Thursday, March 24, 2016

Date and Tamarind Chutney

If your like me an really have no clue what a chutney is - let me help you out (if you smarter than me and can figure it out - skip this paragraph) A chutney is either a pickled presentation of fruits and seasonings or a minced presentation. Not very helpful? I didn't think so.  Basically Chutney's can be a variety of different things and are served as side or accompaniment to a dish (my best way of describing it would be to tell you to think of Relish). 

I've often seen Mango or Mint chutney's at the grocery store or Indian restaruants but never really understood what their point or purpose was.  Basically - like any condiment - it can add texture and flavour to a dish or in the case of yogurt based chutneys calm the heat of a dish (that's a huge plus for me!).

I've always wondered about Tamarind - I've seen it used and heard of it but never really could figure out what it was. Frankly one day I saw Tamarind paste in the produce section of the store next to a box of Tamarinds and figure - what the heck I would try it out. So Tamarind is a pod-like fruit - you eat the pulp of the fruit. Young Tamarind is very sour but is sometimes used in savoury dishes or as a pickling agent. As the fruit ripens it becomes sweeter and less sour (acidic). I never knew this until researching Tamarind and I do have to verify on my bottle at home - but apparently it is found in Worcestershire Sauce <- that's crazy something that we use all  the time - but who knew? Now you do!

The Chutney was amazingly easy to make and next time frankly I should make a double batch as it disappeared SO quickly.   This will keep in a clean container in the fridge for a week or can be frozen for a couple of months.  I used one of my sterilized jam jars.

Date and Tamarind Chutney
4 ounces dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
a pinch of child powder.
2/3 cup cold water

  1. Throw the dates into a blender (or Vitamix) with 2/3 cup cold water, tamarind paste, salt, cumin and chili powder, and blend to the consistency of half &half. 
  2. All dates vary in sweetness.  The end result should be balanced between sweet and sour - if too sour add some sugar little by little. When right spoon into a clean jar. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Naan Bread

My first attempt at Naan
Ok - bread - another one of my guilty pleasures (I have a few if you can't tell).  I've never been sure of Naan bread - exactly what it is.  But if you haven't had it before it is a relatively soft bread that is flat.  Surprisingly I didn't think Naan would have yeast in it because of the flat nature of the bread.

The recipe was rather straight forward to make and easy - the trick was not guessing myself on the consistency that the dough would have when I started working with it out of the bowl. I would normally start my bread dough in my Kitchen Aid Mixer - however this one I used a fork and fingers to work with it to start.  I likely would oil my hands a little next before starting to make the dough as it was a lot more sticky than bread dough when I started to work with it.

I was again very thankful this night to have the help of my wonderful bestie - Serina.  Given the time of day that we were making food I need help just to fry the bread (I ended up cleaning the kitchen first before cooking - including cleaning out the fridge while we try to come up with a plan of attack for the evening meal.) In any event we kept the naan plain for this adventure. However, my next challenge will be to be stuff the naan bread with cheese and maybe so some with garlic and basil butter *yum*.
Naan Bread
Makes 12 Naan
4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
Canola oil
4 tbsp whole-milk yogurt
1 package dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole milk, hand hot.
  1. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add 2 tablespoons of oil, the yogurt, yeast, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix through with your fingers until the ingredients resemble breadcrumbs, then add the warm milk, little by little, and mix again until it comes together into a dough.
  2. Put the dough on a clean and well-floured surface. The dough will very sticky at first, soft but robust, knead for around 5 minutes. Rub 1 tsp of oil all over the ball of dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a bowl in which it can double in size. Cover it using a tea towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for at least an hour.
  4. When the dough has doubled in size, divide into 12 pieces. Take one piece, roll it into a ball, and flatten between your palms. Coat it fresh flour and roll it out to around 5 x 8 inches. 
  5. Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat, and when it's hot, place the naan in it. When the naan starts to bubble - after 20 - 30 seconds - flip it over, using a spatula and cook the other side for the same amount of time, checking regularly to ensure it doesn't learn. Flip over again and quickly press it gently all over with a spatula for 010-15 seconds. Turn the naan over again for another 10 to 15 seconds, check that there are no uncooked doughy bits, then take off the stove.
  6. Keep any cooked naan warm by stacking them onto of each other on a plate or wrapping them in foil, then repeat with the rest of the dough.