Chiving around with Jusai

17 May 2018

This time round on Knidos Cookery Club, we’ll be cooking with jusai, one of the few leafy greens to make it past the strict controls of Kazakhstan’s carnivore police.

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Jusai in bloom

The fare in Kazakhstan is a salad-dodger’s delight – it’s very meat heavy with potatoes or carrots only occasionally making an appearance – Kazakhs like to joke that they are second only to wolves in their meat consumption, so jusai is a welcome addition to this diet.

Jusai’s official name is allium tuberosum, and it’s a member of the onion family – you might know it as Chinese chives or garlic chives in English. Jusai originated in China but it’s now grown all over Kazakhstan. It imparts a mild garlic flavour to dishes and is used as a filling for pasties and dumplings in Kazakh kitchens.

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Brown rice pilau with jusai, lemon and walnuts

We decided to cook it up in some cider with some brown rice, onion, lemon and walnuts to make a pilau, or a loose take on risotto. It pairs well with some oven-baked seasonal vegetables or a seasonal salad.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

300 g brown rice

50 ml olive oil

one medium-sized onion

one lemon

100 g toasted walnuts

200 g garlic chives

250 ml dry cider

750 ml vegetable stock

one teaspoon mustard seeds

one teaspoon cumin seeds

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the mustard seeds – when the seeds start to pop, put the finely diced onion in and fry for five minutes over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir well and then add the rice, stirring for a minute to coat the grains with oil.

Reduce the heat and pour in the cider, stirring occasionally as the mix simmers so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan. When the liquid is absorbed, add 250 ml stock and continue to simmer and stir every now and then. Add more stock when this is absorbed and keep going until the rice is almost cooked.  Add more stock if needed – the rice should be al-dente.

Remove for the heat and mix in the finely chopped garlic chives (leave some to garnish the pilau), the lemon zest, toasted, chopped walnuts and the lemon juice and mix well. Cover the pan and leave to stand for five minutes.

Serve with oven-roasted vegetables or a leafy green salad and garnish with the remaining garlic chives.

 

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Unravelling Ravioli on the Path to Pkhali Pierogi

1 March 2018

This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’ll be unravelling ravioli, one of the many forms of filled pasta pockets found around the world – from Turkey’s manti, Uzbekistan’s chuchvara and Kazakhstan’s tushpara to Russia’s pelmeni, Ukraine’s varenyky and Poland’s pierogi – the list is endless.

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KCC’s beetroot-filled pkhali pierogi

These pasta pockets, which are boiled rather than steamed, can come in a variety of shapes and sizes with a wide range of fillings such as pumpkin, potato, spinach and ricotta cheese, or different types of fruit.

We’ve opted for a semi-circular shaped pierogi which we’ve filled with beetroot and walnut pkhaliclick here for our feature on this classic Georgian dish from last year.

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Three steps to a perfect pierogi!

Ingredients (Makes 16-24 depending on how big you make the pierogi)

For the pasta:

200 g flour

3 teaspoons olive oil

100 ml water

pinch of salt

Method

Make the pasta by sifting the flour into a large mixing bowl and then add the oil, a pinch of salt and half of the water in a well in the middle of the flour. Mix inwards from the outside with a wooden spoon and then add the rest of the water until the dough has absorbed all the flour.

Knead for ten minutes or so and then leave the pasta dough to rest in the fridge for at least one hour. After resting, roll the pasta out onto a lightly-floured surface to a thickness between 0.5 and 1.0 mm.

Use a glass to cut out round shapes from the dough, add a teaspoon of cooled beetroot pkhali in the bottom half of the circle and moisten the inside edge around the filling with a little water and then fold the top over. Use a fork to seal the pasta pocket.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then add the pierogi to the water and keep boiling over a low heat until the pierogi float to the surface. Remove the pierogi with a slotted spoon and serve hot – they’re good served with sour cream or melted butter or just plain.

Steampunk Dumpling

28 July 2016

This week in Knidos Cookery Club we’re cooking with steam. A few years back the Knidos Cookery Club kitchen inherited a dumpling steamer which has remained unused as expertise from the East was awaited.

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This week, two guest chefs have landed in the Knidos kitchen to provide a masterclass in steam dumplingology. The dumpling has taken many forms in its journey westwards for China, but the basic combo of filled dough and boiling water has remained constant.

In Central Asia, manti are steamed in a special pan, as in China. In Russia,Ukraine and Georgia, pelmeni, vareniki and khinkali are cooked in boiling water, like their Italian cousin ravioli and Turkey’s scaled-down take on manti.

Sticking with our vegetarian vibe, our guest chefs prepared some veggie-friendly versions of this usually meat-heavy treat. The version they cooked up was a large rolled dumpling known as orama in Uzbek and Kazakh (orama means ‘roll’).

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The first step was to make the dough and, while this was resting, the veggies were chopped up. The filling is cooked by steam so there’s no need to pre-cook the veggies. for the meaty version, use chopped mince (meat according to your taste and desire), sliced onions and grated potato as a filling.

Ingredients (for around 10 orama)

For the dough:

500 g flour (we used wholemeal for a thicker dough)

200 ml water

One egg

25 ml olive oil

For the filling:

Two medium-sized potatoes grated

Two medium-sized carrots grated

One onion finely sliced

One medium-sized aubergine cubed

100 g mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, basil, dill)

100 g spinach or rocket

Pinches of salt and pepper for seasoning

Method 

For the dough: Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack the egg in. Slowly add the water and mix thoroughly. knead the dough until it goes spongy. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes or so.

For the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Ready to roll: Now take a golf-ball sized lump of dough and roll it out on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Keep on rolling it as thin as you can (until it starts to break up). Brush the inside with olive oil, pile filling on top and roll into a crescent shape. Place on the steamer tray, which has been greased with olive oil to prevent the dumplings from sticking.

Ready to steam: Fill the bottom of the dumpling steamer around one-third full with water and bring to the boil. Place the steamer trays on top of each other, put the lid on and steam over a low to medium heat, maintaining a rolling boil, for 45 minutes or so.