Paella and where to buy Paelleras and Cazuelas in Spain

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We had a great holiday in Spain in November. On my list for Have To Do in Spain was buying a paella pan or a Paellera and Cazuelas, those gorgeous terracotta bowls that the Spanish cook and serve their tapas in. I did a bit of research on the net before we left. Our last stop was Barcelona so I was looking for places there. One recommendation was El Corte Inglés, a department store, which I never managed to get to. They apparently have a really good kitchen section. The other suggestion which I got a off a thread on Chowhound (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/732319) was to go to a Ferreteria or an ironmonger where the locals shop. I had an address with me and the server at a restaurant we ate also recommended the same store.

It was 3:30 and we had to wait 1/2 an hour for the shop to open after siesta. It was worth the wait. Lots of lovely pots and pans, nuts and bolts and paelleras and cazuelas. Also giant paelleras as you can see from the photograph of the outside. I went a bit mad. Thankfully the cazuelas survived the trip back.

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I finally got around to trying out a paella recipe – today’s Sunday lunch.  I adapted a recipe by Gino D’Acampo off the itv website. According to everything I’ve read this isn’t the genuine Valencian Paella. Seeing what we ate and enjoyed in Spain was Paella Turista, so it tasted right to us and was yum.

Paella

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Ingredients

Olive oil, for frying

4 chicken breasts, cut into pieces

200 g prawns

6-8 slices of chorizo

1 red pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

A pinch of chilli flakes

2 tsp smoked paprika

A large pinch of saffron

2 cups paella rice (I used a short grain Indian rice – Kollam)

3 cups hot fresh chicken stock

125 ml white wine

1/2 tin chopped tomatoes

1 small bunch of parsley, chopped

The zest of 1 lime

Method

Heat up a generous splash of olive oil in a paella pan and add the chicken. Once the chicken has started to brown, stir in the chorizo, pepper, onion, garlic and chilli. Cook until the vegetables have softened, before adding the smoked paprika.

Mix the saffron into the hot stock.

Stir in the rice and allow to toast for a few minutes, followed by the wine. Allow to boil to remove the alcohol then add the stock and chopped tomatoes. Season with a little salt, stir once, cover and leave for about 15 minutes.

Add the prawns. Cover loosely with some foil and cook over a very low heat for another 5 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Scatter the lime zest and the parsley over the cooked paella.

Squeeze some lime over your paella and enjoy.

(There were mussels in the original recipe and I couldn’t get any, also peas and I’m not crazy about them)

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The Origins of Paella

The Moors from North Africa, Arabs and Berbers, conquered Spain and introduced rice. From this mix of cultural influences a dish known as paella was born in Valencia. There are differing opinions of where the word originated. One is that it has a common etymological root with pilaf and pulao. The other opinion is that the word came from the name of the pan in which it is cooked, also called the paella, which came from the Latin patella. It would be nice if the Latin word has a connection with the Indian cooking pot, patila 🙂

The address where I bought my paellera and cazuelas-

Targa

Ferreteria Domestica

Pla del Palau, S-G

C 9003, Barcelona

+ 34 93 3199 241

http://www.targa.cat/

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Rural Food 3 – Mumtaz

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Mumtaz or Asha didi, as she’s called by everyone, comes from Belgaum in Karnataka from a family of sari weavers. Her father couldn’t find work in the village and moved to Bombay to work in a cotton mill in Prabhadevi. Asha didi grew up both in Bombay and then for awhile in the village. She fell in love with a Tamilian Muslim electrician, Mohammad, at the age of 15 and got married and has 4 daughters. Asha didi cleans our apartment and her youngest daughter helps with the cooking.

Her mother died when she was very young and she was brought up by her aunt who is a really good cook. These 2 recipes using green tomatoes were taught by her.

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Green Tomatoes

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Green Tomato Chutney with Sesame Seeds and Peanuts

Ingredients

250 grammes green tomatoes

2 dry red chiliies

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 a cup peanuts

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

10 curry leaves

1 tablespoon oil

salt

Method

Heat the oil in wok and stir fry the whole tomatoes till they’re a little brown Remove. Roughly chop the tomatoes

Add the red chillies, sesame seeds and peanuts to the oil and stir till they start going a bit brown. Turn off the heat.

Cool and then put in a blender with the tomatoes. Add salt

Put a tablespoon of oil in the wok and fry mustard seeds and curry leaves Add tomatoes paste to wok and cook for about 3-5 minutes till the extra liquid dries up

Eat with rice, dal and maybe some fried fish. Happiness….

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And then delicious prawns with coastal flavours …

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Prawns cooked with Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

250 grammes green tomatoes

1/2 a kilogramme peeled and washed, small to medium sized prawns

oil

salt

fresh coriander to sprinkle

Method

Grind together –

4 dry red chillies

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ an onion

1 teaspoon cumin

4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon coriander seeds or 1 tablespoon coriander powder

small handful of tamarind or 1 tablespoon tamarind paste

1 cup grated coconut

Method

Chop the tomatoes into small quarters. Heat oil and cook the tomatoes till they’re reddish brown. Remove from the wok.

Add the ground spices to the oil with salt and cook for about 10 minutes till the oil separates. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 2-3 minutes on a medium flame.

Add the prawns and cook for 2-3 till the prawns are cooked.

Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and eat with rice, roti, neer dosa or appam.

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Rural Food 2 – Varuna

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Varuna Thapa is a Ghurkha who comes from a village up in the Himalayas near Kerseong in West Bengal. She left home when she was very young and has worked as a domestic help, a cook and now as my daughter’s s nanny. She’s a great cook. She worked with Punjabis before us and makes good Punjabi food (great parathas – essential skill in a semi Punjabi home). She lives with us and besides looking after my daughter helps out around the house.

She goes home once a year for a month usually in October or November depending on when Dussehra and Diwali are. She takes a train and it takes her 2 days and a night. And then its another 2 1/2 hours to her place by local buses. I have no idea how she does it. It’s a gruelling trip. But she does have the mountains at the end of it. That would be compensation for me. This time she bought a camera and took lots of pictures of her family and home and especially lots that she knew I’d love – pictures of the mountains, foodie pictures and life during the 3 festivals she went home for – Dussehra, Diwali and Bhai Tikka.

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Varuna in her parent’s living room. Dussehra tikka on her forehead

Dussehra is their main festival. They say a prayer to the goddess Durga and then the head of the house smears a paste called Nau Durga Bhavani ka Tikka on to everyones forehead. To make the tikka they soak rice in water, strain it, add a reddish pink colour and mix it with yoghurt.

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Varuna’s grandmother with family. The table set up for the Diwali Puja

Her grandmother lives in Sikkim and she went there for Diwali and Bhai Tikka. Diwali morning they worship their cow and say prayers to the goddess Lakshmi in the evening. They visit friends and families and sing songs. This is called Bhailo. Traditionally a roti called Sel Roti is eaten and fed to anyone coming over. To make the Sel Roti they soak the rice overnight. The next day it is strained and then ground in a pestle and mortar called an Okhli. They mix the rice with flour, sugar, cardamom, fennel and water and then fry this batter in hot oil.

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Sel Roti made specially for Diwali

Bhai Tikka (Bhai Duj in North India, Bhau Bheej in Maharashtra and Bhai Phota in Bengal) is a festival where sisters pray for their brother’s safety and well being. And the brothers in return give presents to their sisters.

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Varuna and her brothers after the Bhai Tikka ceremony

She took lots of pictures for me of mooli (or daikon) being harvested. They call it moola and it is a glorious purple colour. They’re packed into gunny bags or lovely conical baskets and sold. Great pictures. These moolas are used in chutneys, they make pickles out of it, eat it as a sabzi (vegetable) with rice and also add it to meat curries. I had to drag this recipe out of her – she said they get so sick of looking at mooli during the harvest that then no one wants to eat it.

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Mooli being washed and then packed to be sold in the market

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Varuna’s Gurkha Mooli/Moola Chutney

Ingredients

1 mooli

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 dry red chillies (more or less depending on how hot you want it)

salt

Method

Cut the mooli into thin rounds and then slice then into thin strips (you could actually just grate it on the thicker side of your grater but this is how Varuna does it). Sprinkle salt and leave for about 15 minutes.

Dry roast the sesame seeds and the dry red chillies till the sesame starts changing colour and the red chillie darken. Let it cool and then grind in a spice grinder.

Squeeze out the water from the mooli and mix in the spice mixture.

That’s it. Simple. And tasty.

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Spain On My Plate

We just got back from a fabulous trip to Spain – Madrid, Cordoba, Granada and Barcelona. Lots of delicious food, interesting markets, beautiful buildings, museums, lots of good memories.

And lots of pictures ….

Mercado de San Miguel

Scenes from the Mercado de San Miguel, and Pork Rinds and Crisps cooked in olive oil

Fruit, Vegetables and Legumes (in gorgeous baskets)

La Boqueria

Scenes from La Boqueria

Herb, Tea and Spice stalls next to the Granada Cathedral

Tapas, Pinchos (or Pintxos) and Crema Catalana

Churros and chocolate caliente, yummy desserts and the ticket for the Museu de la Xocolata in Barcelona

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Christmas treats – Mantecado (a type of shortbread biscuit made of lard, flour and sugar and only available between August and December) and Turron- nougat (introduced to Spain by the Moors and is made of honey, sugar and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts

Happy Pills … beautifully designed sweet shop …. one of our favourite places in Barcelona – we went back twice!!

And finally (should’ve been at the beginning) – breakfast …

1, 2 and 4, Breakfast at the Hotel Viento 10, Cordoba (the glorious orange is Persimmon, which was in season, topped with yoghurt). 3. Breakfast room at the Gar-Anat Hotel de Peregrinos in Granada. 5,6,7, and 8, great Spanish ham and cheese, bread and healthy muesli.

Mercado de San Miguel

Plaza de San Miguel, 28005, Madrid

La Boqueria

Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona

for Tapas –

Restaurant Taller de Tapas

Argenteria, 51, 08003 Barcelona

+ 34 93 268 85 59

for Pinchos or Pintxos (Tapas from the Basque Country)

Sagardi

Argenteria, 62, 08003 Barcelona

+ 34 93 319 99 93

Museu de la Xocolata

Comerç, 36, 08003 Barcelona

+ 34 932 68 78 78

Hotel Viento 10

http://www.hotelviento10.es

Gar-Anat Hotel de Peregrinos

Placeta de los Peregrinos, 1, 18009 Granada

+ 34 958 22 55 28

Happy Pills

Carrer de l’Argenteria, 70, Barcelona

+ 34 932 956 842

Chocolate Caliente/Hot Chocolate

everywhere 😉

Rural Food 1 – Ratna

Bombay (and the other big cities in India) is filled with immigrants from villages. These people leave their villages because of a lack of employment. They lead very hard lives, work long hours, live in small spaces, and if they’re lucky meet their families once a year. They work as domestic help, drivers, guards and factory workers.

They bring their food habits with them.Their food has simple flavours and is made with fresh, seasonal vegetables. They don’t waste anything and a lot of their food is vegetables or parts of vegetables that we have no idea are edible.

Ratna didi used to work with me as a cook. Her family is from Karnataka, she grew up in Calcutta and lived in Orissa after she got married. I don’t know which state influenced her cooking but they probably all did. She was widowed very young and had three little girls to bring up. She used to work as a cook in a factory canteen and makes amazing snack food – her samosas and pakoras were divine. She also cooked great everyday north Indian food. My favourites were the food her mother taught her to make – the Andhrite macchi ka khatta (sour fish curry), charu (or rasam) and best of all her chutneys. A large plate of rice, little bit of dal, maybe a fried fish and chutney. Utter bliss.

Tori Chilka ki Chutney

(Chutney made with the peel of the Ridge Gourd)

Recipe Contribution – Ratna

Ingredients

2 ridge gourds (tori)

¼ cup sesame seeds (til)

½ teaspoon cumin seeds (zeera)

2 cloves of garlic (lasan)

2 dry red chillies, broken into smaller pieces

1 stalk curry leaves (approximately 15 leaves)

1/2 a tablespoon of vegetable oil

Salt to taste

½ lime

Method

Soak the sesame seeds in water for about 10-15 minutes. Drain.

Cut the gnarly skin off the tori with thick sections. Cut off the soft inside skin and put aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan.

Add the cumin seeds. When they start going brown, add the garlic and then almost immediately the red chillies. As it starts getting darker add the curry leaves.

Give it a stir and then the tori peels. Stir for a minute and then the sesame seeds.

Sprinkle a little water to keep it moist and then cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

Take off the lid and cook till the water has evaporated and the oil has separated.

Cool and then put into a food processor and blend with a tablespoon of water.

Add salt and juice from the lime.

Eid Mubarak

Yesterday was Id ul Zuha. Id ul Zuha or Bakrid is a Muslim festival. The prophet Ibrahim (or Abraham) dreamt that God wanted him to sacrifice his only son Ishmael. This festival honours both this act of submission and his son’s acceptance to being sacrificed. God intervened and a ram was sacrificed instead.

Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques. These prayers are followed by visits to family and friends where they exchange greetings and gifts. After this they have feasts, those who can afford it will sacrifice an animal and the meat is shared with their friends, family and the poor.

Shami Kebabs are traditionally eaten at Eid along with something sweet. Normally it would be Kheer Khurma or Seviyan but I love Firni so that’s my Eid contribution. I’ve been experimenting making both Shami Kebabs and Firni and I was quite pleased with how they turned out.

Shami Kebabs

I love Kebabs. My memorable kebab meals are Pathar Kebab at the Frontier Restaurant in the Ashoka Hotel (does the restaurant still exist?), Chapali Kebab in a dhaba outside Peshawar washed down with lovely Kahwa and Tunde Kebab in the Chowk area of Lucknow (2 plates of kebabs with 3 parathas shared by a friend and I think it cost Rs.19 which even 10 years ago was a ridiculously cheap meal).

But, my favourite kebab is the Shami Kebab. According to Wikipedia the Sham part of Shami refers to Syria or the Levant and Muslim immigrants from the Middle East introduced these kebabs to India during the Mughal period.

Ingredients

should make 12 patties

500 grammes goats’ meat minced

2 onions

1 tablespoon Bengal Gram

½ tablespoon ginger paste

½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

½ teaspoon black pepper powder

¼ teaspoon cardamom powder

3 cloves

½ cup coriander leaves

¼ cup mint leaves

1 tablespoon Besan (chickpea flour)

salt to taste

oil to shallow fry

Method

Roughly chop 1 ½ onions. Combine the meat, the chopped onion, the Bengal gram, ginger and the spices. Add 2 cups of water , bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for anything up to an hour, till it is cooked and the water has completely dried up. You might need a bit more water. Also it can be cooked in a pressure cooker. On high heat for for 3 whistles and then turn the heat down to medium low and cook uncovered till the meat is soft and the water has evaporated (I know pressure cookers aren’t very cool but it is quicker).

Remove the cloves and discard. After the meat cools grind it in a blender till its a smooth paste. Put it away in the fridge for at least an hour. It can be left overnight.

Dry roast the chickpea flour in a frying pan till it gets a little darker. Add to the mince.

Dice the rest of the onion finely, chop the coriander and mint. Make a patty from the mince, an indention in it put a teaspoon of the onion, mint, coriander mixture into it. Fold over and turn it back into a flat patty. 

Put a little bit of vegetable oil in a frying pan and shallow fry.

Serve with-

Onions rings soaked in salt and lime juice.

Mint and coriander chutney and

Sheermal, baqarkhani or parathas.

Firni

One of my favourite desserts is Firni. Firni is a rice pudding made using ground rice (I cheated and used rice powder). The best Firni I’ve had is at Karims in Shahjahanabad or Old Delhi. You have this rich, delicious meaty meal and end with a cold Firni served in a shallow clay pot topped with pistachios. Perfect end to the meal.

Ingredients

2/3rds cup of milk + 4 cups of milk

3 tablespoons rice powder

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cardamom powder

2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped

Method

Put the rice flour in a bowl. Slowly add the 2/3rds cup of milk. Mix to a smooth paste.

Boil the milk and sugar in a saucepan over a medium low flame. Add the cardamom. Remove from the heat when it boils.

Stirring constantly with a whisk, add the milk to the rice powder and milk paste. Put it all back into the saucepan, place on a low flame and bring it to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until it starts thickening.

Pour into shallow bowls and cool. When it has set a little, refrigerate. Serve chilled, sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.

Delish…..

Dussehra

September to November are the months of the festival season in India – Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra, Eid and Diwali are the biggies. Its all a bit frantic, the traffic is terrible but there are lots of holidays and its all very colourful.

It was Dussehra two days ago. The word Dussehra comes from the Sanskrit Dasha-hara, which literally means remover of ten. This refers to Rama’s defeat of the ten-headed demon king Ravana. Ravana had abducted Rama’s wife Sita and taken her to his kingdom in Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a battle to rescue Sita. This is the story of the Ramayana, one of the two great Hindu epics.

In northern India, for 10 days before Dussehra, a play called the Ramlila is performed. On the final day, effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanad are filled with firecrackers and burnt. This burning symbolizes the destruction of evil.

In Maharashtra, people worship their tools of trade on the ninth day of Dussehra. They decorate these items with flowers, pray and distribute sweets. Flower sellers set up little stalls on the pavements and sell garlands made of marigold and leaves from the Ashoka tree. I love these stalls. All it takes is a mat spread on the pavement and garlands hanging from a string.

Flower stall on the pavement

Cars, Trucks and Auto-rickshaws with garlands