Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spicy Lamb Burger

Think of this recipe as a more refined, Moroccan-tinged, companion to my Spiced Turkey Burger. The fattier lamb can stand up to aggressive seasoning, so I use generous amounts of garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and dried mint to ground the recipe in North Africa, and add ginger, coriander and cardamom to bring it back to India. It’s a perfect exemplar of how I blend various ad hoc flavours and culinary influences into my own, personal, multi-culti offering.


For the burgers: 
1 small Red Onion (quartered)
6 cloves Garlic
2-inch piece Ginger (peeled)
2 tbsp dried Mint
2 tbsp ground Coriander
1 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp ground Cardamom
½ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Chilli powder
Salt (to taste)
2 lbs [1 kg] ground Lamb

1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 oz [225 gms] Feta cheese (crumbled)
8 round buns (cut in half and lightly toasted)
  1. Put onion, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a large mixing bowl, add remaining burger ingredients, and mix well. Form meat mixture into eight patties, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30-45 mins. You can make the patties up to a day in advance and store in the fridge. 
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a grill-pan or heavy skillet. Add lamb patties and sear on each side for about 4 mins. Alternately, you can also grill the patties over direct heat on a gas or charcoal grill. 
  3. Set the broiler in the oven to medium. Sprinkle a generous amount of crumbled feta cheese on each burger and cook in the top rack of the oven for 2 mins, or until the cheese starts to melt. 
  4. Place burger on a toasted bun and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stewed Bok Choy and Potatoes with Caramelised Red Onions

This quick and easy side dish pairs the sweetness of caramelised red onions with pungent hing (asafoetida), to flavour mild and tender baby bok choy and potatoes. It is a great accompaniment to steamed or grilled fish, and equally delicious as a cold, day-old salad.

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
4 whole Dried Red Chillis
1 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 lb [700gms] Potatoes, washed and cut lengthwise, skin-on, into 8 pieces each
Salt (to taste)
½ cup Water
1 lb [700 gms] Bok Choy, washed and with the ends of the stalks trimmed off
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan over high heat until smoking. Add dried red chillis and stir briskly for about a minute until the chillis start to blacken. 
  2. Lower heat to medium, add hing, and sputter for about a minute. Add red onion and fry for 3–4 mins till well caramelised.
  3. Add potatoes and stir fry for 2–3 mins until lightly golden. Add salt and water, and continue cooking, covered, for another 5 mins, until the potatoes are fork tender. Add bok choy and stir briskly till the leaves are wilted. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 mins before serving.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Pesto

Pesto is one of those versatile sauces that is great to keep on hand for a quick meal—tossed with pasta or as a fragrant topping for fish or meat. Over the years I’ve always sworn by Marcella Hazan’s classic pesto recipe, which is, frankly, infallible.

But recently, when a friend offered me basil from his over-abundant kitchen garden, I felt the urge to tweak Marcella’s recipe for a little extra punch. So I spiked the glistening, emerald pesto with green chillies, and added ginger for additional heat.

I spooned the spicy pesto over golden, crispy oven-roasted potatoes, for a perfectly irresistible finger food.


2 lbs [1 kg] Potatoes, washed and cut lengthwise, skin-on, into 8 pieces each
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
Sea Salt (to taste)
4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Spicy Pesto: 
2 cups tightly packed Basil leaves
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp Pine nuts
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2-inch piece Ginger, peeled and minced
4 fresh Green Chillies
Sea Salt (to taste)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
[Please note that this yields double the pesto needed for this potato dish. So use half of the pesto with the potatoes, and freeze the rest for later use.] 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º F (230ºC). Arrange potatoes in one layer in a baking dish. Sprinkle black pepper and sea salt, drizzle with olive oil, and using your hands, toss well to mix. 
  2. Roast in the oven for 30 mins, then stir the potatoes to ensure that they caramelise evenly on all sides. Continue roasting for another 15 mins until golden brown and crispy. 
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, put basil, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, ginger, green chillies, and sea salt in a food processor, and pulse 4–6 times until a smooth paste is formed. Remove pesto into a bowl and gently fold in parmesan. Set aside half the pesto for the potatoes, and freeze the rest for later use. 
  4. Remove potatoes from oven and let sit for 2–3 mins. Spoon pesto onto the potatoes, and toss gently so they are well coated. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Grilled Parsley-Lime Chicken Skewers

Just like my lamb kebabs, the secret of these succulent and fragrant chicken skewers is the marinade—a glorious, tangy and green flavour base with parsley for its grassy, herbaceous note, and lime for acidity, all rounded out with jalapeños for heat. The trick is to let the chicken sit bathed in the marinade for as long as possible—ideally 2–4 hours. But if you are pressed for time, then set aside ¼ cup of marinade and brush it on while the skewers grill.


4 lbs [1½ kg] boneless, skinless Chicken breasts and thighs, cut into 2-inch-thich pieces
Twelve 10-inch-long Skewers*

1 cup flat-leaf Parsley (leaves and stalks)
Grated rind of 1 Lime
Juice of 1 Lime
½ small Onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4–5 cloves Garlic, peeled
1-inch piece Ginger, peeled
1 medium Jalapeño
Salt (to taste)
¼ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Put parsley, lime rind and juice, onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a mixing bowl, large enough to accommodate the marinade and chicken. 
  2. Add remaining marinade ingredients to bowl and stir to incorporate. Add chicken and mix well with marinade. Cover the bowl will plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs, or up to 1 day. Prior to cooking, remove bowl from fridge, thread chicken pieces onto skewers, and bring to room temperature. 
  3. Pre-heat a charcoal/gas grill or grill-pan on medium for 25 mins. Turn the heat to high 5 mins before cooking. When the grill surface is smoking hot, add skewers, and let grill on their first side for 3 mins, or until well charred. Then gently turn every 2 mins until the remaining sides are well caramelised. 
  4. Remove skewers onto a platter and let sit for 5 mins. Serve drizzled with olive oil and lime juice.
*TIP: If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for ½ hour prior to cooking, to prevent them from singeing on the grill.

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar