Onigirazu two ways


crispy shrimp
avocado and veggies (vegan)

It looked like a magic trick the first time that I ever saw Onigirazu. It was a rice sandwich wrapped in nori that tasted like sushi from an alternative reality and what? how? dear god! was all I could exclaim.

Not only did it taste delicious but it looked so mind bending that I had to make it and just like a sandwich it can be created any number of ways to suit your mood and needs, which is why I have two kinds here. One is a crispy shrimp and the other a more sombered vegan option and they both turned out absolutely scrumptious.

The ingredients for these particular onigirazu are thinly sliced vegetables (cabbage, onions, coriander, carrots), avocado and shichimi (optional) for the vegan option. Shrimps, semolina and paprika, salt, pepper, minced garlic, cumin and oregano for the shrimp option. Also Nori sheets.

and cooked rice. I have cooked some black rice with white to get a purple. Who knew? The rice seasonings include, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.

add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in with warm cooked rice

and mix

Add semolina and spices to the shrimp and mix well.

Cook on a hot skillet

until cooked and crispy. These shrimps have such an astounding flavour.

Now for the assembly which might look a bit intimidating but isn’t all that impossible. On the rough side of the nori sheet spread a layer of seasoned rice. Clamp it down well so it doesn’t dome and make this into anymore of a daunting task than it already is

Add a spread or sauce of choice. I went for the classic which is mayonnaise and ketchup mixed to primrose emulsion.

Top with cabbage or lettuce.

Followed by crispy shrimps.

Topped with some more cabbage

sauce

and rice. It starts with rice, it ends with rice.

And now it’s just a matter of folding everything into a pocket to form our onigirazu

Fold the opposite edges inwards so that they meet together and they’ll stick. Oh, they will stick. It’s magic.

Fold from the top and that there is our rather untidy pocket, but it’s there.

Now wrap it all in plastic wrap or butter paper as I used here because ugh, plastic! And that’s one done until we slice.

Same again for Onigirazu number 2. Start with rice and since the vegetables had no seasoning I went ahead with some shichimi, but you can use anything instead.

sliced carrots

Followed by coriander

avocado and more shichimi, which was then topped again with rice and folded.

and so here we have a cross section of both. Side by side. I topped the vegan onigirazu with a bit of sriracha

Ingredients

Cooked rice- 1 cup
Nori sheets: 2
Seasoning for rice
Soy sauce- 1tbsp
Vinegar- 1tsp
Sugar- 1 tsp

Vegetables
Carrots thinly sliced
Coriander
Cabbage thinly sliced
Avocado

Note: You can use any vegetables as per availability and preference.

Shichimi pepper for seasoning (optional)

For shrimp Onigirazu
Shrimp- 200g
Semolina- 1tbsp
paprika, pepper, oregano, cumin, minced garlic, salt -1/2 tsp each

Recipe instructions

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar with warm rice and keep aside.
Mix the spices, salt and semolina in with the shrimp until they're well coated.
On a hot skillet with a teaspoon of oil cook the shrimp on both sides until crispy.

Lay the nori sheet so that the rough side is facing you.
Top with a dollop of seasoned rice and flatten it.
Followed with shredded cabbage. Spread some sauce or spread of choice on and top with shrimp. keep them all in a single layer so that the filling doesn't dome.
Top again with shredded cabbage followed by sauce and finally another dollop of rice.
Keep clamping down the filling.
Fold the nori sheet from opposite sides so that all meet in the middle.
Form into a pocket and wrap in cling film or butter paper.

Repeat process with vegetable filling.

Note: You can use any vegetables and seasonings according to your preference.

Enjoy!

Pesce con olive e pomodoro


Fish with olives and tomatoes. It’s an Italian classic or so they say in Italy, not the kind one would find on a menu but more like a proper home cooked meal and why not because fancy as it looks and sounds this a very simple dish to put together.

It’s not convoluted with flavours and is in fact minimal almost in terms of seasoning which is why it’s important to use good quality ingredients seeing how there is no cloaking device to this dish.

The ingredients are few and simple. There’s fish of course. Try and use boneless fresh fish fillets. I’ve used basa. There’s onions, tomatoes, potatoes, oregano, black olives, lots of olive oil, salt and pepper.

We want to start with a base layer. Coat the baking tray or dish with a thin layer of olive oil.

And layer with potatoes. Use thinly sliced potatoes for this dish. I used a mandolin to get the necessary thinness.

Sprinkle over some salt and pour over half the olive oil and bake at 200ºC for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and have developed some colour.

Once out of the oven layer the thinly sliced onions and chopped up tomatoes.

And sprinkle over some salt

and pepper

before finally adding the fish.

Top with olives and oregano and sprinkle some more salt. Don’t go heavy handed with the salt. Sprinkle sparingly since almost every step has a bit.

Finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil before baking at 200ºC at for 20 minutes or until the fish is just cooked.

Let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

This can be eaten just as is or with a hunk of good bread.


Ingredients

Fresh fish fillets: 250g
Potatoes: 300g (thinly sliced)
Onions: 1 medium (thinly sliced)
Tomatoes: 250 gms (chopped into bite size or use cherry tomatoes)
Olive oil: 15-20mls
Black olives: 70g
Fresh Oregano: 1 large bunch or 2 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper.

Recipe instructions

Brush the baking tray or dish with some olive oil and layer with potatoes.
Sprinkle over some salt and bake at 200ºC for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are mostly cooked and have developed some colour.
Layer the now cooked potatoes with thinly sliced onions and tomatoes and sprinkle some more salt and pepper.
Place the fish on top and cover with olives and oregano, either dried or fresh.
Finish with a generous amount of olive oil before baking at 200ºC for another 20 minutes or until the fish is just cooked.
Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Japanese style potato salad


It was at a Japanese deli that I came across perfectly shaped ice cream scoops which upon further inspection turned out to be made of potatoes with bits of ham, bacon and cucumbers dotted about the perfect potato spheres and I absolutely had to buy some. It was different in a way that there was sweetness, some tang, and bites of chew courtesy the bacon alongside a refreshing crunch from the cucumbers and it was this interesting mingling of textures within the creamy heft of potatoes that made of me a complete convert.

I’d had japanese potato salads before , but perhaps never deconstructed their anatomy the way I did while eating these, mostly in part due to the scooped out shapes or perhaps because of the crunchy cucumber texture, but I knew I had to make these and so here we are.

There is boiled potato, cooked bacon shopped into tiniest possible bits, chopped ham as tiny as can be managed, thin cucumber slices, salt and sugar (not pictured)

and most importantly Japanese mayonnaise which makes this dish what it eventually will be. It’s a lot more different than regular mayonnaise in that it’s sweeter has a peculiar flavour to it which is both tangy and sweetly pungent.

Sprinkle over some salt and sugar on the cucumber slices and wait for them to release water, which then must be thoroughly squeezed out.

Mash the potatoes until it isn’t chunky. Potato ricer works best but if the potatoes are warm then just mashing it with an overzealous intensity will guarantee similar results. Add the japanese mayonnaise to it and mash until well incorporated.

Once the potato is well mashed with the mayo and there are no lumps add in the bacon and ham pieces. I switched to a wooden spoon once everything was well blended because it’s much easier to work with.

Mix well

Finally add in the squeezed and drained cucumber slices and mix well. Check and adjust seasoning. The cucumber slices will retain a lot of the salty sweetness from the previous sprinkling of salt and sugar.

I let mine sit in the fridge for half an hour before scooping out using an ice cream scoop.

Of course this salad can be eaten just as but then you wouldn’t reflect upon the beauty of this salad or ponder over its subtle sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy texture.


Ingredients

Potatoes: 2 large boiled
Bacon: 2 rashers chopped and cooked crisp 
Ham: 2-3 slices chopped fine (2 tbsp)
Cucumber: 1 small
Japanese style mayonnaise: 2 heaped tbsp
Salt: 2 tsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Recipe instructions 

Add the salt and sugar to the thinly sliced cucumbers and keep aside for ten to fifteen minutes to draw out the water from the vegetable. Squeeze and drain the cucumbers and reserve.
Peel and mash the potatoes until there are no lumps. Add in the mayonnaise and beat it in, Add the chopped bacon, ham and mix well again.
Add in the cucumber slices and mix in. Check for seasoning and refrigerate for half an hour before serving.
can be served just as or can be scooped out using an ice cream scoop.

Cheese chilli scones


These are triangular scones made with little effort and lots of cheese which is why they hardly last as long and taste delicious if a little bit naughty and with every bite they get progressively enjoyable.

These aren’t something I’d eat everyday of my life which is why they’re special, made on days when the mood is light and gym bag out of sight or when it’s rainy, dull and the air is sullen;these cheese chilli scones are just as good as cake at uplifting spirits and go well with tea and coffee and they’re best eaten when hot but that’s not an absolute requirement because they taste just as great when cold.

The ingredients aren’t many and they’re the makings of every good scone. Flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, butter, any sharp cheese, paprika and yogurt or buttermilk.

I have already mixed in soda, salt, baking powder and sugar together in with flour.

have the butter fridge cold, cut into cubes and mix in with the flour. I find fork and fingers work best.

One the butter has been worked into the flour, its texture becomes lumpy which is the cold butter clinging on bits of flour.

Pour in the yogurt and briefly mix to form a shaggy dough.

until it looks like this and transfer on the work surface.

Don’t knead the dough because it doesn’t need to form gluten. We just need it to come together with minimal effort.

use your hands and a bench scraper to put it together. It’s not going to be uniform and it will be broken and falling apart but it’ll all come together.

Sprinkle the top with half the cheese paprika mixture and fold both the ends like a book. I forgot to take the picture of the cheese sprinkling part.

Turn it over and around. Sprinkle on some flour and roll it out with a rolling pin.

like so. Some cheese might spill out but it doesn’t matter.

Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese reserving a bit for the topping.

now fold it again like a book and turn it over and roll to the thickness you like.

If you desire tall and thick scones then roll it thickly, if however you don’t mind skinny scones then roll thinner. I rolled mine out to almost 1cm thickness and cut them into square which I further cut into triangles.

Spread on a well floured baking tray and sprinkle the remaining cheese over.

Bake at 200ºC oven for 20-25 minutes until the scones have risen slightly and the cheese has begun to melt and ooze out.

Let cool for only a moment before indulging.


Ingredients

Flour- 250g
Baking powder- 1 tbsp
Baking soda- 1/4 tsp
Butter- 80g
Cheese- 150g
Paprika- 2 tsp
Sugar- 2 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Buttermilk/yogurt- 120mls

Recipe instructions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder and whisk well.

Mix together the cheese and paprika and reserve.

Add the cold cubed butter to the flour mixture and using a fork or fingers rub into the flour until the butter fuses with it to form a grainy buttery texture.

Pour in the yogurt and mix briefly with a spoon before inverting on the work surface. Bring it together without kneading into a rough rectangle. At this stage it won’t matter if the mixture isn’t cohesive.

Sprinkle some flour and roll to form a half inch thick square. Sprinkle half the cheese and fold both the ends of the dough to meet in the center like a book.

Turn it over and around and roll out the dough again.

Sprinkle over the remaining cheese reserving a small handful.

Fold over both ends again and turn it over and around and roll it out again to desired thickness.

Use a round shaped cutter to cut out round scones or simply slice into squares and then triangles with a knife.

Finally sprinkle over the last bit of cheese and bake at 200ºc for 20-25 minutes or until the scones have beautifully puffed up and the cheese has begun to melt and bubble.

Can be enjoyed as a solitary snack or with tea and coffee.

Coconut cake


It could have been the sudden onslaught of summers or the desperate need to eat something sweet or even the fact that my pantry boosted a most comprehensive collection of coconut milk that I suddenly felt this overbearing need within me to bake a coconut cake and not just any coconut cake but beautiful bundt at that and thusly here we have a gorgeously sweet, tropically kissed and easily made coconut cake.

The ingredients are eggs, flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, coconut flakes or dessicated coconut, sugar, lemon zest and coconut milk. Also vanilla extract (not pictured)

I used a food processor to mix the lemon zest in with the sugar just so it’s evenly distributed and renders a more aromatic scent. This step didn’t do much to affect the end result so it’s optional.

crack eggs in a clean mixing bowl

and add in the sugar

and beat well for a few minutes until pale

Heat coconut milk and melt in the butter ensuring it doesn’t get too hot and reserve for later.

Add vanilla extract

followed by the flour and baking powder. Add it in batches. Mixing constantly and scraping the sides of the bowl intermittently.

Once the flour is well mixed add in the coconut flakes and mix again.

and finally pour in the coconut butter mixture.

Beat well ensuring there are no dry lumps in the batter.

Pour into a well greased baking tin. I’m using a bundt pan but feel free to make it into a regular sheet cake or even cupcakes.

Bake at 170ºC for 45-50 minutes in a preheated oven or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Dust with powdered sugar or sweetened coconut flakes before serving.


Ingredients

Flour: 240g
Sugar: 250g
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Baking powder: 1 heaped tsp
Butter: 80g
Eggs: 4 
Coconut milk: 200mls
Dessicated coconut: 150g
Vanilla: 1 tsp
Lemon zest: 2 tsps

Note: The picture shows 6 eggs but the recipe uses 4.

Recipe instructions

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep aside.

In a clean pan heat the coconut milk and melt in the butter. Don’t let the mixture get too hot. Reserve for later.

Crack in the eggs in a large bowl and beat in the sugar and lemon zest until the batter gets well aerated and turns pale. It will take a few minutes and add in the vanilla extract.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt mixture into the egg and sugar batter in batches until well incorporated. Keep scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure no lumps or dry bits of flour are stuck to the sides.

Once the dry ingredients are mixed in beat the coconut flakes/desiccated coconut followed by the coconut milk and butter mixture.

Mix well until you have a sunkissed pale yellow batter punctuated with grainy bits of coconut flakes.

Scrape the batter in a well greased baking pan and bake at 170ºC for 45-50 minutes or until the top of the cake is copper hued and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in its pan for at least 10 minutes before inverting on a cooling rack where it needs to cool down for another ten minutes before slicing in.

Finally dust with sugar or sweetened coconut flakes before serving.

Enjoy!

Vegan spring rolls


Wrapped in rice papers crammed with crunchy vegetables and piled with a delicious marinated tofu, these spring rolls which I do agree are a much larger almost dumpling sized kin to their fresh and slimmer relatives are a perfect treat either as a snack or even as a post workout meal when eaten in huge quantities since these are annoyingly delicious and guiltless and making them isn’t nearly as tedious as one would think.

Of course cooking anything in the kitchen requires a bit of work and these aren’t as much work as one would think and in fact they’re rather fun to make.

The filling is entirely personal and often depends on what’s present in the refrigerator; also a great way to use leftover vegetables.

The ingredients which I used were tofu, thinly sliced carrots, capsicum, avocado, cucumbers, coriander and leftover roasted asparagus. Like I said, the filling depends entirely up to you and the contents of your fridge.

You want to slice your carrots in a way that they’re almost julienned, so begin by slicing them lengthwise

and slice them lengthwise again to get matchsticks

also slice the rest of the veg as thin as manageable.

Slice firm tofu in long strips and the firmer the tofu the better its tenacity to not crumble.

we need flavour in these spring rolls since everything else is going to stay raw and crunchy with a play on textures, the tofu in question needs to have a punch and marinating it for a few minutes really does the trick.

Sizzle the marinated tofu on a very hot pan with a drizzle of oil.

let it char on both sides for a minute or so

Before finally adding the marinating liquid the tofu sat in. Let it cook and bubble and get absorbed.

And here you have it. What was once a rather pallid looking block of protein is now a bronzed vivacious looking filling for our spring rolls.

Now for the assembly which is where the fun begins. You need a large plate filled with water which can fit the rice papers, a clean damp kitchen towel and all the accoutrements sat neatly in front so the conveyor belt process can work.

Begin by immersing the rice papers in water on both sides for a few seconds until the entire surface is wet but not wilting.

Then transfer it to the damp paper towel

and begin layering the vegetables. I start with coriander first just so the rolls look pretty after getting rolled up, however because I stuffed them to spilling the final outcome wasn’t prettiness but greed and so the layering didn’t much matter but if you want to make them look presentable and dainty then maybe fill them a little less audaciously.

then came leftover asparagus. It’s absolutely optional. You can instead use cabbage, shredded lettuce or whatever you feel like.

next came in avocado

closely followed by capsicum and carrots

and finally tofu and cucumbers.

Next comes the rolling part where you gently but with purpose and intent enclose the vegetables in their transparent rice veil by folding the now very sticky rice paper over in a manner of wrapping.

and fold the two opposite ends to meet the first roll. Doesn’t matter if there are small tears in the paper or if all the vegetables don’t stay inside the first fold because we will roll it again.

Keeping the wrapping firm

Since the rice paper is sticky it will stay glued and the chances of making mistakes are few. Roll it up until it’s a roll.

something like this and there you have it. Giant spring rolls to stave off any hunger pangs.


Ingredients

Rice papers: 4 to 5
Firm tofu: 200g
Carrot: 1 small
Capsicum: 1 small or half a large
Coriander: 1 large bunch
Avocado: 1 half
Cucumber: 1 small
asparagus: 3-4 roasted and halved.

For the tofu marinade
Sesame oil: 2 tsp
Light soya sauce: 1 tbsp
Apple cider vinegar: 2 tsp
Sriracha or any chilly sauce: 2 tsp
Brown sugar: 2 tsp

Recipe Instructions

Slice vegetables into thin slices. Cut tofu into strips and marinate for 5-10 minutes. Heat some oil in a pan and gently place tofu strips until browned or lightly charred for a minute. Turn them over and after half a minute pour the marinting liquid in the pan. Let it bubble and thicken for another half a minute before turning off the heat. The tofu should be glossily bronzed on both sides.

Lay out all the ingredients for the rolls in front and fill up a large plate, big enough to fit the rice papers with water.

Dampen a clean kitchen towel and keep in front. Gently lower the rice paper in the plate with water and wet it on both side for a few seconds. Do not let it begin to soften. Transfer on the damp kitchen towel and begin layering the paper close to the edge near you to form into spring rolls.

Once the vegetables are stacked, fold over the now soft and sticky rice paper once. Fold the opposite ends on the sides to stick over the first fold and roll again to seal the edges.

Enjoy with some soy sauce or your favourite dip.

Olive rosemary focaccia


It’s been a while since everything and among other things that I love and crave, bread is definitely the frontrunner and not finding any upon opening the refrigerator can be a bit surprising, agitating and often tends to send me on a downward spiral of domestic crisis which is why and when I ended up with this coppery slab of carb heaven.

The thing about focaccia apart from creating your very own custom flavour is the straightforwardness of the whole process because there isn’t any particular shape that we need fret over and it’s all too easy to begin tearing into one the moment it’s out of the oven, moreover I like slicing stale focaccia into slivers and toasting it in the oven to make crispy crouton like sticks.

As all breads go, focaccia also begins life with flour and yeast and so here we have bread flour, tepid water, olive oil, yeast, salt, rosemary and olives.

Begin by adding yeast into the water which is just warm to the touch and let it sit until it foams. You need good, fresh yeast for that or else the dough won’t rise.

Once the yeast has nicely bubbled up, add it to the flour

along with half the olive oil, reserving the rest for later

add salt and mix it with a spoon until it forms a shaggy dough

Transfer to the countertop and knead until smooth and pliable adding more water a little at a time without making it sticky.

Let it rest in a warm place for a couple of hours until doubled in size. You can even leave it in the fridge overnight.

Once risen it is ready to be formed into bread.

Punch it to deflate. Not only because it’s important but also because it’s fun.

Prepare the baking pan by oiling it generously

Sprinkle some semolina. This is an optional step but helps in the crisping of the bottom.

Scrape the dough into the tray

and brush the top with reserved olive oil. Be generous with the oil here. It’s crucial to this bread making process.

Push the dough with fingertips until evenly distributed in the baking tray, also giving it the typical focaccia dimpled look.

Stuff the dimpled surface with rosemary and olives and push them right into the dough.

Cover and let rise for another hour before baking at 200ºC for 25-30 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the bottom is slightly crisped up

Brush the just baked bread with olive oil and let it rest at least ten minutes before serving.

Here’s a cross section of this delicious focaccia. It’s soft, spongy and moist and deliciously satisfying.


Ingredients

  • Flour: 700g
  • Yeast: 2 tsp
  • Warm water: 300mls + more for kneading
  • Salt: 2 tsp
  • Olive oil: 50mls
  • Olives: 100g
  • Fresh rosemary: 10g
  • Semolina: 2 tsp

Recipe instructions

Add the yeast to warm water and let it bloom. Make sure the yeast is fresh and not expired or it will inhibit the rising of the dough.

Add the water to the dough along with olive oil and salt and mix with spoon until just combined to form a shaggy dough.

Transfer to countertop and knead to a smooth pliable dough. Add more water if need be but a little at a time to keep the dough from getting sticky.

Let the kneaded dough rest in a warm place for a couple hours or until doubled in size. You can even let it rest in the fridge overnight.

Once the dough had doubled in size, deflate by punching and scrape into a well oiled baking tray sprinkled with semolina.

Push the dough to fit into the tray with fingertips giving it the typical dimpled look and stuff the surface with rosemary and olives.

Cover and let rest for an hour before finally baking in a preheated oven at 200ºc for 25-30 minutes or until the top has bronzed and the bottom lightly crisped.

Brush with olive oil and let rest for at least ten minutes before serving.

Wholewheat bagels


Do you ever wake up and suddenly remember something delicious you had months ago and feel the sudden need to recreate that moment or eat something similar? I’d ordered a bagel sandwich while out for brunch and though the sandwich was pretty lacklustre, the bagel in question was extraordinary and so it stuck and one day I woke up craving a bagel.

Bagels aren’t as easily available where I live and so it’s better and more entertaining to make some yourself which is exactly what I did and these came out pretty good, though I do intend on tinkering and tweaking a bit more with the recipe.

Whole wheat bagels with absolutely everything on top, fluffy on the inside and chewy on the out!

The premises are the same as any leavened bread. Start with some risen whole wheat dough. Recipe here. You also need some sugar, baking soda, and a mixture of whatever seeds or toppings you’d like on the bagel. It could be as simple as salt and sugar or a mixture of poppy, sunflower, black and white sesame seeds as I have here.

Divide the dough into equal sized dough balls. I made a total of eight from a kilo of dough for medium sized bagels. Each dough ball is 125g. You can make larger fewer bagels or smaller.

Make even sized balls

and let rest covered for 25-30 minutes.

Once they’ve slightly risen poke a hole in the centre and stretch the dough around to create a doughnut shape which is essentially also the bagel shape.

Like so.

Bring some water to the boil and add in sugar and baking soda.

Once the water comes back to a boil slowly drop in the bagels

and let boil for a couple of minutes on each side

use a long spoon or chopstick to flip them over.

Fish them out of the boiling water once you see them floating, cover generously with the toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes at 200ºC until crisped and browned at the top.

Enjoy!


Ingredients and recipe instructions for whole wheat dough.
Ingredients for bagel

Wholewheat bread dough: 1 kilo
Sugar: 1tbsp
Baking soda: 2tsp
Poppy seeds: 1tsp
Black sesame seeds: 1tsp
White sesame seeds: 1 tsp
Sunflower seeds: 1tbsp


Recipe Instructions

Make the whole wheat dough a day before and let rise overnight in the fridge. Let rest at room temperature for an hour before dividing the dough into eight equal sized portions.

Roll each portion into a ball and let rest once again, covered, for 25-30 minutes.

Poke a hole in the middle of each dough ball and stretch around the hole to create a doughnut like shape.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in the sugar and baking soda.

Once the water comes back to a boil slowly drop in the bagels carefully, not spilling any water. Let boil for a couple minutes on one side before carefully flipping using a chopstick or a long spoon and boiling on the other for the same time.

Fish out onto a baking tray and sprinkle over the toppings.

Bake at 200ºC for 15-20 minutes until the top has browned.

Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. The outside should be chewy and the inside fluffy, and since these are whole wheat bagels the texture within will be a bit denser than the usual refined flour ones, but they will be just as delicious.

Black pepper chicken curry


The first time I ever had this chicken curry was at my brother’s house and he’d tweaked several version over the years to find a perfect format to cook this delicacy because one bite and I was hooked, so lush and delectable was this particular chicken curry that I had to ask him for the recipe which he most graciously provided and so here I am, trying to do justice by cooking it exactly as he’d asked me, because the point of this whole recipe is the different stages and the precise ways of cooking.

The gravy is a rich velvety emulsion of tomatoes, onions and spices and the consistency can vary according to what one likes to eat it with. Thicker gravy for when you eat it with bread and a bit thinner if eaten with rice, though I must say that it’s rice which brings out, almost helps to bloom each flavour of this curry. Rice provides, in my opinion, a better base than bread for this chicken curry and so I’ve cooked this accordingly.


Spices for chicken marinade. Turmeric, Black pepper and some lemon.

add spices to the chicken

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squeeze in the lemon and throw in the rind while marinating and add some oil.

Rub the spices into the chicken and cover to let marinate for an hour.

Ingredients for onion gravy

To make onion gravy, which is really the base of this curry we need a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick, some cardamom seeds sans green shell, a few cloves, some garlic and onions which will go into a blender to get a smooth spice enriched onion paste.

So we have an onion paste made with all the spices and some crushed tomatoes which I made by blending one large tomato.

To make the curry, add some oil to a wok or pan of choice and let it come to near smoking, after which add the now marinated chicken and let sear boldly on one side until deliciously bronzed before turning.

make sure both sides are nicely golden.

Let it sear on the second size and bear with me while I do this because it might come as something odd, but we will make the curry in the wok with the chicken still in it instead of fishing it out.


Add the onion paste and cook continuously taking care that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

the onion paste should begin thickening after a few minutes

Once thickened add garam masala, salt and plenty of black pepper and stir well to combine

Once all the spices are mixed in add the crushed tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until you reach a thickened gravy consistency

Once the tomatoes have cooked in with the onions add some chicken stock or water.

Little by little while continuously stirring

Add some more black pepper and stock/water until you reach the desired consistency and let cook.

Add a half teaspoon of sugar to balance out the tastes. This won’t sweeten the curry. Cook and check for seasonings. Add salt if needed and let bubble away covered for at least 5 minutes.

Serve Hot!


Ingredients

For the marinate

Chicken: 300g
Black pepper: 1 tsp
Turmeric: 1tsp
Oil: 1/2tsp
Lemon: 2 tsp

Marinate the chicken with the spices, lemon and oil and let rest for an hour or overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients for curry

Chicken: 300g bone in
Cicken stock or water: 250-400mls
Onion: 1 large or 2 small
Garlic cloves: 3-4
Bay leaf: 1
Cloves:2-3
Cinnamon stick: 1
Caradmom seeds: from 2-3 pods
Black pepper: 2-3 tsps
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Tomatoes: 1 large or 2 small

Blend together the onions, cinnamon stick, garlic cloves, bay leaf and cardamom pods to a paste and crush tomatoes separately.

Note:  use only the seeds and not the green shells of the cardamom pods.


Recipe instructions

In a large wok heat oil and add the marinated chicken to sear on both sides. Once each side is evenly brown add the onion paste and cook until golden and fragrant.

Sprinkle in garam masala, salt and a teaspoon of black pepper and cook for a minute before adding in the crushed tomatoes and cook until gravy is thickened and the tomatoes aren’t raw anymore.

Add in the stock or water in small batches stirring it in continuously to homogenize with the mixture until the desired consistency has reached and add in the remaining black pepper and sugar and let the curry bubble away another 5 minutes covered.

Finally check for seasonings and add salt if needed.

Serve over a bed of hot rice or with flatbreads.

Taiwanese pineapple cakes


It was a new dimension of desserts for me the first time I ever ate these little cakelets which somehow blur the thin line between shortbread cookies and cakes and in fact these are stuffed in the middle with a sweet pineapple filling, one bite is all it takes get transported into a sweet dreamy land of flaky crust and delicious jam.

These are irresistible if anything and my dear Taiwanese friends who were kind enough to share these treats informed me of their importance in their culture as a staple during coffee, tea or snack time and even shared the recipe which I used to make a version of my own which though not nearly as beautiful as the ones they shared comes decently close in taste. 

The pineapple cakes have a particular mould which one can easily buy but I tried improvising and came to the conclusion that making them in their particular moulds would be a far better option, however, if you want to try them just as then, by all means, use a muffin tin as I did as I’m about to show you.

Ingredients for the pineapple jam filling

 Cook the crushed pineapples on medium hot flame 

until they begin releasing water and add lemon juice

once most of the water is cooked off add cinnamon

and sugar

the pineapple mixture will become wet once again after the addition of sugar so keep cooking and stirring until it’s thickened to a paste. Chill the jam for an hour before forming cakes so that it slightly firms up.

ingredients for shortcrust pastry case

I made this using a processor but you can use these just as easily with a wooden spoon. Mix together the butter and sugar

until evenly combined

add egg yolk and mix

and tip in flour, baking powder, cheese and milk powder mixture and evenly combine

until it comes together and begins to clump

form into a dough without kneading it much and shape into a log

and slice into equal portions. You don’t have to be precise because you can always add or remove some dough during the cake forming process.

Roll each part into a rough circle about 1.5-2 inches in diameter.

and now for the fun part that’s filling each casing with the now cooled pineapple jam. Add about 2 tsp worth in the middle of the pastry.

and fold so that opposite ends meet in the middle. Squeeze them together with thumb and index finger smoothing the seam and form into a ball.

Place into muffin tins if you do not have a mould and press gently before baking at 170º for 10 minutes

and then flipping them over to brown on both sides. Bake again for another 10-15 minutes

until they’re lightly golden. Some of them broke in the process but that didn’t keep them from tasting remarkable. Let them cool for at least 10-15 minutes before eating because they’re hot and extremely soft. Their shortcrust casing gets firmer with time and somehow I like them better when they’re firm so I let mine be for a couple hours.

I also tried making some free-form ones and concluded that these are better off aesthetically in their respective moulds but they taste just as divine even in their unorthodox shapes.

They aren’t as difficult as one would think, just a little time consuming if you are new to their realm which I was and to eat one of these is to know how different these cookie cakes can be and the pure pleasure that something so tiny is capable of imparting in each bite.


Ingredients for the jam filling 

  • Pineapple- 500g (use fresh or tinned)
  • White sugar- 50g (1/4 cup)
  • Brown sugar- 50g (1/4 cup)
  • Lemon juice: 1 Tsp
  • Cinnamon powder- 1/4 tsp (optional)

Ingredients for shortbread dough

  • Butter- 100g
  • Sugar – 45g
  • Parmesan cheese- 10g
  • Milk powder- 10g
  • Egg yolk – 1
  • Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Flour- 130g

Recipe instructions

Make the jam filling by crushing the pineapples in a food processor and cooking over medium heat until the water begins evaporating. Add lemon juice, cinnamon powder if using and brown and white sugar and cook until the jam is thickened.

Chill until further use.

Mix together the flour, parmesan cheese, baking powder and milk powder in a bowl and set aside.

Make the pastry by mixing butter and sugar using a processor or wooden spoon. The butter shouldn’t be cold. Add the egg yolk to the mix and evenly combine before adding the flour mixture. Mix them but do not knead and form a shortcrust pastry until the mixture begins to clump.

Lightly form into a log shape and cut into even pieces.

Roll each piece into a 1.5-2 inch circle and fill the middle of each with 1-2 tsp of the now chilled pineapple jam.

Form into a smooth ball by squeezing together the opposite ends and smoothening the seams.

Press into moulds or muffin tray putting gentle pressure to flatten each cake.

bake at 170ºc for 10 minutes and flip over the cakes to bake on the other side for another 10-15 minutes until evenly browned.

Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Can be eaten fridge cold or warm.

Enjoy!