Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vietnamese Curried Kebabs

I love kebabs. I made these delicious morsels last night. Kebabs of all cuisines are often made with ground meat. Southeast Asian cuisine is known for it's delicious satay, which is pretty much the same as a kebab. Kebabs originated in the Middle East as small pieces of meat threaded and cooked over a fire. Traders brought the idea of kebabs to India, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, who adopted the idea and came up with their own versions of this delicious meal. This recipe is my version of one I found in "Curries and Kebabs" a favorite cookbook I often look to for ideas. I'm not the sort of cook who follows recipes verbatim but I am often inspired to make my own versions of recipes I come across. This is one of those recipes. It has the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.  The fish sauce is very salty so I don't use any salt. You will notice the use of Indian curry powder. Curry powder is often used in Vietnamese cooking, especially in the south of the country. The mingling of cultures produces a magical combination that is delicious.

Vietnamese Curried Kebabs

8oz ground lean beef or sirloin
8oz ground pork
1 egg
1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped red onion or sweet onion such as Vidalia or Peruvian
2 teaspoons lemon grass, finely chopped (I buy it in a jar as a speciality shop)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
 2 teaspoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 tsp Indian curry powder
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
2 teaspoons minced  fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1-2 teaspoons Sambal chillie paste or 2-3 minced chillies such as Serrano
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 of a lime, juiced

Mix together bread crumbs, eggs and coconut milk. Add remaining ingredients and form into patties or meat balls. Thread on a skewer if desired and grill. Or, bake or broil until done. You can also pan fry them as patties like a slider burger. Do not over cook. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the top.

Serve with a veggie noodle salad with peanut sauce or in a wrap garnished with lettuce, fresh cilantro, cucumbers, and bean sprouts. Drizzle with Nuoc Cham or peanut sauce.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Indian Style Lamb Curry

One of my favorite cuisines is Indian. Ever since I was introduced to the exotic spices so beautifully put together in Indian cuisine, I have loved it. I woke up today with a craving for spicy lamb curry. Luckily, there was lamb in my fridge and almost everything else you need is in the pantry. I even make my own curry power, which I will post. But for this recipe, a good quality store bought curry powder will be fine. Here is what I made tonight. It's a combination of various recipes for homestyle curries I have come across in my mountain of Indian and curry cookbooks. This is true comfort food.

Lamb Curry - serves 4
1 1/2 lbs lamb shoulder or leg cut into  2 inch cubes
1 large onion, Vidalia or Peruvian sliced.
2-3 Serrano chillies seeded and sliced
2 inch piece of ginger, grated or minced
3 large cloves of garlic or 4-5 small ones minced
1 Tbsp Indian Curry powder, plus 1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1 bay leaf
1 15 ounce can petite cut tomatoes
5-6 Cardamon seeds
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, about 1/2 tsp or to taste
3/4 - 1 cup of water
1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
Vegetable oil for sauteing

Sprinkle lamb cubes with 1/2 tsp of curry powder. Set aside.
Saute onions in a little oil until soft. Add ginger, garlic, cardamom seeds and Serrano pepper. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp curry powder and saute a minute more. Push onion mixture to one side of the pan. Add about 1 tbsp oil and add lamb pieces. Lightly brown lamb then mix with onion mixture. Add salt, bay leaf, tomatoes, garam masala and 1/2 cup water. Mix well and lower heat and let simmer until lamb is tender, about 20 minutes. Watch pan and add more water from time to time. Liquid should be about the consistency of a thin gravy. When done, remove bay leaf and cardamom seeds. Off heat and mix in fresh cilantro.  Serve with basmati rice and raita.

Raita (yogurt dressing)
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin power
1/2 cup chopped cucumber, seeded
1 plum tomato chopped
pinch of salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup Fresh cilantro, chopped

Mix all ingredients. Serve with curry and rice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Middle Eastern/African /Greek Dinner

Tonight I made chicken kebabs with Middle Eastern spices, Moroccan style couscous and a Greek style salad. I know, weird combination but it all worked rather nicely together. I'm nothing if not a creative chef ! The salty acidity of the salad complimented the sweetness of the couscous. And the kebabs were nicely seasoned. I basically marinated the chicken in a puree of plain yogurt, onion and spices, paired with a dried fruit and nut couscous seasoned with warm spices You could serve it with toasted Mediterranean pita bread and a Tzatziki sauce if you are inclined. All in all, a nice meal.

Chicken Kebabs - Serves 4

1  1/2 pounds boneless chicken (I used a mixture of breast and thigh meat) cut into two inch cubes.

1/2 Sweet Onion, like Peruvian or Vidalia
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Mint or 2 Teaspoons fresh Mint chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Parsley
1 Tablespoon Iranian Spice 
1/2 lemon Juiced
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon fresh ground Pepper

Puree onion and garlic in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until well mixed. Taste to check to see if it need more salt, pepper or heat (cayenne).
Marinate chicken cubes all day or overnight if possible. Thread on skewers. Grill over a medium flame or broil about 3-4 minutes per side. (Check for doneness)
Serve with Tzatziki if desired. (Plain yogurt mixed with fresh garlic, shredded cucumber, lemon juice and a touch of olive oil.) See my post for an exact Tzatziki recipe.

Moroccan Couscous

1 cup Couscous
1/2 Red Onion, chopped
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
3-4 Green Cardamon seeds
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon All Spice
Handful of Raisins
Handful of dried Cranberries
Hanful of Almonds, chopped coarsely
1 3/4 cups hot chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cups chopped Cilantro
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roast chopped nuts in a dry pan for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Saute onion and red bell pepper in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients (including nuts) except broth, salt and pepper. Stir and let flavors blend about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add broth.  Check seasonings. Add salt if needed and a little ground pepper. Stir to mix, cover and let sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve with Kebabs.

Greek Salad

Romaine lettuce, torn into bite side pieces. About 1/2 a head.
Finely sliced red onion, a handful
Finely sliced red bell pepper, a handful
1 Cucumber, seeded and cut into chunks
4 Ripe plum tomatoes, cut into chunks
Feta cheese, crumbled about 2 ounces
1/2 14 ounce can baby artichoke hearts, quartered.
Garbanzo beans (optional) 1 small can, drained

1/4 Cup good quality Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Teaspoonon crumbled feta cheese

Mix dressing ingredients together and let sit while you prepare salad. Remove garlic from dressing. Taste for seasoning. Add additional salt if needed, but keep in mind the feta on the salad adds saltiness too. Toss salad with dressing right before serving.