It’s been a month and half since I was on the streets and in the markets in Hanoi. The fruit vendor’s bamboo baskets have changed but maintain a similar shade of green from the unripe mangoes in June to the granny smith green guavas of early August.
Yesterday was the last day of summer holidays and Ms. Ten Year Old wanted to bake something for her snack for the first day of Grade 5. The abundance of guavas sprang to mind and I thought about adapting our carrot bread recipe but could not find any large, apple-sized guavas and had to settle for the plum-sized ones instead. Since the smaller guavas could not easily be grated without including some of the populous seeds I turned to a banana coconut bread recipe in Naomi Duguid’s Homebaking that requires 3 cups of pureed bananas for inspiration.
The variety of guavas I used are unripe/semi ripe and are to be eaten that way, like an apple. So I needed to first make a puree before continuing with the remainder of the recipe. I’m also a sucker for a crunchy crumb topping on my quick breads or muffins and had some leftover in the freezer from a large batch baking session back before I left. That topping had oats instead of the coconut I have suggested in the recipe below.
2 or 3 ripe bananas (depending on size), mashed to make 1 cup of puree
½ pound (225 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
⅓ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened grated coconut
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Grease and flour two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans.
Peel and roughly chop the guava. Place in a medium sized pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes. Check to see that all of the water has not evaporated (if it has add another ⅓ cup) and give a good stir to make sure that some of the guava has not stuck to the bottom of the pot. Recover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. The guava should now be soft. Transfer the guava to a blender and blend for about a minute until you have a puree.
Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Working in stages pour a third of the mixture into the strainer and use a spatula to press the puree through the strainer leaving the seeds behind. Repeat with the rest of the puree. Measure out 2 cups of puree into a medium sized bowl - this should be all of it; if you have more keep to make a nice smoothie; if you have a little less top up with some banana puree. Mix in 1 cup of banana puree and set aside
As the guava is cooking prepare the crumb topping. In a small bowl use a fork to combine the sugar, flour and coconut. Add the butter in chunks and mix with back of fork or fingertips until coarse crumbs are formed. Set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add and mix in the eggs and vanilla extract. Beginning with the fruit puree, alternating with the flour mixture, stir in about one cup mixing until evenly combined. Once the puree and flour mixture have both been combined the batter should be smooth and evenly combined. Stir in the coconut.
Spoon the batter into the greased loaf pans. Sprinkle each loaf with half of the topping.
Place the pans on a baking sheet on a rack in the centre of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the tops are golden and a cake tester/ toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack removing from the pans about 30 minutes later. Allow to cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap.
During the summer months when the mango, ripe or otherwise, is king Indians transform the fruit numerous ways. One of the most refreshing results is a cooling aam panna, literally mango water, a lightly spiced celadon green concoction. Some homemade recipes add spices such as roasted cumin or black salt. I have decided to omit the spices as I didn’t expect my kids to like them and simply added some fresh mint. For a late afternoon adult version a shot of dark rum brings a welcomed zing.
The hard unripe mangoes need to be cooked, either boiled or roasted. Roasting is preferred as the flavour is more intense and they become a bit sweeter, evidenced by the slight caramel residue left on the baking sheet by the natural juices.
You may feel that cooking 1kg of green mango may be too much but it is worthwhile as it will save time when you want to make a quick drink. Once the fruit is cooked, puree the flesh on its own and put half of it in a container in the freezer for future use. Then simply follow the half recipe at the end.
½ cup mint leaves (1 or 2 bunches depending on size)
6 tablespoons sugar
1 litre cold water
1 cup ice
Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C.
Place the green mangoes on a baking sheet and into the oven.
Roast the mangoes for 15 minutes and then turn them over and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes or until a dull green colour and fully soft when touched. Remove from the oven and cool to the touch.
Alternatively, place the green mangoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the mangoes are fully soft when touched. Using a large spoon or tongs remove from water to a plate and let cool.
Cut the mangoes in half and use a spoon to scoop out all of the flesh off the skin and the pit.
Place the flesh in a blender along with the rest of the other ingredients. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes depending on how well your machine blends.
Use a spoon to check to see if the mix is fibrous or not. If it is still somewhat fibrous pass it through a fine mesh strainer that has been placed over a larger bowl.
Pour into a pitcher and chill in the fridge. Keeps for several days refrigerated.
Half Recipe 1 ¼ cup cooked, pureed green mango pulp ¼ cup mint leaves 3 tablespoons water 2 cups cold water ½ cup ice
At this time of year in Hanoi, green mangoes are everywhere. Not that I want to escape them but it seems that I can’t go two hundred feet without coming across a woman from the country side standing beside her bicycle with a bamboo basket full of green mangoes. Each green mango laden bicycle I pass prompts me to mull over potential recipes and flavor combinations. Should it be a spicy, Thai inspired salad, always a favourite or a small batch of sweet sour Indian green mango chutney equally good for an Indian meal or as an accompaniment for some good cheese or grilled meat?
Last week my wife had informed me that we were off to our friend’s house for dinner and that we needed to take dessert. That day was already quite packed and so I needed something quick and easy to make. Coming back from the market on my trusty red Vespa I spotted a basket of the elusive burgundy, scarlet and claret berries for which I had been keeping my eye out. The beginning of green mango season coincides with the very short mulberry season and so upon spotting the more difficult to find berries I immediately knew what I was going to make.
I bought a few handfuls of the mulberries and 3 green mangoes from another vendor just a few yards away and I was set. Keeping in mind that the dish would need to be child friendly, I decided to add a couple of apples to the mix. I had tricked my kids earlier in the week by serving them a green mango mint cooler, aam pudina panna, by leaving out the ‘green’ in the name but I wasn’t sure that they were going to want to eat this dessert if there wasn’t something in the title that they were familiar. Plus, I wanted something slightly sweet to counter the tartness from the green mangoes and the mulberries. The apples would also add some needed pectin to the dish. To the crust I added some freshly grated coconut to bring a tropical nuttiness to the dish.
In the end the older kids, ages 8, 10 and early 40s devoured the dessert but the two 5 year olds weren’t so interested. Don’t make the mistake I did which was forgetting some vanilla ice cream to disguise fact that there were some fruits the younger kids weren’t fully comfortable with. If you are living outside of Asia for the next few months you should be able to find some green mangoes at your local Asian shops. As different berries, or even rhubarb, come in season you can easily substitute them for the mulberries.
2 tablespoons instant or pearl tapioca (or substitute same amount of tapioca flour or regular flour)
⅓ cup oats
½ cup grated coconut, unsweetened
1 cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup cold unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 375F/ 190C.
Cut off any small twigs, if any, from the mulberries. Fill a large bowl with water, add the berries and swish them around gently with your hands to loosen any dirt. Wait a minute for the dirt particles to sink to the bottom and using a slotted spoon, spider or your hands remove the mulberries to a waiting dish. Drain the water, rinsing away any settled dirt and wash the mulberries one more time. Drain well and set the mulberries in a large bowl.
Peel the green mangoes and cut around the large flat pit to get two halves plus a few other smaller pieces. Cut the halves and other pieces into 1 ½ inch cubes. Place over the mulberries in the large bowl.
Peel and core the apples and cut the apples into 1 inch cubes. (Note: the mango chunks should be larger than the apples so that the more tender mango pieces do not overcook by the time the apple pieces are soft and tender) Add to bowl of cut fruit.
Sprinkle the sugar and tapioca pearls, or flour if using, over the fruit and gently toss to mix well. Transfer the mixture to an 8 by 11 inch baking dish (or one that holds the 8 cups of cut fruit).
In a medium bowl, toss the oats with the coconut, flour, white and brown sugars, and cinnamon. Grate the butter, using the large holes of a grater, over the flour mixture. Alternatively you can cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and toss into the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, mix the butter until the topping has pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.
Place the filled baking dish onto a tray and into the middle level of the preheated oven. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is starting to bubble around the edges of the dish.
Let the crisp cool for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream (vanilla or ginger) or whipped cream.
This week throughout the world various religious celebrations have brought family and friends together: Muslims celebrating Eid and Hindus worshipping the elephant God Lord Ganesh with the festival Ganesha Chaturthi. Although I do not practice either religion I still felt it necessary to get some old and new friends together for a celebration.
A slight chill in the air has arrived indicating soon summer will abruptly end. But there is still much work and harvesting to be done in the farmer’s fields. Ripe heirloom tomatoes, multi-coloured beets, fragrant golden apricots and an organic chicken shaped the menu with my friends: a beet, tomato, cumin salad; fenugreek chicken curry; and poached apricots scented with cardamom and saffron.
For the beet and tomato salad I decided to use golden and ruby beets. In order to preserve their colour each beet variety needs to be cooked separately. Similarly, I used a few varieties of heirloom tomatoes. It is important to try and cut them roughly the same size. Don’t worry if you cannot find fenugreek sprouts as other seedlings can easily be substituted.
1 lb. beets (small or medium sized are preferred)
1 lb. tomatoes
½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
3 spring onions, finely chopped
½ cup fenugreek sprouts or micro green sprouts such as radish or sunflower
¼ cup coriander, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place beets in a large sized pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium high and cook for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool for about 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Use your hands or paring knife to peel the beets. Cut beets into bite sized wedges or pieces. Place in bowl with cut tomatoes.
While the beets are cooking, core tomatoes and cut into bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
Sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper over cut vegetables. Toss in lemon juice, spring onions and sprouts. Mix the salad well and adjust seasoning if needed.
This Punjabi chicken dish is one of my favourites. It is a great dish to serve large groups. I learned how to make it with dried fenugreek leaves, known as kasoori methi. If you are fortunate to get your hands on some fresh fenugreek leaves substitute one large bunch for the dried fenugreek. Simply wash and roughly chop the fresh leaves and proceed as normal for the remainder of the recipe (no need to soak the fresh leaves as required with the dried ones).
1 kg boneless chicken thighs (breast can also be used)
1 ½ cups diced onion
3 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
3 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
8 green cayenne chillies, slit lengthwise
1 box (25 grams) dried fenugreek (kasoori methi)
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
5 green cardamoms
1 bay leaf
½ to 1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 cup diced tomatoes (if using canned, do not add liquid from can)
1 cup yogurt
½ to 1 cup water
Salt, to taste (approx. 1 ½ tsp)
A generous pinch of garam masala
2 tbsp ginger, julienned
¼ cup coriander, roughly chopped
Place dried fenugreek in a medium bowl and cover with water. Rehydrate for 20-30 minutes. Drain, discard water and lightly squeeze out any remaining moisture.
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Lower heat to medium and stir in ginger, garlic and slit chillies. Cook for 2 minutes. Add whole and ground spices. Cook for another couple of minutes. Add rehydrated fenugreek (or fresh, if using) and tomatoes. Stir fry for a few more minutes. Add chicken, some salt, and cook for another 5 minutes or until most of the pieces have turned white and lost their raw colour.
Stir in yogurt. Add enough water to almost cover the chicken pieces. Cover the pot and bring the curry to a good simmer. Leave the cover slightly ajar, lower the heat and gently for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
Adjust seasoning, if needed and garnish with julienned ginger, pinch of garam masala and roughly chopped coriander. Serve with basmati rice, naan or fresh whole wheat chapattis.
This is an easy and light dessert. Scented with cardamom and saffron, it can be made with fresh or dried apricots. I like serving it with ice cream or thickened yogurt and a homemade gingersnap cookie.
1 pound fresh apricots (or 18-21 dried apricots)
3 cups water
¾ cup sugar
10 green cardamom pods
Pinch of saffron
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
Place sugar, water and lemon juice (if using) in a medium or large sized pot. Stir to dissolve sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.
While the syrup is coming to a boil remove seeds from the cardamom pods. Discard husks. Place seeds, pinch of saffron in a mortar and pestle and pound to a fine powder. Add to the sugar syrup.
Halve and deseed the apricots. Add to the spiced sugar syrup and bring the syrup back to a boil.
When it has reached the boil, cover and turn off the heat. Set aside and let the apricots steep for about 30 minutes.
Serve warm with thickened yogurt, ice cream or rice pudding- and gingersnap cookies.
If making in advance, put apricots and syrup in a container to cool and for storage in the fridge.
NOTE: This was originally posted on my blog India On My Plate September 02, 2011
Walking through the narrow lanes of Old Delhi in the summer heat is a tiring affair. Rarely, I would visit Old Delhi in the summer but when I did I was always on the lookout for something to drink or eat to help cool down and rehydrate. Most of the time it would be some sort of lassi. One day walking down the main road, Chadni Chowk, I saw a streetfood vendor selling watermelon chaat. Large chunks of watermelon were sprinkled with some chaat masala, chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice. It was simple, refreshing and satisfying. The following recipe, inspired by this street side delight, is my own, but in the form of a salad. It is easy, quick, requires no cooking and, thus, perfect for those extremely hot days of summer. Cut and prepare this salad at the last minute as once it is mixed it tends to give off some liquid. It goes well with any type of grilled meat, fish or seafood.