Khatta Meat

Made for the March Northern Curry Recipe Challenge, over at Lina’s.  I do love these challenges, for the new tastes I get to try.  The non-veggie arm of the judging is being performed by Sandhya, of Indfused.  The veggie dishes are being judged by Parul of Gharkepakwan.  Work has been incredibly hectic, and I spent much of my Sunday off-time this past weekend – well, sleeping. I had finally gotten the rest of the ingredients, so I seriously wanted to make this dish.  (The kashmiri masala,which I will post tomorrow night, I made last night.  I made this dish before work this morning, and it will see me for a couple more meals.)  I know I’m late, so I know this likely won’t be in the challenge proper, but that’s besides the point!

khatta meat-

Khatta Meat — ready for yummers!

But — I learned a lot while pursuing the ingredients for this dish.

Mutton and Goat in India?

Traditionally, the meat used is mutton, which I believe (in Western cultures) means meat from sheep that are no longer yearling lambs.  I know goat and mutton are pretty interchangeable in those regions of India that eat meat — and goat is pretty much more common than meat from sheep.  But it turns out that in Northern India, the words for mutton and goat are pretty much interchangeable, too….

I stopped on a lark (for the sake of this recipe) at a place advertising “Halal Meats” this past Friday after work.  Might have a really good chance at getting (sheep) mutton, I thought.

No, for this establishment, mutton meant coarsely chopped up goat meat, bones included.  It was apparent that the ownership hailed either from Pakistan or northern India, so I nodded and bought the “mutton”/goat meat for this recipe.  (And as this blog is named “Of Goats and Greens”, and I love goat meat… hey!!!  I’m going forward!!!)

The clerk, who I suspect is also the owner, or related to the owner, tried to sell me a whole goat — and yes, I’m interested, but right now I NEED to eat down my stand alone freezer so I can defrost it, so I declined, but told him I’d love one, organ meats and all.  In the future.  Hopefully a near-to-come future.

Kashmiri Masala?

I know of Garam Masala, which is a specific mixture of Indian spices.  Until I got to my regular Indian market, I didn’t know of the full extent of Indian spice mixtures that become labeled masalas.  They had at least 12 different masala mixtures ready to buy.   BUT… Kashmiri Masala was out of stock.  Bleah.  So I asked.  Kashmiri masala was an ingredient needed for this dish.

I was presented with a bag of dried Kashmiri chillies, and told to grind them, as much as I needed, and THIS would be all I needed for Kashmiri masala.  No other ingredients.  And yes, I specified I needed MASALA.

I’d been under the impression that the word “masala” meant you’d have a mix of ingredients, but, hey, she’s the expert, right?  I bought them.

Rather dubious, I did some surfing after getting home.  Nope, kashmiri masala is rather more complicated than I’d thought, although buying the chillies was not a detriment.  And masala does mean “mixture”.  I now do have a recipe for the masala/curry paste if you can’t find it on your own, but it will appear later this week  (tomorrow night, actually).

Anyhow.. Khatta Meat!!!

khatta meat, recipe, mutton

Onions, and the first batch of seasonings…

I basically followed this recipe, but looked around at others, too:  Khatta Meat

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time:  1 and a quarter hours
Rest:  Cool enough to eat
Serves:  3 people, with a veggie side and a starch

Khatta Meat

  • 2 Tablespoons mustard oil
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons zeera/jeera  – cumin seed
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 black cardamom seeds (I went for about ten white ones.  I’m wondering if my source meant teaspoons…)
  • 3-4 onions, chopped.
  • 3 teaspoons garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced – I used ginger paste.
  • 2 teaspoons kasoori methi — these are dried fenugreek leaves.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri masala — Just ONE teaspoon?  I just went through major cookery events to make this myself from scratch, and I’m dang well using 2 or 3 teaspoons for this dish!!!  (The recipe for kashmiri masala will follow later this week!)
  • 1 dried red chilli – I used a dried kashmiri chili.
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 pound mutton, more or less, chopped into medium sized pieces
  • 2 1/2 heaping teaspoons dry mango powder (Amchoor)
  • Add up to 3 green chillies de-seeded.  Serrano, I think. (I stayed with one)
  • Cilantro, as a garnish

In a deep pan add mustard oil. Let it heat.

Add cinnamon, cumin, cloves, black cardamom and onions. Saute until translucent.

Add garlic and ginger paste. Saute till brown.

Add kasoori methi, turmeric, salt, kashmiri masala, dried red chilli and 1 cup of the water. Cook until things meld together.

Add the mutton and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring to coat with the seasonings.

Now add 2 cups water. Let it come to a boil. Cover the pan and cook on medium flame till the meat is tender. (Takes about an hour.)

Once the meat is cooked, mix in dry mango powder, and any green chillies.  Add more salt if desired.

Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Verdict:  Very tasty, and just the right amount of heat (for me)!   I’m glad to have tried this, and will make it again!


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sali Murgh – A Parsi Curry from North India

This recipe is created for the Northern Indian Curry Link Party March Challenge, via Lin’s Recipes.

Sali murgh, sali murghi, chicken, Indian, Parsi, recipe

Sali Murgh! Northern Indian (Parsi) chicken dish with tomato and lots of tasty spices, and topped with sali (crispy thin potato sticks).

Hey, I found a recipe which specifically calls for dark meat chicken (and it isn’t just wings)!

This dish is a Parsi dish — the Parsi are a people in northern India who follow, or who are closely associated with, the Zoroastrian religion.  They fled from Persia (Iran) in the 8th to 10th century to enclaves in northern India, in order to practice their religion safely.

This recipe was awesome!  My taste buds are still exploding with happiness!  I’m using as my main inspiration recipe, this one:  Recipe Sali Murghi.  I did add some black pepper (to bring out the synergistic health benefits of turmeric).

Murgh (or murghi) is the word for chicken.    Sali refers to potato sticks (or straws) that are added over the top when the dish is ready to serve.


recipe sali murgh, chicken, Indian, Parsi

Prep Station. Clockwise from lower left, and spiraling in: chili pepper, onion, chicken, sea salt, turmeric, tomato puree, kala jeera seeds, garum masala, ginger paste, cooking pot with oil in it, garlic paste, potatoes.

2016-03-26 1st stage

First up, simmer onion, jeera/cumin seed, garlic and ginger paste, to release flavors.

Sali Murgh, chicken, recipe, Indian, Parsi, curry

The tomato homes on in! Trick — thicker than tomato sauce, much thinner than paste. You can also do this from fresh tomatoes, but this is NOT the time of year around here to find edible fresh tomatoes!  

Sali Murgh, Sali Murghi, chicken, Indian, Parsi,

Garum marsala, turmeric, a little ground black pepper, and the chili pepper appeared in here before the chicken.  BUT NOW:  Add the de-skinned chicken bits. Make certain everything is coated with the sauce. Note the yellow turmeric effect.

Sali Murgh, recipe, Indian, Parsi, chicken

Frying up some sali from scratch. Whatever you use, use an oil that can stand high heat. When some browning occurs, flip these sticks over.

Sali Murgh, chicken, recipe, Indian, Parsi

Captured crispy potato sticks (sali, er, potato lachchas) for our upcoming meal. Drain them on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Prep Time:  20 minutes, not counting sali prep time which you can do during cook time (10 more minutes)
Cook Time:  10 minutes for onions etc, 5 minutes for tomato etc, 40-45 minutes for chicken.  (say, an hour).
Rest Time:  Not really
Serves 3-4.

Sali Murgh

  • 3 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1.5 tablespoons jeera / zeera seeds, whole. Cumin seed is essentially the same thing, so substitute if you need.  (My jeera seeds are a lot smaller than my cumin seeds — from the same packager — but the taste is similar.)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste – I kinda went a little heavy…
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 1.5 cups of tomato puree (thicker than tomato sauce, thinner than paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) of ground black pepper.
  • 1 green chili, chopped.  Seeded or unseeded at your preference.
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 6-8 pieces of chicken:  Either three-four full legs, broken into drumstick and thigh, skin and excess fat removed.  Or, skinless, boneless chicken thighs.  (I went with the former)
  • Salt, to taste.
  • Water to nearly cover
  • Toppings:  Sali (which are deep fried potato lachchas, or thin julienned “sticks).  
  • Frying oil for the sali.
  • 2 potatoes, skinned and julienned thinly. 
  • A little more salt as needed (for the sali)
  • Optional topping:  fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)

Prep everything up – you can wait to prep the potatoes until when the chicken is actually cooking, as it won’t take long.

In a large pot, add the oil.  Heat to medium high, and when ripples form, add the onion and jeera/cumin seeds.  Add the garlic and ginger pastes.  Allow the onion to turn at least translucent, and the cumin seeds to roast, about 10 minutes or so.

Add the tomato puree, and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally (reduce heat!)

Then, add the turmeric, garam masala, and the green chili.  Cook another few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now add the chicken, making sure all pieces are coated in the sauce, and add salt.

Add water to nearly cover the chicken.

Cover, and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.  (30 if the pieces of chicken are boneless,  up to 45 if the bone-in pieces are large)   This is done when the meat begins to fall off the bone.

While this is cooking, make the sali:

Julienne strips of peeled potato (I used Yukon golds yet again) to thin.  I used my mandoline, but you can use a dedicated julienner, or patient knife skills.

Add high heat tolerant oil to a pot — I used grapeseed oil.  Wait until it gets fully hot — flick a drop of water in, and watch the reaction.

Then, add the potato sticks, and unless you have a wide pot for cooking them in, divide up the amounts added — you may have to do this two or three times.

Every minute or half minute, flip the potato sticks in the cooking oil, over and around.  Allow them to brown but not blacken or burn. Remove and drain on a paper towel, scattering a little salt above them.  Make as many batches as you need.

Since I was not going to eat all my Sali Murgh in one sitting, I reserved the other potato for frying up when next I need the sali/fried lachchas!   I’d want them to be crisp, which I suspect won’t happen if stored after frying, in the fridge.  (PS, in Indian markets you can also buy the potato lachchas / sali pre-made in bags, kind of like buying potato chips.  I opted not to go that route, once I found out that they were easy to make.)

When the chicken is finished: 

Reserve one thigh and one drumstick per serving, and when you plate up your dish or bowl for these individual servings, top with the crispy sali, and with the optional cilantro.


EXCELLENT!  I’ve never encountered this dish in an Indian restaurant to date, to my regret.  I think I may leave all the seeds in the green chili the next time I make it — the dish still had some heat without having all of them, but I can tolerate and enjoy a bit more.   (Your mileage may vary.)

I plan to put this dish on rotation here at home.  I simply love this Northern Indian Curry Link Party March Challenge, and the ideas for new dishes these people inspire me to try!


Posted in Cooking | 23 Comments

Chicken Heart Yakatori

NOTE:  I actually made this recipe about a month ago, and wrote it up about then.  I’m trying to pace out recipes and vary them up as I post them.  This turned out to be a good idea, as work doesn’t leave me much energy at the end of the day at the moment.  

Some of you may know, if you’ve been following me for awhile, that ever since childhood, one of my favorite parts of the bird is the heart.  A little morsel packed with umami and capable of bring out the best in the bird, any bird.  (Okay, duck breast brings out the very best of ANY bird, if done right!)

When Mother used to make her awesome giblet stuffing and gravy for the Thanksgiving turkey, if I were anywhere in sight, that heart would never make it to the stuffing or gravy.  Once cooked, I was ready to nab it!

yakatori - chicken heart-.jpg

Recently, I drove down to Hartsdale, NY to visit a H-Mart, one of a Korean chain of groceries, and the closest link to my home.  (It was my very first real driving trip of length after breaking that ankle, and the trip was rather physically taxing — the driving and the walking, but it was time to test myself, so I could go back to work properly.)   At any rate, I purchased these really fresh and large chicken hearts there, as well as the head of “long Napa cabbage that serves as photo backdrop and a nice accompaniment to my meal.  Regards the long Napa cabbage:  It is indeed longer than regular Napa cabbage but the head itself is smaller — as in less waste for a single person trying to finish a whole cabbage!

I’ll talk more about H-Mart at the end of this post, and there will be a more specific H-Mart post in the near future.  Let’s get to the yakatori!

At most Japanese restaurants (that I am aware of in the US), if you order yakatori, you get bits of chicken breast on a skewer, mostly about chicken-heart size.  understandably, as it is very popular here.

But I’d known for some time that the Japanese skewer chicken hearts, cook and eat them.  I’d done the Brazilian skewered chicken heart recipe last summer for this blog, and I’d really been waiting for the chance to try the Japanese version.

Once getting my hearts home, I surfed around for generalized yakatori recipes, and came up with this one:

NY Times:  Yakatori Chicken with Ginger, Garlic and Soy Sauce  In which the intrepid Times correspondent suggests chicken liver, gizzards or pieces of chicken thigh!

If you look at the recipe from the Times, I inadvertently mixed up their suggestion for sherry quantities for the mirin quantities.  It turned out fine, anyway.  Running back and forth from the laptop screen plays a toll!  (And no, I’m not squinting at a minuscule phone screen whilst cooking!)

yakatori sauce

Prep Time: Around 2 hours marinating
Cook Time: 15-18 minutes
Rest Time: 5 minutes, especially if using metal skewers
Serves:  1-2 people, or maybe you want to introduce others to the wonders of chicken hearts?  More as tasting appetizers.  


  • 0.6  – 1 pound chicken hearts (OR, the suggested livers, gizzards or boneless skinless thigh meat, sliced small and de-fatted).  I actually purchased the lower amount suggested, but made the full volume sauce as delineated below.
  • ½ cup low sodium gluten-free tamari, or, ½ cup dark soy sauce — which I haven’t been able to find gluten-free or low sodium, to date.  Adapt as you need!
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Chinese cooking wine)
  • ¼ cup dry sherry (or generic sake)
  • 1 tablespoon organic coconut cane sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Optionally, Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Serve on a bed of lettuce — or better yet, leaves of long Napa cabbage.

In a small pot, combine soy sauce or tamari, mirin, sherry (sake), sugar, garlic and ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes, until this sauce thickens. Put aside around 2 tablespoons of this sauce for serving, uncontaminated by raw chicken.   Pour remaining sauce over chicken (hearts or otherwise), cover, and chill for at least one hour (and up to 4 hours).  I marinated this for two hours.

If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for around one hour.  I decided to go hog-wild (er, chicken-wild) and use the metal skewers from my parents’ legacy.  Thread the hearts onto the skewers.

Make sure your grill is ready, whether an indoor one or an outdoor one — OR, set your oven to broil.  If the latter, you’ll do best to arrange to hang the skewers you are cooking on so they drip into a bottom pan.  In this case, I used the George Foreman electric grill, pre-heated.  I allowed the hearts to cook about 7-8 minutes a side, before turning them.  (I understand thigh meat takes about 6 minutes a side, and gizzards about ten?)

In the last minute or so, slather on that reserved sauce!  (You can also use some as a dipping sauce after the hearts (or whatever chicken part) is served.)

NOTE:  Please use finger-caution when removing food from metal skewers.  Burns are no fun.


H-Mart drove me and my ankle crazy trying to arrive at it.  I nearly gave up in disgust, but I’d already put myself through too many miles to get down there to Hartsdale.  My Google Maps app on the phone had ceased to SPEAK to me — I’m not sure what’s caused this huff, but I hate that.  But it provided visuals, and since traffic was slow, I did look at the screen often enough to get where I was going.  (We gotta FIX this!)

I suspect if the name K-Mart, hadn’t already been taken…  H-Mart would be K-Mart?…

Anyhow, the Hartsdale store is clean, large, and very vibrant with much of almost everything.  There are also specific aisles for Korean, Chinese, and Japanese-dedicated foods, too. The veggie produce section is wonderful and totally fresh.  The meat area has any number of cuts, including many highly unfamiliar with most of us Westerners.  I don’t want to buy many meats that aren’t pastured, but I did pick up a small pack of chicken hearts (see above!)  and some LA-cut buogi ribs for future reference.  The LA-cut ribs are in the freezer — I am thinking sometime late April in getting to them.

Added to:  Real Food Friday Link Party, Fiesta Friday Link Party,







Posted in Appetizers, Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Offal, Poultry | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

St Patrick’s Day: Irish Shepherd’s Pie

For many people, shepherd’s pie is comfort food, something they grew up with, which reminds them of home cooking:  Mom’s weekly or possibly every other week’s dish.  Often it was served with ground beef (here in America, at any rate), without a clue towards nomenclature.

shepherd's pie, lamb, potato, irish, recipe

A portion of Shepherd’s Pie, with an eye towards eating, but remembering the camera — well, a little late!

My parents never ever made shepherd’s pie or any variant thereof — it wasn’t part of Southern German cooking, which Mother excelled at — it wasn’t part of Dad’s fascination with Asian or Mediterranean cuisines or seafood, and odd body parts — all that is MY actual comfort food! — I don’t think I tasted it until I went away to college, where it was the Sunday night weekly hodge-podge of whatever was left over in the cafeteria kitchen that we didn’t particularly like the first time around (which in this case was WHY it was left over), topped with some mighty tasteless and dry mashed potatoes with all the culinary appeal of cardboard.   At any rate, for me comfort food it was not.  (There was a reason I LOST 15 pounds in my first college semester instead of gaining the Freshman Fifteen.  Okay, I did live on the fourth floor of a dorm with an elevator ONLY available when students were moving in or out, too — but I seriously didn’t eat much when confronted with that cafeteria.)  And at that point in time, there wasn’t much excess of me to lose!)  We had another name for this creation which sounds sort of like shepherd’s pie, but I’m trying to keep this a polite blog.

Um, you also don’t want to know what happened that Freshman college September, when I saw the beautifully-red tomatoes, lined up in the salad bar, in what should have still been prime tomato season. My parents had often grown their own tomatoes, and ignored them when not in season, so I had expectations.  That mucking big huge pile I took to enjoy — ended up as compost, well, maybe, if a composter wouldn’t expect much nutrition.  Probably landfill.  

So I’ve spent the succeeding years and decades avoiding the dish, usually with success.  Whenever I DID have it, it was in a cafeteria setting, so no wonder…  (And besides it was always really “Cottage” pie, not made with genuinely wonderful lamb.)

(Note:  in the above photos: Local pastured lamb meat, sold as “lamb kebab meat”, so I’m not sure what portion of the lamb.  Traditional for meatloaf is the shoulder — simply find a lean cut.  Below that:  browned.  To the right:  chopped up even finer — and you can definitely do that from the get go!!!  I simply decided my original chunks were too big…)  

Somewhere in between  I learned the following details about shepherd’s pie:

  1. Authentic shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, not beef, at least if you want to hearken this back to Ireland.  The Irish back in the day were more apt to have money for lamb or mutton, than for meat from cattle.  They often reared their own sheep, too.   Um… the name includes the word, “shepherd”  – sheep-herder???   Duh.
  2. The proper name for the pie made from beef is “cottage pie” — although I wonder if “cowboy’s pie” could be a valid substitute?
  3. For St. Patrick’s Day, shepherd’s pie in Ireland is more traditional than corned beef and cabbage, which is an Irish-American development (but good in its own right).
  4. Most recently, I learned that the lamb (or mutton) for shepherd’s pie isn’t necessarily ground, but chopped up finely.  Recipes I have come across online that do this are using lamb shoulder.
  5. Yes, the other ingredients with the meat, under the potatoes, were things that the frugal Irish housewife had an abundance of in her kitchen (yes, the cooks were typically the housewives).
  6. According to Jamie Oliver, the very oldest shepherd’s pies had a layer of mashed potatoes at the bottom, up the sides of the pan, and of course on top of the filling.  You know, encased like a typical pie.
  7. And of course, the potato is a New World food, and the Irish took this item on like no tomorrow once it was available in the Old World, and since they only grew one variety, when the Irish Potato Famine came on, they were in trouble.  They never did take on New World corn in the same way, so I don’t include corn in this recipe.  (Well, unlike the college cafeteria, which usually had almost as much corn as potato in their unpalatable recipe…)


  1. Irish, shepherd's pie potato, lamb,recipe

    The veggies to cook up with the lamb. Here: celery, a small potato, lotsa onion, some garlic, a small turnip, and some parsnip.

So, having learned that the meat didn’t have to be ground (or could be very coarsely ground), I decided to experiment.  I mean, I DO like the ingredients this dish is supposed to have!  My first effort yielded way too much potato to filling — at least for modern sensibilities, although I suspect back in the day, it turned out rather closer to authentic considering the availability of the other ingredients.  Just add more potato surroundings than filling…   This dish is definitely adaptable to quantities!

lamb, potato, recipe, shepherd's pie

The innards of the shepherd’s pie, complete with lots of rosemary, sauteing away! Hey, it’s LAMB crying out for rosemary!

I riffed on recipes from a couple of reliable sources online:  Jamie Oliver actually has two or three different recipes; and Kenji from Serious Eats provides another.   The links are at bottom.

Prep time: 20 minutes.
Cooking time: About an hour and a half.
Rest time:  10 minutes or so to cool down.
Serves:  Four.

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1.25 pounds lean lamb meat, shoulder meat preferred.  Mince with scissors or a good knife.
  • a touch of your favorite healthy cooking oil.
  • 1 small potato (preferably a “golden” variety), diced fine — about 1/4 inch cubes.  You don’t have to peel this one.
  • 1 small turnip, cleaned up, diced fine — about 1/4 inch cubes.
  • 2 stalks celery, diced fine.  
  • 2 medium parsnips, skin removed, and diced fine.
  • 1 small/medium onion, diced.
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2-3 cups low sodium vegetable broth.
  • Several sprigs of fresh rosemary, remove stems.
  • Dried oregano and thyme, about 1/4 teaspoon or so apiece.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1.25 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (or another Golden variety), peeled. 
  • 1 tablespoon butter.

Brown the meat in a little oil, say five to eight minutes.  Use a large skillet….

Add in all the veggies and most of the seasonings (not the rosemary, the additional potatoes; nor the cream or butter.

Simmer and saute for around 5-8 minutes longer.  The onions should be translucent, and the potato and turnip somewhat soft.  (You can always add that celery later in this process if you want it to have more crunch — I suspect back in olden days in Ireland this may not have been a consideration.

Add in the broth, and seasonings.  Simmer on low for about an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

The peeled potatoes – roughly quarter (or more) and bring to a boil in a pot with water to cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Remove the potatoes from the heat, drain, and mash with the cream, butter, and salt.

In a meatloaf pan or small square casserole dish, lay out a layer of potato, reserving some for on top.  Over the bottom potato layer, spread the stewed veggie/lamb mixture, avoiding excess liquid, if any.

Over the top, spread out the rest of the potato mixture, covering the top completely.

Bake for 35 minutes — cover it, but if you want some crispy potato tops, remove cover halfway through the baking.  Allow to rest for ten.

Feel free to change out the lamb for beef (cottage pie) or for poultry (henhouse pie, to coin a new one…), or for pork (swineherd’s pie?) if you choose.  If you can find mutton — I haven’t found mutton since spending three summers in Scotland back in my high school days in the 70’s — try that!  Mutton will have a stronger flavor, but I remember liking it.  (Then again, I also really like haggis…)

For a vegetarian version, I’d be tempted to try tempeh pie!  Crumble the tempeh before you begin.  Tofu would be awfully bland and textureless.

Serve with:  Well, you might want to try my St Paddy’s cabbage dish from three years ago.

Oh, and by happenstance, it looks like I’ll be posting this on Pi Day!!  That would be 3(March).14(day)16(year).

(Or so I thought… I didn’t get the chance to hit the Publish button until today!  Two days late, but not late for a tasty St. Patrick’s dinner.)

lamb, shepherd's pie, potato, recipe, irish

Finally found a shepherd’s pie worth making and eating!


Serious Eats – Irish Shepherd’s Pie (one of my absolute favorite places to hunt down WHY food is best cooked a certain way, or not!).  While I love America’s Test Kitchen for much of the stuff they’ve done, they really don’t have international foods down in the best way — and I consider this dish an item from international cuisine.  Because, yeah… LAMB.

 Jamie Oliver’s Shepherd’s Pie, Take 1.  Irish infused…  shoulder meat from lamb.

Jamie Oliver’s Shepherd’s Pie, Take 2.  This one with the potato all the way around.

Oh.  On the menu for lunch at work this week for Paddy’s Day.  “Irish cottage pie (with lamb)”.   GRRRR!!!  I mean, what gives?    Whatever, I’ll be safest bringing my own lunch in, anyway.

Added to:  Real Food Friday Link Party, Fiesta Friday Link Party,







Posted in Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Hoisin Sauce

I bought some Hoisin sauce from Whole Paycheck, and even from that supposedly-natural source, this jar has a lot of dodgy ingredients.  SOOOO… Make-Over Time!!!  I am going to make my own.  I found a couple of recipes on-line that I’ll use as inspiration, and I’ll list them at the bottom of this blog post.  While both recipes are on, they have different authors and somewhat different ingredients, but both say either black bean paste OR peanut butter can be used.  Since black bean paste wasn’t forthcoming in my neck of the woods (at least not immediately, and I had no time to go the extra mile driving looking for it), I went with peanut butter.

hoisin, recipe, Chinese

Sorry, hoisin sauce is naturally non-photogenic…

I assume you can also sub in the equivalent amount of cashew butter if you are peanut-sensitive (or on a Paleo plan), but in my case I have a nasty “gut” reaction to many tree nuts, and don’t like cashews enough to find out if they are part of the exception or the rule.  Peanuts don’t do that to me.

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time: Not needed 
Rest Time: Not needed
Serves:  As a condiment, it depends on your planned use.

Hoisin Sauce (Peanuts or Black Bean)

  • 8 tablespoons low sodium gluten-free tamari  (Again, I’m partial to San-J’s brand)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter (or black bean paste) – I selected a peanut butter with no additives, including no added salt.  Add more peanut butter/black bean paste if you need it.
  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut palm sugar (or sub honey, or molasses)
  • 4 teaspoons plain rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1.5 teaspoons Korean hot pepper powder OR 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of Chinese hot sauce (I used 1/4 teaspoon of the Korean pepper powder as I wasn’t certain of the heat tolerance of everyone who would be partaking.)   Start low, add more as desired.  For myself, I’ll up the amount next time.
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper.
  • If you are really missing the salt, add some — but I’d rather add it directly while cooking, not putting it into the condiment prior to cooking with it.

Mix.  Cook with it.  Use it as a dip.  Re-mix if you store it before using (store in fridge, of course).

From Food.Com, Homemade Hoisin Sauce.
From Food.Com, Hoisin Sauce Recipe.

Included in the Real Food Friday Link Party, and in the Fiesta Friday Link Party.


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Condiments, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Indian Uttapam Pancakes

This is made for the Pancake Challenge Link Party, hosted by Natascha’s Palace, and assisted by Lin of Lin’s Recipes.  And well, because they turned out quite good, too!   They’d be great to bring to a brunch where you’d cook up the pre-made batter and toppings on-site.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Three savory mini uttapam breakfast pancakes

What is unique about these pancakes is that they are made from a rice and a urad dal base.   Urad dal is a light-colored lentil bean, which can be found in most large supermarkets in the “ethnic” section.  Sometimes this is labelled”black gram”, although this is actually white.  Mine also says “Split Mapte without Skin” — mabye the skin is dark?  At any rate, these guys are naturally gluten-free.  These are thick pancakes, and definitely hearty.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

The batter, after fermenting overnight

I’m late to the link party — I’ve been running non-stop and seriously NEED to stop and smell the roses, the coffee, and perhaps the pancakes (and get the ingredients together).  On top of that, last night I needed to do the good ole System Restore for the computer to remember the camera.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

This amount of chopped toppings would be good for six mini-pancakes. Play around!

I saw a variety of recipes out there for this item, but the one I leaned the most on is this one at Udupi Recipes.

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Two are flipped, the third awaits. They hold together surprisingly well.

Prep Time:  Prep is not long, maybe 15-20 minutes.They need to soak for 4 hours, then ferment another 10 hours more or less.
Cook time: About 15 minutes.
Rest time: none.
Serves 3 to 4.

Indian Uttapam Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup rice — I opted for “broken’ rice which I found at my local Indian market.  Figured this would save on my poor little food processor!
  • a very generous 1/8 cup urad dal
  • 1/3 teaspoon fenugreek powder
  • 3 tablespoons rice starch.  (I had brown rice starch in the house, so I used that.)
  • a pinch or so of salt

For the savory toppings to cook in  (you may need more, and you can play around with this!   I knew I wasn’t going to eat all this in one meal, and indeed I chopped up enough that I will only want to add a couple more curry leaves from to tomorrow’s breakfast).

  • 1 tomato, preferably Roma or plum, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • several fresh curry leaves, chopped.  (Frozen works too, but add a few more.)
  • Other ideas:  cilantro, chili peppers (and yes, I’m also doing those for my leftover batter tomorrow)!

Optional condiments to add after cooking

  • Ghee
  • Chutney –loads of possibilities here.
  • Sambar paste — the one from a company named MTR had ingredients I can definitely stand behind.

Soak the rice and urad dal (lentils) together in water to cover by at least an inch or so for around four hours.  I ended up soaking them about 12 hours because, yes, I really was away at work/commuting for nearly that long.

Rinse and drain four or five times.

Run through a food processor, adding enough water to give you that wheat flour pancake sort of consistency — slightly thicker but not by much.  Mine came out somewhat granular, but this turned out not to be a defect.

Add in the fenugreek and rice starch — adjust water if necessary.

Allow to ferment overnight in a warm spot in your home.

In the morning, for breakfast:  chop up your toppings.  Add the salt to the batter and mix.  Set a skillet or griddle on your range top, and turn the heat to medium/medium-high.  When a drop of water sizzles, add your batter — I opted to make small pancakes but you can go standard sized with a regular ladle if you wish.  Reduce heat to medium.

Immediately, put toppings on the uncooked surface of the exposed pancakes.  I gently pushed them in to the batter just a short way, without mushing down the pancake, as I didn’t want them to flop out all over the skillet when I flipped these.

Just as with pancakes you are probably already used to, air bubbles and holes will form at the top of the batter.  I let these develop for a couple more minutes before flipping.

Cook on the other side about five or so more minutes, remove from heat, flip back so that the toppings really ARE toppings.  If you want ghee, add a little ghee to the warm top surfaces of your pancakes — or to be strictly vegan (or dairy-free), that Sambar paste I picked up at the Indian market is awesome — a little DOES go a long way!)

Here are some of the packaged ingredients I found to use:

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

Rice and fenugreek powder

Indian, uttapam, urad dal, rice, pancakes, recipe, vegetarian, vegan

urad dal and spicy sambar paste

Also partaking in:  Real Food Friday Link Party and Fiesta Friday Link Party.


Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Breakfast, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Squid with Olives and Tomato Sauce- A Greek Lenten Dish

I’m a sucker for (nearly) anything seafood.  (I really have yet to try salt cod, and I’ll pass on the Japanese fugu and the live Korean octopus — speaking of suckers, thank you.)  I know when growing up I was always looking forward to Fridays in Lent, because my parents made the most astounding seafood for most of those Fridays.   Or else they made wonderful creations with eggplant.  (Which I guess was not really the purpose behind Lenten “no meat” rules — you were supposed to be giving something up, and eating, say, Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks instead.  I certainly wasn’t going to rock the boat, and complain…)

Greek, squid, olive, tomato sauce, recipe

Squid, olive, tomato.


I saw some  lovely squid at my supermarket, and so I simply had to bring some home with me — and I got mostly tentacles, as the fishmonger was telling me he gets plenty of people who only want the “tubes” — the bodies.  I love both parts — and here’s a secret:  they both taste pretty much the same.

Normally, I cook my squid by briefly boiling it, but the recipe I stumbled over pan-fries them instead.  So… hey!  The author notes that her rendition of this Greek recipe is seasoned towards Lent — less sweet, no cinnamon, more savory.

So, do check her post out at Squid with Green Olive Tomato Sauce.   I only made slight variations.  (She has a lot of other tasty-sounding Greek recipes lurking around on her blog as well.)

Prep time:  5-10 minutes if the squid is already cleaned
Cook time:  15-20 minutes
Rest time:  Not much
Serves 2 hearty appetites

Greek Squid with Olives and Tomato Sauce

  • 0.8 – 1 pound of cleaned squid, with tentacles separated from bodies.  Bodies chopped into rings of about 1/2 to 1 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped.
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • about a dozen or so pitted olives (I mixed up green and black from our olive bar)
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Use half the olive oil, and heat over a cooking pot to medium. Add in the onion, and stir around until translucent, about ten minutes.  Add the garlic; stir another minute.

Add everything else except the remaining oil and the squid.  Turn up the heat, and allow the sauce to come to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer for around 15 minutes.  (At the end of the cooking time, taste for any seasoning modifications.)

While that’s simmering, put the rest of the oil in a second pan or skillet, turn up the heat to medium high, and when the skillet is hot, toss in your squid and stir it around for a minute – the squid will lighten up and shrink.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  (Remember rubber bands??)

Remove from heat, and when the simmering pot with the tomato sauce is just about ready, stir in the squid for a couple of minutes.  and remove from heat.

Serve in a bowl, and include a spoon for those juices.

Serving suggestion:  Serve alongside a nice Greek salad with feta, or perhaps goat cheese.

Leftovers?:  Well, I ate them cold, rather than risking rubberized squid — still quite good!

Greek, squid, olive, tomato sauce, recipe

Ready and waiting for that sauce to finish simmering!

Ah, yes, Link Party Time!






Posted in Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments