Friday, April 8, 2011

Mukunuwenna Mallum

The Asian Fruit and Veg shop in Dandenong Plaza has started selling mukunuwenna. In Sri Lanka, this popular greens-herb is sold door-to-door by the Keera Karaya or Greens Man who carries bundles of herbs in a woven basket balanced on his head (or in a wooden cart depending on the scale of greens-eating house-holders in a particular neighbourhood).
I’ve adapted this recipe for broccoli elsewhere in this blog, but here’s the real thing from Chandra Dissanayake’s Ceylon Cookery cookbook.

What you’ll need:
* ½ lb or 250g mukunuwenna (usually 1 bundle)
* Sprig of curry leaves
* 2-3 green chillies
* 1 cup water (left that out)
* ½ cup scraped coconut (I used desiccated coconut)
* 1 small onion (I used half a medium red onion)
* ½ teaspoon turmeric
* 1 ½ teaspoon salt

What to do:
 Shred mukunuwenna leaves (used a food-processor). The book advises mixing the coconut with curry leaves, sliced onions and green chillies, turmeric, salt in a pan with the cup of water and cooking until the onions are done. Then adding the mukunuwenna and tossing for a few minutes, so the leaves are cooked but remain green.
I mixed the chopped leaves with everything else (except the water) and cooked for a few minutes until fragrant. Done.

Jamaican Kidney Bean Stew

This has to be our all-time favourite kidney bean recipe. When the wonderful aroma of this stew wafts around the house, my family gets the urge for ‘taste tests’ each time they walk past the pot even while it’s still cooking! I should say that I use more coconut milk than the recipe advises. Both versions are listed below, so enjoy either way of making this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook, called ‘Red Kidney Beans for Jamaican Peas and Rice’.

What you’ll need:
* 1 ½ cups dried red kidney beans
* 2 cups canned coconut milk (I used 2x 400ml coconut cream. The generic Homebrand is the best for those living in Australia)
* 1 Scotch bonnet or other habanero-type chilli (used a chilli that my dad’s friend Uncle Impa grows in his backyard in Geelong). Leave the chilli whole if you don’t like ‘hot’
* 4 tablespoons chopped chives or 6 tablespoons scallions (aka spring onions/green onions which is what I used), finely slice both green and white parts
* 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs or ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
* 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1 small onion, finely chopped (used a red onion)
* ¾ teaspoon ground allspice
* 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons salt
* Freshly ground black pepper

Uncle Impa's chilli.
 What to do:
Soak beans overnight. Drain.
Then cook beans in 1x 400ml coconut cream mixed with 2 cans of water. (In the cookbook, the beans have to be cooked in 4 cups water). Either way, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Then add the second 400ml coconut cream, habanero, chives/spring onions, thyme, garlic, onion and allspice. Stir and simmer for half an hour. Add salt and pepper, simmer for another half hour or until beans are tender. Serve with rice.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Semolina ‘Risotto’

I’d never heard or tasted Uppama before I came to Australia and a Sri Lankan Tamil friend made it for dinner. It’s a semolina dish spiced with curry leaves, mixed vegetables and cashews, but I could never figure out how to make it without turning the semolina into a porridge-like paste.
Thank goodness for Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook, which has several Uppama recipes of the non-gluggy variety. The secret is to ‘fry’ the coarse semolina granules in oil – don’t bother dry roasting without the oil, this won’t work to keep the dish from being paste-free. So if you like uppama as much as we do, have a go at ‘Semolina Risotto (Uppama) with Cabbage and Peas’.

What you’ll need:
* ¼ cup oil
* Generous pinch of ground asafetida (forgot to add this. In the past, have substituted 1 crushed garlic clove)
* 1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
* 1-2 whole dried red chillies (which I broke into bits)
* 2 teaspoons yellow split peas (or more, because it gives a nice nutty flavour)
* 15-20 curry leaves (it says optional, but I think it’s essential)
* 3 tablespoons shallots or red onion, finely chopped (I sliced one small red onion)
* 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
* 1-2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh green chilli (or green pepper)
* 1 well-packed cup of shredded green cabbage
* 3 tablespoons of frozen peas (I didn’t defrost them)
* 1 cup (coarse) semolina aka Cream of Wheat
* ¾ teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves aka cilantro (left that out).

What to do:
Boil some water and have about 1 ¾ cups ready for the semolina.
Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan, then add asafetida or garlic. Then immediately after that, add mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds begin to pop add yellow split peas and red chillies. Stir until split peas turn reddish. By this time the chillies usually turn black. So if you’d like to retain some colour, add red chillies along with the cabbage (a bit later on).
After split peas have changed colour, add curry leaves, then the onion. Fry until the onion begins to brown at the edges, before adding ginger and green chillies. Stir for a few minutes, then add cabbage. (Madhur advises adding peas at this stage along with some water. I don’t add water. And I leave the peas until last).
Stir-fry cabbage, then add the semolina and stir-fry until the granules are golden. Lower heat, stir in salt. Add boiling water a little at a time, stirring until water has been absorbed before adding more. Repeat until all 1 ¾ cups of water have been used. Keep stirring until the semolina has fluffed up. Break up lumps with the back of the spoon.
Then take off fire and add frozen peas. Cover and leave for peas to ‘defrost’. Chopped coriander leaves can be added at this stage too, if using. Then serve.  

No-Ham Pea Soup

Living in Australia has introduced me to many strange and wonderful dishes, including Pea and Ham soup. Since a couple of my family members are vegetarian, leaving out the ham would mean leaving out the flavour, so it was a relief to find this recipe which relies on spices to provide a healthier and still-flavourful alternative. From The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Murdoch Books, this recipe has been adapted from the ‘Green Pea Soup’.

What you’ll need:
* 1 ½ cup green split peas
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
 * 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks to fit into pot
* 1 celery stalk, cut same as the carrot
* 1 tablespoon cumin powder
* 1 tablespoon coriander powder
* 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
* 5 cups vegetable stock
* 2 cups frozen green peas
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or half that dried.
* 4 tablespoons plain yoghurt or sour cream (optional - as in I didn’t use this)

Green Split Peas
What to do:
Soak green peas for a couple of hours. Drain. Leave aside.
Heat oil in a pot (to make the soup), add onion, celery and carrot. I cooked this covered (with a couple of occasional stirs) until the onion softened and started separating layers. Stir in cumin, coriander and ginger. Cook until spices are fragrant.
Add split peas and stock (and dried mint, if using). Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until peas are cooked and carrot chunks can be pierced with a knife tip. The books says this should take 1 ½ hours but the soup is usually done in less than an hour. Take off fire.
Then add frozen peas. Wait until the peas ‘defrost’ in the heat of the soup, then slender-blend. Season with salt and pepper and stir in mint. Serve with swirl of yoghurt or sour cream (or not).