Llayland’s Food, Oracle, and Haskell

September 13, 2008

Bitter Gourd Curry (Indian/Thai Fusion)

Filed under: Food — llayland @ 9:44 pm

Here’s another recipe I dug up that was very popular at work.  This was my second attempt at making bitter gourd. The stuff is difficult to work with since it is so incredibly bitter.  Honestly, this was still a bit too bitter for me, but it was a big hit for the people that were used to other bitter gourd dishes.

Here is my best shot at a recipe for the curry. I almost never measure anything, so you have to use your judgment.

1) Mix in a large zip loc bag to marinate at least overnight:

3 chinese bitter gourd, diced. each about the size of a large cucumber.

1 handful raw bird chilies, rough chopped

1/2 to 1 bulb of garlic sliced thick

canola oil to cover and toasted sesame oil for flavor

salt

cracked black pepper

2) Ingredients

strained oil from marinade

1 handful raw bird chilies, sliced lengthwise

dried red pepper flakes (to taste for extra heat, but do use some as they have a different flavor than the bird chiles)

4-5 kaffir lime leaf (fresh, dried is pointless)

3-4 bay leaf (dried)

1/2 can red curry paste (yes, I cheated a little bit since I was in a hurry)

black mustard seed – No clue how much, probably enough to cover the bottom of the pan about 30-40%

powdered cumin – a lot of this, probably about a heaping palmful.  I kept having to add more to get the flavor right

cinamon – not to much, it is just there to accent the cumin

8-12 baby bok choy washed, whites diced and greens left whole – I had used the whites for another dish, but they would be fine in the curry if diced finely

1/2 to 1 bulb garlic sliced thick

bitter gourd, chile, and garlic from marinade

natural sugar (the brown crystals) – about 3/8 cup, but I might reduce this to 1/4 cup since it was a bit on the sweet side

cream of coconut

rice wine vinegar

asefoetida – enought to lightly cover the pan

3) Method

drain the oil from the marinade into a large skillet.  Avoid getting much of the juice from the bitter melon in the skillet to avoid splattering, but do not discard the juice.

add chiles, red pepper flaeks, mustard, cumin, cinamon, bay leaf,  kaffir lime leaf, and curry paste.

Turn on the burner to a low to medium low heat. You want to let the oil come up to temperature slowly to allow the flavors to infuse and to minimize splattering from any liquids from in the oil.

When the oil get to temperature add the garlic, bitter gourd with juice, whites from the bok choy and salt to taste -then turn the burner up to medium high.

Cook until the gourd is tender (probably 7 to 10 minutes) stirring occasionally

taste and reseason if needed – I had to add more cumin, cinamon, and salt here

Pour off excess oil into a jar to save (do leave some in the skillet)

stir the greens into the mixture until they are wilted (less than a minute)

add sugar and stir until thoroughly dissolved

give it a good sprinkling of the rice wine vinegar

sprinkle asefoetida powder over the entire skillet.  I used a good amount because I felt the dish was lacking pungency.

stir, taste and reseason or add more vinegar if needed

mix in enough cream of coconut to thicken the sauce. the cream of coconut also serves to bring all the flavors together and tone down some of the bitterness.  start with a small amount and add more if needed.

I think that is pretty much how I made it.  Next time I’d like to add some fresh curry leaves.  The excess oil is also very good, especially for roasting potatoes.

Okra Coconut Curry (sort of)

Filed under: Food — llayland @ 9:32 pm
  • 5 cups Okra sliced into rounds
  • handful of mustard seed
  • hing  (Asafoetida) powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 grated coconut (not the sweetened kind)
  • handful of green chiles
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 8oz can of coconut cream
  • a two fingered ping of dried methi leaves

What’s the most important question you can ask yourself while cooking? If you are anything like me, it is “How do I fix this?” I can’t seem to get through a dish without making at least one mistake.  Thankfully I’m good at the fix it game and I usually manage to turn the problem into a plus. Here is one example:

I had a nice bag of okra, so I set out to make the Okra Curry I found on Aayi’s Recipes. My first mistake was forgetting to buy curry leaves. I’d been to three stores already and didn’t feel like going out again so I decided to go ahead without them. The second was thinking that I had a large bag of shredded coconut in the freezer. It turned out to be about a half a cup. Thankfully I had a can of coconut cream in the pantry that did the trick. The third was forgetting to add the tamarind paste. I had to dissolve it is a quarter cup of water that I boiled in the microwave to make it easy to blend into the finished dish. Despite all this it turned out really well.

So this is how it should have gone:

  1. grind the chilies and coconut into a paste
  2. fry the mustard seed in the oil until it begins to pop
  3. add the okra and garlic, sprinkle liberally with hing, and saute until about halfway done
  4. add the coconut chili mixture, saute for a minute or two
  5. add the water and tamarind paste, stir until the paste is dissolved
  6. add the coconut cream and cook until okra is almost done
  7. add the methi leaves and simmer for a minute or two

August 8, 2008

Indian style vegetarian “tamales”

Filed under: Food — llayland @ 4:59 am

I haven’t made anything terribly exciting lately, so I thought I go back a few months to a dish I made that was a big hit at the office. I had been reading a couple of food blogs and two items stuck in my mind:

  • Cholkya vayli bhakri – A roti made on banana leaf
  • vaygana bajji – Smoked eggplant

The eggplants paticularly caught my eye because I had promissed some of my vegetarian coworkers that I would try to find something I could make them on my smoker. The roti appealled to me as it finally gave me a use for my apparently sterile banana trees. Unfortunately, I was extremely busy at the time and didn’t have any time to spare in the kitchen. Finally, I decided that I needed to give it a rest a do something I enjoy.  In spite of the fact that I was extremely tired, or maybe because of it, I came up with a great idea, “Why not combine the two recipes?” This saved my the effort of frying all the rotis while allowing much more flavor from the banana leaves and smoke into the dish.

I’ve rambled on enough; here is the recipe:

2 cups (less 4 tbps) all purpose flour (Maida)
4 tbsp corn starch
1 13.5oz can of cream of coconut
——————–
mix into a loose batter

good amount of black mustard seed
good amount of dried red pepper
1 black cardomon pod
1 clove garlic
2 tsp tomato curry
salt
———————————
mash into a paste

2 large eggplants
——————————
smoke low and slow (225 degrees) until softened, then blacken over direct flame
remove skin and some seeds
smoke cleaned eggplant to remove excess moisture
mash lightly with above paste, should be very chunky

cut squares of fresh banana leaf 4-5 inches
scoop batter onto each leaf. just scoop it in the middle and spread lightly- should be about 2/3 covered (round). place a dollop of eggplant mixture in the batter round, about 2/3 of the way across. pick up the near edge of the leaf and fold it over so near end of the round covers the eggplant mixture and overshoots the other other end a little
press down lightly and pull towards you to create a tube of filling.
fold that tube forward over the two edges (should be roughly together)
smoke low and slow for a couple of hours until the batter sets
increase temperature to 400 degrees for about 20 minutes to finish them off
A note on smoking:

If you don’t have a smoker, you can use a  grill  just make sure to keep the coals to one side and the food to the other so you get indirect heat. I’d recommend using larger chunks of wood, but chips will work as well. I believe I used  hickory, pecan, and cherry which gives a nice blended flavor.  That would have been overkill just for the tamales, so I had the other half of the smoker filled with mojo marinated chicken quarters.  Plain old oak and most other woods would have been fine as well.  I’d recommend against mesquite as it could be overpowering
2 cups (less 4 tbps) all purpose flour (Maida)
4 tbsp corn starch
1 13.5oz can of cream of coconut
——————–
mix into a loose batter

good amount of black mustard seed
good amount of dried red pepper
1 black cardomon pod
1 clove garlic
2 tsp tomato curry
salt
———————————
mash into a paste

2 large eggplants
——————————
smoke low and slow (225 degrees) until softened, then blacken over direct flame
remove skin and some seeds
smoke cleaned eggplant to remove excess moisture
mash lightly with above paste, should be very chunky

cut squares of fresh banana leaf 4-5 inches
scoop batter onto each leaf. just scoop it in the middle and spread lightly- should be about 2/3 covered (round). place a dollop of eggplant mixture in the batter round, about 2/3 of the way across. pick up the near edge of the leaf and fold it over so near end of the round covers the eggplant mixture and overshoots the other other end a little
press down lightly and pull towards you to create a tube of filling.
fold that tube forward over the two edges (should be roughly together)
smoke low and slow for a couple of hours until the batter sets
increase temperature to 400 degrees for about 20 minutes to finish them off

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