Kashk (sour yoghurt sauce)

Kashk is listed as an ingredient in several Persian dishes, so I made it a mission to work out how to make it. You could substitute whipped Greek yoghurt in these recipes, but I needed to find out what the difference was. 

First of all, you need sour yoghurt. I bought a tub of greek yoghurt from the co-op, weighing around 500g. I removed the protective foil and paper covering, and left it out on the side for a couple of days. 

The recipe itself seems completely mad to someone who has never made this before, but trust me, it seems to be legitimate. It involves adding water to yoghurt, boiling until dry and cooked, and then adding more water. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g sour yoghurt
  • 450ml water (use this to rinse out the container)
  • A pinch of salt
  • More water to achieve consistency

It may be more cost-effective to make up a triple batch, and most recipes seem to start off with larger volumes. It is also available online from Persepolis in Peckham, if you want authenticity without the hassle. 

METHOD:

  • In a saucepan, mix the water and the sour yoghurt. Bring to a simmer, and then cook for over two hours. Stir every so often, more often towards the end. As the water evaporates, you’ll have an off-white, toasted mixture that is about the texture of choux pastry. Turn off the heat. 
  • Line a sieve with a cheesecloth, and put the mixture into the cloth. Wrap and squeeze the mixture, and then put a weight over the top to squeeze out any remaining water, which is discarded. This takes about half an hour. 
  • Take out the ball of the mixture, and put into a container until ready to use. This can be kept in the fridge for a week or so, or freezer until required. 
  • To make up a portion of kashk, put the mixture in a food processor with a good pinch of salt and around 60ml water, and leave to soak. Blend and add just enough water to make a smooth, soft creamy mixture, about the consistency of double cream. For Kashk Bademnjan, it should be slightly thicker. The mixture may feel slightly grainy. I’ve tried blending smaller volumes and it doesn’t really work. 

 

Carrots with Marsala

I have some enormous carrots in the garden, and this was a delicious side-dish. It is great with lamb. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 500g carrots, peeled and chopped into large batons
  • 50g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml Marsala wine, (madeira or sherry might do instead)
  • Chopped parsley or a pinch of dried tarragon

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a saute pan, and when it is foaming, add the carrots. Mix well with the butter so that the flavour is taken up by the carrots. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • After a couple of minutes, add the Marsala, simmer for five minutes, and then add water so that the carrots are not quite covered. Bring back to a simmer, put the lid on the pan and cook the carrots until they are tender. 
  • Take of the lid, turn up the heat and reduce the liquid so that it becomes a syrupy sauce. 
  • Add the chopped parsley or tarragon, and serve. 

 

Carrot salad with mustard seeds

This is a very simple recipe, great as a quick side-dish to add freshness to any meal. It is great to add to a summer picnic, a cold buffet, or with a range of Indian dishes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Approx 350g carrots
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs rapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

METHOD:

  • Peel and grate the carrots, and put them in a salad bowl, sprinkle in the salt and toss to ensure it is evenly distributed.
  • Heat the oil in a small pan, and when it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Cook the mustard seeds until they begin to pop. 
  • Pour the hot oil and seeds over the carrots, and mix well. 

Broad bean and dill kuku (baked omelette)

The season for this dish is coming soon, but I just longed for it. I had eggs, some frozen broad beans from last year, and some dried dill, and it was very good. It will be even better when my dill plants and broad beans are ready. Thanks to Susannah and Alexander for the eggs. 

Thank you to ‘nightingales and roses‘ for the recipe. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500-600g broad beans
  • 4 eggs, lightly  beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 60g fresh dill, chopped, or 2 tbsp dried
  • 4 tbsp oil

METHOD:

  • Defrost the beans, if using frozen beans. For larger beans, remove the tough outer skin. 
  • Heat the oven to 190C. 
  • Mix the salt, baking powder, pepper, garlic, flour and turmeric and beat into the eggs. Squish any lumps, then fold in the beans and dill. 
  • Oil a 20cm springform tin with half the oil, and heat it in the oven. When the tin is hot, pour in the mixture and return to the oven. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, and brush the remaining oil over the top. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the top has a lovely golden crust.

Serve with a radish salad, flatbread, a yoghurt dip, some fresh walnuts. 

Courgette and Tomato Gratin

Although the ingredients for this recipe appear simple, it requires careful cooking to get it right. If you do not cook the ingredients down properly, it can be slightly bitter and watery. Done well, it is amazing, more than the sum of its parts.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 70g butter
  • 800-900g courgettes
  • 1 tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • Wholemeal breadcrumbs

METHOD:

  • Use a peeler to peel the courgettes lengthwise. Do not peel completely, leaving a few strips of the green skin. Then slice them into thin rounds about half a centimetre thick.
  • Put the sliced courgettes in a colander and salt them, and leave them to drain for at least half an hour. Put a plate on top of them to press them down.
  • Put the chopped tomatoes, 10g of butter, chopped parsley and the garlic in a medium pan with salt and pepper and simmer very slowly to make a very thick paste.
  • In the meantime, put the sliced courgettes onto a tea-towel and mop up all the surface water, getting them as dry as possible.
  • Cook about half of the sliced courgettes in 20g of the butter. Start by gently melting the butter; do not let it colour brown. Add the courgettes and cook on a low heat until they are transparent. Repeat for the rest of the courgettes and another third of the butter. Doing them in two separate batches allows you to cook all of the courgettes properly.
  • Amalgamate the tomatoes and the courgettes, and put the mixture into an oven ready dish. Smooth down the top and strew with breadcrumbs, just a light layer. Dab a little more butter over the surface. Put the dish in the top of a hot oven (around 190C) for 25 minutes and serve very hot when the surface is a deep golden brown.

This would be a good accompaniment for pork or lamb, or served as a light meal with a baked potato .

Spicy fried potatoes

I think of these as tiny square spicy chips – they should be crispy and flavoursome. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 700g potatoes, diced to around 1cm cubes
  • 5 tbsp veg oil, such as rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 1/8th tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder, such as Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat, and add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and let them sizzle for a minute, so that the mustard seeds pop. 
  • Add the potatoes, stir and sprinkle in the turmeric. 
  • When the potatoes start to brown, add the coriander, cumin, chilli and salt and turn the heat up to hot. Fry for another couple of minutes so the potatoes are crispy on the outside. 

A great side-dish, or serve with a fried egg on top. 

Carrots with dill and hot green chillies

I must have first tried this recipe in the 1980s, it is hand-written in an old jotter that I used to copy out some recipes clipped from newspapers. I remember collecting recipes from the Sunday Times; they ran a series by Madhur Jaffrey about regional recipes around the Indian subcontinent. 

I have some very large carrots still to harvest this year. I grew a yellow variety that has a very firm flesh ideal for adding to stews, and for this dish. There’ll be more carrot-based dishes to come. Most spices are available in local shops. I bought some of them from Seasoned Pioneers, who retail spices online. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cm ginger root (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 hot green chillies
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 20g chopped dill leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Peel and slice the carrots, peel and finely chop the ginger
  • Heat the oil in a karhai or wok over a medium heat. When it is hot, add in sequence the cumin seeds, asafoetida, ginger and whole chillies, stirring between each addition. 
  • As the ginger begins to brown, add the sliced carrots, coriander and turmeric. Stir and fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add the dill and salt, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the carrots are cooked. 
  • Remove the carrots from the oil and drain away most of the oil. 

This is delicious as a side dish, with rice and a range of other curries. Last night I was just on my own so I had it with a little bit of nan and yoghurt.

Italian potato pie

My potatoes are getting harvested, and I am trying out potato recipes. The first lot that I lifted were Arran Pilot, with white flesh that mashes very well. I made this from a recipe in Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. I also used some local free-range eggs. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Kg of potatoes that mash well
  • 100g Gruyere or Emmental cheese, sliced
  • 75g cooked ham or Italian sausage (I used Fonteluna sausage from Valvona and Crolla), sliced
  • 2 eggs, boiled for around 7 minutes and peeled
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 75g butter
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste

METHOD

  • Peel and boil the potatoes until cooked, around 16 minutes. Mash them with about 40g butter and the milk, and put them through a mouli or potato ricer to make a very soft smooth mash. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Grease a dish with butter (I used a small lasagne dish) and then coat the bottom and sides with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Put half the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the dish, then add the cheese, ham and chopped boiled eggs in a layer. Cover this with the rest of the mashed potato. Sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs over the top and dot with butter.
  • Cook the pie in a hot oven (around 200C) for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden. 

I served this with shredded kale. It is good with any green vegetable, or with a green salad. 

 

Japanese kale with sesame

This year I grew Japanese kale, it seems to really enjoy our local growing conditions. The leaves are quite tender, and very good in a stir fry. The flavour of sesame seeds goes very well. The basic ingredients of the sesame sauce are sesame, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. I have also added mange tout to the kale with great results. You can use sweet cooking sake instead of the sugar, if you have it. 

The Japan Centre is an excellent place to find good quality ingredients and recipes. I haven’t quite sussed how to put a Japanese menu together, this is meant as a side-dish. I served it with ginger noodles. The Japan centre suggests serving with plain rice, or as a side-dish, or as part of a Bento lunch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g kale, sliced across the leaves, discarding any tough stems
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted and ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cooking sake or 2 tsp brown sugar and 1/2 tsp water

METHOD:

  •  Mix the toasted ground sesame seeds with the soy sauce and sake
  • Put about 1cm water in a large pan with the kale, bring to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring the kale to make sure it all cooks. 
  • Once the kale is cooked, drain, and mix with the sesame sauce. 

 

Patatas a lo pobre – Potatoes and green peppers

The trick with this dish is to stew the peppers and potatoes slowly in olive oil. We had this with grilled pork chops.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250ml good olive oil 
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 green peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1kg firm potatoes, peeled, halved lengthways and then sliced 
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch of fennel seeds, optional. 
  • 4 bay leaves, optional

METHOD:

  • In a large pan or casserole dish, heat the oil over a lowish heat. 
  • Start cooking the potatoes in the oil, and when they start to cook and soften a bit, add the onions, peppers, garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves, grated black pepper and a good pinch of salt. Simmer for around 15 minutes. 
  • Drain off the oil using a sieve, set the oil aside for further use. 
  • Serve with pork or lamb chops.