27 February 2010

Super Fancy Lamb Kebabs

Last week, Lundulph and I had a week-end in and I took the opportunity to watch Saturday Kitchen. I find this show a bit hit and miss, some recipes I really don't like, some are fantastic and I can never make up my mind if I should watch it regularly or not. Last Saturday, one of the recipes was for kebabs and when I saw the piece of meat ready to be cooked, I just had to watch it.


The dish was Cyrus Todiwala's Mutton Cannon Ni Seek Boti. That is kebabs and although I didn't pay too close attention, it seemed a good and fairly quick thing to do. I wasn't too excited about the mutton part, I find lamb too strong flavoured on many occasions and I suspected mutton would be even more so, but the piece of meat to use was the best end of the neck and I think "cannon" implies the whole length of the fillet, it certainly seemed to have a cannon shape.

So off to the butcher I went. Unfortunately our butcher doesn't do mutton at all, so I had to get the lamb cannon instead. Lambs being slightly smaller, I asked for both fillets and it was a great joy to watch the butcher bring out half a carcass, snip off the kidneys, peel off the skin on the back and finally pull out a bit machete and carve between the ribs and the spine to get to the two cannons. It looks so easy when a professional does it, but when I try, the piece of meat defies all physical laws so that I end up with an unrecognisable mess. Maybe I don't have the right kinds of knives.

Anyway, out the two beautiful fillets came and amounted to just over 700 g at £25 per kilo. Steep, but it was for Friday dinner, which we try to make a bit more special to celebrate the coming week-end. I did try to get hold of the wine recommended for this dish, but sadly it was not to be.

Since I had a bit more meat than specified in the recipe, I increased the amounts of the marinade a bit as well.


700 g cannon of lamb (best end of neck)


2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp turmeric
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp lemon juice

Lamb marinating

Salad "Cachumber"
1 red onion
1 small green mango
1 green chilli
2 plum tomatoes
half a cucumber
handful of fresh mint leaves
handful of fresh coriander
1.5 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp cider vinegar
salt to taste



1 large green chilli
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 large cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

For frying the meat

3 tbsp grapeseed oil

For the kebabs

Bamboo skewers soaked in water for a couple of hours
1 dl plain flour
2 eggs
pinch of salt
grape seed oil to fill the frying pan to almost 1 cm

  1. Trim the lamb if it still has bits of fat or sinew on it, then cut into small chunks suitable for kebabs.

  2. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and coat the lamb well. Set aside at room temperature for a couple of hours, then refrigerate until needed.

  3. Prepare the salad by peeling and finely slicing the onion and mango. Then deseed the chilli and chop. Deseed the tomaotes and cucumber and slice into juliennes. Finally shred the mint and coriander and mix everything well, then refrigerate until needed.

  4. Make the relish by chopping the chilli finely (deseed if you don't want it to be too spicy). Combine together with the ginger, pressed garlic and coriander and put in the fridge.

  5. Just before starting, place the flour on a plate and whisk the eggs with the salt in a shallow bowl.

  6. Heat up the oil in a deep frying pan on high heat, then fry the marinated chunks of lamb until they are well browned, about 3 - 4 minutes. Do in batches, so the pieces are not crowded in the pan.

  7. Once all meat has been browned, make the kebabs, taking care as the meat should be quite hot still. The pieces can be skewered quite closely together.

  8. Heat up the oil to high heat

  9. Roll the kebabs in the flour, make sure they're well coated. Then dredge through the eggs, then place in the hot oil and let fry for 2 - 3 minutes, turning the kebabs to get them fried all over.

  10. Place the ready kebabs on tissue to drain a bit, then serve along with the cachumber salad and the relish.

Now, the above is what I did, because the recipe wasn't quite clear. Apparently the relish wasn't a relish at all, but was an additional layer of spice for the lamb. After the meat had been browned in batches, it should have been returned to the pan, then the relish should have been stirred in and the whole lot should have been left to the side to cool a bit. On the whole, my way worked just as well and had the benefit of allowing more control of the spicy heat. I'd included the chilli seeds in the relish and they did dominate quite a lot, so won't do that next time.

As anticipated the meat was fantastically light and tender. The marinade was perfect for the lamb, I suspect the mutton would have been more obvious as a flavour.

The salad was a great surprise too. I was not at all sure about having mango in a salad. In addition did Mr Todiwala mean a green mango as in an unripe mango or a specific type of mango that doesn't go reddish when it's ripe? Not that I think there was any choice in the supermarket where I normally shop, but I chose a small firm mango that was green all over, so every sign of not quite ripe.

Deseeding the tomatoes and cucumber was fiddly, but worth it, because it avoided a lot of excess liquid in the salad and everything combined nicely, so no single flavour dominated, but there was an overall nice balance of the ingredients and the texture was terrific.

I reduced the amount of oil required to fry the kebabs by half I think. Lundulph wandered into the kitchen to see what was happening just as I started pouring the oil into the pan and I told him to not to look. Then I just couldn't force myself to pour any more than just under 1 cm depth. It certainly felt like deep frying to me. After the kebabs were fried, I not only placed them on tissue, but placed some on top and patted them a bit, to soak up as much as possible.

Some alternative method for the flour and egg procedure will need to be worked out, because it was not straightforward to roll the skewers. Some chunks of meat refused to roll around and they were a bit different sizes, so some didn't reach to get coated and I ended up sprinkling with my fingers, then the same through the eggs to get a bit of coating and a lot of the stuff was stuck to my fingers, when it would have been better on the kebabs.

Since I didn't manage to get hold of that recommended wine - Papa Luna 2007 from Spain, Lundulph selected an Albali Gran Reserva from 2001 and also from Spain, which was very nice indeed.

You might have noticed that there were no carbs to accompany this meal and I suggested we have some quick toast with that, but Lundulph said we could always have that for dessert and tucked in. We didn't miss the carbs one bit and I can't think what it would go well with in the carb department at the moment.

The amount of 700 g lamb seems to be enough for 4 people or perhaps 5 if you do a starter and dessert. I used up 5 skewers on this occasion, but will remember to cut the pieces slightly differently next time.

Oh and I'd bought baby chestnut mushrooms to serve with the kebabs, but unfortunately I completely forgot about them and they are still in the fridge. I don't think they're needed in this case.

22 February 2010

Tandoori-style Chicken

I've finally managed to track down the Gujarat Masala Curry paste required for this Waitrose recipe. Lundulph chose it ages ago and I should really have done one of the other recipes in the collection, but I'd set my heart on this one and so I've not made any progress on Ye Olde Recipe Collection until now.


The original recipe is here. I had twice the weight of chicken in the shape of fillets, so decided to do a double dose of this dish. The chicken is accompanied by a raita, a salad and chapatis. The below recipe incorporates the changes I made to the original recipe.


150 g Veeraswamy Gujarat Masala Curry Paste
4 tbsp lemon juice
0.5 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp sweet paprika
600 g full fat Greek style yoghurt
1 kg chicken fillets
250 g cucumber
20 g fresh mint leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 red onion
3 tomatoes
6 chapatis

  1. Mix the curry paste, 2 tbsp lemon juice, turmeric, paprika and 400 g yoghurt together well in a non-metallic dish. Place the chicken in the marinade and make sure it's well covered. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge 90 minutes.

  2. Peel and dice the cucumber finely. Wash and chop the mint leaves finely. Stir into the remaining yogurt, season, then cover and put in the fridge.

  3. Peel and slice the onion finely. De-seed the tomatoes and slice thinly as well, then combine both into a salad and refrigerate.

  4. Cook the chicken under a medium grill, that has been pre-heated. Turn every 10 minutes or so, so that the chicken breasts are evenly cooked through and through.

  5. Once the chicken is ready, heat up the chapatis as per the instructions on the packet. In the mean time, slice the chicken into small pieces and serve so that the warm chapatis can be filled with the chicken, salad and raita.

As usual, I felt the need to add steamed broccoli to this meal. I also bought some baby chestnut mushrooms, but decided to save for our Friday dinner.

Next time, I think I'll only use 300 g of the yoghurt for the marinade and use the rest for the raita. In fact, the amount of mint and cucumber was not doubled, so what's on the photo of the card is far from what you'd end up with, had you used the listed amounts.

After I'd mixed the marinade, I couldn't resist to have a taste of it. It was very yummy and I think would be excellent as a dip for crisps or tortilla chips just like that.

The de-seeding of the tomatoes was a first for me. I've never had them like that and I felt a lot of the tomato got discarded, but it'll make for a less watery salad. It was a bit of a faff doing it though. I've saved the seeds and frozen for future use.

I also saved the stalks of the mint, I intend to chop them finely and make into tea.

Dicing the cucumber finely made me wonder how advisable this is - cucumber has a tendency to go very watery if cut too finely and indeed this one did. I think it'll benefit from de-seeding too. The raita was very tasty and worked very nicely with the chicken, but the mint was quite dominating, so I'd use a bit less. If I'm to make it for poppadoms, I'll cut the cucumber even finer.

The marinade was quite mild and delicate, once the chickens were ready, I should perhaps have done a bit of basting during the grilling. And the red onion was one of the dominating flavours too, so maybe swap it for something milder, like chives or shallots.

I should do some research on chapatis and see if I can make my own.

Oh, and I had a quick look in my Classic Indian Vegetarian Cookery book, which has a whole chapter on the garam masala spice mixtures and one of these is the Gujarati garam masala from the Western parts of India. It has over ten different spices and is a dry mixture. I might give it a go one of those days.

17 February 2010

Time for a Semla once again


Once again Shrove Tuesday was nearing and I asked Lundulph if he wanted pancakes for dinner. To which he replied that we need to start a tradition here - with a semla on the Tuesday and pancakes for breakfast the following Saturday.

Chatting to my Mum, it seems that Sweden is in semla fever already, and these lovely buns have been in the shops pretty much since the beginning of the year. She'd also spotted a recipe that she liked and sent it to me to try out. The amounts were slightly smaller than the recipe I did last year, so that was good too.

In addition, I'd been toying with the idea of duck eggs. They sell them in the supermarket and they look very pretty, but I've never seen anyone actually buy them, so when I went to get the semla ingredients, I bought a packet to try them out.


The yolk seemed to be a brighter yellow and I think the eggs were fairly fresh, as the white was quite dense. I like the shells very much, they look like they're made of alabaster and have some inner glow to them. They are also a bit thicker than chicken eggshells.

What annoyed me a bit about this new recipe was that it called for half an egg. Now that's a tricky one I thought, but resolved the issue by whisking the egg with a fork, then pouring in about half of it. On the interesting side was that the recipe called for "white syrup". It's sold in Sweden and is recommended for baking. I guessed that pure glucose should do the trick too and whisking it together with the butter, I ended up with this fluffy cream


75 g unsalted butter
0.75 dl glucose
2.5 dl full fat milk
25 g fresh yeast
0.5 egg
1 ml salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (0.5 tsp if freshly ground)
3 dl plain flour
3.5 dl strong flour
1 ml ammonium carbonate

  1. Whisk the butter and glucose to a light and fluffy cream.

  2. Warm up the milk to about 37 degrees C. In the mean time, crumble up the yeast in the dough bowl. Pour the warm milk over it and stir to dissolve the yeast.

  3. Add a couple of tablespoons of the butter cream, egg, salt and cardamom and stir in well.

  4. In a separate bowl, mix the plain flour with 2 dl of the strong flour an the ammonium carbonate, then add to the dough liquid and mix into a very wet dough/thick batter.

  5. Keep mixing until gluten has developed, then set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

  6. Add the remainder of the butter cream and some more of the strong flour to get a fairly soft dough. It should just about not stick.

  7. Take the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and divide into equal sized pieces, about 60 g each. I got 16 from the dough.

  8. Shape into balls and place on baking sheets lined with baking paper. Brush the buns with the remaining egg, then cover with cling film and let rise for 40 minutes.

  9. Pre-heat the oven to 225 degrees C, then bake the buns until they are dark golden brown on top, the recipe said 7 minutes, I baked mine for 14 and their bottoms were still quite pale.

  10. Leave to cool on a rack, then follow the instructions from last year.

The recipe instructions recommended making your own marzipan, but I had some in the larder already and I wanted to use it up. Also the instructions were to just cut off a lid off the buns and spread the marzipan over them, then topping up with cream and putting the lids back on. Wrong, wrong, wrong! I think it's crucial to nip out the middle bit and blend with the marzipan.

My Dad sent me an article from the "Semla academy", where the two writers discuss what is good and what is bad for a semla and here is what they say:

The buns should be hand made and the size of a grapefruit.
The lids should be triangular in shape. They reckon often round lids are cut by a machine, so if they are triangular, this implies that they've been hand cut.
The marzipan should be 50% almonds and 50% sugar.
The whipped cream should not be runny but also not too hard and butter taste is a big no no.
Generosity with the icing sugar on top is also important.

This article was in the Stockholm City magazine on Monday 15th February. Only in Swedish, sadly. Besides, most of the other papers will have some sort of semla tasting and comparisons.

On the whole, I don't agree with everything on the list above.

This new recipe was actually very good, the buns rose from this


to this


and you can see the colour after baking. Some of the buns stuck together on the sides, that's a bit annoying, but I hadn't expected them to swell up so much in such a short time. Good thing I brushed them with egg beforehand too. The cling film came off a bit easier then, but I suspect I would have punctured them, if I'd tried to brush them just before baking.

A note on the ammonium carbonate, this is often also known as hartshorn salt and is a chemical rising agent and part of the mixture known as baking powder. It smells very strongly of ammonium, but this disappears during baking. I have a bag of it that I bought in Sweden, however, if you can't find it, use the double amount of baking powder instead.

The buns were very fluffy and light and quite soft too, I had to be careful not to leave imprints of my fingers when I cut the lids. A serrated knife is the thing to use.

Lundulph and I enjoyed one each yesterday and there are four more to be put together and eaten this week, the remaining 10 buns have been frozen for future use. Lundulph did consider having a second one, but decided against it in the end. After a big dinner, it would have made him ill for sure.