Saturday, April 3, 2010

Autumn bounty

Ms Tagalong has been back from travelling far afield for several months now. Why has she not written any blog? Mmm must have been waiting for the garden to look lush and appealing with crops to cook and inspiration to take hold. So here we go again. Just look at these lovely chillis! What does one do with such a bumper crop?
I could wait for the grubs to come along and eat them but on a quiet Easter weekend it seemed better to turn them into a lovely indonesian addition to food, Sambal Olek The kitchen smelt very hot, nose-tingling hot and I thought what a wonderful Easter present for Ms Mova when she comes back from sourcing some plants at the Heritage Gardens. Actually, I think she likes the cafe there, but looking for some stevia to counteract the bitter gourd which is running rampant on the industrial fencing seems a feasible excuse for the journey! For those who are interested and want to find out more about this strange herb see This will be used to counteract the taste in the cooking you understand, not in competition as a climber. Bitter gourd is definitely the winner in that respect, its pale green, knobbly pods turning bright yellow, orange and then bursting to spray scarlet seeds into the garden in turn spawning more bitter gourd plants, the fruit of which no-one seems to like. So here's another recipe for the use of this acquired taste.

Bitter gourds with Channa Dhaal courtesy of Shehzad Husain
2 Bitter Gourds about 13cm long
1 Tablespoon salt
125g chana dhaal (I used small red lentils)
2 onions
1tsp ginger pulp
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garlic pulp
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
600ml water (1pt)
4 Tbs corn oil
2 tomatoes, sliced
To garnish
1 2.5cm piece fresh ginger shredded
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 Tbs fresh coriander
1 green chilli, sliced

Wash the bitter gourds and pat dry with kitchen paper. Peel off the rough skin and slice the gourds discarding the seeds.
Place the gourds in a bowl, rubbing the tablespoon of salt into the slices. Set aside for at least an hour.
Meanwhile wash the channa dhaal and place in a saucepan. Add 1 of the sliced onions, the ginger, chilli powder, garlic, garam masala, ground coriander, salt and water and cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the dhaal is soft but not mushy and all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Wash bitter gourds to remove all the salt and add to the dhaal.
heat teh corn oil in a deep frying pan and fry the remaining onion until golden brown. Add the sliced tomatoes and the dhaal and stir-fry for about 3 minutes to blend together.
Transfer to a serving dish and serve garnished wit shredded ginger, garam masala, fresh coriander and sliced chillies.

Sambal Olek to blow your brains out!

1 lb red chillies or a mixture of colours like I used
5 1/2 ounces garlic, peeled and chopped
5 1/2 ounces tender young ginger, peeled and chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced (white part only)
6 fluid ounces vinegar
8 ounces sugar
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon lime zest, chopped

1Blend the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemon grass in a food processor or mortar and pestle.
2While processing gradually add the vinegar.
3Place the pureed mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
4Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
5Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
6Add the salt and lime zest.
7Remove from the heat, cool and bottle in sterilised jars.

I could tell you about the pesto I made too but that can wait.

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