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Sunday, 3 November 2019

Foodie Whatever: Spanish Stew and Viv Dhal

It wouldn't be a surprise to hear that I'm finding the thought of discussing or thinking about British politics, society and all her ills a massive depressing stressful bore presently. Frankly I don't think I'm alone in being fed up with the constant infighting, division, and most egregious, the continual bare-faced lying by those in power and those that would take power undeservedly (i.e. Farage, Bannon, Tommy etc).

It also doesn't help that our seven month old child has decided to cease sleeping for more than two or three hours at any one point, meaning I'm in a state of almost permanent zombie-like torpor, which makes dealing with my job, a increasingly frantic exercise in futility as I attempt to do four people's jobs while the whole place seemingly falls apart, nigh on impossible.

Plus it's now well on the way to Winter in Scotland. A prospect that should fill most sentient mammals with dread as the big warm glowing orb goes away for three months and we live in a state a cold, dark, soggy misery and this time I can't even drink myself unconscious like most sane Scottish people do during 'the dark months'.

Given all this, it is probably time to practice some mental health management. So, it's away with social media and all the unhelpfully biased news coverage, time to focus on caring for the family and spending time with them, and do good things for myself such as eating really nice foods. One of which is an old classic recipe paraphrased from a friend and the other is a recent experiment.

Spanish Stew, or 'Guapo Fantastico'

Chicken, Chorizo, Bean and Olive Stew

This stew came about from having half a chorizo sausage and a big pot of olives in the fridge. A few brief searches of the internet later, a lightning fast supermarket sweep, and we were ready to get creative in the kitchen together.

It's a lovely experience to cook together, although our sous chef is a little young he does provide excellent musical accompaniments, as well as providing a morale boost when required. If you can't replicate a baby in a bouncy seat, at least play some funk and soul music while you cook, which we also did.

Ingredients List
Chicken Thighs (off the bone, although this point is contentious, I prefer them like this)
Chorizo, a sausage not slices
Cannelini Beans, tin of
Green and Black Olives with oil, herbs and garlic (or just a heap of olives that you like)
Red Bell Pepper
Small 'baby' potatoes
A tin/carton of 'nice' tomatoes
Tomato puree
Olive Oil
White Wine (a white Rioja or other Spanish white seems appropriate)
Crusty Bread to serve, ciabatta will do

1. If, like us, you don't have a massive stoneware casserole dish then you'll have to make do with your largest saucepan. Heat a good glug of the olive oil at a medium-high temperature on the hob and then add the roughly cubed chicken. Stir this until the meat is sealed, it probably will stick a bit but this is fine as it'll all come off once the wine gets added later.
2. Add the chopped red pepper, onions, chorizo and garlic. Add some paprika, about a teaspoon will do. Heat this for a couple of minutes or so, stirring all the time. Now pour in a good amount of the wine, like a half glass or so. Add the olives as you stir in the wine, you want to let this reduce a bit. Our olives were very salty, oily and herby so no additions were needed, but you might want to.
3. While that's happening, bring some water to boil in another pan and add the potatoes. You want to these to be 'nearly' done, which will take ten minutes at most.
4. Add the tomatoes and half again the amount of water from the tin/carton, give it a good squirt of tomato puree (about a tablespoon). Add the tinned beans, strained of their juice. Stir, reduce the heat to low and put the lid on. Give it a stir every five minutes or so.
5. Once the potatoes are ready strain them and add to the stew. Walk away and forget about it while you bath the baby and it all burns to the bottom.
6. Add some more water, a bit more puree, a pinch of chilli flakes (pul biber) and stir the burned goodness back into the stew. Also have a glass of wine about this time because it's all too much really.
7. Serve with bread and the rest of the wine, but only once the baby is asleep.

Some of these steps don't need to be exactly followed of course, I'm sure it would taste just as nice without burning it for example, but who knows maybe that added to the flavour?

Viv Dhal

Classic Masoor Dhal

I've been making dhal varieties for a very long time now. It provides a basic base for all sorts of other more exciting ingredients to be added, but this list and method is one that I got from a good friend (the titular Viv) and is so fool-proof that it's worth following through everytime. Additions are still possible and encouraged, but I'll leave that to you. This is the classic dhal and is good enough on it's own with Basmati (method also covered) and Raita (ditto) only.

Ingredient List
1 onion, finely chopped
1 3cm ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, grated/crushed
3 green finger chillies, sliced (deseeded or not, heat tolerance depending)
1 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp tumeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 lemon, juiced
Fresh coriander
Enough Red Lentils for Two, washed
Access to water (I've cooked this while camping)

Greek Yoghurt
Fresh Mint (these three minimally)
Nigella Seeds
Garam Masala
Spring onions
Sea salt flakes

1. Fry your ingredients in the same pan that you'll use for cooking the lentils. Heat the oil and butter, add the onion and fry for a minute or two stirring. Add the ginger, garlic, chillies and spices. Also at this point don't tell Viv that I ALWAYS add a hearty shake of ground fenugreek, which I think is the tangible taste/smell of Indian food and is probably my second favoruite food smell after Dill. You might need a touch more oil/butter if you're being frugal. You want a paste like consistency. Fry this on a medium heat for five minutes or so. You want everything cooked through.
2. Remove 2/3 of this mix and set aside in a dish, add a wee touch more butter to melt through this because why not?
3. Add the lentils to the pan and stir them through the remaining mixture for a minute or so. Then add water and once boiling (should be almost immediate) reduce the heat to a minimal simmer and pop a lid on.
4. Oh yeah, timing. Hope you're reading this BEFORE starting the recipe. Anyway, at around the time you're adding the onions and spice mixture to the dhal pan you also want to be adding your washed basmati rice to a pan of cold water and a lid on. 1:2 rice to water. Brind this to boil and then reduce to simmer and cook for fifteen minutes or until all the water is gone. A glass lid is invaluable for this task! Either that or shaking the pan while holding the lid.
5. Did you make your raita already and put it in the fridge? If not, go back in time and do that. How to make? Chop and mix. Personally, I quite like to grate my cucumber, but that's just my kink.
6. Hopefully your lentils and rice both evaporate their respective waters aroundthe same time. The dhal, of course, should be a bit looser than the rice. Mix through your set aside masala mix and squeeze through the lemon juice, serve topped with chopped fresh coriander, alongside the rice and raita. Oh yeah, did you buy mango chutney? Get some of that too.

Keep eating happy.


C x