Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ma'moul for Eid

Ma'moul by Najat (From her Youtube video, typed out by me)

3 cup fine samolina (farina or cream of wheat)
1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/8 tbsp salt

2 Sticks of butter, 1/2 pound of butter at room temp. (leave out 4 hours)

Mix soft butter with those ingredients until it's mealy and absorbed between your palms for 5 mins

cover and wrap for 6 hours on the counter, or in the fridge if you're in a hot country, take out an hour before use to become room tempt.

Date filling:

1/4 kilo date paste  (1 packaged block)
 2 tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp ground fennel
1 tbsp groudn anise

1/2 tsp ground mahlab (toasted and ground)

some oil for oiling hands while rolling.

Toast all seeds, cool and grind before use.

Mix all together with hands until it's a dough like consistancy, roll into small balls.

*Optional flavourings to use are cinnamon, cloves, cardimon, or nutmeg.

Pistachio filling:

1 1/2 cup finely ground pistachio
3/4 cup powdered sugar

1-1 1/2-2 cups orange blossom or rose water.. start with 1 tbsp and see how much is needed for it to come together as a dough.

Make little balls like with date paste.

Back to the dough:

After 6 hours leaving the samolina mixture,

Mix 1/2 tsp instant yeast over 3/4 cup warm water and 1/2 tsp sugar and let it sit until it proofs.

Add to samolina mixture:

2 tbsp powdered milk
2 tsp ground mahleb
1/2 tsp ground mystic (mestika)

Blend together well into mixture, slowly pour the yeast mixture into the grainy mixture until it comes together, never over knead the dough.   Once it comes together and you can make a little patty then cover and let it rest for 15 minutes covered with plastic wrap.

Divide the dough into small balls (as many as the fillings you have)

Heat oven to 400 F

Keep everything covered with cling wrap while working.

Fill the dough balls with the filling and shape into desired shapes.

Seperate date and pistachio on seperate trays as pistachio cooks longer.

Bake as soon as they're ready, divide oven in 3rds using oven trays and put the first tray on the bottom rack for 7-8 mins.
Once it takes a golden color remove and put on top rack another 5 mins to finish while adding new tray to bottom.

Remove and cool tray, as soon as cookies are able to be moved move them to cooling rack and once they're cold store away in a tupperware.

Gulab Jamun & Father's Day

Today we've got a special recipe for you because it's one that I vowed I'd never make...

My introduction to the Gulab Jamun goes way back to my days in kindergarten when I witnessed a classmate of mine pull this little golden brown morsel out of her backback and devour it at the lunch table.  This must have intrigued me because - as kids do - I went home that day to tell my mother all about it. After that we set out to find out what it was and I think from what I recall I managed to point it out among the hundreds of variations of from the other sweets at a place called Shirin Mahal back in Peshawar.  I was never much of a sweet person, things that were overly sweet or drenched in syrup made my tummy hurt but my mother became obsessed with them, to the point that I remember my father bringing home boxes of them because they were all she craved while she was pregnant with my younger sister. The gulab jamun was a big hit and later on from time to time my mother tells the story of how she tried to make them at home, and unfortuntely it resulted in utter failure so we came to the conclusion that it's "much better to just buy them anyway".

Years later I introduced them to my husband, ironically at a place called Shirin Mahal, which seems to be a chain throughout the general Toronto Area and with him having a sweet tooth it's no surprise that he instantly fell in love with them too.

As you all know I enjoy cooking and baking so the joke around here is whenever I ask my husband if he has any requests he says "Make me some Gulab Jamun" knowing that it's the one thing that I refuse to attempt after my mother's tale on how complicated they are to perfect.

I guess the moral of the story is "never say never" because this Ramadan I had a pot of oil sitting on the stove from frying some Luqumat which is a very special treat since I hardly ever deep fry and so I figured why not look up a recipe and surprise my husband for his very first father's day!

I picked up a bag of milk powder from the supermarket and when my husband noticed it in the kitchen he wondered what it was for because it's not something we ever buy. I jokingly told him it was for the baby to which he was more puzzled why we'd be feeding him powdered cow's milk when he's perfectly happy nursing... then I caved and told him I wanted to attempt to whip up a batch of Gulab Jamun. You can imagine how happy he was but if only it was as simple as it sounded.

I started making my first batch friday evening and couldn't believe how easy it was to whip up the dough because it's only 2 or so major ingredients! By time we started frying them we realized our mistake but proceeded to see how it would go ... then we realized our mistake, while they looked beautifully dark brown on the outside they were no where near cooked inside but we still continued to  put them in the sugar syrup... and ... they were not absorbing anything. The next batch failed too ... and then another...

Three days later and 5 attempts and we finally had a result that was actually absorbing. Some mistakes I made was browning them too fast in hot oil, and also kneading the ingredients too much, or not adding enough moisture so it was a dry dough with cracks. We tried saving a few batches too by boiling them in syrup with extra water added and while they looked like they were  puffing up eventually they would shrivel back to these tough gummy little nuggets. 

I'd say the final batch was a success because we worked together and did a lot of research beforehand. Some of the things we learned was to make a light dough and my husband rolled the balls gently between greased palms while I fried them on a lower oil temperature (160ish, hard ball on the candy thermometer) very slowly until puffy and golden all around.

We put them in warm syrup and this time they absorbed all the way through and that's how we stored them as well, submerged. 

I think once taken out of the syrup they can dry out a little bit to the desired texture but overall I'm very happy with how they turned out and we have one sitting out to check it's texture this evening. It was a very interesting learning experience. It's amazing how the simplest recipes are the hardest to perfect. 
I can't wait to make an authentic - from scratch - version someday, that requires using whole milk and heating the milk down to a curd which is used instead of the more modern substitution of milk powder.

Ingredients (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
Recipe Source VegRecipesofIndia 

Sugar syrup:
2 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
3-4 green cardamoms, husked & crushed or powdered 

Saffron or Rose water optional. 

Mix the syrup ingredients and bring to a boil, cook for about 5-10 minutes on medium high until it's syrupy, but still light. Not thick like maple syrup or honey. If using rose water stir in at the end.  Set aside, it's better if you have it warm or on a low flame and ready for the gulab jamun's which you would make immediately after.

Gulab Jamun:

1 cup milk powder
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp oil or ½ tsp ghee
a pinch of salt 
a pinch of baking soda
2 tbsp yogurt

Mix the dry ingredients and add the yogurt at the end, 1 tbsp at a time and see if it needs the full two tablespoons. It should not be a cracking dry dough, but moist enough and not sticking to your hands, mine was a little on the sticky side and we used oils palms to gently (VERY GENTLY) roll balls and set aside. All our other attempts yielded very dry balls. 

Fry on low as mentioned above and keep tossing and turning them in the oil so they cook inside and outside. They will almost be fluffy like a cake donut tim bit (donut hole) and you can cut one open to test it if you need to. 

Upon removing from the oil after they've browned put them into the syrup. We let them sit 2 hours and then transfered to a jar in the fridge, submerged in syrup. We allowed them to dry up a bit from the syrup by removing them and placing on a plate to drain before eating, even if the top is dry of syrup it is good as the syrup should absorb all throughout. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Easy Lamb Shanks

Until recently I've always felt that lamb shanks were a very intimidating piece to cook but then one day I picked up a pack at the local supermarket, both the new zealand spring lamb and PC have halal symbols on them and usually come frozen.
This is probably the easiest recipe you'll ever make, seriously!

Lamb Shanks

- 1 pack of shanks, 3 are included inside
- 5 big cloves garlic
- Salt and Pepper
- A drop of oil (grapeseed, or avocado oil or something that you would normally use to fry at high temperatures, not olive oil!)

Thaw your shanks in the fridge for a couple of days and then remove from package and pat dry. Heat a bit of oil in a pot and add the shanks turning from side to side so they brown evenly on the outside. All 3 fit perfectly in a large pot. Don't forget to turn on the fan and get yourself a splash guard ready, and I also lay a piece of paper towel over the splash guard so that it collects any splatters. Lamb has a lot of fat and splatters, plus the smell lingers so open the windows too if you can.

Transfer your shanks to a pressure cooker, mine is electric. Add the salt and pepper, and raw garlic cloves. Cover and set to 50 minutes. At this point I can just walk away because it's been set to high pressure, so once pressurized it will cook and then cool down and set itself to warm until I return.

Easy BBQ naan recipe here, we covered it earlier on the blog

The lovely dish of rice that you see crowned with golden almonds, raisins and jewelled carrots is Kabuli Pilau and made to order from Mama's Kitchen, as well as the Spinach and braised veal dish, both absolutely delectable!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ramadan Eats

Delicious, homemade and authentic Alo Gosht from Mama's Kitchen in North Oshawa. If you live in Durham Ontario do check out her facebook page and see what Mama's cooking up for the week!  Place your orders and pickup on the day that she has finished creating these masterpieces.

And oh! Did I mention she packs it all in a brown paper bag?! And includes complementary almond stuffed dates!..... It's the little touches that I love so much!

I can't wait to try more of Mama's recipes, we absolutely loved the Alo Gosht dish of tender veal and Potato in a delicately spiced gravy, accompanied by homemade fresh roti breads.

Below is a chicken leg recipe of mine from yesterday, because I buy whole chickens I tend to have the legs laying around, mostly because I remove the breast for quick stir fries and breaded "chicken fingers" and then I'm left with the carcasses for soup and lots of chicken legs with skin.

This is a really quick one that just came together!
4 Chicken legs, with skin

1 pack of small potatoes - wash and boil in salted water until tender

Marinade: 4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper
worstershire sauce, about 2 tbsp
1 tbsp dijon mustard

3 cloves of garlic, smashed or finely minced

Mix the above and coat the chicken legs in the mixture, allow to marinade for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 420, convection roast setting if you have or just convection. Add the small boiled potatoes (strained) to the baking dish and then the chicken legs in the middle of the pan, coat the chicken with any leftover marinade. Place the chicken skin side down.

Bake and halfway through flip the chicken legs over so the skins are at the top and continue roasting until browned and cooked through.

Serve with a salad or your favourite vegetables. I served with green beans and sauteed raddichio.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Baby's first Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak to all my Muslim followers! Hope you're having a blessed third of Ramadan so far... Baby has been keeping me very busy but I wanted to quickly share a couple of shots of my Ramadan decor, these beautiful pieces are by a lovely sister who is starting up a little Eid business both on Etsy and locally, please check out her shop - MyLittleEidShop  for these gorgeous birch mosque cutouts and many more upcoming products that she's working hard to bring to all of us.

And I can't leave you all without a recipe so I'm sharing my favourite Ramadan sweets, the famous Luqmat Al Qadi which we make all across the Middle East. Of course we covered it before on the blog but I have perfected and tweaked it a little so here it is
Luqmat Al Qadi