich red velvet cake, marmalade cake, the list is long for the holiday season but the one of most recognisable Christmas desserts worldwide is undoubtedly the Christmas Cake. 

Christmas cakes has been known by many names and prepared in different ways throughout history. Essentially, a Christmas Cake is a fruit cake made with spices ,dried and candied fruits and often liberal doses of booze. 

The earliest fruit cakes go back to the Romans who made them with pomegranates seeds, spices and honey.

The Arabs it is argued were the first to master the art of candied fruit in the early 15th century. These techniques of preservation became popular in southern Europe in the 16th century, a time of Arab domination and coincided with the availability of cheap sugar from the American colonies. Candied fruit becoming cheap and fruit cake because popular with the masses.

Christmas cakes vary- they can be light & fruity, yeast leavened some more like bread, others can be chocolatey or full of molasses. The most well known Christmas cake recipe is the English Christmas cake and is made well in advance and allowed to mature for months. In some cases it is ‘fed’ small amounts of alcohol over several weeks. This is achieved by making holes in the cake with toothpicks and pouring brandy over it as it sits inside a tin. This is called feeding a cake.

But before this, English Christmas Cakes were called by many names- plum cakes, fruit cakes, rum cakes, brandy cakes and in the case of Hannah Glasse’s cookbook a Rich Cake. The cake pictured here I made from a recipe for Rich Cake in a 1765 edition of The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse first published in 1747.

These cakes were made in huge quantities to feed a constant stream of guests who came to visit during the holiday. The icing recipe for the Rich cake contains 24 egg whites and the author Hannah Glasse expects you to beat them manually for 2-3 hours! It must have kept the author very fit because she lived to the ripe old age of 62. Life expectancy for women was below 40 in the early 1700’s. 

This recipe contains many unusual terms and ingredients. Printed in old English the script employs the ‘long S’ where s is printed as an f. So sifted appears as fifted. This form of writing albeit disappeared by the 1800’s. 

The recipe has some unusual ingredients. A pint of fack refers to sack, a sweet fortified white wine imported from Spain, Jordan almonds are sugar coated almonds and the author suggests baking the batter in ‘hoops’. Hoops are cake rings without a top or bottom that just go over a large plate. As this is a thick batter and bakes for several hours it doesn’t leak as much.

A Creole Christmas Cake from a 1920 copy of the Trinidad Cookbook, a Caribbean specialty, contains Angusturo bitters, cherry brandy and dark rum and is a version of the famous  Black Cake. Indian Christians too have their own versions of cakes including the Allabadi Christmas cake prepared with safed petha (candied ash gourd) and the famous Goa Baath Cake made with semolina and coconut. The Baath cake also called Bolo de Rulao in Portuguese has much in common with the Greek Revani cake also made with semolina but flavoured with orange. The Lebanese Namura prepared with almonds and the Egyptian Basboosa made with semolina and yogurt and soaked in a sweet syrup.Semolina is derived from the Italian word semola. Interestingly one of the Sanskrit words for wheat is Samhita.

Interestingly the Cochin Jews also prepare a semolina and coconut cake called Apam.

The Scottish Dundee Cake, German Stollen, Romanian Cozonac and the Italian Panettone are all versions of fruit cake eaten around Christmas and Easter.One of the earliest Christmas cakes was the German Stollen of Saxon origin that dates back to the 1300’s. This bread like cake wasn’t particularly tasty because it was forbidden, by church decree to use butter or sugar in the recipe during the Advent. Prince Elector Ernst and his brother, Duke Albrecht of Saxony’s pleas to lift this ban began in 1450 and it took 5 Popes and nearly 50 years before Pope Innocent VIII acquiesced. His response in 1490, came to be called the ‘Butter Letter’ or the ‘Butter Brief’. Thanks to this the Stollen, now made with unrestricted amounts of butter and sugar is a beloved Christmas treat.

Gingerbread cake is another winter time speciality also made during the X’mas holiday. I adapted one from in Eliza Acton’s book Modern Cookery published in 1845 (I cooked from the 1864 edition). This cookbook is one of the best recipe books printed in the Victorian era with precise and detailed instructions-most other books assume that women must know how to cook and provide scant instruction. This book also contains one of the earliest recipes for Christmas Pudding ever published. It was later renamed plum pudding. I digress but I must mention that Ms Acton is also one of the first to provide recipes for Indian chutneys.

Gingerbread cakes were among the most popular desserts in England since the Elizabethan era and were made throughout the year not just for Christmas. They became especially popular in the Victorian period when ginger was easily available and the cake was considered medicinal. 

Every Victorian cookbook has atleast one recipe, others many- rich gingerbread, hard gingerbread, soft, moist, dark, light economical -gingerbread was made in many forms. It was also popular because it calls for brown sugar or treacle and not refined white sugar which was very expensive even in the mid 1800’s. Gingerbread became popular in the USA where it was prepared with molasses that produced a softer cake. In Victorian cookbooks Gingerbread could also refer to hard ginger cookies. 

Gingerbread Men were first served in the court of Elizabeth 1. 

In modern times we are used to lighter cakes that employ baking soda and baking powder. Pure and dependable baking powder and baking soda only became available on a commercial scale in the mid 1800’s.

From / Glasse, Hannah “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” 1747

Take four pounds of flour dried and sifted, seven pounds of currants washed and rubbed, six pounds of the best fresh butter, two pounds of Jordan almonds blanched, and beaten with orange flower water and sack till fine; then take four pounds of eggs, put half the whites away, three pounds of double-refined sugar beaten and sifted, a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of cloves and cinnamon, three large nutmegs, all beaten fine, a little ginger, half a pint of sack, half a pint of right French brandy, sweet-meats to your liking, they must be orange, lemon, and citron; work your butter to a cream with your hands before any of your ingredients are in; then put in your sugar, and mix all well together; let your eggs be well beat and strained through a sieve, work in your almonds first, then put in your eggs, beat them together till they look white and thick; then put in your sack, brandy and spices, shake your flour in be degrees, and when your oven is ready, put in your currants and sweet-meats as you put it in your hoop: it will take four hours baking in a quick oven: you must keep it beating with your hand all the while you are mixing of it, and when your currants are well washed and cleaned, let them be kept before the fire, so that they may go warm into your cake. This quantity will bake best in two hoops.

Modern Version of Hannah Glasse’s Rich Fruitcake 

This recipe does not have brown sugar or treacle, two ingredients commonly in British Christmas cakes and it uses a white wine and brandy. This makes for a lighter fruit cake. In the absence of sherry you can use a less expensive sweet and white Samos, Muscatel, Madeira, even white port. A sweet Reisling or Chenin Blanc could also work but you may need to add some sugar to it.

Makes  1 10 inch wide 3 inch deep fruit cake

Ingredients

  • 400 grams maida or all purpose  cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 whole eggs at room temperature
  • 300 grams refined sugar
  • 350 grams unsalted butter
  • 200 grams candied orange peel finely chopped
  • 200 grams candied lemon peel finely chopped
  • 200 grams candied citron finely chopped
  • 300 grams golden raisins pips removed
  • 200 grams black raisins pips removed
  • 100 grams fine almond flour
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg powdered
  • 1 tsp. mace powdered
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon powdered
  • 1 tsp. Sunth or ginger powdered 
  • ¼ tsp. cloves powdered
  • 1/2  cups sweet white Sherry (sack)
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  1. Combine all the dried fruits with the sherry and brandy and let it sit ion the bowl while you prepare the cake. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. 
  3. Evenly grease a 10-inch deep (3 inches deep) pan with butter and line with parchment paper. You will need an additional circle of parchment paper to place on top of the batter.
  4. Beat the butter and all powdered spices with the sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or use a hand mixer at medium-high speed until creamy, about one minute. 
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until thoroughly combined with the butter and sugar. 
  6. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  7. Add the baking powder, then the almond flour and then the cake flour  a cup at a time and beat on a low speed until just combined. 
  8. Add the fruit mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.
  9. Pour the batter into the cake pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Smack the pan against the counter a few times to settle the batter. Cover the batter with the second piece of cut parchment and press down lightly to smoothen the batter.
  10. Place pan on bottom rack in oven. Bake at 350° for one hour then move to the middle rack and bake another 40-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Allow cake to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 60 minutes.
  12. Invert the cake onto a plate and then invert again back onto a cooling rack. 
  13. Allow cake to cool completely atleast 2 hours before icing or slicing.

Photo Credit: TARA DESHPANDE

JAPCHAE OR CHAPCHAE KOREAN NOODLES

JAPCHAE OR CHAPCHAE NOODLES

I made a memorable trip to South Korea a few years ago to experience the beautiful cherry blossom season and ofcourse to enjoy delicious Korean cuisine.

Among the culinary classes and food walks I managed to squeeze in between visits to beautiful temples and parks I learned to make Japchae or Chapchae as Koreans like to call it. The word means mixed vegetables in Sino Korean. One of Korea’s signature dishes, it originates in royal cuisine with versions in their Temple cuisine repertoire but has become so popular that it is eaten all over the country and is always served at Korean restaurants abroad.

My culinary instructor Ome, a native of Seoul explained to me that there are numerous reasons for its popularity; it’s a colourful and elegant preparation, easy to make and filling for large groups. Its also made to celebrate longevity; a must have at a birth or wedding ceremony. The dish has strict parameters- all its ingredients must be sliced long to symobolise a long life. Like India the concept of Panch Tatva is also celebrated in Korean culture albeit in a different way. To balance the palate, this dish influenced by Buddhist teachings, must have five colours, every one represents a direction, north, south east and west but the South Koreans recognize a fifth direction, the center, where all of us hope to get to one day. Chapchae is also a mellow dish that helps to balance a meal when served as a side (Banchan) with spicier dishes like Buldak or Nakji Bokkeum.

You will find the video demo of this dish, where to buy the ingredients on my Insta IGTV feed @deshpandetara 

Recipe-

JAPCHAE 

Ingredients for the noodles: 100 grams sweet potato noodle (dangmyeon) 2 scallions or green onions, 1 small carrot julienned  (a 3 inch piece), 1 large wood ear mushroom soaked in warm water, drained and then sliced long, 35 grams oyster mushrooms, 20 grams Chinese chives or regular chives sliced in half, 1 red or yellow bell pepper finely sliced

4 tbsp cooking oil
For the Sauce : 4 tablespoons light soy sauc, 2 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp ground garlic, 3 tablespoons regular or hot sesame oil, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 

Garnish

1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds and 3 cm pieces of scallion tops

Method:

Slice all the vegetables lengthwise 4-6 cm long. The green onion bulbs can be quartered along with part of the green stem. The top part of the stem can be reserved as a garnish.Tear the oyster mushrooms into long strips. 

Soak the noodles in boiling hot water for 3-4 minutes. Do not cook the noodles actively, just soak them in extremely hot water. Drain just before mixing.  

Heat vegetable oil in a small wok or a skillet on high heat, Add bell pepper first and toss well. Then add remaining vegetables and herbs and saute all the vegetables for just under 1.5 minutes until glistening and tender but still crisp and holding their shape. Toss them as they cook to ensure even cooing. Reserve the vegetables on a side plate.

Moving quickly in the same hot skillet add the sesame oil and a tablespoon of vegetable oil and toss the drained noodles in them. Add the sauce and toss again.

Taste for salt, sugar and spice and adjust. Top with the vegetables and sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Drizzle some more sesame oil on the top if desired.

Mix just before serving.

CHAPCHAE SWEET POTATO NOODLES

Green Papaya Mulakushyam

Green Papaya Mulakushyam

This is home cooking from Kerala at its best. Simple ingredients, nourishing and full of flavour. Serve this thick, delicious raw papaya and lentil curry with steamed rice.

Ingredients serves 4-5 with rice

Green papaya/kapplanga peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces (remove any small seeds)
1/2 cup Yellow Moong dal or Toor dal
2 small plum Tomatoes chopped
2 Green chillies, stalks removed broken into 2-3 pieces
1/4 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
1/2 Black Pepper powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Ghee (optional)
Jaggery and salt to taste

FOR TEMPERING

2 tbsp Coconut or veg oil and ghee

2-3 red kashmiri chilli broken into pieces

6 green curry leaves torn

1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds

1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds

METHOD:

Cook open in a Dutch oven or pressure cook lentil or parippu with the tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilli powder green chillies and excess water. When the dal is soft and falling apart, mash it with the back of a large spoon or a potato masher to a coarse consistency with tomatoes.
Add raw papaya with more water if required, 1 tsp salt, ghee, powdered jaggery, black pepper powder and cook until papaya is edible but holds its shape. Pour into a serving dish.

In a tempering spoon heat ghee or coconut oil on a high flame and temper the spices until they crackle and become aromatic. Pour over the lentils. Mix well just before serving. Serve with plain boiled rice.

MATHANGA ERISSERY

THIS DISH IS POPULAR DURING ONAM WHEN IT IS MADE WITHOUT ONIONS OR GARLIC BUT IF YOU ARE PREPARING IT FOR A NON RELIGIOUS OCCASION YOU CAN ADD PEELED SAMBHAR ONIONS AND WHOLE GARLIC TO IT.

Matanga Erriserry

INGREDIENTS FOR 4 with rice

For cooking Pumpkin

  • 250 grams yellow pumpkin, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 100 grams black eyed peas also called cow peas soaked in excess water overnight
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

For the coconut masala

  • 2 tablespoon fresh shredded coconut
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

For the top tempering

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies (Kashmiri or Bedgi) stalks and seeds removed
  • 10 fresh green curry leaves on a stalk
  • 2 tablespoon fresh shredded coconut or defrosted

METHOD

  • Drain and wash the cow peas. Cook them with turmeric, red chilli powder and 4 cups of water until tender on a high flame. Add more water as required. When pressed between your fingers the bean should collapse. You could use a pressure cooker but this can result in the skins separating from the peas. Now add the pumpkin with 1 cup water and cook again 5 minutes. Reserve.
  • Grind the coconut, green chilli and cumin seeds along with a 1-2 tablespoons of the residual pumpkin water to a coarse paste. Combine pumpkin pieces, remaining water, coconut masala in a large saucepan and cook on medium heat until the pumpkin is very tender and the water has dried up. The pumpkin should fall apart if pressed down with a spoon.Gently mash the pumpkin with the ladle for a coarse consistency. Add salt to taste. Scoop into a serving dish.
  • Heat coconut oil and veg oil or ghee in a kadai and add mustard and cumin seeds, fresh green curry leaves, dried red chillies when the oil is hot. Let the seeds and chilli sizzle. Add in the fresh shredded coconut and fry till the coconut is golden brown. Pour the tempering over the warm pumpkin. Stir just before you serve the dish.

CHILLI CHICKEN

A popular Indo Chinese dish in India this can also be prepared with paneer or halloumi. The Chilli in Chilli Chicken refers to both green chillies and green bell peppers. My version has a slightly lighter sauce that leaves the vegetables bright and crisp.

Ingredients for 4 served with rice

For the crispy chicken

500 grams chilli chicken cut or boneless skinless thighs in 1 inch pieces ‍‍

1 egg white

4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or rice wine vinegar

1 tsp garlic ginger paste

½ tsp pepper

1/4 cup cornflour

1/4 cup all purpose or maida

1/2 tsp salt

Vegetable or canola oil for frying

FOR THE SAUCE – ‍‍

1 tsp vegetable oil

2 green chillies slit

1 teaspoon garlic and ginger paste

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

3-4 tbsp red chilli sauce or to taste

water about 1.5 cups

1 tsp ground pepper

2 tsp brown sugar salt to taste

METHOD

Stir chicken and egg white in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Combine ingredients for the sauce and stir well to make a slurry. Taste for salt, spiciness and sweetness and adjust to your taste. Reserve.

Heat 1.5 tbsp vegetable oil in a medium size skillet over medium flame. Add green onions and sauté well. Add garlic and ginger and cook till soft and just golden. Raise heat to high. Add green chillies, bell peppers and capsicum and toss in the pan till just tender about 1 minute. The vegetables should be crisp but edible. Reserve on a plate.

Combine dry ingredients for the crispy chicken in a mixing bowl to make a smooth thick batter. Set the same skillet on high heat and add two inches of frying oil. When hot but not smoking reduce the flame to medium heat. Add chicken to the batter and coat each piece completely. Deep fry in hot oil till golden brown and cooked through. Drain over paper towels. Heat sauce in a skillet until bubbly and reduces in volume by half. Add chicken and toss well. Switch off the flame. Add vegetables and toss well. Adjust for seasoning. Garnish with thinly sliced green onion stalks. Serve hot with steamed plain white rice or egg noodles

CHILLI CHICKEN

CHILLI CHICKEN

KHATTO MITHO TIKHO KHEEMO

This sweet, tart and spicy Parsi style Kheema is served with potato sali and gutli or ladi pao. A fried egg on the side works very well too. I recommend a Parsi garam masala because it is sweeter than the regular garam masala. If you use mutton mince it takes longer to cook than chicken mince. if you use a plant meat substitute cook your peas first before you add the meat substitute. Ask for a medium mince. Portuguese or potato buns are good substitute if ladi pao is not available.

Ingredients for 4-5

500 grams chicken or mutton mince (kheema)

120 grams cooking potatoes peeled and diced into half inch pieces

3 small to medium red onions peeled and finely chopped

1 inch cinnamon stick

5 whole black peppercorns

2 cups finely chopped plum tomatoes

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1.5 tsp Parsi garam masala

2 tablespoon green chilli, ginger and cumin paste

1 cup water mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar and 1.5 tsp white vinegar

1/2 cup shelled peas

3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander and mint leaves (optional)

GARNISH

Potato sali (matchstick potatoes) 1 cup

Ladi pao 8-10 Individual buns

METHOD

Grind together 1 inch fresh peeled ginger root with 1 teaspoon cumin powder and 2-3 green chillies until smooth. Reserve.

Deep fry diced potatoes until golden. Drain and reserve.

Heat 3 tbsp oil (you can use the oil from the fried potatoes) in a wide skillet. When hot add the onions, peppercorns and cinnamon and sauce until onions soften and begin to brown a little. Now add tomatoes and stir until pulped 4-5 minutes. Add turmeric and chilli powder. Add a tsp of salt.

Add water to facilitate the cooking 1/4 cup at a time. Add tomato paste and stir well. Add Parsi garam masala, ginger, cumin chilli paste and cook another 2 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.

Add garlic ginger paste and cook 1 minute, stirring to prevent burning.

Add mincemeat and stir well about 3-4 minutes. Lower the flame then add water with sugar and vinegar and peas and cook until mincemeat and peas are tender. Add fried potatoes and add your chopped coriander and mint leaves if using while the minced meat is hot and stir into it several times so as to wilt and cook the herbs.

Adjust for salt, sugar and vinegar.

Serve kheema hot with a side of salli (matchstick) potatoes and buns. A fried egg, sliced onions and green chillies is also commonly provided as sides.

Sweet and Spicy Parsi style Kheema

SPICY THAI BASIL CHICKEN Pad Kra Pao Gai (ผัดกระเพราไก่) 

INGREDIENTS FOR 3-4

  • 500 grams finely chopped boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 6-10 red Thai chilies, stalks removed (to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoon vegetable, peanut or soy oil for cooking
  • 2 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, palm sugar or honey
  • salt to taste if required
  • 15-20 Thai holy basil leaves or Thai sweet basil (stalks removed)
  • 3-4 crispy fried eggs (1 per person)
  • Boiled Jasmine rice to serve
  1. Combine all the sauces in a small bowl, stir and reserve.
  2. Bash the garlic and chilies using a mortar and pestle until coarsely ground.
  3. Heat your wok on high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan.
  4. When the oil is hot, add the smashed chilies and garlic. Sauté them for about 20 seconds until aromatic but don’t brown them.
  5. Add the diced chicken. Lower flame to medium, Keep stirring using a spatula or moving the wok up and down to ensure the food does not burn and cooks evenly.
  6. Add sauces and cook another 60 seconds or until chicken is cooked.
  7. Add the holy or sweet basil leaves. Incorporate the basil flavours by flipping the chicken and leaves about for 60 seconds then switch off the flame. Basil gets stringy if overcooked.
  8. Serve the chicken with plain boiled jasmine rice and a crispy fried egg.

Jamun Salad Dressing with sesame and ginger

If your Jamuns are sour you will need honey for the dressing.

  • 2  ripe Jamuns sliced, hulled and chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup  extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp hot sesame oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 tbsp fresh ginger root juice
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Golden Honey if required

METHOD

Process the jamun, lemon zest, soy sauce and ginger juice to a smooth paste in a bullet mixer or food processor. Add the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and slowly drizzle in the olive oil in 3 parts as you continue to process the dressing. Strain into a bottle using a small strainer if you want a smooth dressing.

Stir in sesame seeds and add salt to taste. Adjust for sweet and sour flavours. Keep refrigerated for 2-3 days.

Great over a Chinese Chicken salad, a baby spinach and pecan salad, even a noodle salad with edamame and carrots.

Easy Jamun Cake

Ingredients

16 Jamuns pitted and halved

1/2 cup granulated or caster sugar

juice of half a lime

zest of half a lime

2 tsp baking powder

110 grams maida or all purpose flour

50 grams unsalted butter

50 grams brown sugar

50 grams almond flour

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1 tablespoon plain yogurt or dahi

Mint leaves for decoration

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8 inch round cake pan. Dust lightly with maida or all purpose flour. Use a tea strainer and a tablespoon of maida to achieve this.

Cook half the jamuns and castor sugar with lime and zest in a saucepan on medium heat until jammy and thick.

Beat butter, vanilla and brown sugar until fluffy. Add yogurt and beat again. Add both flours and baking powder and beat until just combined.

Pour into the greased pan. Smoothen the top of the batter. Using a tablespoon make 8 depressions in the batter and spoon in the jamun compote. Top each depression with a half jamun. Press down gently so it sits in the batter.

Bang the cake pan on the counter to ensure there are no air pockets.

Bake 40 minutes until golden brown and sides of the cake pull away from the cake pan. Remove from oven. Cool 15 minutes and gently turn the cake over on a cooling rack then flip the cake again. Serve warm with whipped cream and any leftover Jamun compote. Garnish with a few mint leaves if desired.