Autumn is well and truly here now, so it’s time to start preserving that seasonal abundance of fruit and vegetables. While looking around the net for something quick and easy to make, we came across some variations on the theme of plum chutney.
It’s amazing what you can learn when researching recipes – did you know, for instance, that in the Indian sub-continent aloo is the word for potato, as in that curry house fave aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower).
More surprisingly, it is also used for the humble plum – known as aloo bukhara, so called because the plum first appeared in the sub-continent via the fabled Central Asian city of Bukhara.
Ingredients (makes around 880g – 1kg of chutney
1kg ripe plums
250 g red onion
200g light brown sugar
300 ml apple vinegar
100 g raisins
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
One cinnamon stick
2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and diced
Glass jars for storage
Wash and cut the plums in half, remove the stones then half again and half again so you have eight pieces of plum. Finely chop the onion and then mix all the ingredients together except for the sugar in a large stainless steel saucepan.
Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, and when it’s bubbling add the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves and then reduce the heat to low and keep it simmering for two hours or so, stirring every now and then so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
The mixture should thicken and turn a deep ruby red colour, as in the picture above. Allow the mix to cool a bit and then pour it into sterilised glass jars – wash them and leave in the oven at 50 c for 30 minutes. Put a lid on tightly and store the chutney for at least two weeks in a cool, dark place before eating.
Knidos Cookery Club is just back from a foodie fact-finding mission to uncover some new recipes along the Silk Roads. While on the expedition, we inadvertently fell foul of Kazakhstan’s strict zero tolerance laws while munching on a local delicacy, sunflower seeds.
It turns out that eating this tasty little snack in public is an offence, classified as “petty hooliganism”, and punishable by watching a video of Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev railing against this social evil and the payment of a fine (4 x the Monthly Calculation Index (MCI) that is used to calculate benefits and fines – approx £25).
After this contribution was made to the Shymkent Police Nauryz party fund, the situation was resolved amicably and we were all able to go on our merry way, suitably chastised!
The road trip also took in a visit to Uzbekistan, which has inspired KCC to attempt Mastava a traditional Uzbek rice and chunky vegetable soup – it’s usually prepared with lamb or beef but we’ve used lentils and red beans instead of meat to add the protein in our version.
Mastava uses whatever seasonal vegetables are to hand – we had carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin and some red peppers for our version. We’ve liberally spiced it with cumin, coriander seeds, red chilli flakes and black pepper as well as some fresh coriander to garnish the soup.
Ingredients (makes around 4 – 6 servings)
150 g green lentils or similar
250 g red beans
150 g pumpkin
150 g rice
200 g cherry tomatoes
Four small potatoes
One large carrot
One red pepper
Six spring onions
30 ml olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 litre vegetable stock
One teaspoon cumin seeds
One teaspoon coriander seeds
One teaspoon black pepper
One teaspoon red chilli flakes
One bunch fresh coriander
Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and add the crushed black pepper, cumin and coriander seeds and chopped spring onions. fry for five minutes over a medium heat and then add chunks of carrots, tomatoes and red pepper. Cook for 10 minutes and then add the vegetable stock, red chilli flakes, potatoes and rice and bring to a boil.
Simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, and then add the cooked green lentils and red beans and chunks of pumpkin. Keep simmering until the rice is cooked, stirring occasionally. Serve in bowls and garnish with fresh coriander.
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.
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 pkhali – click here for our feature on this classic Georgian dish from last year.
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
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 pkhaliin 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.
Knidos Cookery Club is just back from a flying visit to Uzbekistan where we met up with dilettante chef Mr Alan, who invited us round to sample his take on asparagus tips.
He’d tracked down some sizeable spears in Tashkent’s Alay, or Alaysky, bazaar and we added some first cold press Datça olive oil and some sun-dried tomatoes from the peninsula, which, with the addition of some toasted pine nuts and a smattering of grated pecorino cheese, made for quite a feast.
The asparagus tips, which are easy to bake and go well with potatoes, rice or pasta, were served up with a head of roasted cauliflower drizzled with truffle oil and roast new potatoes. Oh, and there was a duck and some fish for the carnivores, along with lashings of wine from Mr Alan’s cellar!
Ingredients (easily serves 6-8)
1 kg asparagus spears
200 g sun-dried tomatoes
50 ml olive oil
100 g pine nuts
50 g pecorino or similar hard cheese
One cauliflower, leaves removed
Mixed dried herbs such as thyme or oregano
Place a layer of sun-dried tomatoes on the bottom of a large baking dish. Arrange the spears over the top of the tomatoes, pour the olive oil on top, sprinkle some mixed herbs over the spears and grate the cheese over everything.
Bake in a hot, pre-heated oven at 200 c /gas mark 6 for twenty minutes or so until the spears are just beginning to char. Sprinkle the cauliflower with truffle oil and olive oil and cook for 30 minutes for so in the hot oven along with the asparagus tips. While the tips are baking, toast the pine nuts over a medium heat.
Serve the asparagus tips with the pine nuts alongside the cauliflower and potatoes and a bottle or two of your favourite wine.
To celebrate this spring equinox festival, we’ll be serving up kok samsa, deep-fried pies filled with a selection of spring greens.
Originating in Persia some 3,000 years ago, Nowruz, or New Day, is a celebration of the end of winter and the start of a new year on the date when day and night are equal in the Northern Hemisphere. This date usually falls on or around 21 March.
The holiday is still widely celebrated in Iran and Iraq, across Central Asia, Russia, Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, in eastern Turkey and in parts of Syria, India, Pakistan and China. Food plays an important role in these celebrations – in Iran the table is set with seven items, as explained in this article from Iran Wire:
A few weeks before Nowruz, Iranians begin setting up their haft sin, or “seven Ss,” a ceremonial display of symbolic items whose names begin with the Persian letter “sin” or “s.” They include “sabzeh,” or green sprouts grown from lentils, which symbolize rebirth; “samanu,” a sweet pudding that represents affluence, “senjed,” or dried wild olives, which symbolize love; “seer,” or garlic, which symbolizes medicine; “seeb,” an apple, which represents health; “somaq” or sumac fruit, which symbolizes the color of sunrise, and “serkeh,” or vinegar, which symbolises maturity.
We’ve developed our own take on the kok samsa using the Iranian magic number of seven ingredients: parsley, spinach, coriander, celeriac leaves, spring onion, garlic and mint. As fully signed-up members of Dillwatch, we omitted that scurrilous weed, dill, from this recipe.
Ingredients (makes 8-10 pies)
For the Pastry
300 g plain flour
75 ml olive oil
Pinch of salt
Up to 75 ml cold water
Two – three teaspoons of sesame seeds
2. For the Filling
150 g spring onions
2 garlic cloves
50 g fresh coriander
50 g fresh parsley
150 g spinach
25 g the leafy bits from the top of a celeriac
15 g fresh mint
Two teaspoons of cumin seeds
25 ml olive oil
3. For Deep Frying
1 litre sunflower oil (for deep frying)
1.For the Pastry
Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt. Pour in the olive oil and stir with a fork. The mixture should form into small clumps of flour and oil. Pour some of the cold water and continue mixing. Continue adding water until the mixture forms into a large ball shape. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
2. For the Filling
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and add the chopped spring onions and minced garlic. Fry for five minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the coriander and parsley and cumin and fry for tw0 to three minutes. Add the torn up spinach leaves, chopped celeriac leaves and mint and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted, about 10 more minutes or so, stirring every now and then.
3. For Deep Frying
Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based pan. For deep frying you need to get the oil to between 350 and 360 c – to check the temperature use this tip from Delishably:
When the oil has preheated, dip the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick into the oil. If the oil starts steadily bubbling, then the oil is hot enough for frying. If the oil bubbles very very vigorously, then the oil is too hot and needs to cool off a touch. If no or very few bubbles pop up, then it’s not hot enough.
While the oil is heating, prepare the pies. Form the pastry into 8-10 walnut-sized balls. Put the pastry ball onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 1 mm thick circle. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and turn the circle over.
Place three teaspoons of filling on half of the pastry round and then close the other half over the top of the filling. Use a fork to mould the edges of the pie together. Prick the pie’s top to allow air to escape.
Place two or three pies at a time in the hot oil and fry for around 8 minutes or until the pie is golden brown in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll. Serve the kok samsa either hot or cold.