If there's one thing this project has done, along with making a few new friends, it's certainly extended my cooking repertiore.
We've traveled through 22 different countries, learned some of the subtle differences of how they use herbs and spices and seen similarities between different culture's cuisine.
The people and recipes in our book all have a story to tell. Like Saleema Hussain's naan bread.
Saleema is originally from Afghanistan. She fled to Karachi in Pakistan with her husband and children as her country continued to descend into turmoil.
Saleema says her husband was a very good cook but he traveled back to Afghanistan one day and she never saw him again.
Saleema and her children moved to Islamabad but there she and her children were separated. She was sent to live in a hostel with her two daughters, her two sons taken to another. It was in that hostel Saleema baked hundreds of naan a day to provide for her family.
It was four years before her refugee application was approved. The refugee agency reunited her with her children before moving to New Zealand.
"I'm so happy when I find out I am coming to New Zealand. It is a safe place, a good country."
Saleema now bakes naan weekly for the Afghani community in both Hamilton and Auckland. Her naan is delicious. This week I teamed it with an Indian Kofta curry which I've made variations of many times before. This time I actually noted the ingredients down! My children loved taking the naan and wrapping it around their meatballs.
Saleema also shared recipes for beef dumplings known as Mantu and leek dumplings called Aushak. She serves both with thick natural yoghurt and a sauce most closely resembling a tomato chana dhal. If you're interested drop a comment below and I'll show you how to make them in another post. Enjoy.
PREP: 1.5 HOURS (INCLUDING TIME FOR THE DOUGH TO RISE) COOK: 20 MINUTES
1 ½ teaspoons of yeast 1 teaspoon of sugar ⅔ cup of warm water 1 ¼ cups of strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust 1 teaspoon of salt 5 tablespoons of natural yoghurt 2 tablespoons of melted butter A little vegetable oil to grease
Put the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl and stir well. Leave until it begins to froth.
Put the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and combine. Stir the yoghurt into the yeast mixture, then make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the liquid, plus the melted butter. Mix. Tip out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Put in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size. About 1.5 hours. Tip the dough back on to the lightly floured surface and knock the air out, then divide into 8 balls. Heat a wide-base non-stick frying pan or an electric griddle on a very high heat. Flatten the balls into circles, leaving them slightly thicker around the edges.
Stretch into teardrop shapes, then put in the hot pan. When they start to bubble, turn over and cook until browned in patches. Cook until there are no doughy bits remaining.
Indian Lamb Kofta in a tomato and yoghurt sauce
I've made variations of this many times, depending on the spices I have in the cupboard.
If you don't like cloves or cardamon, or don't have them, you could leave them out. It will subtly change the flavours but that's what I love about using spices. A little more of this or a little less of that and you can have a completely different dish. The key I think is the method. Always cook your onions first, until they are almost melting. Add your spices making sure you fry them a little to bring out the aroma, then the tomatoes and finally the yoghurt, when the sauce has slightly cooled, to stop it curdling. Add the kofta and bring it back on the heat.
500 grams of lamb mince
2cm of fresh ginger finely grated
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of bread crumbs
Blitz all the ingredients in your blender until well combined.
Roll into golf ball size meat balls refrigerate until ready to use.
Tomato yoghurt sauce
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 onions (red make the sauce sweeter)
2 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoons of coriander
6 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of thick natural yoghurt
Heat oil over a medium heat and add onion frying until it's golden and melting.
Add cumin and coriander and fry for a further minute or so. Add all other spices down to the salt and fry for another minute.
Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and allow to cool a little before adding the yoghurt.
Add the kofta and return to the heat simmering uncovered until the kofta are done (about 30 minutes). Add a little more water while cooking if the sauce becomes too dry.
Serve with naan, more natural yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves.