Monday, October 29, 2012

Yoghurt Marinated Baked Lamb

Yoghurt Marinated Baked Lamb

It had to happen sooner or later.  At our recent Food Bloggers Conference, one of our guest speakers, the fabulous Lucy Corry of The Kitchen Maid, implored us to leave the cute animal photos out of our food blogs. (You can read more of what Lucy said here.)  What ensued was so many jokes, tweets and photos of pussies and baby lambs, that I'm surprised we didn't trend.  And now it's happened, one of those cute little lambs has found itself on the wrong side of the plate - and delectable in its demise it was too.

Inspired by Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for Tandoori Chicken, from the book Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking, this lamb was marinated in a bath of yoghurt and spices for several hours before baking in a slow oven. Our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we are cooking with Madhur's recipes for the next six months, was "Everything's Better with Yoghurt".  Indeed this lamb was very much better with yoghurt.  The result was moist, succulent, flavourful lamb that simply fell from the bone and brought conversation to a grinding halt - its hard to talk when you're chowing down on a mouthful of baby lamb.  I always think its a sure sign that the food is great when everyone goes quiet.

When I say I was inspired by Madhur's recipe for Tandoori Chicken - I took her basic marinade, but treated things slightly differently.  I left out food colouring, as I wasn't looking for that bright reddish-orange colour that one normally associates with tandoori chicken, and I wanted a longer, slow bake, rather than a quick bake at a very high temperature.  I did also tinker with the spices a little bit - leaving out cayenne pepper, and adding in some turmeric.

This went down so well, it will definitely become a regular round these parts.  I think another time I might even try keeping the lamb in a whole piece and giving it the rotisserie treatment on the barbeque. 

Yoghurt Marinated Baked Lamb Recipe
Inspired by a recipe by Madhur Jaffery from
Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2kg lamb shoulder, cut into serving sized portions
(your butcher will do this for you)
2x shallots
2x cloves garlic
5cm (2 inch) piece fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 teaspoons water
500g natural yoghurt
juice of 1x lemon
flaky sea salt
fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Peel and very roughly chop the shallots, garlic and ginger.  Place in blender, along with the garam masala, turmeric and water, and blitz everything to a paste.

Place yoghurt in a large bowl, and mix in the spice paste, stirring until everything is well combined.

Place lamb pieces in a single layer in a shallow dish.  Pour over half of the lemon juice, sprinkle liberally with salt, and massage in well.  Turn all the lamb pieces over, and repeat - pouring the remaining lemon juice over, and again sprinkling well with salt.  Give this side a good massage too.

Now pour the yoghurt marinade over everything, and turn all the lamb pieces over several times, making sure that all pieces are well coated.  Cover dish with cling film and refrigerate for as long as you can.  At least four hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Remove lamb from the marinade, shaking off any surplus, but still leaving some marinade clinging to the meat.  Place lamb pieces in an ovenproof baking dish, again in a single layer.  Cover with tin foil and put into the oven for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven.  Remove and discard the tin foil, and turn over all pieces of the lamb.  Return to the oven for a further 45 minutes, by which time the lamb will be well browned, cooked through and tender.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest in a warm place for a good 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and serve.

This would be great served with Aloo Gobi, a delicious dish of potato and cauliflower mixed with spices (bound to be featured here in the forthcoming weeks), or Gujarati-style green beans.  As it turned out, I served simply with jacket-baked potatoes topped with more yoghurt and a tiny sprinkling of cayenne pepper for a touch of warmth, and a refreshing tomato and cucumber salad.

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

I am sharing this post this week with my friends Michelle at Ms. enPlace hosting See Ya In the Gumbo, and with April at The 21st Century Housewife hosting Gallery of Favourites.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spicy Vegetable "Samosas"

Spicy Vegetable Samosas 3

Our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week, where we are cooking with the fabulous Madhur Jaffrey for the next six months, is "Spice Bazaar".  So many herbs and spices conjure up such wonderful memories for me.  I told you last week about my grandmother's spice cupboard - in a time when you typically would not have found much other than a bit of ground cinnamon and ground ginger in the cupboards of your typical Kiwi housewife, this was a pretty unique feature.  How I used to love the aromas of cumin, cardamom, turmeric and garam masala, smells which still transport me back to my childhood, though as a kid I never for a moment realised that wasn't the norm.  Not content with just her packets of ground spices, my grandmother also kept a small kitchen garden at the back door.  This wee garden always boasted several chilli plants, the ubiquitous clumps of parsley & mint, and lots of coriander plants.  Of course she would use this fresh, but she would also deliberately allow some of the plants to go to seed so that she would have a constant supply of coriander seeds.  Whilst such things might be common in many New Zealand gardens today, that was certainly not the case back then.

The other day I needed a bit of portable food to take to work for my dinner break.  With a bit of filo pastry in the fridge that needed to be used up, I thought some Spicy Vegetable Samosas would fit the bill perfectly.  Now do note that I am taking a bit of creative license here with the term samosa.  A true samosa normally uses quite a unique pastry which, after filling and folding, is then deep fried.  I'm still determined to give that a try, but on this occasion the filo was to hand, which made for a great substitute as well as saving on a bit of time.

The filling was delicious and "homely", and although I don't recall my grandmother ever making samosas, some similar kind of "savoury" - a flaky puff pastry case with a filling such as this - would have been far more likely to grace a plate for a gathering than the typical sausage roll.  Personally, I found these to be only very mildly spiced on the heat scale.  That said, the other mouth I feed declared them to be way too hot, so depending on your tastes you may want to cut back a bit on either the chilli or the cayenne pepper.

Spicy Vegetable Samosas Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey from
Makes 12

12 sheets filo pastry
sunflower oil

4x medium sized potatoes (about 800g - 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb)
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 medium sized leek, thinly sliced
175g (6 oz) frozen peas, thawed
5cm (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
1 small green chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
juice of 1x lemon

Cut potatoes in half and boil in their skins until fork tender.  Drain and set aside to cool completely.  Once potatoes have cooled completely, remove skins and cut into small dice.  You want the cubes of potato to be roughly the size of the peas.

Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and fry until softened, and just barely beginning to turn golden.  Add  peas, ginger, chilli, fresh coriander and water.  Stir for a few minutes until everything is well combined and peas are warm and tender.

Add potatoes, salt, ground coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne and lemon juice to the pan.  Stir to combine, and cook over gentle heat for a few minutes, stirring from time to time.  Taste and add a little more salt or lemon juice if necessary.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pea & Potato Filling for Samosas

Lay sheets of filo pastry out on a clean tea towel on your kitchen bench.  You will be working with one sheet at a time and, as sheets can dry out and become brittle very quickly, you should keep the remaining sheets of filo covered with a damp tea towel while you work.

Place a single filo sheet on another clean tea towel in front of you, and begin to fill and fold your pastries, following the directions in the following photos:

Folding Samosas 1
Lay sheet of filo on tea towel with long edge towards you and brush lightly with with oil

Folding Samosas 2
Fold in one third from one of the short ends, and then brush the folded-in section with a little more oil

Folding Samosas 3
Fold in the remaining third and again brush with a little oil

Folding Samosas 4
Place filling in a roughly "triangular" shape on the bottom left corner of the filo

Folding Samosas 5
Fold the bottom right corner of the filo over the filling

Folding Samosas Collage
Now keep folding, end over end, until you get to the top.
Then fold the end over and brush with a little more oil to seal.

Once all the pastries have been folded, place them on a baking sheet, seam side down, brushing the top lightly with a little more oil.  Put into a warm oven, preheated to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F), and bake until golden brown and crispy - about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Can be served hot straight from the oven, or these are just as good warm or at room temperature.

Spicy Vegetable Samosas 1

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

I am sharing this post this week with my friends Michelle at Ms. enPlace hosting See Ya In the Gumbo, and with April at The 21st Century Housewife hosting Gallery of Favourites.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Prawns in a Dark Sauce

Prawns in a Dark Sauce 2

I'm excited ... very excited.  If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that one of the places I like to play is at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  Each six months a new chef is chosen, who we get to know by cooking and posting their recipes, according to a different theme each week, and this week the group begins a new, 6-month culinary journey with the wonderful Madhur Jaffrey.

So why am I so excited?  Well, first of all, Madhur has long been one of my favourite chef's, and is definitely my favourite of all the chefs the group has cooked with so far (no slight intended against any of our previous chefs).  So there's that.

Secondly, I've had Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking in my cookbook collection for about 25 years, and although I've made several dishes from this book, I haven't used it nearly as much as I would like to.  So there's that too.

And, lastly, I'm excited because Indian food is the food of my childhood.  This is the food that makes me most nostalgic ... the food that sparked my love of being in the kitchen from a young age. Some of my earliest food memories, transport me back to Saturday afternoons in my grandparents' kitchen while they made preparations for Sunday lunch.  Nana would grind spices and roll little balls of lamb, while Grandad grated fresh coconut, for kofta curry.  Grandad would make gulab jamun - rolling balls of "cottage cheese", deep frying them and bathing them in a cardamom and rose water syrup.  Back in those days, many of the spices my grandmother used were not readily available at the corner grocer - there were no supermarkets around in those days - so she used to buy her spices from a big spice merchant down in Auckland's viaduct basin.  The spices were kept in the little brown paper bags they came in, and I used to love hauling a chair over to the cupboard where they were stored, opening the door and breathing in the heady aromas.


Then Sunday morning would roll around, and after church Nana would pull up her sleeves and begin to make the parantha (Indian flatbreads), as the family began to gather around the table.  Steaming plates of rice and curry would be brought to the table, with big piles of the parantha, jugs of dahl, and long "wands" of cucumber marinating in tall jugs filled with chilled, salty water.  Throughout lunch, background music was provided by the Sunday Request Session on the radio - everyone's favourite was "Silver Threads & Golden Needles".  Mum and her sister would regale us with stories of their own childhood growing up in Calcutta, stories we loved to hear so much that my brother and I would ask for them to be told over and over again.  

Once the last gulab jamun had been devoured, and dishes done, we would retire to the lounge for the Sunday afternoon "old-time" movie on TV.  Once movie time was over afternoon tea would ensue, and after another couple of hours of reminiscing, an early dinner of lunch leftovers and a batch of pholouries (little chickpea fritters, similar to a pakora) would finish off the day. 

Surprisingly though, despite my history with Indian food, I don't cook it as often as you might expect, so I'm really looking forward to the next six months of making Indian dishes a regular fixture at my table.

So for our first dish this week - a Potluck theme to "Welcome Madhur" - I headed straight to the bookcase.  I chose Prawns in a Dark Sauce ... what could be more welcoming?!  This dish was very reminiscent of many I ate during my childhood, though we would never have had prawns - more likely it would have been served with fish.  Indeed, you could definitely substitute a firm-fleshed white fish in this dish if you wanted.  In fact, if you wanted to make a vegetarian version of this, you could easily substitute chunks of roasted aubergine, or mushrooms, or even hard-boiled eggs.  With only 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, there is no significant heat in this recipe, but the subtle layering of spices certainly delivers some warmth and complex flavours.  This is a very quick and easy dish, and would be perfect for a quick, mid-week, after-work dinner.  I served this with plain basmati rice, and a simple tomato, cucumber, and coriander salad.

Prawns in a Dark Sauce 1

Prawns in a Dark Sauce
Adapted, just barely, from recipe in
Serves 3
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1/2 onion, peeled & roughly chopped
2.5cm (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled
50 ml (1.5 fl oz) water
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1x small cinnamon stick
6x whole green cardamom pods
2x bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2x medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
5 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
275 ml (1/2 pint) water
generous pinch sea salt
300g peeled and deveined prawns
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
fresh coriander, generous handful finely chopped

Put the onion, ginger, garlic and 50 mls of water into blender, and blitz until the mixture becomes a paste.

Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat.  Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and bay leaves, and stir for a few seconds.  As soon as they start "spitting", add the onion, garlic and ginger paste to the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the paste becomes a light golden colour.

Now add the ground cumin and ground coriander, and fry for about 30 seconds.  Add the chopped tomatoes, and continue cooking until the tomatoes have softened down completely and you have a thick reddish-brown looking paste.  If desired you could pre-prepare the dish up to this stage.

Next add one tablespoon of the yoghurt, and keep cooking, stirring constantly, until the yoghurt is completely incorporated into the sauce.  Continue to the add the rest of the yoghurt, one tablespoon at a time, until it is all fully blended in.  Then add the turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir for a minute.

Now add the 275 mls water, salt, and prawns;  stir and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat slightly and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes or until you have a nice thick sauce and the prawns are cooked through - take care not to overcook them.  Sprinkle the garam masala over the top and stir in.

Serve immediately garnished with fresh coriander.

(Note:  The cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and bay leaves are not meant to be eaten, so you may prefer to remove them before serving)

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit Guilt-Free Ice Cream

Guilt-Free Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit Ice Cream 2

Could there be any better thing than eating ice cream for breakfast ... absolutely guilt-free?  I think not.  Now of course you could eat this for dessert, but personally I don't really see the point of dessert without a little guilt.  Dessert is, in my view, a time to indulge in every guilty pleasure imaginable and hang the consequences.  I'm sorry but phrases like "low-fat", "sugar-free", "dairy-free", "guilt-free" and, heaven forbid, "healthy alternative" are just not going to cut it for me when it comes to dessert.

On the other hand, if I can indulge in something that is tantamount to dessert for breakfast, without a shred of guilt .... well, that really does it for me.  And this ice cream fits the bill perfectly.  It is really nothing more than banana, yoghurt and vanilla extract - a frozen smoothie, if you like.  I love the fact that, with just a tiny bit of forward planning, you can sit up to a big bowl of this in the morning, and then go off to work with the double satisfaction of just having eaten ice cream and knowing you've had a good breakfast.  Now that's what I call a win-win.

You will need a banana, of course, cut into thin slices.  Pop the sliced banana into a snap-lock bag, and freeze for a couple of hours - I usually do this when I get home from work.  Next, remove frozen banana pieces from the freezer and put into your blender.  Add yoghurt.  Thanks to the spoils of my NZ Food Bloggers Conference goodie bag, I used a combination of The Collective Dairy's Luscious Lemon (my new favourite) and Passionfruit, but any flavour you like that would complement banana is fine.  Lastly, add a good shot of good quality vanilla extract - again, thanks to that goodie bag I used Equagold Tahitian Vanilla Syrup.  Blitz everything up in the blender until smooth, then return to the freezer to firm up.  I usually blend this up just before I go to bed, and then dig into a bowl of ice cream perfection when I get up in the morning.

NZFBA Conference Sponsors

Hope you give this a try.  There's something about indulging in ice cream for breakfast that makes me sail through my morning with a smug sense of satifaction .... you know that feeling you get when you feel as though you've done something a bit naughty and managed to get away with it.  Don't tell me that you don't know that feeling.

Guilt-Free Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit Ice Cream 1

Guilt-Free Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit Ice Cream Recipe
Makes one very generous serving
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1x banana
1/4 cup Luscious Lemon yoghurt *
1/4 cup Passionfruit yoghurt *
* or substitute flavour of your choice
1 tablespoon vanilla syrup

Note:  If using natural, unsweetened yoghurt,
I suggest adding a tablespoon or two of honey

Cut banana into thin slices, place in a snaplock bag, and freeze for a couple of hours.

Put frozen banana slices into blender, together with yoghurt and vanilla syrup.

Blend until completely smooth.

Put into plastic container and return to freezer to firm up.

I'm sharing this post with Sweet New Zealand, a monthly blog event created by the very lovely Alessandra Zecchini, and which I'm thrilled to be hosting this month right here at Couscous & Consciousness. This is an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen.  So, head on over here to share something sweet.

Sweet New Zealand Badge A

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sweet New Zealand # 15

Sweet New Zealand Badge

Amazingly, we are now into the 15th month of the Sweet New Zealand monthly blog event, created by the very lovely Alessandra Zecchini, and it is my pleasure to be hosting the event this month. This is an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen. You can find a round-up of all of last month's drool-worthy sweet treats on this page of Alessandra's blog - I want to try everything!  This is a really fun way for us all to get to know each other, and I hope you will all join in for another month.  If you're new to this event, the rules are simple:

1.   This event is open to all bloggers living in New Zealand (even if you are not a Kiwi), as well as all Kiwi bloggers living and blogging overseas.

2.   You can enter anything sweet: cakes, biscuits, slices, desserts, even drinks, and you may submit as many entries as you like, including old posts if you like.

3.   Your entry must contain the phrase Sweet New Zealand, the Sweet New Zealand badge (choose your own size), a link to the host, and to this post - so if you are submitting an older post remember to update it accordingly.

4.   To make submitting your entry really, really easy I have included a linky tool at the end of this post.  The linky will be open until 29 October and I will do a round-up of all entries on 31 October.  To use the linky tool, simply scroll down to where it says "You are next ... Click here to enter", and then follow the instructions.  If you prefer you can email your entry to me by 29 October, providing your name, your blog name and URL, your post URL, and a photo.  Please email to yoga(dot)tapas(at)gmail(dot)com.

And that's it - no more rules!  Have fun and I look forward to seeing all your sweet entries.