Color stunner

22 May 2010

Well, it looked rather colorful in real life

I was thinking of stark contrasts, both in flavor and in color and actually found a way to include turmeric and cumin in a spaghetti recipe.

Spaghetti with turmeric, cumin and caramalized tomatoes (3 small servings)

  • 300g dried spaghetti
  • 120g cream
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/s tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic, cut in thick slices
  • handful of olives
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 10g butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sugar, salt

1. Half the tomatoes, cut out the middle stalk and sprinkle salt and sugar onto the cut sides. Heat up a grill pan, brush with a little olive oil and caramalize the tomatoes for about 3 minutes until they are quite brown and give off a pleasant aroma. Take out of pan, set aside.

2. Heat the butter in another pan and saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes, then take out the garlic. In a mortar, crush the cumin and the pepper and mix with the turmeric. Add to the pan and fry briefly, then the cream and the oregano and reduce by one half. Salt to taste.

3. Cook spaghetti very al dente and mix with the cream sauce together with the olives. Cut each half of the tomatoes in 3 pieces and add as well. Simmer until spaghetti are done have absorbed some of the liquid.

It’s not that hard to properly cook a steak, no matter what chefs on TV are telling me. If you can’t cook a steak, don’t call yourself a chef, period. I don’t have a problem with the flavor of meat, but when I was still a vegetarian (what happened? I got weak over an Indian chicken curry…) transforming mild tasting vegetables, legumes or grains into something delectable was the thing. Should probably be done on a daily basis. This is delicious.


Cauliflower and potatoes

  • 1/2 cauliflour in mouth-sized pieces
  • 5 medium waxy potatoes, skinned and chopped in mouth-sized pieces
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 dried bird’s eye chili
  • sea salt, pepper, vegetable oil or ghee, water
Heat 2 tbsp of oil to medium heat and add the onions. Saute for about 8 minutes, then add the ground spices, salt, about 100g of water and the potatoes. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, then add the caulifour and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture gets too dry. Season with additional salt and pepper. Serve with naan bread. Recipe follows shortly.



  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g low-fat-yoghurt
  • 100g milk
  • 1/2 egg, whisked
  • 5g fresh yeast or 1/2 tsp of dried yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • black onion seeds (‘Nigella’)
Dissolve the yeast in the handwarm yoghurt and milk together with the salt and the pinch of sugar. Let stand for 20 minutes. Add the flour, the half egg and mix to a soft and smooth dough. Let rest for one hour at room temperature.

Put dough on the floured counter, sprinkle with the onion seeds and fold dough in half and shape into a sausage. Divide into four pieces. Let rest for 10 minutes, then roll out each to a thin circle. Bake on a hot baking stone at 250°C for 4-7 minutes or until blistered. Brush with olive oil as it comes out of the oven. Or shallow-fry in a hot pan with a little vegetable oil. A tandoori would come in handy. (Dreamy eye moment?)


Chili con carne

17 March 2010


I’ve used black beans instead of kidney beans in this fiery chili con carne to suit my very personal taste; I am not too keen on big fleshy beans. Also the black beans have a slightly sweet and, I find, an almost smoky flavor. The small amount of lentils give the chili more flavor and also soak up any excess liquid.

I like this hot, deseeding the habanero will not take away the heat at all, since the capsaicin sits in the white flesh of the habanero fruits.

Chili con carne

  • 250g minced meat (pork and beef)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 reddish-green bell pepper, chopped into strips
  • 2 big tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 75g dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric
  • 25g red lentils
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 twig of thyme
  • 1/2 habanero chili or 3 dried bird’s eye chilis
  • 100-150g water
  • sea salt
  • vegetable oil
  • splash of olive oil
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 25g good quality dark chocolate, chopped (optional)
Cook the black beans together with the tumeric and a teaspoon of salt in about 1.5 litres of water.This takes about 60-120 minutes depending on the beans. Drain.

Put cumin, coriander and pepper into a mortar and grind it to a medium-coarse spice blend.

Put a large pan on highest heat and add the vegetable oil so the bottom of the pan is just coated. Just as it starts to smoke, add the chopped pepper and onions. Leave for a while then give it a stir. When you smell the roasting aromas of the onions, add the meat and let it sizzle still on highest heat until the bottom of the meat ball is quite dark. After two more minutes break up the minced meat and stir everything together.

Add the tomatoes, some salt, the garlic, the thyme,the chilsi and some (if not all) of the spice blend to taste. Reduce heat and let simmer until tomatoes start to fall apart and get all mushy. Add about 100g water, the black beans and the red lentils and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until lentils are soft. Remove thyme and add a splash of olive oil and lemon juice.

For a creamy finish, add the chopped cocolate before serving. Good with a spoon of sour cream and/or crusty bread.

This is perfect for a large number of guests and you can make it in advance. If you can’t get fresh bustards, chicken is fine, but you might want to increase the number of dates to 600 as it is a dry meat.

Stuffed camel

  • 500 dates
  • 200 plover eggs
  • 20 two-pound carp
  • 4 bustards, cleaned and plucked
  • 2 sheep
  • 1 large camel
  • Seasoning

“Dig trench. Reduce inferno to hot coals, three feet in depth. Separately hard-cook eggs. Scale carp and stuff with shelled eggs and dates. Season bustards and stuff with stuffed carp. Stuff stuffed bustards into sheep and stuffed sheep into camel. Singe camel. Then wrap in leaves of doum palm and bury in pit. Bake 2 days. Serve with rice.
Serves 400”

Source: T.C. Boyle: Water music

Jürgen Dollase, the food critic, eats a hamburger.

“[The hamburger] is probably not made for being eaten with a knife and a fork”


Update of 18 March 2010 …and the follow-up. Here, Dollase can be seen suggesting introducing “crisp” elements for a better mouth-feeling of the hamburger like salad. Finally he decides it is enough and leaves us with the remark “Boy, this spiced mush really clings to your palate for hours…”

Even though I am not a huge fan of his, there is something very refreshing about his intellectual obsession with food. But in terms of curiosity for the culinary life around him and voracity for facts about food he is not half a Jeffrey Steingarten.

Why all of this is filed under “Books” on the newspaper’s site is another mystery. But not food-related.