Saturday, March 10, 2012

Black-Eyed Peas with Trinidadian Seasonings

I’d never heard of or seen black-eyed peas until I came to Australia. Now the Sri Lankan food shop in Pakenham stocks these peas as well as lots of other legume/pulses or dried beans which allow home cooks like me to experiment using other people’s recipes. This one was taken from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.

What you’ll need:
* 1 ½ cup dried black-eyed peas
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 scallions (sold as spring onions in Melbourne supermarkets), sliced (both green and white parts)
* 1 celery stalk, diced
* 1 carrot, diced
* ½ green pepper, cored, seeded and diced
* ½  teaspoon dried thyme or 1 ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (used fresh, and was generous with the quantity)
* 1 teaspoon paprika (or cayenne aka red chilli powder)
* ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed dried chilli pieces
* ½ teaspoon ground allspice 
* ½  teaspoon ground mustard powder
* 1 ½ teaspoon salt

Black-Eyed Peas
What to do:
Soak black-eyed peas overnight. Drain and set aside.
In hot oil, stir fry spring onion, celery, carrot and green pepper (the books says for five minutes, until ‘vegetables start to brown’. Waited longer than 5 minutes and couldn’t see anything browning, so waited a little longer…then added) drained peas, 4 ½ cups water, thyme, chilli powder, chilli pieces, allspice and mustard. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes or until peas are tender. Add salt, stir and simmer for another 20 minutes. And it’s done.

Banana Peppers in coconut milk

Banana peppers (known as Malu Miris or capsicums in Sri Lanka) have been making an appearance at the Asian Veg shop in Dandenong Plaza. Back home, we’d have these peppers stuffed with spicy potato or fish filling, crumbed and fried. Yummy, but time consuming. So here’s a much simpler method of cooking malu miris from the cookbook, Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon.

What you’ll need:
* 500g banana peppers, whole (or sliced)
* 1 cup thin coconut milk (half cup coconut cream mixed with half water)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* Sprig of fresh curry leaves
* 4 tablespoons chopped onions or shallots (finely sliced 2 small red onions)
* 3 fresh green chillies (didn’t have any, so left out)
* 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 3 tablespoons thick coconut milk (or about half a cup of coconut cream)
Banana pepper/capsicum

(Note: the original recipe also asks to add 2 teaspoons of pounded Maldive fish, omitted as this is for vegetarians).

What to do:
Simmer all ingredients except coconut cream in a pan until peppers are soft and gravy has thickened. Then add coconut cream, bring to a simmer. And it’s done.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Green Beans with Onion, Garlic and Tomato

Even with two phone calls in the middle of cooking, this dish still turned out quite well, so I guess the plus points for this recipe is that it’s easy and fairly indestructible. Modified slightly, it’s from the Philippines according Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East, Vegetarian Cooking.

What you will need
* Green beans (1 ½ pounds/680g)
* 2 mediums onions, peeled and sliced
* 6 cloves of garlic, minced (the original recipe called for 2 cloves of garlic!)
* 400g x tinned, chopped tomatoes
* 4 tablespoons oil (used olive oil)
* 1 ½- 2 tsp salt
* Freshly ground black pepper

What to do:
Cut beans into preferred lengths- chose inch-sized pieces. Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic, then sliced onions (or the other way around as I did). When onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant, add green beans and fry for a while (this is supposed to help retain the ‘green-ness’ of the beans, but I got a bit distracted, so wasn’t able to fry it for long enough). Then add the tomatoes,  cook for several minutes, then add half a cup of water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes (10-15 minutes. Less is better). Then take off fire as soon as the beans are done.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Raw Carrot Sambol

Had the house to myself this Sunday. Took the chance to cook with music blasting away the cobwebs. The food wasn’t as rocking as the music, with my first choice being a sedate Carrot Sambol, adapted from Chandra Dissanayake’s Ceylon Cookery, which takes minutes to make in a food processor.

What you will need
* 4 small carrots (12oz/340g)
* 1 small red onion
* 3-4 green chillies  
* 3/4 to 1 cup desiccated coconut
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp pepper
* 1 tsp lime or lemon juice
What to do:
Peel carrots and onion. Roughly halve or quarter. Then put all ingredients into food processor. Process until finely mixed. (Note: Halving the salt, pepper and lime/lemon quantities brings out the sweeter flavour of the raw carrot.)