Deadly Nyama Choma..

This memory ruminated back early this week after I met some of my long lost friends from my time working at the IRC in Kenya, two decades ago. A quickly arranged reunion at our new home in Nairobi turned out to be such a pleasant afternoon catching up with everyone. It was great to see the same old faces with a new look — more mature, yet holding the same expressions, nuances and  innocence of twenty years ago. We talked and chuckled about all the time we spent together as colleagues. One memory from 1998 that we all fondly recalled and could not stop laughing about was when I had suggested hosting a small house warming party at our new home in Nairobi. This was going to be the first get together with just my finance colleagues. Reacting to my proposal, Gabriel instantly came up with the idea that we should have a nyama choma evening — a traditional Kenyan barbeque. It seemed like a good idea to me to do something that would introduce me to the local culture.

I was new to Nairobi so I asked them where to get the meat for nyama choma, Gabriel readily offered to arrange for it. I was relieved that I just had to make some Indian food to compliment the main dish. It was agreed that the meat would be sent to my home and I would marinate it to be roasted in the evening.

On the day of the party, I was busy cleaning and getting the house ready when I saw somebody coming in through the gate. They were accompanied by a hopping, healthy, breathing and very much alive 3-foot-tall goat!

Seeing the live and kicking mammal, it did not occur to me even once that this could be the meat that Gabriel had promised to arrange. I was in a shock. I could not visualize this live goat lying in tiny pieces in the evening on the small outdoor griller we had. I called him and shared my sentiments as best as I could without sounding too distressed or tousled. I asked how he could possibly help in the situation and what to expect next. To my respite he offered to arrange for the meat to be made available in the form that we are used to see it. Soon enough there was somebody who took the live goat behind the house and came back with a torso of the goat without the head. It was again a sight that I had not expected. So I asked for it to be cut into a size and form that could be roasted. It took a couple of hours and the sacrifice of two chopping knives to get the meat to be ready. I once again cringed when I saw the quantity of meat we had on hand, considering that we would have a maximum of ten people that night for the get together. I recall mentioning to Manoj that we needed at least 50 people to tackle this much meat. Nevertheless, we had a great evening and all of the meat was polished off.

We not only created some treasured memories, we got acquainted to the local custom of nyama choma in the best of company we could have had.

Homemade gluten free Dhokla

SERVES: 4

GLUTEN FREE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Quick to make, great to store, steam in a pressure cooker, pan or in microwave. 

Dhokla is chickpea flour steamed savoury cake. It is one of the most healthy snacks to have at a time when you carve for something savoury but do not want to have some off the shelf thing that usually has pastry flour or shortening in abundance.IMG_2844

Dhokla is readily available in local India market and indian sweet shops in North America. However, it may not be completely gluten free as semolina is a common ingredient for Dhokla. This recipe however is gluten free. I have been making Dhokla using readymade mix for sometime but now, in my zeal to avoid all preservatives and emulsifiers, I have tried this recipe many times and now have got it perfect. The dhokla comes out really soft and spongy. I have been making it more in the microwave than the conventional steaming in a pan or cooker.

INGREDIENTS:

For Dhokla
1 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup olive oil or cooking oil
1 teaspoon yogurt
½ cup water
1 teaspoon fruit salt or ( mix of 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
2 inch frozen or 25 grams fresh grated ginger

For Dhokla Garnish
1 teaspoon oil
½ tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
2 hot green chillies cut in thin long slices
½ cup water

STEPS:
STEP 1
. Mix all ingredients except fruit salt (baking soda/baking powder) making sure there are no lumps.  The mixture should not be too runny, it should be something like that for crepes or pancakes. Add more water if needed.
STEP 2. Let it rest for 5 minutes while you prepare the steamer with enough water and grease the dhokla container with oil.
STEP 3. Mix fruit salt into the mixture, you will see it rising as you mix it, stir for a minute and pour it into steaming dish. Steam it for 4-5 minutes in microwave or 15-20 minutes on stove steamer or pressure cooker without whistle.
STEP 4. Remove from steamer and let it cool down for 10-15 minutes before removing from the container.

STEPS for Dhokla Garnish: 
STEP 1
. Put oil in a very small pan and add mustard seeds to it.
STEP 2. As they start to splutter (will be in few seconds) add green chillies, water and sugar slowly and carefully. Let it boil for 2 minutes.
STEP 3. Cut Dhokla into even sized square pieces.
STEP 4. Pour mixture evenly on prepared dhokla.

HANDY TIPS:
1. For microwave steaming, if you do not have a dhokla stand ( that has a water tray, a flat container and a cover), just use any container/tray to fill water, keep a small bowl upside down in the water tray to raise the level at which dhokla mix container will be put. Cover the tray and container with microwave lid so that steam remain between the tray and dhokla container.
2. Put some fresh coriander or parsley leaves to garnish before serving.

Tandoori Naan in Toaster

thumb_img_3032_1024 SERVES: 3-4

Quick Light Fresh Baked Bread

COOKING TIME: 5-7 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 
400 grams all purpose flour
400 ml plain yogurt
5-10 drops of oil

STEPS:
thumb_img_3033_1024STEP 1.  Add yogurt to the flour, make dough soft enough that is not sticking to your hands. Take oil on your hand and roll the dough with greased palm to finish. Wrap the dough in wet cloth napkin (water squeezed). Rest the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling into naan.
STEP 2.  Make balls of dough for the size and thickness that you want the naan to be. Roll the balls with pastry roller to make naan.
STEP 3.  Place rolled naan on to heated non-stick pan, turn it around when you see brown dots on one side.
thumb_img_3031_1024Step 4.  Once both sides of the roti have been on the heated pan once, move the naan into the toaster on high setting. Fluffed and crisp tandoori naan will pop out of the toaster.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Keep rolling the dough balls into naan while one is cooking on the pan so that next one is ready as soon as you move the first one into the toaster.
2. Usually a tennis ball size of roll would make a 6-8 inch diameter naan.
3. Due to elasticity of all purpose flour the dough may not be able to be rolled in round shaped naan, they usually come out oblong shaped. This shape fits well into toaster slots.
4. Depending on the size of the slot of your toaster you may want to cut the naan in half before sliding it into the toaster so that all of it bakes well.

 

Tandoori Roti in Toaster

SERVES: 3-4

Quick Light Fresh Baked Bread

COOKING TIME: 5-7 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 
400 grams whole wheat flour
200 ml water
5-10 drops of oil

STEPS:
STEP 1.  Add water to the flour, make dough soft enough that is not sticking to your hands. Take oil on your hand and roll the dough with greased palm to finish. Rest the dough for at least 15-20 minutes before making roti.
STEP 2.  Make balls of dough for the size and thickness that you want the roti to be. Roll the balls to make roti.
STEP 3.  Place rolled roti on to heated non-stick pan, turn it around when you see brown dots on one side.
Step 4.  Once both sides of the roti have been on the heated pan once, move the roti into the toaster on high setting. Fluffed and crisp tandoori roti will pop out of the toaster.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Add water cautiously to the flour not to make dough too soft. Dough should be hard enough to easily roll the ball with a rolling pin. You can add more dry flour to the dough or give the balls a pat of dry flour on either side before and during rolling it.
2.Keep rolling the dough balls into Roti while one is cooking on the pan so that next one is ready as soon as you move the first one into the toaster.
3.Depending on the size of the the slot of your toaster you may want to cut the roti in half before sliding it into the toaster so that all of it bakes well.

Save Time for the Next Time-एक सलाह वक़्त बचाने वाली


Here is a tip to get the quick cooking going and to save time on the days you are really pressed for it and yet want to make something nice and elaborate. Most sumptuous indian curries and dishes require sautéed onion and this is what takes time. So, be smart and keep some chopped sautéed onions in your refrigerator. The day you are making a recipe with onions, plan on peeling and chopping some extra onions to save them for the next time. You can also do this on a weekend or at a time when you are anyway in the kitchen cooking something else and have your hands free in between to peel the onions and drop them in a chopper. Sauté all onions together for your current recipe as well as for the next one. Save sautéed onion in small freezer bags/containers for the next time for quick use. This has been a trick that has saved me time on many occasions. For some my upcoming recipes I will be using ready sautéed onions from my fridge. It’s all about saving time, the most precious thing..efficient use of time in the kitchen this time around will save some time for the next time you are in the kitchen.

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