Discovering annatto/achiote

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This is achiote (annatto) cod with a mango salsa thing. My cousin told me about achiote. I’d never heard of it before, but she said I should try and find it in London. I was searching for months for it and finally found it at Borough Market! Anyway, I wanted to use it, but I didn’t know how to. I haven’t even searched online about the spice, I want it to remain a mystery to me, so I can get my creative brain thinking. I sat down for ten minutes just smelling the spice, so I could figure out how to marry it with other flavours. This was a success! I wanted the mango to remain fresh and not overcomplicated, so I added lime juice, chilli, salt and pepper to it.

Now, what else shall I create with achiote?

South Indian pumpkin recipe – vegetarian and vegan friendly!

First and foremost, let’s establish the obvious: I’m a terrible blogger. It has been months and I am so sorry. I don’t think apologising every time is going to change anything, so I just hope you’ll understand that a potato kidnapped me and wouldn’t let me blog recipes. Moving on…

I recently found out that not many people have tried pumpkin before. Waaa? You’re crazy! Pumpkin is delicious! So, to expand your taste buds, I have a very simple South Indian pumpkin recipe that you’ll love. Yeah, you’ll love it, marry it and have pumpkin babies… *awkward silence*. This recipe is especially dedicated to my cousin, Khalyani, who is living a dream of a life in Nicaragua. More on that later, first: the recipe for this pumpkin…I-don’t-know-what-the-word-is. It’s not a ‘kootu’ (Tamil for ‘add’ – in essence it’s a dish that has lentils in it, that has less liquid than sambhar, but it’s not dry). It’s also not really a ‘poriyal’ (Tamil for a dish that has been shallow-fried). I guess it’s closer to being a pumpkin poriyal, but it’s not…this isn’t important. Now, where were we? Aha, the recipe!

Firstly, you want to grab a pan, heat it up and to this pan, add gingelly oil. Gingelly oil is pretty much the same as sesame oil, except it has a touch of jaggery (pure, unrefined cane sugar) in it. If you can’t find gingelly oil, you can use normal light sesame oil. To the oil, you want to add half a tsp of mustard seeds, 1 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 tsp of fennel seeds and a tsp of toor dal (optional). If you do use gingelly oil, you’ll notice that it froths, as soon as you add the seeds and dal to it. This is normal, don’t worry. It’s just to do with the melting and heating temperatures of the jaggery in the sesame oil.

As soon as it starts frothing and doing its thing, add 1 tsp of turmeric powder and mix for a literal few seconds. Then, add in the pumpkin. I’ve cut up half a small blue/green pumpkin into small, inch cubes. The pumpkin I used, I believe, is a Queensland blue pumpkin; its skin is a blue/green colour, but the inside is a beautiful orange.

To the pumpkin, add salt to your taste and mix gently. You’ll see that the pumpkin starts to pick up the turmeric and the beautiful orange colour intensifies.

Next, add some crushed red chilli flakes. I added about three-quarters of a tbsp, but obviously this is dependent on your spice intake. Add more or less, that’s all up to you! Give it a good, gentle mix once you have added it.

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After you have mixed the crushed red chilli flakes in, add three-quarters of a cup of cold water and half a tsp of cinnamon powder. Give it a gentle fold. You will most likely notice that the consistency has become a little thick, perhaps a little mushy as well. Typically, this is eaten with some sort of flatbread, so the pumpkin has to be soft. By folding it gently, you will be retaining most of the pumpkin in its normal shape. Once you have folded the cinnamon in, put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for a good ten minutes. Make sure you fold it gently, every so often. The water will reduce and the dish will become less mushy and more dry.

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After ten minutes, it’s done! I really like eating couscous with this – probably not a normal combination, but it is so yum!

There you have it! If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below. I hope you all start eating more pumpkin, you’re really missing out. Pumpkin pie doesn’t count!

Continuing from before, Khalyani and Rafał write a brilliant blog about their adventures in Nicaragua, and other parts of Central America. They gave up their consultancy jobs, in Europe, and are now living over there with two languages between them – very brave! Find out more about their ventures and the people they have met during their amazing travels: www.trailwinds.me.

Until next time! (I won’t get kidnapped by a potato, again!)

 

Potato and optional aubergine – it’s not really a curry, but it kind of is.

I have a new recipe! Actually, it’s a recipe that was requested by the lovely Monksfist. His request was something utilising potatoes, so here it is!

Now, I tried to take a picture of ALL the ingredients needed first, but I forgot the spices for the aubergine. Below is nearly everything you need for this recipe. As always, I’ll list ingredients and measurements as I go through it.

Firstly, you will have to cube 4 medium sized potatoes to the size of a garlic clove. What is that, 1 inch? Maybe, here’s a picture:

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Okay, so maybe not the exact same size, but you know what I mean. When you have cubed all four potatoes, put them in a bowl until it nearly overflows and set them aside:

The aubergine in this recipe is completely optional. I put it in because I had it, but you don’t have to. If you don’t want to put it in, then skip this step. If you have a big aubergine, like I did, then only use half of it. If your aubergine is small, you can use the whole thing. Slice the aubergine into 2 inch thin strips. Remember, the aubergine will shrivel up slightly when it’s cooked, so don’t slice it too thin. Once you have done this, set this aside as well:

Now, in a wok (or something that looks like a wok), you’re going to fry the potatoes very lightly in sunflower oil, on a medium-low flame. You shouldn’t fry it until it’s brown, but fry it a little bit so it retains its firmness. I did this step in level-layered batches, to make sure all the cubes of potatoes had equal amounts of fun splashing around in the oil. Those party goers… Also, I lowered the potatoes into the oil using a spoon. I’m notoriously known for burning myself with oil:

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Whilst the potatoes are having fun frying, season the aubergines with a little bit of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder. Only if you want the aubergines in it. If you don’t, then this step is pointless and now that aubergine you’ve seasoned will have to be used. I tricked you! Maybe…

The potatoes should be fried until they are firm, not until they are brown. They can be brown on the edges, but not everywhere. Take them out and let them sit on a kitchen towel:

In the same oil used for the potatoes, fry the aubergines until they’re brown. Very brown, like me! Whilst they are frying, slice 1 onion, until you cry a bucket of tears:

Now, reducing the amount of oil in the wok to about 2 tablespoons, add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds, 3/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 5 dried red chillies (optional/you can change the amount), a little stick of cinnamon and 2 stalks of curry leaves. WARNING: curry leaves pop violently when you fry them, as if you’ve shown them all the bad things they have done in their past and they want to take out full revenge on you. Be careful! Stir this for about 10 seconds and then add the sliced onion. Fry until the onions brown a little. In this time, chop 4 green chillies diagonally (amount can be changed) and slice six cloves of garlic. Yes, I said six. Trust me on this:

Tip: To get rid of that garlic smell from your hands, wash it with a lemon or rub your hands on a stainless steel spoon. You can come back and thank me. When the onions turn brown, add the garlic, stir, then add the green chillies and stir again:

Now, you can add the spices! Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder and salt to your taste. I adjusted the salt a few times. Once added, stir everything well until all the ingredients are well coated with the spices:

Add about 1/3 of a tin of chopped tomatoes. I don’t know if it’s me, but in the picture I took below, the tomatoes look pink. It wasn’t pink in real life, I guess it’s just the lighting. If it was pink, I’d be very worried. But it wasn’t! Or was it… Mix the tomatoes in well, then add 3 tablespoons of water and mix again until everything is well incorporated:

Make sure the spices are cooked out and it’s not too sharp in the mixture. This should take about 5 minutes of simmering. Keep an eye on it. Once the 5 minutes are up, add the potatoes and stir well. Add the juice of 1/2 a lime and cover it with a lid, so the water can reduce. Keep the flame low and cook until the potatoes are soft and cooked through:

When the potatoes are cooked through and the water is reduced out, the dish is done! Add the aubergines, as a garnish, and voila:

Hope you guys enjoy this, it really does taste bombsauce! If you have any recipe requests, send them to ninjaeatsfood@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you 🙂

Don’t dream about dinosaurs balancing potatoes on their heads. They can’t and it upsets them a lot. This dream happened. Okay, bye!

Recipe: Chicken Lollipops…how unfortunately named.

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stupidchicken.com

*pop* Hello! I finally have a recipe to share with you that I think you’ll like. But it has a weird name…or maybe it’s just me? I think Chicken Lollipops just sounds weird, but it tastes good and that’s all that matters. Personally, if it were up to me, I would have called it Bobble Chicken. Hmm, maybe not.

I’ve tried this recipe twice and it turned out bombsauce on both occasions, so you have to love it. You’ll make me cry, otherwise. Also, I took pictures step-by-step, so you can see exactly what I did and how it turned out at the end. You know, eat with your eyes and whatnot. Oh, before I begin, I’d like to thank my sister and brother-in-law for allowing me to use them as guinea pigs. Muahahaha…ha.

Okay, so here we start. Like my Chicken Hyderabadi Biriyani recipe, I’m going to talk through all the steps required to make this awesomeness. You’ll find out what ingredients are used along the way.

So in this metal bowl thing I have about 11 chicken wings. I recently learnt that this isn’t actually the wing, but it’s the niblet. But here in the UK, everyone calls it the wing. However, some butchers do call it niblets, so double-check. This recipe can accommodate 8-12 wings. Make sure before you start, you wash the chicken with salt. Salt?! Yes, salt. It’s meant to be good and, to be honest, I don’t really know the reason behind it. My family does it, so I do as well. I’m aware of this debate about washing chicken. On the pro side, people say that it’s good to get rid of any unwanted residues that may be on the chicken itself, however people also say washing chicken can cause cross-contamination (bacteria gets around your sink, etc). In my opinion, if you have good kitchen hygiene, there is no reason to not wash chicken. But, if you really don’t like it, you don’t have to. (Yes you do, do it).

The concept of the Chicken “Lollipop” just lies in the way you cut it. The aim is to cut around the thinner end of the wing/niblet, like I have done so below. Make sure you have a sharp knife.

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Once you have cut around the thinner end of the wing/niblet, stand it up so the cut end is at the top. If you try to make it stand up without holding it, you’re a genius. Push the chicken (not the bone…) down towards the fatter end. What you should end up with is something that literally looks like a lollipop, hence its unfortunate name.

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Continue these steps until you have done it to all of your chicken wings/niblets. Now it’s the fun part! (…I live a sad life). Add the following ingredients:

Turmeric – 1/3 of a teaspoon.

Salt – depending on your taste. I have used 1/2 a teaspoon since I washed the chicken with salt already.

Coarse black pepper – a level teaspoonful. If you don’t have coarse black pepper, you can use powdered black pepper. I’d only add 1/2 a teaspoon in this case. I wouldn’t suggest adding white pepper powder.

Cornflour – 1 and a half tablespoonful.

All-purpose flour – 1 level tablespoonful.

Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoonful. You can substitute this with paprika powder, using the same amount. If you’re using Kashmiri chilli powder, use more! Add less if you’re scared.

Ginger and Garlic paste – 1 and a half heaped teaspoonful!

Dark soy sauce – 1 tablespoonful. You can choose to use either light or dark. Dark soy sauce is less saltier than light soy sauce, however it has more of that umami flavour. Also, it’s used to deepen the colour of foods. If you don’t have dark soy sauce, use light. I have heard of all-purpose soy sauce; I’ve never used it myself but I don’t think it’s going to be harmful to this dish. If it is, let me know. I’ll send you an oops card.

Coriander powder – 1 level tablespoonful. This cannot be substituted. No, no exceptions. Coriander powder makes this dish what it is. It’s like taking Jesus out of Christmas. You do remember what Christmas is about, right…?

Cumin powder – 1 teaspoonful.

Egg – 1 medium-sized.

Optional: Sri Lankan curry powder – 1 teaspoon. You can find this at most Sri Lankan/Indian shops. However, I know it’s not widely available and there are certain brands I think are legit and some which are not, so don’t worry if you can’t find this. I tried this recipe with and without Sri Lankan curry powder and it turned out delicious both times. Trust me on this one.

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Once you have all these ingredients in the bowl, mix it nicely. Make sure the chicken is coated well. If your mixture is too dry, add some water. If it’s too wet, don’t worry, it should be OK. If you’re not convinced, add a bit more all-purpose flour.The two pictures below are of the same batch of marinated chicken lollipops – they’re taken in two different lights – in case you freak out because yours doesn’t look the same as mine. Ninja, the unfreaking-out…er. *sigh* don’t judge me.

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Next, wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes. Overnight would be ideal. Once it has marinated, fry it in small batches until it is golden brown, with a tinge of red.

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In the picture below, I’ve fried some green chillies, shallots and curry leaves to adorn the dish. You know, make it look nice and stuff. Like chicken makeup.

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There you have it! Chicken Lollipops. If you have a better name for it, let me know!

If you would like to find out more about some of the spices used in this recipe, check out my previous post. Also, if you have any feedback or anything you’d like me to post, send an email to ninjaeatsfood@gmail.com and I will definitely get back to you.

Hope you enjoy! *pop*