One last banana bread...
Looking over my blog the other day I realised 2 things:
Firstly, that I have barely cooked anything savoury in ages. I mean, I know I have a total sweet tooth and bias towards baking, but part of my aim in starting this blog was learning a wide range of cooking skills.
Secondly, there is a total excess of posts on banana breads, muffins, banana muffins and the like. My family is particularly fond of banana bread and muffins, and it's an insanely fast way to use up mushy bananas (which, thanks to the balmy Mumbai weather, we have all too frequently).
I promise not to write about bananas for a long time. So in keeping with my promise, the banana bread will form just a part of this post. I asked my dad if we could 'speculaasify' the banana bread, since my last attempt failed. I've already proclaimed my love for speculaas, so I don't need to gush about that either.
My dad says (and I maybe agree) that it turned out pretty 'gingery', but I put exactly how much the recipe called for, gingerbread is a known thing, and if it was really so bad, my dad wouldn't be eating it so often.
As for the shahi paneer, it's a really simple and healthy cottage cheese dish and I fell in love with it when I first tried it a few years ago. I get really excited when my mum makes it and I wanted to try it myself. The ingredients are simple, and the Indian spices used don't tend to go off too quickly, so you can keep them for your next dish if you don't cook Indian too often. If you're in an Indian household, you'll obviously have everything at hand.
Methi (fenugreek) is a slightly bitter leaf, so it's not necessarily to everyone's taste. But don't let that deter you from buying some and trying it- even if you don't like it, you can use the leftover leaves for some methi parathas (something i have yet to try making, but it's not hard and there are dozens of recipes online).
On a BBC Food Programme the other day, one man from Bristol talked abut his '60s awakening to vegetarianism and Indian food being his connection, as vegetarian English food is practically nonexistent. He made a simple masoor daal, a dish that forms the basis of most of Indian cuisine and that sustains the majority of the population. (I'll write more about the programme in another post)
The beauty of Indian cuisine is the way it can be transformed into a myriad variations, and how inherently nutritious and balanced it is. Protein from lentils, pulses, yoghurt or cottage cheese, carbohydrates from rice or bread (chapatis, rotis, parathas, naans), there's always at least one vegetable dish and it's all homemade and natural.
I'm noticing now that this post covers the two sides of my blood: Dutch and Indian, and I'm equally passionate about the two cuisines.
Whichever country (or countries) you're from, wherever you live, take some time to explore a new kind of food. Take an old favourite (like banana bread, or baby potatoes) and give it a new and international twist.
Serves 4, along with a bread or rice and another small side
1/2 a red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
4-5 tomatoes (or 3-4, with some tomato purée or a bit of tomato paste (stronger than purée))
1 1/2 teaspoons kasuri methi (dry, spindly-looking methi)
1 teaspoon cornflour
Jeera powder (ground roasted cumin)
Dhaniya powder (coriander powder)
About 500g paneer (cottage cheese), diced
Purée the ginger, garlic and onion to a paste (this is optional). Boil, peel and purée the tomatoes.
Heat about 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-large saucepan.
Braise the onions, garlic and ginger until light brown. Add the kasuri methi, cornflour, at least a teaspoon of jeera powder, and at least 1 1/2 teaspoons dhaniya powder (you can be generous with these two), and mix well.
Add the tomatoes (and a tablespoon or two of tomato purée if you used less fresh tomatoes) and the paneer.
Add some milk, bit by bit, letting it thicken and boil. Keep tasting to see when you're happy with the sauce. Season with salt. You will have to add some water to loosen it if you're heating it up later on.
By my mum
Note: The quantities for the potatoes and methi really vary based on how much you want. I used 2 or 3 handfuls of potatoes and a small handful of methi stalks, which became quite little because the leaves shrivel as they cooks, but the flavour is really pungent. If you're increasing or decreasing the quantities, add more or less spices. But for a small change keeping the spices constant won't do any harm.
Methi (leaves plucked and washed well)
About 2 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
A generous teaspoon of dhaniya powder (coriander powder)
A pinch of chili powder
Baby potatoes, very well washed and boiled
1/4 teaspoon haldi (turmeric powder)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Heat some oil in a medium skillet or saucepan. Braise the garlic and the mustard seeds, allowing the seeds to crackle but not letting the garlic burn.
Sprinkle the dhaniya powder, haldi and chili powder, mixing well.
Add the methi, mix and let it wilt. Stir in the potatoes, making sure to coat them and season with salt. Add in the yoghurt (the crisp yoghurt tastes lovely) and leave it on a low fire to let the potatoes brown a little and check often so that the other ingredients don't burn.
Speculaas Banana Bread
From Eat The Love
2 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
From Simply Recipes
No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.
Yield: Makes one loaf.