Tag Archives: garlic

“Come to the fiesta!” chana masala

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I’m hosting a party!

This little blog has seen many parties – real and imagined – pass through its virtual doors. I’ve occasionally talked about dinner parties at Casa Gander. I’ve planned a middle eastern tent feast with Laura of Laura’s Mess (and she has done it, wow!). I’ve even gatecrashed a Sicilian cocktail party with Liz of Food for Fun.

This time, I’m co-hosting Fiesta Friday at Angie’s place (of the Novice Gardener) with Sir Johnny (of Kitschnflavours and Flours n Dainty Buns).

If you haven’t met Angie yet, you should – she is fun, witty, her blog is full of creative food ideas, she gardens and forages and makes the prettiest things from the foraged bounty. And Sir Johnny? – I can’t wait to see what he will wear, having come to previous Fiestas in fisherman’s waders, a black PVC ensemble, that magenta onsie with a white zip, and – it was rumoured – a chamois.

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As for this week’s Fiesta, get ready for madcap party tricks when you least expect – Sir Johnny and I are both in crazy time zones compared to State-side friends, so when you are blinking at the rising sun, we’ll be just getting the disco lights and cocktails started.

Fiesta Friday celebrates that best of weekdays with the funnest of parties. Please, please, come and join the party! Visit the Fiesta-goers’ posts, even better link up your own post! We may be rowdy, but we are a friendly bunch and always looking out for more people to share the fun. It’s a great way to get more people visiting your blog, and I’ve met some talented bloggers along the way. Have I convinced you yet? (actually, can you tell I’m not a salesperson??)

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And onto the food! This week, I’m bringing to Fiesta Friday a bowl of chana masala (or chole masala), a chickpea dish that is found in Indian and Pakistan cuisine. According to Sir Google, a popular version of chana masala comes from Punjabi cuisine, and has a distinctive sour and tangy flavour. There are also south Indian versions such as one from Kerala, and a version with black chickpeas.

I made the Punjabi chana masala, which has been popularised by Madhur Jaffrey (including via Smitten Kitchen). This was one of the most flavoursome and fragrant dishes I’ve ever made, and it looks like you’ve slaved over a stove for positively hours – when in fact it’s quick enough for a weeknight meal. Low fuss & high impact = win win.

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Vampire-proof French garlic soup

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If everyone ate more garlic, the world would be a happier place
Ruth Reichl, Comfort Me With Apples

 

I’ve sometimes wondered why people thought garlic helps to ward off vampires. Is it the “righteous” pungency; the undeniable whiff of, um, holiness? Hopes that vampire virus will be killed by garlic’s antioxidants, a belief that no one can chew on a mouthful of raw garlic and survive? Or, is it due to ‘Vampire disease’ or porphyria, the result of in-breeding among the European nobility – is Count Dracula just a misunderstood, new-age (light and garlic-) sensitive guy?

Whatever the reason, I was intrigued by a soup that was described as “[t]his one will keep your house safe from vampires for a year at least.”

This French garlic soup has venerable but mysterious origins. Francois Xavier of fxcuisine found this recipe in Larousse de la cuisine des familles (alas, I couldn’t find that book anywhere, even online), “presented as a family recipe from a Provence mama.” The soup is made with a garlicky olive oil roux, which is mixed with the roasted garlic, cooked to a smooth consistency and slight nuttiness, then thinned with water or stock and simmered to fragrant soupy-ness. There is very little else besides perfectly roasted, semi confited garlic bulbs (which I also blogged about last weekend) and a handful of herbs. Even the pasta to bulk up the soup is, I think, kind of optional.

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This is not a Parisian glamourpuss. Light brown in colour, slightly lumpy in a stew-soupy way, it was a lesson in how brown food is not a food blogger’s photography dream.

But, one taste and I was hooked. Potage de creamy, complex and comforting garlic? Yes please!

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Comfort: roasted caramelised whole garlic and slow ribs

The world has felt out of kilter this week.

The flood of images from Boston; strange encounters at work and after work; a sudden drop in temperature catapulting us from late summer into early winter.

And this morning, one of those torrential, tropical downpours that reminds Sydney siders life is not all about sunburn and beaches. None of those polite drizzles, this was rain with fat, heavy raindrops far heavier than any water saving showerhead can produce. The kind of rain that floods footpaths and cafes, gets under your umbrella and splashes up to knee height, and has us talking about carpentry skills for building Noah’s Ark.

It didn’t feel like a baking day, as I had planned. It was a day for a hot toddy, lemon ginger apple juice, or mulled wine, or congee or chicken soup. Something that says comfort blanket. A day for warm fireplaces, long slow braises, and slooooow roasted ribs and whole garlic.

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The roasted garlic is simple to make, but yields such complex flavours. Whole heads of garlic are cut in half horizontally, then placed, cut face down, in a puddle of olive oil and baked for almost an hour and a half. After an hour, a gorgeous, warm smell, laced with caramel sweetness and with none of that raw garlic bite, fills the kitchen. The garlic bulbs shrink as they caramelise, so the outer layers of the garlic either lift off, or holds the garlic bulbs so loosely they are easily dug out with a small fork.

The garlic bulbs can be spread on toasted crusty bread, added to a dish of roasted sliced potato, or made into a thick garlic soup (soup coming soon), or mashed into almost anything, really.

The slow roasted oven ribs are also lovely, fall-apart-with-thick-sauce lovely. This (I think southern) recipe seemed so simple yet produces such beautiful looking results, it was only a matter of time before I gave it a go. Ribs are coated in a dry rub, wrapped in foil (I use two layers to be sure), and roasted on a slow oven for up to 4 hours, or an extremely slow oven for about 6 hours. The dry rub becomes a barbecue sauce of sorts. The meat can be further browned under the grill (broiler), but I find I prefer it without.

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