Monthly Mystery Munchies: Lamb Saag and Aloo Curry

It’s the third installment of Monthly Mystery Munchies with myself and Ann at Grubbs n Critters. This month I chose lemons/limes, thyme and coriander as our ingredients. I really enjoyed playing around with these ingredients and pairing them with others. The recipe that won is lamb, saag (spinach) and aloo (potato) curry. I never say ‘no’ to curry and lamb is the ideal meat for this. Naturally I added potatoes because in my mind, curry without potatoes is like… summer without blue skies, mojitos without mint (I just recoiled), Bono without his sunglasses – unexpected, disappointing and unnatural.

Ann made spiced chicken with saffron, thyme and lemon gravy. Okay, lemon gravy? I’m all in. Saffron? What a treat! Check it out, it’s droolicious. She added other interesting and complimentary ingredients and you can see this is a winner.

I too added a plethora of other ingredients – veggies, spices and herbs, and finally got the balance right. What one needs to keep in mind when using so many ingredients is that balance is key – especially with spices. They shouldn’t be overpowering because that can ruin the dish in one easy step. They should all work well together to create the ideal blend. From fragrant coriander (cilantro) to succulent lamb to the bite of the chillies, this comes together beautifully! This meal contains many superfoods and superspices (yep, that’s a thing), so not only is it delicious, tasty and fragrant but ridiculously healthy too! Here we go:

Lamb Saag and Aloo ingredients1kg lamb knuckles, cut into bite-sized chunks
Olive oil
4 leeks, chopped
2 green chillies, sliced (I always keep the seeds in)
4 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
1 inch piece ginger, grated
5 cardamom pods, crushed and chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
500g baby tomatoes, halved (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
250g spinach, chopped
1kg potatoes, halved
250g spinach, chopped
Vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish
Salt to taste

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 3 2In a large pan, heat up the olive oil and fry the lamb on medium low until browned. You might have to do this in batches. Fry for ± 5 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside.
Fry the leeks in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add chillies, garlic, ginger and cardamom and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, spinach, thyme and remaining spices and simmer for 5 minutes.

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 5 2Add the lamb and potatoes, pour in 250ml vegetable stock and bring to a boil with the lid on. Uncover and simmer for 1 hour, pouring in the lime juice during the last 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 7 2If you have the time, let the curry stand for a few hours. Garnish with coriander, however much you like (we like a lot!). Curry is always better when it stands for a while so this is the perfect dish to cook the day before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words Crush Wednesday – Nelson Mandela Love Wins Edition

This is huge. Huuuge. The United States of America has finally legalised same-sex marriage unilaterally. It’s been met with some opposition, but mainly celebration as all Americans are now able to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is probably the only time I’ll say this on my blog: for once, South Africa was way ahead of the States, legalising same-sex marriage back in 2006.

The thing is that America is a superpower and the world at large tends to significantly take notice of what they do. Being South African, it seems we have a higher tolerance for diversity, having so many vastly different and recognised religions, races, languages, you name it. I know what it’s like to be in a minority group. Here, in my beautiful country, I am part of one because of the colour of my skin. However, I can gladly say that I don’t know what it’s like to not be accepted just because this is how I was born. You see, it’s not your fault that you’re different and don’t fit into the neat mould of what’s commonly accepted as ‘normal’. No one wants to be different, to the extent where there are laws preventing them from fulfilling their basic human rights. It’s not the same as having multiple piercings and dying your hair every colour of the rainbow. Sure, that’s different in relation to the norm, but there are no laws against what colour your hair should be, how you dress, the music you listen to. Perhaps if this fits you, you’re considered quirky but certainly not abominable.

I can’t imagine someone telling me that my desire to commit to the person I love is wrong. That I can’t achieve that because, shudder, what will people think and the Bible says such and such about it. What exactly is the issue with same-sex marriage that freaks people out so badly? Here’s my confusion – if it’s immoral for two people in a relationship to live together in the carnal way because that’s living in sin, but they’re not allowed to get married because that’s also sinful, then what are they supposed to do? How exactly do they solve their dilemma? If it’s so wrong, so morally repugnant, and the reasoning is because in Leviticus verse whatever, it says so, then why isn’t divorce illegal? There is such hypocrisy about it. Whether it’s a dude marrying another dude, or two women, or two heterosexual people, live and let live.

I am deeply appreciative of the tolerance we South Africans have for people who are different to us. We can’t escape it, it’s all around us, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Tata Madiba was all about acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness. He was the living embodiment of what he preached. He led by example and actioned his words – no empty promises, no hot air because it sounded good. We would all do well to learn from a man who was punished and tortured for what he believed in, that he dared to take a stand against those persecuting him for the colour of his skin and because he wanted equal rights for all. That brings me to this week’s Words Crush Wednesday. One love, people, one love.

Gay Pride Flag 1

Photo credit of flag: Google Images/Huffingtonpost.com Words: Eat, Play, Clove

Baked Crumbed Potato Balls

Crumbed potato balls 5 2I love potatoes. Everyone does. Even if they’re on a health kick and say they prefer cauliflower mash (shudder). They’re lying or in denial. The Husband is obsessed with mashed potatoes. I, on the other hand, prefer them roasted. I get bored of plain ol’ mash. There’s nothing wrong with it but I enjoy variety. Enter this recipe. Because the potatoes aren’t enough (when are they ever not enough?) I added cheese, formed balls and crumbed. Clearly that still wasn’t good enough so I drizzled butter over them and baked. I was pressed for time and didn’t fancy the idea of standing in the kitchen frying them while my guests were at the dinner table so I baked them. Try this. It’s easy, creamy, crispy and cheesy.

For the mashed potatoes:
2kg potatoes, peeled and boiled
100g butter
⅓ cup milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

For the potato balls:
2kg mashed potatoes (see mash recipe below)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
75ml milk
100g corn flake crumbs
100g melted butter

Peel and boil the potatoes until soft, about 20 minutes in the microwave. Drain and mash. Add the butter and stir. Pour in the milk and sour cream, mix well and mash again. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Give it one last good stir. It’s easier to work with the mash if it’s cold, so refrigerate it for an hour.

Crumbed potato balls 1 2Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Once the mash has cooled, add the grated cheese and mix well, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Put two heaped tablespoons of mash in your hand and form into balls.

 

 

Crumbed potato balls 3 2Mix the eggs in a bowl and add the milk. Stir to combine. Put the bread crumbs in a separate dish. Dip the potato balls into the egg mixture on all sides and roll in the bread crumbs, covering the whole ball. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the mash.

 

 

Crumbed potato balls 4 2Put the balls into a large dish, heat the butter and drizzle over them. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and serve fresh and hot. No one likes cold balls.

Words Crush Wednesday – Captain Jack Sparrow Edition

Really? We’re quoting Jack Sparrow now? He of the many layers of guyliner, beaded hair, perpetual swaying and too-much-wine shlurring? It seems so.

We all have problems, every single one of us. Show me a person with no problems and I’ll show you my cellulite-free thighs. When it comes to problems, challenges, dilemmas, whatever you want to call them, there is a very clear dichotomy: those who focus on the solution and those who dwell on the problem. Yes, it’s easy, and, to a degree, normal, to get caught up in a problem, especially when it’s overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable. But then, after however much time you need to process it, you face it. You explore possible solutions and employ one. Even if it’s difficult, even if it’s something you’re scared of, uncomfortable with, or daunted by. There are too many people in this world, however, who obsess over the problem. They become enveloped by the magnitude of it, or, quite simply, enjoy the drama.

Let me be clear – everyone has different coping mechanisms, that is not what I’m referring to here. That you practice said skills is the point. Lately there have been too many people around me who thrive on the histrionics of the problem and have no desire whatsoever to solve it or even attempt to identify a solution. If you approach it as something that has a solution, not just something that’s a never-ending pit of despair and complication, you are halfway there already. I’m not in the habit of quoting pirates, funny that, but this is exceptionally valid and right on point which makes it this week’s Words Crush Wednesday:

Jack Sparrow

Baked Vanilla Cheesecake

This. This is everything. Cheesecake is my faaaaaavourite summer dessert. It’s winter right now, but the sun was shining so why not? Come hither old friend!

Everything about this recipe is addictive. The biscuit base is thick, crunchy and buttery. You’ll see I use extra biscuit – I like a thicker base. The cheesecake is creamy, velvety and smooth. I highly recommend using vanilla pods for this one, but you can use vanilla essence in its place. 2 teaspoons should do it.

Cheesecake ingredientsFor the biscuit base:
150g melted butter + more for greasing the cake tin
300g Marie biscuits (or digestive biscuits)
75g caster sugar
For the cheesecake:
460g plain cream cheese, room temperature
200g caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons corn flour
250ml sour cream, room temperature
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

Cheesecake 1 2Allow the cream cheese and sour cream to reach room temperature. Melt the butter in your microwave or on the stove. Break up the biscuits and blitz them in the food processor for 2 minutes until they resemble fine bread crumbs. Add the caster sugar and butter and blitz until well combined, about 30 seconds. Grease a 22cm springform cake tin with butter and pour the biscuit mixture into it. Level it with the back of a tablespoon until it’s smooth on top. Place the cake tin in the fridge for half an hour.

 

Cheesecake 3 2After 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F). Slice the vanilla pod in half, lengthways, and, holding the upturned end or ‘hook’ down, scrape out the vanilla seeds. Set aside. In your food processor, combine the cream cheese and caster sugar and process for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Pour in the sour cream, corn flour and vanilla seeds and process for about a minute. Pour the cheesecake batter into your springform cake tin and bake in the middle shelf of your oven for an hour.

 

Cheesecake 5 2Once it’s done, it will be golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. If it’s still too wet, bake for another 10 minutes. Once it’s done, leave the oven door slightly ajar and allow the cheesecake to cool down completely, about two hours, before transferring it to the fridge for a minimum of two hours but preferably overnight.

 

 

 

Cheesecake 6 2You can serve it with an array of toppings – ice cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, strawberry compote. It’s up to you and it’s fun to be able to play around! You can also serve it as is. It’s packed with so much flavour that nothing is missing! Serve at room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drunken Pulled Pork

No no, I wasn’t drunk! I did, however, get the food tipsy! I love the convenience factor of this recipe. That all you have to do is mix some stuff together (and, in my case, steal a beer from my husband), chop a few things and pour into a slow cooker is very appealing to me when I’m having a lazy day. It is tender, people, so very tender, and tasty too. You can add barbecue sauce to the pork once you’ve shredded it, that’s entirely up to you. I popped some bread rolls into the oven and crisped them, added the pork and mustard and served with potato wedges. It’s so easy! This is the perfect recipe to put on in the morning, go about your day and come home to a perfectly cooked piece of delicious pork, or put on before you go to bed and wake up to a kitchen that smells irresistible!

Drunken pulled pork ingredients2kg (4.5lbs) pork shoulder
350ml (±12oz) beer (preferably dark, such as Guinness or Castle Milk Stout)
1 x tin whole peeled tomatoes
2 teaspoons paprika
4 sliced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 chopped onion
3 chopped carrots

 

Drunken pulled pork 1 2Place the pork in your slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together, stirring well to ensure they’re well mixed. Pour over the pork and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.

 

 

 

 

Drunken pulled pork 2 2Carefully remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred. This is easy because it’s so tender and basically just falls apart. Scoop out the carrots from the slow cooker and discard. Put the shredded pork into a large bowl and mix some of the juices with it.

 

 

 

Drunken pulled pork 3 2Serve on toasted bread rolls with mustard (or barbecue sauce or whatever you prefer).

 

 

 

 

 

Words Crush Wednesday – Princess Diana Edition

I went to the store for a couple of items to make cupcakes. I ran in, grabbed the icing sugar and milk and went to the express till. In front of me was an elderly gentleman, smartly dressed but his clothes were old and tired, some seams were loose, there was a hole in his jersey, but still he’d tried. He was clearly shopping for one – one tomato, one onion, one apple, two bread rolls, half a litre of milk. My heart broke. He reminded me of my Gramps. No one should be alone at that age. He had a chocolate and a Coke, and when the till attendant rang up his items, his face dropped and he had to put the sweet stuff back. She deducted the items from his total and he just made it with barely a cent to spare. Off he went, walking slowly and carefully. It took less than 10 seconds to ring up my few items but all the while I was watching him navigate his way through the busy supermarket. It’s cold. It’s raining. I couldn’t resist. I added his items to mine and ran after him. At first he was confused when I called him and touched his arm. Then I gave him his chocolate and cooldrink. His eyes welled up. To me, it’s so insignificant, I walk into a grocery store, grab whatever I need and sometimes throw in some treats without giving it a second thought. I have enough money for it, I’ve never had to put any items back. It dawned on me that a lot of people aren’t in that position, especially in South Africa where poverty is an overwhelming crisis. So how could I not brighten his day? At first he resisted but then I explained that he had to accept them because I don’t eat raisins, which the chocolate contained, nor do I drink fizzy drinks. To me, it’s no biggie, but to him, it was a special moment. He thanked me profusely but the feeling I got seeing his face light up was quite possibly better, warmer, than his. One doesn’t have to buy someone something. It can be a smile, carrying someone’s heavy packets or simply acknowledging other people. After all, isn’t that what we all want? To be recognised, to be treated as important human beings? It takes such a small act to have a profound impact on another. That’s why I decided to use this week’s Words Crush Wednesday quote. Be kind to others, for the reward is often greater than the simple act carried out.

Photo credit: Women's Quotes for Success

Photo credit: Women’s Quotes for Success