Tag Archives: cardamom

Persian Quince Jam with Cardamom and Rosewater For Breakfast

27 Oct Persian Quince Jam

Quince are  large yellow knobbly apple-shaped fruits that have a slightly floral flavour and ripen in the Autumn. On the tree they have a white furry layer over their skin that will probably be rubbed off if you see them for sale. You see old Spanish ladies buying  bags full at the market. They will be boiling up huge pots of them to make Carne de Membrillo, a sweet quince paste that is traditionally served with a nice cured Manchego cheese. Chica Andaluza has the recipe if you are interested.

I fancied making something a little different with my very modest single kilo of the fragrant fruit. It’s a very similar thing but comes via Persia to this table.

As I have mentioned before, in the summer we were cooking lunch for an Iranian family for a few weeks. We used to arrive every morning at about 11am  after shopping for the day’s food. As we were unpacking the shopping they would still be finishing off their breakfast. Breakfast was a long and luxurious family occasion that I found fascinating. The table was generously laid with breads, cheeses, fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt, tahini and cinnamon pancakes that one of the husbands made every day. A bowl of Bran Flakes and a quick cup of coffee it was not.

The family live in different cities all over the world but meet up once a year for a holiday together. On the first night, the Grandma arrived from Paris on a very late flight carrying a huge jar (like 5 litres) of something that looked like homemade chutney or jam. How on earth did she get that through customs? The daughters and granddaughters were very pleased though, it was obviously a family favourite that no holiday would be complete without.

I found out the next morning, when they let me taste some, that it was a very special quince jam that their Grandma had always made that they all loved. It took pride of place every morning on that amazing breakfast table. A perfect match for the cheese, like our very own Dulce de Membrillo.

She didn’t speak any English and my French is very rusty but I managed to get that there was cardamom in there, I could see the little black seeds too. The recipe is obviously a very closely guarded family secret because she always very politely managed to avoid telling me anything more. It was delicious, I can see why she was so protective of it.

So this is a recipe I found on the internet, it tastes very similar but not as good as Grandma’s obviously. The quince flesh turns from a very pale yellow when raw to a bright coral or even a rich ruby-red when cooked. It depends how long you cook it for and how often you open the lid. If you cover the pot with a tea towel and then put on the lid while cooking (and don’t peek) it goes darker like mine. I may have overdone it slightly I think.

Persian Quince Jam Recipe

Makes about 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Turmeric & Saffron

  • I used 4 quince (about 900 g), washed, cored & cubed or sliced (you can peel it too if you like)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed to open them
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 or 2 tbsp rosewater

Remove any dark bits in the fruit and squeeze half the lemon over the chopped pieces to stop discolouration.

Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes.  Add a splash more water if it is drying out.

Add the ground cardamom, the bashed cardamom pods and the quince to the sugar syrup, stir well, bring back to the boil and add 2 tbsp lemon juice. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the top with a tea towel then put on the lid. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until reduced and jam-like. Check it very occasionally and stir gently.

Add a tablespoon of rosewater and simmer for another few minutes. Carefully taste and add more rosewater if you like.

Pour or spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars, seal and leave to cool. When cool store in the fridge.

Serve for breakfast with a creamy smooth cheese or yoghurt on toasted bread. Or go for the whole breakfast feast and fill the table with fresh fruit, gorgeous breads, a selection of cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt and cinnamon pancakes.

Take the time to sit down and enjoy a long leisurely weekend breakfast.

Fig, Date and Hazelnut Cardamom Spelt Scones

2 May Fig Spelt Scone

The Washer Up demanded scones yesterday. Yes, actually demanded I make scones. He pouted and said “I want scones” in a little boy stamping feet type way. Very strange behaviour indeed.

I obliged but decided I would try to veganize the recipe as he would only eat one and then I would be left staring at the rest, trying not to eat them. Veganizing scones is a little bit strange, I know. The whole point of scones is that they are buttery, and stuffed with cream and jam. These are a little bit different. They have roots in moorish Andalucia rather than a Devonshire tea room. That’s my excuse anyway.

I went to the weekly market in Alhaurin last Thursday with my friend Caroline. She told me about the amazing Frutos Secos stand there. They sell all sorts of dried fruits, nuts, seeds and herbs for reasonable prices. I wanted to get some dried figs for this pizza and needed some more pine nuts for our weekly favourite, this recipe.  I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these beautiful fresh garlic on the veg stall next door too.

I bought, figs, dates, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and Moscatel raisins. They also sell this lovely local fig bread/cake (below left) that we used to serve at the restaurant with the  chicken liver pate.

You can see where I am going with this now can’t you. I had some figs left over from the pizza recipe as well as the dates and hazelnuts. Cardamom seemed to go well with all those flavours but it could have just as easily been cinnamon. The Moscatel raisins would have been nice too.

A lot of the vegan scone recipes I looked at used olive oil or a butter replacement. I would definitely like to try it with olive oil next time, maybe in a savoury version of the scone with some fresh rosemary but I wanted this to be sweet. I went with coconut oil as my choice of fat as it has a slightly sweet coconut flavour and a buttery texture when it’s cold out of the jar. I wanted to see how it behaved in baking too. It turned out really well. You don’t miss the butter at all.

Fig, Date & Hazelnut Cardamom Spelt Scones

Makes 6 (easily doubled), vegan, wheat-free

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time 15-20 mins

  • 220 gr wholemeal spelt flour (or any flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp salt
  •  1 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon)
  • 4 tbsp cold coconut oil (or very cold butter/ replacement, diced or olive oil)
  • about 75 g-100 gr dried figs & dates roughly chopped
  • 30 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • the zest of half an orange
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 115 ml oat milk (or other milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 200 C and line a baking tray with parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cardamom and baking powder. Rub the coconut oil/butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles crumble mix. Then stir through the dried fruit, nuts and orange zest.

In a small bowl whisk together the honey, oat milk and cider vinegar and add this to the flour bowl. Stir together until just combined and clumps start to form, don’t over work  it or the scones will be tough.  Bring this together with your hands to make a ball.

Flour your worksurface and tip the dough out. Using you hands, pat this into a disc about 2 or 3 cm thick. Cut out circles using a floured cutter and place gently on the baking sheet. Do not push down or flatten. You will have to remould the excess dough into a 2-3 cm thick disc a few times to cut out all the scones.

If you like you can gently brush the tops with some oat milk and a sprinkling of sugar. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 15-18  minutes until golden brown and cooked all the way through.

Leave to cool slightly then serve warm or at room temperature with some butter/replacement.

These would be nice with my Arabian Fig Jam too, if only we hadn’t eaten it all. Roll on summer and the glut of fresh figs, I can’t believe I don’t have any jam!

Halloumi Tikka Kebab with Turmeric and Cardamon Risotto and Tamarind Syrup

3 Apr

I know I’ve got a slight Halloumi obsession but this recipe is awesome and I don’t use that word lightly. In fact I never use that word but never has it been a more fitting description. Okay, you get it – it’s really good.

It is yet another recipe adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook and so far, by far, the best. What they have done is taken the best-selling Indian restaurant dish “Chicken Tikka” and veggied it up the way they do and taken it to another level. The Halloumi cubes are marinated for 24 hours in the yoghurt and spices which gives the cheese a much softer texture and an amazing flavour.

The “risotto” is a new experience for me as well. I have made loads of risottos before but never with Indian spices and I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about it. I don’t generally like it when classics are mucked about with in the name of  “Fusion”. Usually because it is done with such a heavy hand and lack of knowledge. Namely a risotto with four cheese and soy sauce. Can you imagine anything more hideous? I didn’t order it, by the way, and I never went back to that restaurant again. I have my principles and the marriage of soy sauce and creamy cheese is not a marriage made in heaven, not in my mind anyway.

Having said all that, this risotto is stunning. Another superlative, I know, but it is worthy of the praise. The stock used to cook the risotto is flavoured with cardamom, turmeric (originally saffron but I don’t have any), coriander seeds, star anise, cloves and peppercorns. The risotto itself is made with onions, ginger, mustard seeds and chilli oil. The risotto is finished off with fresh coriander & mint , toasted flaked almonds and freshly grated parmesan. I know, parmesan after everything that I said, but it really works, trust me, these people know what they’re doing….

The whole thing is finished off with a drizzle of a sweet & sour tamarind glaze/syrup that brings the dish together beautifully. You could substitute a spoonful of your favourite chutney if you not up for making the glaze as well. The original dish has two more components, podi spiced tomatoes (I just skewered some cherry tomatoes in between my halloumi cubes) and a smoked almond custard (I toasted some flaked almonds to sprinkle over the top).  Three elements in one dish is enough for me..!

Remember the Halloumi is marinated for 24 hours so start this the night before.

Halloumi Tikka Kebabs, Turmeric & Cardamom Risotto and Tamarind Syrup

serves 3, vegetarian, adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook

For the Halloumi marinade

  • 1 pack Halloumi cheese 250 gr
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chopped mint
  • 60 ml plain/greek yoghurt
  • 25 ml water
  • 9 small cherry tomatoes

Rinse and dry the Halloumi and cut it in half through where it’s folded so you get two “rectangles” about the same size. Cut each of these into 6 cubes/chunks so you should have 12 cubes.  Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat, add all the ground spices and warm them through, stirring so as not to burn them. Put the toasted spices in a bowl with the yoghurt, garlic, mint and water and stir to combine well.  Add the Halloumi cubes to the spicy yoghurt and stir to make sure every piece is coated well. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to marinate for about 24 hours.

When ready to serve, thread 4 Halloumi cubes on to each skewer alternating with a cherry tomato. Sear the kebabs on all 4 sides until coloured in a hot dry pan. This should only take about 2 minutes.

For the Turmeric & Cardamom Stock

The original recipe makes the whole stock from scratch but I already had some of my homemade veg stock and added the spices to it.

  • 1 litre veg stock ( see above)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • a handful of coriander stalks
  • 3 cardamom pods, bashed/bruised to open slightly
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, cracked
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 clove
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric/saffron strands
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 curry leaves or bay leaves
  • water

Make this the day before if possible. Put the stock and the rest of the ingredients, except the water, in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t reduce too much, add some water if necessary. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse. When ready to use it, strain through a fine sieve, put in a sauce pan, increase to 1 litre with water and heat gently.

For the Risotto

  • 1 litre Turmeric & Cardamom stock (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp panch pooran (an Indian spice mix available from EastEnd Foods)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli oil or 1/4 tsp chilli powder added to the olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 100 gr, chopped onions (about 1/2)
  • 2oo gr brown shortgrain rice (you can use arborio which cooks quicker and will need less stock)
  • a knob of butter
  • 5o gr parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lime juice plus wedges for garnish
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • a small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 50 gr flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan

Bring the stock to the boil in a small saucepan then lower the heat to a simmer. In a large pan, over a medium heat, fry the mustard seeds and panch pooran in the oils until they start to pop then add in the onions, ginger and a big pinch of salt & black pepper. Cook gently until the onions have softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn up the heat slightly and add the rice , stirring to coat in the oil.

When rice starts to look translucent after a minute or so, turn down the heat to medium and add a ladleful of the hot stock, stirring or swirling the rice. When all the liquid has been absorbed add another ladle of stock, stir or swirl until that has been absorbed too. Keep adding ladles of stock and letting them be absorbed until the rice is tender, about 20 + minutes for the brown rice or 15 – 18 for the arborio. If you run out of stock use hot water.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter & parmesan. Taste for seasoning then cover with a lid and leave for  2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, coriander & mint and serve immediately with the halloumi skewers, lime wedges and sprinkled with toasted flaked almonds. Serve with some chutney on the side or drizzle over some delicious tamarind syrup (below).

Tamarind Syrup/Glaze

makes about 150- 200 ml, vegan, vegetarian

  • 150 gr caster sugar
  • 70 ml sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 150 gr tamarind paste

Put the sugar and vinegar in a stainless steel pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer then add the tamarind paste and cook about 4 minutes until the mixture thickens. Pour into a sterilised jar, seal and cool. When cool store in the fridge. Drizzle over Halloumi kebabs or use as a dipping sauce. If it becomes to sticky to pour just heat it up slightly.

 Enjoy!!

Keralan Soft Boiled Egg and Aubergine Curry

4 Dec

Kerala is one of those places I dream of visiting. An Ayurvedic retreat specialising in vegetarian food near the tea & cardamom plantations would be perfect. A place to rejuvenate mind, body and soul, somewhere like this…

Until that time comes I am happy to cook my own versions of Keralan dishes from home and use my walking as a means of rejuvenation. Today we walked to the top of a hill  I had been intrigued by for a while. It has some trees and what looks like a retreat or chapel at the top and I wanted to walk up there..

We had to walk up hill through the pine forest to get to the fire break, which is what looks like the path from down below.

When we got out of the forest about half way up we could see Alhaurin(the town where we live) and the snow on the mountains in the distance.Nearer the top we could see over the other side down to the coast and the sea. This is the Costa del Sol seen from the other side. The side that most tourists never see….

At the top was a deserted building that looks like it  is used for observation or maybe a forest warden’s office.

Whatever its use is, it is now our own private hilltop retreat! It’s free and the views are priceless…

It’s not Kerala but we can walk there in an hour and stay as long as we like….

I think this will be the first of many times that we will find ourselves at this sheltered hilltop retreat, but next time we will take a picnic, we were starving by the time we  had walked home. Definitely in the mood for a Keralan curry…

 Keralan Egg & Aubergine Curry Recipe

serves 2 or 3  vegetarian

  • 1 large aubergine cut into quarters, lengthways and chopped into 2 cm chunks
  • 2 or 3 large eggs (1 egg per person)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 big tomato chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • oil for frying (coconut oil would be good)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp punch pooran*
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  •  2 cardamom pods (crush and use the seeds)
  • 250ml -500ml veg stock
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (or jaggery)
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • salt & black pepper

*Punch pooran is a spice mix made with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion seeds. fennel seeds & fenugreek seeds. You can get it from Indian supermarkets or from East End Foods.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion & spices. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens then add the chilli, ginger & garlic. Mix everything together adding a little veg stock to stop it drying out. Add the aubergine chunks, stir to coat them in the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes until the aubergines begin to soften & brown slightly. Season well with salt & black pepper. Add the chopped tomato, vinegar, tamarind & sugar, stir and add about 250 ml of the veg stock. Cook gently for about 15 – 20 minutes until the aubergines are really tender and the sauce has reduced. You can add more veg stock if it seems too dry. Stir in fresh coriander and check seasoning.

Meanwhile put a small pan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling turn it down slightly and cook the eggs in the boiling water for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes drain the water out of the pan and run the eggs under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwys.

Serve the aubergine curry topped with the soft boiled eggs and some extra chopped coriander.

I served this curry with some onion seed flatbreads see recipe here and a dollop of  Greek yoghurt mixed with fresh mint & lemon juice. Some coconut and cardamom infused rice would be lovely too.

The combination of the sweet, spicy aubergines with the texture of the perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg is so lovely, you wonder why you have never tried it before. It may sound strange but it is really delicious.. Enjoy!!

Arabian Fig Jam Recipe

10 Oct

Gorgeous Figs

We have so many figs at the moment I think I have tried every recipe there is but this has to be the easiest and it’s great on toast, with goat’s cheese or even in little fig jam tarts!

The flavour of figs lends itself perfectly to the middle eastern spices creating a heady perfume with rose water and orange blossom water that transports you to 1001 warm nights in exotic palaces….

Arabian Fig Jam Recipe

Makes 1 Jam Jar Vegetarian

  • 500gr fresh figs chopped
  • 110 gr sugar
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
  • a splash of white wine
  • 2 tbsp water
  1. Put the figs, sugar, lemon juice, spices and flower waters in a bowl and leave them for about 30 mins.
  2. Pour the mix into a saucepan, add the wine & water and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 mins until the jam is thick.
  4. Transfer the jam while hot to a glass jar that has been sterilized with hot water. Don’t fill it right to the top and put the lid on.
  5. Leave to cool, then store in the fridge.

Arabian Fig Jam

If you don’t have all the spices etc, don’t worry it will still be delicious!

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