Saturday, February 16, 2008

Advance Preparation

A request for a recipe for haslet. This I have found, and it is very simple to make. I suggest halving quantities as it is better to make smaller amounts when trying something new for the first time. This means you may need to reduce the cooking time. It may freeze, it may not. Try freezing a slice for a couple of days and if it thaws out well, then interleave some slices and freeze, but eat within a month.
Hampshire Haslet:
2 lb (1kg) lean pork, coarsley minced
9oz (250g) stale white bread
milk or water
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped sage
salt and pepper to taste
Break up the bread and soak it in milk or water, then squeeze out the liquid. Put the bread in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Run the lot through a mincer (or give a few quick pulses in a food processer). Form the mixture into oblongs and pack them side by side across a large greased loaf tin and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for an hour and a half. Serve cold.

This next recipe is for a vegetarian biryani, which - in the original version - requires ten different spices. This is where I ignore that part and improvise by using a curry paste, sauce or even powder. If we ate Indian every day then it makes sense to make it the correct way. But as only occasional curry eaters, collecting a variety of spices mean many would have lost their flavour in a few months and then hardly worth using at all. I don't do throw-away, so the ready-made for once makes more sense. However, for the puritanical, at the end of the recipe I give the list of spices which would normally be added to the dish after the onions have been cooked and before the tomatoes were added.
Tip: scatter old curry powder around places where cats appear and scrape up your garden- this drives them away.

Vegetarian Biryani: serves 4 (V)
1 lb (450g) basmati rice
4 fl.oz (125ml) sunflower oil
2 large onions, sliced thinly
2 tsp grated ginger
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
8 oz (225g) chopped tomatoes
pinch salt
1 - 2 tblsp curry paste (medium strength)
8 oz (225g) Greek yogurt
8 oz (226g) potatoes, peeled and diced
6 oz (175g) frozen peas (thawed)
6 oz (175g) carrots, diced
4 fl.oz (125ml) water
4 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
Wash the rice thoroughly under running water, then place in a bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for a couple of hours. Drain, then cook in salted, boiling water until al dente (not quite cooked). Drain and put to one side.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions until golden, stir in the garlic and ginger and fry for a further minute, then stir in the curry paste and mix well. Add the tomatoes, salt and yogurt. Simmer for about 10 minutes, by which time the oil will have separated out. When this happens, add the potatoes and carrots
together with the water and cook until they are just tender, then stir in the peas and cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat.
Taking a large saucepan, spread one third of the cooked rice on the bottom. Put half the cooked vegetables on top adding a sprinkling of chopped coriander, place another third of rice on these, finishing with the final layer of vegetables, more coriander and rice on the top.
Wring out a clean kitchen tea towel and lay this over the top of the pan, then fit the lid tightly over the cloth and put the pan on a very low heat*. Cook on for 30 minutes.
Using a large spoon, carefully fold the rice into the vegetables and turn out onto a warmed dish. Ganish with the remaining coriander.
*Tip: if finding it difficult to keep the heat low (sometimes gas on a low flame can blow out), then stand the pan in a large frying pan which will act as a heat diffuser.
Note: the biryani can be layered in an ovenproof casserole, covered tightly with foil, then a lid, and cooked on for 45 minutes in a low oven 150C, 300F, gas 2.
Variation: cooked minced beef (as aforementioned) could be added to the vegetables, to reheat as they cook, then continue with the recipe.

Suggested spices which can be used instead of the curry paste in the above recipe. Add as-is to the pan after the onions are fried:
1 tsp each chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander, cumin seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, cardamon seeds. 4 star anise, 2 bay leaves, and 2 cinnamon sticks.

Indian sweet ,simply made, simply delicious, and one way to use up bananas that might otherwise become over-ripe. Translated, the name is Banana Fudge, and a snack said to give instant energy. Not for anyone on a diet, but one piece now and again won't hurt. Will it?
Kele Ka Halwa: serves 4
5 fl.oz ( 150ml) ghee or clarified butter
20 oz (600g) bananas, peeled and chopped
8 oz (225g) sugar
half a tsp freshly grated nutmeg
half a tsp cardamon powder
Heat 2 tblsp of the butter in a pan and add the bananas and the sugar. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time to avoid sticking to the pan. Drizzle in the remaining butter, a little at a time, until all the moisture has evaporated. The mixture should become stick and brown. Stir in the spices and keep stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Overcooking will make it too hard.
Turn the halwa into a small, shallow, greased baking tin, press down and level the surface. Leave to cool, then cut into cubes or slices.

Firni (creamed rice): serves 4
3 oz (75g) rice flour
1 pint (450ml) milk
4 oz (100g) sugar
2 tsp rose water
2 tsp flaked almonds
Mix the rice flour with a quarter of the milk. Heat the rest of the milk, stirring in the sugar. When it reaches boiling point, pour into the slaked rice flour (as you do when making custard), then return it all to the pan and keep stirring until it has turned very thick. Remove and cool at room temperature (place a fitted circle of dampened greaseproof over the rice to prevent a skin forming). Stir in the rose water, then spoon into individual glasses, chill until ready to eat, then scatter over the almonds.