Showing posts with label chilies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chilies. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spicy Onion Paratha #TwelveLoaves

Food Lust People Love: A spicy twist on traditional plain paratha made with wholemeal wheat flour and seasoned with onion, garlic, chili peppers and cilantro as well as ground coriander and garam masala and cooked on a hot griddle.

The name paratha comes from two words in Hindi and Urdu, parat meaning layer or flake and atta, which is flour, but not all paratha are multi-layered; some are simple flatbreads. All are cooked on a tawa or griddle. (P.S. It's pronounced prata. Just two syllables with the stress on the first.)

When we lived in Malaysia all those years, I volunteered in a monthly Booster Club fundraiser called PAC Shack. PAC stood for Panther Activity Center and once upon a time, it was actually a shack out in the field where moms and dads and even students served burgers with all the fixings and other goodies to raise funds for team uniforms and sports equipment.

By the time I joined the Booster Club roster of volunteers, we had a kitchen up in the main high school building with little ventilation, sad extractor fans and cardboard spread on the floor to stop us sliding around on the inevitable grease that accumulated from cooking fatty meat patties on the big diner-type flat grills.  By the time I had left KL, we had moved into bigger better facilities, with room to work and a kitchen sink with actual hot running water. But the one thing we never could get around were the tears when it was time to peel and slice onions in an enclosed space, no matter how well ventilated. The onions were always my job because I was the only one who didn’t bawl.

I’d take my 10-15 pounds out to a picnic table overlooking the school pool and get after it all by my lonesome, creating mountains of sliced onions to adorn the more than 600 burgers the other ladies were inside grilling and wrapping and popping in huge warmers before the lunch bell rang.

The moral of this story is, always get someone who wears contact lenses to slice your onions.  Those were my shields of eye protection! I found out the hard way that without them, I do cry.

This month my Twelve Loaves group decided on onions as our theme and I was delighted! I've been making paratha and chapati and naan for years so they seemed like the perfect oniony departure from the normal yeast bread I usually undertake for these challenges. I found a recipe online for an onion paratha that sounded fabulous. And indeed it is. I've added garlic and a bit more coriander, quantified for clarity and changed the method up in a quite a few ways that I hope will encourage someone to give it a try.

1 cup or 150g wholemeal wheat flour, plus extra for dusting as you roll the flatbread out
1 medium onion (about 6 1/3 oz or 180g)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 small hot chilies
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Small bunch (about 3/4 oz or 20g) cilantro or coriander leaves
1 tablepoon olive oil, plus extra for sautéing the vegetables and greasing the griddle
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Mince your onion, garlic and chilies as finely as you can. Do the same with your cilantro. I cut off the long, hard stems but minced the tender parts with the leaves.

In a medium-sized saucepan, drizzle in a little oil and add your cumin seeds.

Watch closely so they don’t burn but let them toast till they are a little darker and then add in your minced onion, garlic and chilies and stir well. If the pan is too dry, drizzle in a little more oil.

Cook the mixture over a low to medium heat, stirring often. You want everything to brown but not to scorch. When the mixture is nicely browned, add in the chopped cilantro, along with the ground coriander and the garam masala. Stir well and remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, onion mixture, 1 tablespoon olive oil and the salt.

Add in 1/4 cup or 60ml warm water and mix thoroughly.

Now add more warm water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing well in between additions. Different flours require more or less water but you are looking for a nice cohesive soft dough. I ended up adding three tablespoons to get the right consistency.

Knead the dough by hand or machine for a few minutes.  Form it into a nice round ball.

Drizzle a little oil in a bowl and roll the ball around to grease it. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside to rest for 20-30 minutes. I find that the longer I let the dough rest, the easier it is to roll into circles once it’s divided, so I make it earlier in the afternoon and let it rest until just before I am ready to serve dinner.

When you are ready to cook the paratha, divide the ball into six equal pieces.

First cut it in half, then each half into three pieces.

Sprinkle your clean work surface with some flour and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a circle. Sprinkle on extra flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.

The hand is for scale. Each circle is about 8 inches or 20cm across.

Heat your griddle pan and drizzle on a little oil. Place the circle on the hot pan and watch it carefully. Brush the top with some more oil.

When little bubbles start to form on the top flip the paratha over to cook the other side.

Press down with your spatula to make sure that the paratha is making contact with the griddle. Cook for a few minutes, flipping a couple more times if necessary, until both sides have lovely brown spots all over.

I like to stack the paratha in a little sleeve made of folded aluminum foil to keep warm until I am ready to serve.

These are great with any kind of curry, like potato, chicken, fish or just dal but I must confess to warming one the next morning and nibbling on it while I sipped my cup of coffee. Divine.

Food Lust People Love: A spicy twist on traditional plain paratha made with wholemeal wheat flour and seasoned with onion, garlic, chili peppers and cilantro as well as ground coriander and garam masala and cooked on a hot griddle.


Food Lust People Love: A spicy twist on traditional plain paratha made with wholemeal wheat flour and seasoned with onion, garlic, chili peppers and cilantro as well as ground coriander and garam masala and cooked on a hot griddle.

Are you a fan of all things bread and all things allium, by which I mean the onion family?  Then you are going to love this month’s Twelve Loaves recipes.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spicy Sichuan Noodles

Spicy Sichuan Noodles are a fragrant, spicy noodle dish with stir-fried ground pork. It's one of our favorite one-pot meals.

Have you ever seen the movie Eat Drink Man Woman?  If you love foodie movies, this is one of the best.  Shot in Taiwan and directed by Academy Award winning director, Ang Lee, Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) is the story of an aging chef who tries desperately to keep his family together by cooking elaborate feasts for his three daughters every Sunday.  In the opening scene, he prepares dish after dish and you can’t help but think that he must have a crowd coming.  With every plate that was finished, I wanted to be at that table!  I counted at least 14 dishes and then the chef mentioned, as he rushed off to deal with an emergency at his restaurant, “The crab dumplings are still in the steamer!”   Crab dumplings?  Yes, please!  (I read somewhere that the opening cooking scene actually took two weeks to film.  I believe it!)

A screenshot from the movie of the LADEN #SundaySupper table, just as the chef rushes off to his restaurant. 

This week’s #SundaySupper theme, hosted by the delightful Heather of GirliChef, is movie-inspired recipes.  What could be better inspiration than Eat Drink Man Woman, where Sunday supper is the most special, unifying meal of the week?  We love Chinese food of all kinds so it was hard for me to choose just one dish, but, finally, I decided that the Spicy Sichuan Noodles from Ken Hom's Chinese Cookery would be perfect.  Noodles in Chinese culture symbolize long life (so you never cut noodles!) and anything spicy is a winner in our house.   Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you.  This comes together quickly and is sooooo tasty.   Like many noodle dishes, it gets better and better and leftovers will be your favorite lunch ever, the next day.  If you have any left over. 

13 1/4 oz or 375g ground or minced pork
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (sometimes called Special Soy in the grocery stores) 
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
Cantonese-style egg noodles
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lb + or 500g dried Cantonese egg noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3-4 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons garlic
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
5 tablespoons green onions
2 tablespoons sesame paste (tahini) or smooth peanut butter (I used peanut butter.)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons chili bean sauce
2 tablespoon chili oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup or 250ml chicken stock

For the garnish:
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns

Mix the pork with the next four ingredients: the dark soy sauce, the rice wine or dry sherry, the salt and black pepper.  Stir well, cover the bowl with cling film and set aside.  (This can be done earlier in the day, in which case, refrigerate until needed.) 

Put some water on to boil in a pot big enough for your egg noodles.  Add a little salt to the water. 

Peel and finely mince your garlic and ginger.  Finely chop your green onions.  Set aside. 

When the water comes to a boil, drop in the noodles and cook about 3-5 minutes, until they are done. 

Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse with hot water.  Drain again.  

Put the noodles in a bowl and pour over the tablespoon sesame oil.  Toss to coat and cover.  This can also be done early in the day and refrigerated until needed.)

Mix the sesame paste or smooth peanut butter, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, chili bean sauce, chili oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl, and set aside until you are ready to cook the dish. 

Meanwhile, toast your Sichuan peppercorns in a small skillet for a few minutes, and then grind them up with a mortar and pestle. 

Okay, are you ready to cook and eat?  

Heat your wok or large skillet until screaming hot and then add the peanut oil.  

Yeah, I didn't measure too carefully.  Sorry. 

When it is really hot too, stirfry the garlic, ginger and green onions for a couple of minutes. 

Add in the seasoned pork and break it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Cook until all the pink is gone.  

Now add in the bowl of seasonings you mixed together (with the peanut butter) along with the chicken stock.   

Let it bubble along for a few minutes, and then add in the noodles. 

Stir well so the noodles are well-coated with the liquid seasonings and cook until they are hot through again.  I find it most effective to use two spoons and toss the noodles as you would a salad. 

Pour the noodles into a serving dish and sprinkle with the ground Sichuan peppercorns (and a few random chopped green onions for color, if desired) and serve immediately.  


Have a look at all the wonderful movie-inspired recipes the #SundaySupper group have for you today!  Is your favorite foodie movie among them? 


Toast (bready things)

No Reservations (soups and salads)

Today's Special (fish, chicken, beef, and pork)

Forks Over Knives (veggie-heavy dishes and sides)

Udon (pasta and noodles)

Just Desserts (sweet treats)

Bottle Shock (beverages)


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spicy Sticky Wings

The Super Bowl is coming up, as it does every year.  And we watch it with pleasure, sometimes taping it when that’s an option, but we have also been known to wake up at all hours and even head to a sports bar at 4 a.m. if that’s the only way to watch, since we’ve been living overseas.

But more important that the Super Bowl in our house, is the World Cup.  According to my husband, soccer is the real football (and he has a point since, save the goalie, players can’t touch the ball with their hands inside the boundary lines) and the World Cup, played only every four years, well, that’s the real championship.

For Cooked in Translation this month, our theme is Wildly Delicious Wings, so I am going to share with you a dish I created for the World Cup in 1998.  We were living in Brazil where everything stops when the home team is playing and, frankly, not much gets done when any game is on.  The weather was beautiful so we had all the doors and windows open and whenever a player scored, we could hear the cheers or jeers from all the neighboring houses and we just knew that every eye in town was fixed on a television, watching football.  For our part, throughout the Copa, as it’s called there, we took turns hosting, watching with a group of friends, all bringing snack foods and cold beverages and wearing our lucky shirts (or underwear or socks or whatever we were wearing when our country team won last.)  Superstitions abounded!  These were lucky wings and we have eaten them often since.

Next year the World Cup will actually be in Brazil and there is talk around our house of going.  If anyone invites us to stay, I promise to make all the snacks!  I’ll even buy the cold beer!

Still have my shirt so I'm ready!

1 1/2 lbs or 1.125kg chicken wings (about 22 whole wings)
1 1/2 cups or 355ml kecap manis or sweet soy sauce
(or 1 cup normal soy sauce plus 1 cup packed dark brown sugar)
2 small red chilies or 1 teaspoon crushed red chilies
1/2 small head cabbage (optional for serving)

Cut your wings into three pieces, discarding the tips or, better, boiling them up for chicken stock to be used in another dish.

Chop your chilies into little bitty pieces.

Put your drumettes and whatever that other part is called into a large pot that allows sufficient stirring room.  If you use a non-stick pot, you will be able to get the wings really, really sticky, but it’s not essential.

Pour in the kecap manis and the chilies.  Cook over a low to medium flame, gently stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, slice your cabbage very finely and spread it around on the serving plate.  I have to admit that we don’t usually eat this, except for the parts that end up having sticky kecap manis on them, but the cabbage stops the wings from sticking to your plate, and saves you the indignity of licking it to get all the good stuff off.

As you keep cooking them, the chicken wings will give off some liquid and the kecap manis will thin as it heats up.  Just keep stirring and cooking until the liquid starts to evaporate.

At this point, watch the wings carefully because they can be prone to burning because of the sugar in the kecap manis. (Turn the fire down to low if necessary.) Stir more often, still gently though, as you don’t want the meat to fall off the bones. Keep cooking and stirring until all the liquid is gone and the wings are nice and sticky. 

Place the wings on the cabbage to serve.  Sit in front of your television and watch your favorite ball game. (This past weekend, it was the Australian Open.)  Cold beer optional but highly recommended.