Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Duck, Duck, Tandoor!

    A couple of weeks ago I set out to cook some wild ducks in my Homdoor Tandoori oven. I was "gifted" these ducks by a friend who hunts. He only eats the meat he occasionally hunts, he never shops for it and he got a couple of extra ducks that his family didn't need, so he rang my doorbell. We don't eat meat very often, mainly on Christmas, and Thanksgiving, so when I was  looking for something that I could cook up in my  Homdoor Tandoor Oven  those ducks were just quacking my name. 

There are a lot of game recipes in some of my older Indian cookbooks, where the chefs all start their bios by talking about getting "thrashed" as young kitchen boys by their stern taskmaster senior chefs. A lot of those books feature game, black partridge, red jungle fowl, quail, bar headed goose, you get the picture. The only one I was familiar with was Quail as we have quite a covey of them living in our hedges, but these were wild ducks, Pin Tailed ducks to be precise, and I had one in my freezer courtesy of our friend. So Duck was what I decided to go with.

I've plucked, cleaned, and cooked wild duck before. My dad had a friend who hunted and he'd occasionally drop off a bird or two to the house and I'd go out into the back yard and get to work on them. I was about 13 at the time, no one else was willing to do it, so of course I pulled an old wooden kitchen chair up onto the cement backyard, set down the San Francisco Chronicle around me like carpet and got to plucking. I'll have to admit, cooking pre-cleaned, prepped and ready wild duck was a LOT easier, and took a lot less time. All I had to do was make a tandoori marinade and let them set overnight in it.

Cooking in the Homdor Tandoor is just like barbecuing except faster since the temperatures one cooks at are so high. Any tandoor dish can be grilled on a BBQ but the Tandoor is easier and faster and waaaay more authentic in flavor.  So here's a simple marinade for wild duck which also works for chicken. It's not as complicated as many tandoor marinades I've made but all the ingredients are easily found in your local market, if you don't already have them at home. So here goes!

Wild Duck Tandoor

Here's What You Need:

1:    1 wild duck or chicken. If it's chicken remove the skin. The skin can be left on the duck as it's quite crispy and delicious out of the tandoor, and not greasy or fatty like domestic duck.

2: 1 3/4 cups of full fat yogurt 

3: I Serrano chili

4: Juice of 1 lemon

5: 4 shallots or garlic cloves crushed

6: 2 Tbs sesame oil

7: 2 tsps ground coriander

8: 1 tsp ground cumin

9: 1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped

10: 1 tsp Kashmiri chili (mix equal parts of ceyanne and paprika to get an equivalent taste)

11: 1 tsp. turmeric

12: 1 large onion

13: 3 tsps apple cider vinegar 

14: red and yellow food coloring (optional)


Here's What To Do:

Blend the onion, garlic, or shallot, Serrano chili, and ginger together in a food processor.

Add in the yogurt, sesame oil,  and vinegar.

Add in the turmeric, cumin,  kashmiri chili, and coriander.

Make slits in the skin of the duck or directly into the chicken meat.

Salt the meat to taste.

 Pour the lemon juice over the duck parts.

In a small bowl mix together red and yellow food coloring, until you get an orange tint, brush that on the duck.

Pour the rest of it into the yogurt marinade mixture, then put the duck in a glass, or stainless steel bowl. Pour the marinade over it.

Work the marinade in to the meat.

Then put a lid on the container and refrigerate it overnight for cooking the next day.

The next afternoon, we fired up the old Homdoor Tandoor Oven. If you are using a tandoor oven, clean and oil your skewers. Do NOT poke yourself with them as it hurts, and no matter how many times I tell myself this it always happens, at least once I become a tandoor pin cushion.

Use small pieces of potato or onion to hold whatever you're cooking on the skewers. Tandoor is not fun if everything you've marinated just slides right off into the purifying flames. Always place a stopper between the pieces of whatever you are cooking which helps it all cook evenly.

Notice the handy temperature gun. This is a great little device I think I paid about 15 bucks for and it tells you just how hot your fire is. You want that sucker to get to about 525, or 550 for cooking this dish.

When your temperature is ready, it's time to load the skewers in to the oven.

The temperature is controlled buy adjusting the lid and a small bottom draft door.

Skewers in position.

The lid goes on partially covering the top of the oven to keep the heat in. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes

Check the progress during the cooking, you want to rotate your skewers every few minutes so the roast is even.

When the Duck is done, take it out of the tandoor. 

Slide it off of the skewers carefully,  without launching it into the neighbors yard for their dogs to enjoy. Plate it and serve it up.

Tandoor is generally served with a side of pickled red onion (find the recipe right there) lemon wedges, a mint and yogurt raita, and an Indian dried fruit salad with rosewater. This was delicious! I only wish we could have had friends and family over to enjoy it with us. Hopefully we'll be able to entertain outdoors soon as I have a lot more tandoor recipes to share.  Coming up next...Kheema, but with no meat! Stay tuned!.

Follow along on Twitter @kathygori  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Rosewater, Pistachios, And Dried Fruit Makes An Easy Indian Salad

   Two weeks ago I was planning a Valentines day post. I was going to cook a couple of wild ducks, gifted us by a friend in my tandoor. Some unforseen issues came up and I didn't get to the tandoor ducks (which yes, I will be featuring very soon) but I did manage to get my side dish made which is an Indian  Rosewater and Dried Fruit Salad recipe, sort of a cross between a relish and a chutney. About those Indian salads. I have a LOT of recipes for them and I've made plenty over the years . Most Indian salads don't resemble what non Indians may think of as "salad." Indian salads aren't full of lettuce, or ranch dressing, or croutons, but they have a healthy charm all their own, and no absence of flavor. 

   This is a bright, tasty salad, and as for the ingredients, you likely have some in your kitchen right now. And if you don't you can find what you need at almost any market. Dried fruit, pistachios, star anise, sugar, water, and rosewater. That's it. It doesn't get much simpler.

Dates, apricots, dried cherries, dried figs, currants are the base of the salad. It also contains chopped pistachios, which can be substituted for walnuts if you'd like.


 Indian Rosewater And Dried Fruit Salad


Here's What You Need:

70 grams (2.4 ozs) Dried apricots

70 grams dried cherries

70 grams dried figs

70 grams dried currants

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 cup of  fresh squeezed orange juice 

(I used blood oranges because I had some and I love the color)

2 star anise

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup pistachios (or walnuts)

1/2 Tbs rosewater

Here's What To Do:

Chop all of the fruit into bite size pieces.

Put the fruit into a large salad bowl.

Add in the nuts.

Mix everything together and set it aside.

Juice the oranges.

Pour the orange juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, and the star anise into a small pot. Combine everything well and simmer the mixture until it turns syrupy.

While I was waiting for everything to get to the right consistency I watched the bird battles going on around the feeder outside the kitchen window. Everybody wants their regular seating at the feeder and walk-ins aren't particularly welcome, at least when that red breasted guy's around.

 Once the syrup is ready, strain it over the fruit mixture and toss the whole spices.

Mix everything together.

And cover with plastic wrap. Allow the salad to rest until the fruit is soft, then drizzle it with the Rosewater.

Stir everything together and serve it up.

  This is a great relish for any chicken, duck, game hen, whatever. It's also good with rice and lentil dishes and well, on the side with almost anything. You might even use it to top ice cream or a sundae. Try that with any ordinary lettuce salad. Dare ya. 

I have been informed that my husband would like to road-test that particular idea so maybe you'll be seeing that soon. Coming up next ,more Indian recipes including a vegetarian masala kheema. Follow along in Twitter @kathygori

Friday, January 15, 2021

Rice Is Nice With Cauliflower And Potatoes. When I Give Regal Rice A Test Drive.

   Waaaaay back in February of last year, and it seems longer ago than that, I started laying in supplies for Quarantine. The minute I heard Dr. Messonnier say "a disruption of everyday life might be severe" I thought...uh oh...where's my yeast? Actually that wasn't my first thought, my first thought was where's my toilet paper!

   I grew up in the house with an ex-military, turned first responder. My dad was a fireman in SF, later lieutenant of the Rescue Squad EMTs and so life was all about being prepared, always sitting in the very back of theaters, always noticing where the exits are when I enter a room, you get the drill and yeah, I got the drill. We had fire drills at home, we practiced dropping out of the upstairs windows, dad first then mom helping us out the window, and finally her turn to hang on and drop into my fathers arms. 

   What's that got to do with toilet paper?  A lot. My dads' family were immigrants and so they knew how to prepare and stock up for almost anything cheaply. We had cupboards of on sale TP, paper towels, a whole bunch of off brand stuff but we were prepped! It's something I was raised with even before becoming a Girl Scout, Be Prepared. So back in February I checked my larder. Since I cook a LOT of Indian food I was stocked with lentils, rices, spices, atta flour, and of course rice.

   I got Covid early in March and so I wasn't doing any cooking for about two months. When I emerged from my isolation I was all stocked up and ready to go, but cooking everyday, all meals, you run through stuff fast and that's when I discovered it was hard to get rice in the quantities I wanted, and I wanted the good stuff. I took what I could get, and then the people at  Regal Harvest reached out to me and asked me if I'd like to try their rice. I was just about to search out more Basmati rice since the pantry was getting low, of course I said yes!

   I expected a small sample pack but was surprised and delighted when I received a large bag. I opened it and was greeted by the lovely golden color and aroma of good Basmati Rice. I'd really been missing that ! So, what to make first? All I could think of was "shelf stable," the vegetables that last the longest in my cold storage, and what I had in the garden. And so....a very simple dish, which makes for an easy  lunch, or as a side dish for any sort of meal.

Rice With Cauliflower And Potatoes

Here's What You Need:

1 cup of Basmati rice

2 Tbs  vegetable oil, butter or ghee ( I use coconut oil)

t tsp cumin seed

2 bay leaves

1 inch cinnamon stick

1 black cardamom pod

4 black peppercorns

5 whole cloves

1 medium red onion thinly sliced

1 yukon gold potato peeled and cut into 1/2 pinch cubes

1/2 of a medium sized cauliflower, cut into small florets 

1 tsp turmeric

1 and 1/2 tsps kashmiri chili powder (if you don't have it try a mix of cayenne and paprika) 

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp kosher salt

Here's What To Do:

put the rice in a bowl, rinse it in cold water about  3 times and then drain it.

Add three cups of water to the bowl of drained rice and let it sit for about 20 minutes

then drain it into a strainer

 Heat the oil or butter or ghee in a medium sized pot or pan over medium heat.

When the butter or oil gets hot, add in the cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, peppercorns, and cloves. When they become fragrant add in the onion.

Saute the onion until it's lightly browned (about 3 or 4 minutes)

Add in the potato and cauliflower.

Saute over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

Now add in the soaked rice...

...the turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, salt, and stir.

MIx everything together well.

Add two cups of hot water.

And stir again.

Bring everything to a boil, then cover the pot or pan turn the heat down to low and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until your rice is tender. 

Serve it up with some chopped fresh cilantro

This was a great main meal for lunch. The next day I took the left overs and mixed in some Indian spiced shrimp and bingo! This time I had dinner.

   What I love about this dish was the fact that it took very little time to get lunch ready, always important on a work day. The ingredients are readily available. If you don't have black cardamom don't sweat it there's really no substitute and the dish will be just fine anyway. It's a perfect answer to using up those shelf stable or rather cold drawer stuff like potatoes and cauliflower. If your cauliflower has been shelf stable for a while, don't worry any random brown spots can be trimmed away. I hate wasting food, especially when we're trying to get the most use out of what we've got, so I found his guy on the internet who has a pretty interesting article on his site... Toss or Keep 

There's a lot of knowledge there if you want to get the most out of what you've got to work with as my grandma used to say. Though I don't know if she was talking about beauty or vegetables. The Regal Harvest rice was tender and delicious, and that fabulous Basmati aroma filled the kitchen. I'm already planning some more dishes with Regal Harvest and I'm very grateful for getting such wonderful rice to play with during my pandemic cooking.

 Coming up next, hopefully a break in our cold and drippy weather will allow me to fire up the tandoor oven without needing an umbrella. Stay tuned and follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Yes, Creamy Vegan Chocolate Pudding , And Is It Too Early For a New Years Resolution...Asking For A Friend

    Well, we're already almost at the end of by all accounts...the worst year ever...almost. I'm not going to count all the millennia of volcanic eruptions, dinosaur destruction, war, famine and all the rest. I'm just talking in recent memory, okay, my recent memory if we're being exact. I've had bad years just like everyone else.  Cancer, writers strikes, injuries, family deaths, personal disappointments, breakups, you name it. But you know that old saying when people are excited and happy about something,.. "it's like all  my birthdays came at once" ? Yeah, well this year is the opposite of that. 

   Speaking of birthdays I spent mine this last year in isolation with covid. I was sick for two months and change, but I did emerge from the other side alive, only a little bit worse for wear, and I didn't manage to infect anyone else in the family. I had two hospital visits, one to the ER in March at the start and another for them to do an endoscopy at the end of it all in May. I was very lucky.

   On the other hand, I did start baking sourdough made form my own starter. From scratch. Since I've been back on my feet, I've been back to work writing, and we haven't had an "outside meal" even takeout since February so it's been hard to blog when it seems like I'm either at the stove or in the office every day, all day. My New Years Resolution therefore is to get back to posting more.

    I had big plans for this year, and when the shutdown happened I thought, great, I can post a lot more recipes, there will be more time. And then in the first week of March I got covid and so was sidelined for two months, and then it was hard to get back to cooking. I was tired. And when we went back at work and I was writing all day, then cooking what seemed like all day, the energy to post was gone.

   But now, I'm back and I'm determined to share a lot of the stuff I've been experimenting with during this plague time, and this recipe is one I spotted online in the NYT, and since  it featured Oat Milk, (my new favorite) I had to try it and I'm passing this great recipe along. I buy Oatly Oat Milk which is shelf stable in my fridge for months at a time so I can have this any time at all. Did I mention it makes up super quickly?  It does. Which is handy because I've found it disappears just as quickly.


Oat Milk Chocolate Pudding


Here's What You Need :

1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa. I try and find the best I can, usually its Valrhona cocoa

3 and 1/2 TBs corn starch

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

2 cups unsweetened oat milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 oz chocolate chips or just plain chopped chocolate (dairy free or regular depending on how you want to go with this)

Here's What To Do:

 Assemble your ingredients.

The first time I made this pudding I used Oatlys Barista Blend because that's all I had on hand, after that I just used regular unsweetened oat milk, and  it worked beautifully.

Sift your cocoa and cornstarch through a sieve into a medium heavy saucepan

Stir in sugar and salt using a silicone spatula or spoon.

Add in 1/4 of the milk and stir until the mixture in the pot forms a paste.

Like this.

When you have your paste, start slowly stirring in the rest of the milk.

Cook the pudding mix over a medium heat, stirring constantly with the spatula. The mixture will turn thick and bubbly. This takes about 6-8 minutes

Take the pot off the heat and add in the vanilla...

...and your chopped chocolate bits.

Stir the chocolate bits into the hot pudding mix.

When it's all melted together, pour it into serving dishes and press some cling film onto the top to keep it for forming a skin.

Pop it into the fridge...and bingo. You are done!

As soon as it chills, enjoy.

I like serving this with a nice glass of cutting chai made with Assam tea flavored with ginger, cardamom, cloves, and some other spices. I've lately been buying my tea from a grower in India VahdamTeas

If you are into tea, I've found them to be excellent. Where I live its difficult to get good loose leaf tea  and a couple of quick glasses of chai in the afternoon are the perfect pick me up.

Hoping everyone has a safe, and sane Holiday season and New Year. We'll be eating and skyping with family, and I'll be popping up with more recipes, more often. And I'll also be firing up the old tandoor on a  regular basis. So the coming year should be one of feasting and hopefully as we get vaccinated we'll all be able to gather again with family and friends. At least the amount of dishes and gear I'll be washing after Christmas dinner will be a lot less this year, or so I keep telling myself.

 Here's to a MUCH BETTER 2021 for us, everyone! And as my mom used to say back in the 90's......


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