My Stories

Lamb Pilaf for Shahs

Pilaf originated from Persia, and it has become very popular across all Asia and even Europe. In some cultures it is a central celebratory dish. I cooked the lamb pilaf for at least 30 years, and it was a good one. All my nephews always told me that my pilaf was the best, even better than their dads’ and mums’ but they asked not to tell them ūüôā This year I had an honour to meet Shah who made a lamb pilaf using a different method. It is simpler and what is amazing it can be applied to any amount of rice. What was really astonishing when we tried his pilaf, it was so much tastier that I, of course, had to try to make it. And, when I did I was asked to forget my method and always cook using Shah’s. In this photo you can see Shah making a pilaf for 35 people and using 5kg of rice! It is done over the wood fire, but for us, who just cook for the family we can use gas ūüôā This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pilaf-shah.jpg One thing always surprised those who I introduced to pilaf over these 28 years in Australia is “how only these five very ordinary ingredients can make such a delicious meal!” If you have any suitable occasion, please try this recipe below. The ingredients are:
  • Lamb
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Rice, I use Basmati rice and Shah uses short round white rice.
  • Cumin seeds
In addition to these, Shah adds chili peppers, dried barberries, whole garlic (not separated or peeled), and dry chickpeas. The cooking method starts the same:
  1. Cook the lamb in some oil
  2. Add sliced onions
  3. Add carrots cut in thick strips, baton style. If using add chickpeas here as well as water enough for cooking chickpeas (look up how much water the dry chickpeas need to cook).
  4. Wash rice thoroughly, drain and cover with boiling hot water for 20 minutes, drain, and cover again with boiling water for 15 minutes and drain. My method was different as I used to leave the rice to the last step, and I did not wash or soak it at all.
  5. By the time step 4 is done, the meat is cooked tender, onion is dissolved, the carrots can be seen in pieces. I would add cumin seeds at this time, and barberries as well if using it. Mix well, stick garlic and peppers in, cover all with the soaked version of rice, you can add a little of salted water over the rice if there is not enough liquid in the meet and vegetables. I used to add dry raw rice, mix it properly so rice covered in oil then add 1 cup of water for each cup of dry rice and also no mixing after adding water. Cover the pot for 20-35 minutes.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pilaf.jpg Yumm! Hope you will have a chance to try this dish somehow ūüôā All the best wishes, Janna.

Not a Duck Risotto

My recent vacation to Hawaii was just amazing. There was so much to see and learn about this exotic part of the world.
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Magic Tablecloth
The most frequent meals during these¬†two exciting weeks were¬†from various¬†Japanese cuisines, so I have been inspired by all that wonderful food and I have one new dish that I am working on this week. But that will have to wait until my next post. I have to say, I really missed our usual home-made food. As soon as¬†I came back home my biggest craving was for the Duck Risotto. However, this Duck Risotto takes time to prepare and special shopping needs to be done to make it. So, on my first evening back, while doing basic grocery shopping at the local Woollies, I couldn’t resist when I noticed this hot and juicy BBQ chicken! And I thought: Qantas – Jetstar, NAB – uBank, Emporio Armani – Armani Exchange. Are you following¬†my thoughts? It took me only¬†40 minutes to cook my risotto, replacing my usual duck with the BBQ chicken. I just boiled brown rice for 30 minutes. In the meantime, I pulled and cut the meat from the whole chicken, diced the onion and minced the garlic. I then simply mixed everything in the pan, added some cream and mushrooms, and the result was just WOW! So, next time you buy a BBQ chicken and your family think it is a boring dinner, surprise them ūüôā Best wishes. Janna August 2015

Coconut

About three years ago when I saw my mother having a spoon of coconut oil in the morning for the first time I did not take it very well. I tried to convince my mother that as 70 yo she should not have that much saturated fat. Despite my opinion she would have one spoon every morning and go for a beach walk before having her breakfast. And she felt energised and happy. Azhe When I started to research Coconut for my posts this year, I discovered so many wonderful things about Coconut and shared my findings in the Coconut blog posts. Now, I am the one supplying my mother with Australian Organic Coconut oil. I regularly publish my recipes in our monthly news magazine at work. And I was surprised when our dietitians did not approve one of my Coconut recipes due to its high content in saturated fat. In the meantime, I am hearing from people who follow my blog and use Coconut oil for cooking now. They tend to do their own research to make their own conclusions and decisions about their diets. Wonderful! Mission accomplished. December 2014

Kale

Unlike Quinoa or¬†Mung beans I started to use Kale when it was already very well known amongst healthy eaters. Even my son started to juice Kale, and my daughter started to bake Kale chips. So I decided to challenge myself and create something new, because I didn’t like the taste of raw or boiled Kale. When I cooked the Kale Frittata for the¬†first time I did not know I was cooking Kale Frittata. I have those days sometimes – when it feels like somebody invisible leads me. I had some general ideas, for example, I wanted to have Kale crushed (Why? See Kale Pudding).¬†This is why in the Kale Frittata recipe I use¬†processed Kale. Also I wanted to have the flavour of Kale chips, so this is why Kale¬†leaves are also¬†used in the recipe. Although I wanted to make¬†a vegetarian dish, I ended up¬†by adding shrimps to the dish. (Why? See Kale Frittata). Because I was only experimenting I did not write down my new recipe. And of course the frittata was so nice that it was finished in one evening.¬†It’s hard to count how many bunches of Kale were wasted to reproduce that frittata. Everyone who came around¬†tried the Kale Frittata, even¬†all of my neighbours. My family still thinks that the first one was the best, but I just think all of them¬†are spoiled. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA During those weeks of trying to reproduce my original Kale frittata¬†I was buying bunches of Kale non stop. Once I was happy with the result, I had left over Kale. So, despite the objections of my family who had eaten Kale for several weeks, I decided to¬†use the Kale once more in my cooking. However, as I pushed this back for a while, my Kale was getting old. So here is my secret: the Kale Pudding was simply a solution to my week old¬†Kale ūüôā The above picture should give you an idea. The pudding actually came out very well. Next time I wanted to cook¬†Kale Pudding it was intentionally, when we had friends over for tea. With that Kale Pudding I also cooked¬†my favourite duck breast. Although it looked great it was so wrong, such a bad combination. I felt sorry for my duck. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA August 2014

Quinoa

My decision to buy Quinoa at Thomas Dux occurred in a similar fashion to how I picked Mung Beans based on their nutritional information. At that time, I was using my new tangine, which I received from my sister as a birthday present, to experiment with Moroccan cooking. However, I just could not make myself cook couscous. What’s wrong with couscous? Well, it’s a wheat product. So, I tried to substitute it with Quinoa in a Moroccan dish. Not surprisingly, many people did not even notice the swap, and those who did, couldn‚Äôt name it. Friends of mine went exploring Morocco and one in particular was really looking forward to enjoying Moroccan cuisine. But they brought back not very exciting news. What we, in Australia, think the authentic Moroccan food is, that is not a¬†common¬†food in Morocco. They use tangine to slow-cook ordinary ingredients but with no famous spices. When I ceased my experimentation with Moroccan food, I still wanted to have Quinoa in my diet, so I started to cook it with some herbs. Later, I discovered Quinoa flakes, which was really exciting because I could eat Quinoa with fruits for breakfast. It was around this time that Quinoa became well-known, and most of us¬†learnt how to pronounce the word. Last year I was asked to publish a healthy recipe at work in the regular newsletter. After some thought I created the Quinoa Pilaf recipe, which you can find on my blog. I have been cooking it for more than a year now, and it is still one of my favourites. For a long time, I thought I had perfected it and it seemed that I would not change a thing in the recipe. However, last week I did not have enough vegetable ingredients for Pilaf in my refrigerator, so I had to use some fennel instead of capsicum and I have to say it was very tasty. So next time I am going to try my regular recipe with the addition of some fennel, and if my family likes the change, I am going to update¬†the Quinoa Pilaf recipe. Tangine July 2014

Mung Beans.

I fell in love with Thomas Dux from the moment I discovered the supermarket chain. I would walk to the local shop¬†on Saturday¬†mornings and just explore the strange and unknown products on the shelf. It was in this manner that I discovered Mung Beans five years ago. The nutritional information on the packet was surprising, so I was immediately interested. I bought the Mung Beans and found a recipe on the Internet that involved boiling the Mung Beans with rice. It was a very plain dish, and I did not find it exciting at all. My next foray into cooking with Mung Beans occurred after I had an allergic reaction and decided to cleanse my body with some nutritional food. At the time, we had a few overseas visitors staying with us over Christmas ¬†and so it was very hectic at home. I began washing the beans but I became distracted by the guests and forgot about them completely. A few days later, my husband found a bowl in the laundry filled with an unknown substance¬†and brought it to me asking if I knew anything about it. Initially, I had no idea what he meant. However, realisation came a few seconds later. Although the beans smelled fresh, ¬†I hesitated to eat them without cooking them over a fire. So I fried them with some onion and garlic, added spices, and mixed it with coconut on a whim. Unexpectedly, the dish was a great success. The next time my Mung Beans sprouted it was entirely on purpose, and I tried them raw. My Coconut Mung Beans recipe is a result of multiple iterations and refinements, and it is still the most popular recipe on my blog and amongst my family and friends. Earlier this year, as I was once again strolling through Thomas Dux, I discovered that they now sell Mung Beans sprouted! I was pleasantly surprised but I like making my own. It’s cost effective, fresh and grown with love.¬†I love my Mung Bean Sprouts. As I write, my daughter is travelling around Vietnam. She called me the other day and excitedly informed me that they use Mung Beans a lot in Vietnam, even in desserts. Interestingly,¬†they sometimes soak¬†Mung Beans in water for much longer and they eat¬†them as Mung Bean Shoots. kitchen1.jpg 2014

One Comment Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    In Denmark there is a very traditional Christmas dish: pork-medister-sausages with caramel-potatoes and KALE-sauce, which is a nice combination. Kale has got a delicate taste! Love it ūüôā

    Like

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