Tuesday 23 March 2010

Mutton Couscous (Couscous à l' agneau à ma façon)

Though it is well known internationally, Couscous is the essence of the culinary art of Morocco and North African countries, which is a delicious and balanced fragrant stew made with lamb, vegetables, spices and herbs.

This is a wonderful family meal that I simply enjoy doing regularly as it is a perfect one pot meal, richly balanced and makes a perfect nourishing meal for all.
Now, there is only one traditional method to cook the grains of the authentic couscous and it usually consists of a steamer basket in which the couscous is placed & the basket is placed above a container in which the stew is cooked and steamed for several hours until the wheat obtains a fluffy perfect consistency. I have seen one of my friends do it and of course I would very much love to do it in a traditional way but I haven’t done here :(

I know that the couscous sold in supermarkets has absolutely nothing to do with the handmade couscous made from durum wheat but since I don’t have the traditional couscous steamer at home, I simply stuck to the simple non-authentic way for this time!!! (Excuses to all my readers for that, I know, I know, I hear you screaming out there!!!!)

Nevertheless the stew is made in different methods and one of our preferred one is this hearty broth (a recipe borrowed from my sis E who masters this dish better than me) that we fell in love with from the very first time we tasted it. Hope you’ll enjoy it too!!!

Ingredients (for 4 gourmets)/ Ingrédients pour 4 gourmands:

For the stew/ Pour la sauce:
1 kg mutton (preferably a mixture of Neck / shoulder parts suitable for stew) / 1 kilo d’ agneau (un mélange de collier, épaule, navarin)
5 tbsp olive oil/ 5 c. à table d’ huile d’olive
2 big onions/ 2 gros oignons
6 garlic pods (peeled) / 6 gousses d’ail pelés
2 broth cubes/2 cubes de bouillon
2 tbsp of Ras el Hanout powder/ 2 c. à table de poudre de Ras el Hanout
2 tbsp harissa / 2 c. à table de harissa
3 tbsp of concentrated tomato paste / 3 c. à table de purée de concentré de tomates
Salt / Sel
3 or 4 carrots / 3 ou 4 carottes
4 turnips / 4 Navets
1 small or ½ of one big cabbage / 1 petit Chou or un ½ s’il est trop grand)
4 Zucchini / 4 Courgettes
200g of chickpeas (presoaked in water for 24 hrs)/200g de pois chiches trempés dans l’ eau pendant 24H
A cup of chopped coriander leaves (chopped roughly) / une tasse de coriandre fraiche (haché grossièrement)

For the couscous/ Pour le couscous:
500g of high quality couscous/ 500g de couscous de très bonne qualité
3 or 4 tbsp olive oil/ 3 ou 4 c. à table d’huile d’ olive
Salt & water/ Sel et de l’Eau

For Serving: / Pour accompagner:
8 pieces of Merguez (optional) / 8 Merguez (facultatif)
4 marinated chicken drumsticks (optional) / 4 pilons de poulets marinés (facultatif)

Method to prepare the stew/ la preparation de la sauce:

Wash the soaked chickpeas and drain/ Laver les pois chiches préalablement trempés et égoutter.

Clean all the vegetables. Peel and chop the onions finely / Nettoyer tous les légumes. Peler et hacher finement les oignons.

Peel the garlic pods and keep them whole/ Peler les gousses d'ail et gardez-les entiers

Peel the carrots and turnips and cut them into two/ Eplucher les carottes et les navets et les couper en deux.

Chop the cabbage roughly into big pieces / Hacher le chou grossièrement en gros morceaux.

Slit the zucchinis into two or you may also keep them whole if you want / Fendre les courgettes en deux ou garder les entiers si vous souhaitez

Clean and Chop the meat into medium-big size pieces. / Nettoyer et couper des gros morceaux de viande.

Heat the olive oil in a big skillet and sauté the onions and garlic pods/ Chauffer l'huile d'olive dans une grande casserole et faire revenir les oignons et les gousses d'ail.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the Ras el Hanout powder and 2 tbsps of harissa and stir well. / Ajouter le poudre de Ras el Hanout et les 2 cuillères à soupe d'harissa et bien mélanger à feu moyen.

Add the mutton pieces and brown them uniformly on high flame / Ajouter les morceaux d’agneau et les faire dorer uniformément sur feu vif.

Add salt (Let’s not forget that the Harissa paste & the broth cube contain enough salt already) / Ajouter le sel (N'oublions pas que la pâte d’ Harissa et le cube de bouillon contiennent assez de sel)

Add half of the coriander leaves followed by the tomato paste and keep stirring well. Make sure you don’t burn the ingredients!/ Ajouter la moitié des feuilles de coriandre suivi par la concentré de tomates .  Faire attention de ne pas laisser brûler les ingrédients!

Add hot water and stir well/ Ajouter l'eau chaude et mélangez bien.

The amount of liquid should be about 3/4th of the skillet. Taste & correct if necessary/ La quantité de liquide ne doit pas dépasser le ¾ de la casserole. Goûter et rectifier si nécessaire.

As soon as the stew comes to boil, reduce the flame to medium high, add the cabbage and stir well. and cook covered/ Dès que la sauce commence à bouillir, ajouter le chou. Remuer bien. Couvrir et laisser cuire à feu moyen.

Add the carrots, turnips and the chickpeas after 20 minutes of cooking/ Ajouter les carottes, les navets et les pois chiches après 20 minutes de cuisson.

Continue to cook covered for another 10 minutes; add the zucchini, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes and remove off the flame/ Continuer de cuire pendant 10 minutes ; ajouter les courgettes, bien mélanger et laisser cuire encore 5 minutes et retirer du feu.

Meanwhile grill the Merguez sausages in a separate skillet and keep it warm./ Pendant ce temps, faire griller les Merguez ou dans une poêle séparée et les maintenir au chaud.

Grill or Fry the marinated chicken in some oil until golden brown/ Faire griller ou frire les pilons de poulet marinés dans de l'huile jusqu'ils soient dorés uniformément.

(Marinate the chicken overnight with your favorite marinating mixture; I marinated mine in a mixture of salt, garlic paste, turmeric powder, pepper and harissa) / (Faire mariner les pilons de poulet pendant une nuit avec votre mélange de marinade préféré ; j’ai mariné les miens dans un mélange de sel, un peu d’ail broyé, du poudre de curcuma, du poivre et un peu d’ harissa)

Method for Preparing the couscous (non-traditonal way)/ la préparation non-traditionnelle de couscous :

Boil some hot salted water approximately ½ a liter of water and soak the dry grapes in it for about 10 minutes. / Faire bouillir de l'eau chaude salée (environ un ½ litre d’eau) et faire tremper les raisins secs dedans pendant environ 10 minutes.

Place the couscous grains in a big wide bowl/ Mettre les grains de couscous dans un grand bol.

Pour some oil in the palm of your hands and rub the grains with both the hands. Take some more grains in between your hands and rub again while adding small quantities of oil each time. Repeat the same until the color of the couscous grains turns almost slightly brown and well oiled/ Verser un peu d'huile dans la paume de vos mains et frotter les grains de couscous avec les deux mains. Prendre encore un peu de grains et frotter les grains à nouveau entre vos deux mains, tout en ajoutant de petites quantités d'huile à chaque fois. Répéter la même jusqu'à ce que la couleur des grains de couscous deviennent presque brun et quand les grains sont bien huilés.

Now, pour some water in the hollow of your hand and add water while rubbing the grains to avoid any lumps. Repeat the same until the couscous grains are completely wet/ Maintenant, verser un peu d’eau dans le creux de votre main et ajoutez de l'eau petit à petit, tout en frottant les grains pour éviter les grumeaux. Répéter la même jusqu'à ce que les grains de couscous soient complètement mouillés.

Let it rest covered for about 10 minutes until the grains have doubled the volume. Separate the grains with a fork/ Laisser reposer à couvert pendant environ 10 minutes jusqu'à ce les grains ont doublé le volume. Egrainer avec une fourchette.

Traditionally it is served with the cooked couscous in the middle of a wide serving dish, bordered by the vegetables and meats and the broth and some extra harissa apart. Garnish with the rest of the coriander leaves and serve!!! / Traditionnellement, il est servi avec le couscous au milieu d'un plat, bordé par les légumes et les viandes tout au tour et le bouillon et un peu d’harissa à part. Garnir avec le reste des feuilles de coriandre et servir. Enjoy !!!/ Shahyya tayyiba !!!/Bon appétit!!!

Saturday 20 March 2010

Tomato Chutney / Chutney aux tomates

I don’t think the word “Chutney" needs any big introductions, (jolly for all those lazy readers, lol ) will try to keep that short :)

In old days & even now in many houses, Indian Chutneys (I precise “Indian” because nowadays we find derived forms of chutneys all around the world and adapted in different manners according to their culture ) are ground exclusively with a mortar and pestle made out of stone called as “ Ammikkal” in Tamil which seems to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients…My grandma had one and I have one in India too but it was too heavy to bring it here :( but still I'm pestering my sweetheart J to let me bring one through the ship ...... huh, God only knows when that Day D would come.....
Chutneys are flavoured in different ways like they range from mild to very hot, smooth to chunky and vary in the amount of sweetness and sourness. Some chutneys are raw while others are cooked, and different ingredients like vegetables, fruits, spices & herbs, nuts & seeds or pulses are used according to each region in India, like it all depends on the ingredients grown in each region and according to the seasons in India.
Well, this is a basic and easy tomato chutney flavored with garlic and coriander leaves adapted to the availability of the ingredients in my city here lol

Ingredients /Ingrédients:
4 Dry Red chilies/ 4 piments rouges séchés
3 tomatoes, quartered / 3 tomates coupées en quartiers
5 garlic cloves, peeled / 5 gousses d’ail pelées
A sprig of curry leaves / une branche de feuilles de curry
3 coriander sprigs / 3 branches de coriandre
Salt / Sel
4 tbsp oil / 4 cuillères à soupe d’huile

Method / La Méthode:

Heat the oil and fry the red chilies on medium flame / Faites Chauffer l’ huile dans une poêle. Ajouter les piments rouges et faites rissoler au feu moyen.

Add the tomatoes, garlic and curry leaves and stir fry on high flame for a couple of minutes / Ajouter les tomates, l’ail et les feuilles de curry et faire sauter à feu vif pendant 2 ou 3 minutes.

Add the coriander leaves and salt and switch off the flame / Ajouter les feuilles de coriandre, saler et éteindre le feu.

Let it come to room temperature, grind to a fine paste without adding water and serve it warm/ Laisser la mélange tiédir; Broyer le tout sans ajouter d’eau pour obtenir une pâte fine et servir tiède.


You may temper it if you want, in that case: heat a tbsp of oil separately and splutter some mustard seeds, black gram dhal and curry leaves, a pinch of asafetida and pour it over the ground mixture /
Vous pouvez aussi garnir le tout en faisant un tadka : faites chauffer une c. à soupe d'huile séparément dans une petite poêle et en faire craquer quelques graines de moutarde, des feuilles de curry, quelques graines d’ haricots Urd / Urad dhal, une pinçée d'Asa foetida  et verser sur le mélange broyé.

This chutney goes well with Chapatis/ Dosa /Idli Ce chutney se marie bien avec les Chapatis/ Dosa / Idli ou d' autres plats de votre choix

Have a nice week end / Bon Week end à tous !!! Cheers!!!

Friday 12 March 2010

Chocolate-filled Buns/ Petits pains fourrés au chocolat

Hello dear Readers!!! Hope you’ve been doing well. As you might already know by now, my sweetie daughter loves chocolate in all forms… While some kids (and rarely some adults too) don’t like 70/80% cacao rich black chocolates which might be somewhat bitter for their tastes, my cutie adores to melt them them down heartily..... As I say, she simply is one chocoholic girl…

While I was going through the list of “recipes to try” (or a pile of papers should I say?), this recipe copied down in a paper (God only knows how many months ago…..) that was published here came to my attention. Usually and regularly I do this Sweet bread (my fetish recipe) for breakfast but this time it was these small not-so-sweet buns which vanished in no time…Since they’re small in size and filled with chocolates, this is an ideal bread for kids but also for Saapaattu Ramigal (gourmets) like me, heheehhe

All of us, especially my sweetie loved to tuck in these feathery chocolate buns for breakfast as well as for tea time…. Hope you’d love them too !!!! Un grand merci à Piroulie d' avoir partagé cette magnifique recette !!!

Ingredients for 15 -20 small buns / Ingrédients pour 15-20 petits pains:

2 eggs/ 2 œufs
170 ml warm milk / 170ml lait tiède
500g all purpose flour / 500g farine de blé
1 tsp salt / une cuillère à café de sel
60g brown sugar which I didn’t have, so I used granulated white sugar/ 60g de cassonade 60g sucre blanc
15g vanilla sugar / 2 sachets de sucre vanillé
20g fresh yeast or 1 tbsp dry yeast / 20g levure de boulanger ou 1 c.à table de levure sèche
120g butter / 120g de beurre
100g chocolate chips 150g dark chocolate chips/ 150g de pépites de chocolat noir ou chocolat cassé en petits morceaux

For basting / Pour badigenner:
1 egg yolk/ 1 jaune d’oeuf
7 g vanilla sugar/ 1 sachet de sucre vanillé

Method/ La Méthode:

Prepare all the ingredients and let them come to room temperature (butter, milk and eggs).
Préparer tous les ingrédients et ramenez-les à la température ambiante (le beurre, le lait et les œufs)

In a big bowl, add the eggs, milk, salt, flour, sugar and the yeast (do not let the yeast get directly in contact with he salt) and knead well until the dough becomes smooth and non sticky.
I used a machine for kneading.
Dans un grand bol, ajouter les œufs, le lait, le sel, la farine et la levure en prenant soin de ne pas laisser la levure directement en contact avec le sel. Malaxer et travailler la pâte jusqu’à ce qu’elle devienne souple et non collante. (J’ai utilisé la machine à pain pour le pétrissage)

Add the butter and continue kneading for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Ajouter ensuite le beurre et travailler encore la pâte pendant 10 à 15 minutes.

Cover the bowl a plastic food wrapper and keep in a warm place to let the dough rise for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until it doubles its volume.
Couvrir avec un plastique alimentaire et laisser reposer pendant une heure trente environ.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Préchauffer le four à 180°C.

Add the chocolate chips to the raised dough and mix well. Make small balls or any other forms you like and place them on a lined or greased baking tray. (I’ve used muffin moulds to give them equal shapes)
Ajouter les pépites de chocolat à la pâte et mélanger le tout. Former des petites boules ou d’autres formes de votre choix et déposer sur les plaques de four préalablement couverte avec du papier sulfurisé or beurrée. (J’ai utilisé mes moules à muffins pour leur donner des formes uniformes)

Beat the egg yolk and vanilla sugar and brush the top with that mixture. (You might also want to decorate with pearl sugar)
Badigeonner avec le jaune d’œuf battu et le sucre vanillé ou bien avec du sucre perlé.

Bake for about 12 minutes
Enfourner pendant à peu près 12 minutes.

Enjoy !!! / Bon Appétit !!!!

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Mutton Pepper fry (Milagu Poricha kari) / Agneau sauté au poivre

Known as the “King of spices” because of its numerous medicinal properties, Pepper is undeniably the most popular of all the spices and did you know that it originated in the Malabar coasts of West India? Very little was my knowledge about the value of this wonderful spice until my unforgettable trip to “God’s own country “Kerala, (one of the 28 states in India) a couple of years back.

In fact it was during this voyage to Kerala that I came to know more about this spice. Feeling and touching the Pepper climbers/ creepers, clinging to the coconut/ mango or jackfruit trees, often grew in people’s backyards, was a remarkable experience,  that today when I go to the market to buy a bottle of pepper, I look at the pepper in a different manner......

Some interesting facts which I retained about this spice is that once upon a time, long long ago, like gold, Pepper was considered to be a luxury product, equivalent to money and was stored under lock and key and was used as a currency exchange, valuable enough to pay debts and taxes.

I would also like to share with you a small anecdote that I heard about the famous explorer/traveler Vasco da Gama.
The legend says that since pepper was so in demand those days, on one of his trips back from Kerala (India), Vasco da Gama asked the king whether he could take a pepper stalk with him for replanting in his country and the king who was well known for his sarcasm responded him calmly “ You may take our pepper, but I don’t think you’ll be able to take our rains”, referring to Kerala’s tropical climate and the heavy monsoons, which are mandatory for the growth of pepper plants.

I think I’m going off the subject now, so, let me come back to the preparation of my mutton pepper fry, which is such a simple one whose main flavor is obviously pepper. Ideal as a side dish, it would be preferable to pair it with a mild flavored dish/ curry in order to appreciate wholly the distinct flavors of the meat and pepper in this dish.

Ingredients / Ingrédients :
1 kg mutton (I’ve used lamb shoulder, cut into bite size pieces) / 1 kilo d' épaule d’ agneau (coupée en petits morceaux)
3 table spoons lime juice / 3 c. à table jus de citron
A tsp turmeric powder / 1 c.café de poudre de curcuma
1 tbsp pasted ginger /1 c. à table de gingembre pelé et broyé
1 tbsp pasted garlic /1 c. à table d’ail pelé et broyé
3 or 4 green chillies/ 3 ou 4 piments verts
2 big onions (chopped finely) / 2 oignons (hachés finement)
2 tomatoes (chopped roughly) / 2 tomates (hachées grossièrement)
A handful of Chopped coriander leaves / une poignée de coriandre fraiche (hachée grossièrement)
1 cinnamon, 2 or 3 bay leaves / 1 cannelle, 2 ou 3 feuilles de laurier
Salt / Sel
Oil for frying/ Huile

To Roast & powder : / À griller et puis à broyer :
2 tsp peppercorns / 2 c.café de grains de poivre
2 tsp cumin seeds / 2 c.café de grains de cumin
4 cloves and a small cinnamon stick / 4 clous de girofle et un petit/demi bâton de cannelle

Method/ Préparation :

In a big bowl, add lime juice, turmeric powder, pasted ginger and garlic, the green chilies (remove just the stem) the onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, meat and salt. Stir well, taste and rectify if necessary, let it marinate for an hour.
Dans un grand bol, ajouter le jus de citron, la poudre de curcuma, le gingembre et l'ail broyés, les piments verts (enlever la tige et garder les entiers), les oignons, les tomates, la coriandre fraîche, la viande et le sel. Remuer bien, goûter et rectifier le goût si nécessaire et laisser mariner pendant une heure.

Roast the spices under " To Roast & Powder" without burning them on medium flame and make a fine powder.
Griller les ingrédients sous la rubrique « À griller et puis à broyer » sur une poêle à feu moyen sans les brunir et broyer finement.

Pressure-cook the meat along with the marinating mixture until 2 whistles. Wait until the pressure comes down, remove the lid and continue cooking on high flame until most of the liquid evaporates.
Faire cuire la viande avec le mélange de marinade dans une cocotte minute jusqu'au 2 sifflets. Attendre jusqu'à ce que la pression diminue, retirer le couvercle et continuer la cuisson à feu vif, jusqu'à ce que la plupart du liquide s’évapore.

Pour some oil in a wide skillet, splutter the bay leaves and cinnamon add the cooked meat and fry for a while until oil seperates. Add the powdered spices and stir fry on high flame for 5 to 10 minutes or until you get the desired consistency.
Verser de l'huile dans une grande poêle comme un wok, faire dorer les feuilles de laurier et la cannelle. Ajoutez ensuite la viande cuite et faire sauter pendant quelques miuntes, jusqu' à ce que l' huile se sépare de la sauce. Ajouter les épices en poudre (broyées auparavant) et les faire sauter à feu vif pendant 5 à 10 minutes ou jusqu'à la consistance désirée.

Enjoy !! / Bon appétit !!

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Vermicelli Kesari (Semiya Kesari ) / Kesari aux vermicelles

Before I start describing this recipe, let me take a moment to thank all my readers for your encouragements without which I wouldn’t have the energy to run this blog with so much enthusiasm.

Before starting this blog, I had this big impasse to get ahead of: publish my recipes in English or in French????? As you might already know, I live in France and although I’d have loved to share my recipes in French, I thought it would be a chance for me to practice my English vocabulary in this way since I hardly have the opportunity to speak English in my surroundings here in France…

But, now, in view of the fact that many of you would like me to share my recipes in French as well, I think I 'll try to make an effort to share what I’m cooking in both the languages. This is for the information part.

Well, let me come back to my family's all time favorite sweet; Kesari is a common south Indian sweet usually done with fine semolina or vermicelli, sweetened and flavored with saffron and cardamoms. The Vermicelli we use here is the South Asian variety done from semolina (not to be confused with the other Italian or Chinese varieties). I remember, Kesari is the first sweet I learnt to do when I started to cook, so, you see, it is a very easy and delightful dish that anyone can do. I love to have this for tea time and dessert. However, as Sweet in Ayurveda is considered to be an appetite builder, a typical south Indian meal generally begins with a sweet, so, can be served for a starter as well and moreover sweet lovers like me would love to have it even for breakfast :) so, it’s all your choice…

Ingredients/ Ingrédients:

2 cups vermicelli / 2 tasses de vermicelles (variété à base de semoule et non pas de blé)
1 ½ cups sugar (+/- according to your tastes) / 1 ½ tasses de sucre en poudre (+/- selon vos gouts)
A tsp of finely powdered cardamom / 1 c. café de cardamome moulue
1 tsp saffron powder /1 c.café de Safran en poudre
5 tbsp (heaped) ghee / 5 c. table bombées de beurre fondu / ghee
3 cups of warm water / 3 tasses d’eau tiède
Half a pinch of salt / une demie pincée de sel
50g dry grapes / raisins secs
50g cashew nuts / noix de cajou

Method/ La méthode:

Mix the saffron powder and the salt in the water and keep aside.
Mélangez le safran et le sel dans l’eau et réservez.

Heat 2 tbsps of ghee in a pan on medium flame and fry the cashew nuts and the dry grapes. Keep aside.
Chauffer 2 c. table de beurre fondu à feu moyen. Frire les raisins secs et les noix de cajou et réservez.

In a wok, heat the rest of the ghee on medium flame and roast the vermicelli until slightly golden in color.
Mettre le beurre restant dans un wok et faites dorer les vermicelles à feu moyen.

Pour the saffron water on the roasted vermicelli and let it cook for a while.
Verser l’eau safranée sur les vermicelles et laisser cuire pendant quelques minutes.

When almost all the water has been absorbed, add the sugar, the cardamom powder, the fried dry grapes and the cashew nuts. Keep stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the wok.
Dés qu’il n’y a presque plus de liquide, ajouter le sucre, la cardamome, les raisins secs et les noix de cajou. Mélanger bien avec une spatule jusqu’à ce que le mélange ne colle plus sur les parois du wok.

Serve warm.
Servez tiède.