Spring time is when our stores are bursting with lamb and I thought about making a delicious recipe for Turkish Lamb Chops. We visited Turkey a few years ago and I just couldn’t get enough of all their delicious food. Their menus do contain a lot of grilled meats and Lamb is definitely a favorite.
You may know that I was born in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi to be specific and spent my early adult life working and living in Dubai. Dubai is very cosmopolitan and besides being home to multiple nationalities from all over the world, it’s also a haven for it’s neighboring Arab nationals – Lebanese, Egyptians, Jordanians just to name a few …. and of course the Turks. The flavors of these Arab countries are similar but different and my palate has learned to seek them out and cherish them.
These chops are going to be given a royal Turkish treatment!
I’m excited to launch this new series of recipes called ‘Easy Weeknight Meals’. This is a collection of my midweek throw in the pan concoctions that have worked well and I decided to share them with you to inspire you to get over that midweek hump and get cooking!
I’m making something my grandma simply called Chow. It’s a really quick recipe if you can even call it that – basically you toss together some meat protein together with veggies & boiled eggs with Sphagetti and ketchup. It certainly started out and being something that was made for the kids to enjoy, but adults can’t help chowing down on it either.
I surveyed the pantry and have a ½ pepper, some mushrooms, some super greens spaghetti, celery, hot sauce, some frozen peas, ketchup, some turkey sausage, some precooked chicken breast, an onion, green onions, garlic, an egg,
To save time, it is a busy weeknight I’m going to boil my eggs and the pasta together. I’m going to give my eggs a 5 min head start and then I will also add the sphagetti. Cook the pasta till it’s all dente. I’ve add 150 of pasta and I’m going to wait till it softens and slides into my pot.
I like recipes that allow you time to do prep in between so while my egg, spaghetti and peas cook, I like to prep all my veggies and meat protein. In the recipe I’ve listed all the ingredients I had available but you can switch up these ingredients very easily.
All the protein & veggies are then cooked and tossed together with the cooked spaghetti and ketchup – such a simple and delicious meal!
Gordon Ramsay is my culinary idol. I not only love watching on TV, I’ve never been disappointed with any of his recipe ideas. When my husband came home with a large Rack of Lamb, I remembered a recipe of Gordon’s where he smothered the Lamb in mustard and dredged it in a breadcrumb, parsley and parmesan mixture.
Lamb is baby sheep that is under two years old and a lot of Lamb comes from Australia and New Zealand. Anything over 2 years old is considered Mutton. Mutton chops are incredibly tasty as well, they have a more mature flavor and are a bit tougher and take longer to cook. Many people don’t eat Lamb for ethical reasons so Mutton chops are a great idea too.
This Herbed Rack of Lamb makes a great spring meal. Carve it at the table for maximum drama and serve with a salad or veggies. Delicious!
You’re going to love this recipe for Mutton Biriyani … this is one of the Biriyanis that is on that Biriyani hall of fame. There are so many different types of Biriyani, and depending on where you’re from, the taste is different even though the ingredients are practically the same. I’ve made different Biriyani recipes on the blog/channel and I’m sure this one won’t be the last. You can also make this recipe with Lamb. Mutton is just basically sheep that can no longer be called Lamb since it crossed two years. In my humble opinion, Mutton has a move developed flavor and lacks that gaminess that you get from Lamb. If you’re bothered by the gamey smell of Lamb or Mutton, a good trick is to soak it in milk overnight. It’s not really necessary though, when you cook your meat as long as I do all you’re left with it the delicious aroma of the spices in the meat.
I also use long grain Basmati rice, this is crucial to making a good Biriyani. I like to soak my rice for at least 30 minutes as this frees all the excess starch and can be rinsed away. Saffron is also a popular ingredient in a Biriyani preparation. These come from Spain and are harvested each year from the Crocus flower. I soak some in warm milk and allow the flavor and color to infuse. Although very few people add potatoes to their Biriyani, I am one of them … the combination of potato, meat and rice is strangely exciting and it’s how my Mom prepared it. Mom’s know best.
This recipe calls for a LOT of onions that will be fried. Half of these will be used in the gravy and half of these will be used as a garnish. And the true flavor comes from an incredible blend of spices in the Biriyani Masala that I make in small batches and like to use fresh.
On a side note: A few weeks after I taped this Biriyani, I had a visit from a family friend who is an amazing Hyderabadi homecook. She taught me how to make Hyderabadi Biriyani and I recorded the entire thing on FB live. You can check that out here.
I’ve been wanting to learn how to make Paella for a long long time. I love the honest goodness of this dish and would try to order it wherever available. When we went to Europe, I scoured the kitchen stores, but all the pans were too expensive or heavy for me to carry back, so imagine my joy when I found inexpensive Paella pans at my local Homesense. If you can’t find them, Amazon has these as well.
According to my research Carbon steel are the best kind of pans to buy, unfortunately I only managed to get the Polished steel. These pans rust and discolor very quickly so they have to be used and handled with a lot of care. You need to make sure that the pan is wiped dry immediately after use. I also like to heat it up after wiping it and curing it with salt. I also wipe it with a film of oil before storing it. If you watch the video, there is a lot of details around caring for your pans.
Traditional Paella is made with Rabbit meat and here’s my Segway into a disclaimer – this is not an authentic Paella dish. I know the Spaniards are very passionate about their Paella. I’ve taken great pains to respect the ingredients and process but at the end of the day it’s Paella, my way and the way it makes me happy J
In my Paella I used a combination of Chicken thigh meat and Shrimp, veggies like Artichoke, Broad beans Peas, smoked Paprika & grated Tomato and it’s simmered in a delicious Chicken and Saffron stock with a sprig of Rosemary. The best quality Saffron comes from Spain and is featured in many of their dishes. This is expensive as the crop harvested every year is small. The Saffron strands are actually the stamens from the Crocus flower that are hand picked and dried. I’m no stranger to Saffron, it made it’s way down to India and is used in dishes like Biriyani and Kulfi. I have several boxes of this golden delight in my fridge and I guard them with my life. The traditional Paella rice is called Bomba rice. This is a short grain rice similar to Arborio and comes from Spain. I was able to google this and find it in a Spanish store in Toronto, but the brand I used is also available on Amazon.
Did you know that an Artichoke is actually a flower? I would get too close to smell it though as the outer leaves or petals have thistles on it since it’s a member of the thistle family. Most of the artichoke is really thrown away and the only thing that is used is the prized heart. Start by peeling away the outer petals till you reach the yellowish ones. Scrape the green part away from the base using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Cut away the stem and the top. This will reveal a fibrous center. This is not edible and will cause you to ‘choke’ and that’s where the name comes from. Using a sharp spoon, remove this. You can either stuff this with filling and bake it, steam it upside down, or cut it and saute it.
Follow the the recipe below to get great tasting Paella but if you’re making this at home on your small gas burner, rotate your pan to ensure that all the rice gets cooked evenly. In the restaurants, they cook the Paella over a larger surface and the heat is evenly distributed so the home cook needs to be creative to achieve the same results!
This recipe also calls for Piquillo peppers. These are grown in Spain and are either stuffed and cooked for Tapas or are bottled and exported. They do have a unique flavor but are expensive and hard to find, you can easily substitute regular bottled red Peppers instead!
My mom is one of the most amazing cooks that I will ever know. If I had to pick just one favorite, it has to be her Sorpotel. My Virgo Mom, was as meticulous as they come, she would take the time to cut her meat into perfect little cubes that danced in a fiery sour and spicy gravy.
Sorpotel spelled with an o or an a is one of the most traditional and beloved curry dishes served on celebratory occasions. This is rumoured to have originated from the Alentejo region of Portugal, and was carried with Portuguese colonists and settlers to the countries of their conquests. The Portuguese set up their colonies in Goa and the Goans quickly adopted this dish and christened it Sorpotel – Soro meaning alcohol. I would imagine that the original recipe may have contained alcohol. There are so many variations to this recipe out there, the East Indians and Mangaloreans all make their own version of this. In my mind, Sorpotel should be exactly as my mother made it, she followed a typical Goan recipe with perfectly small cubes of meat in a delicious deep red sour and spicy gravy. Versions that are brown and with large chunks of meat just don’t cut it for me.
Sorpotel is traditionally made with Pork and Offal being organs like Liver, Kidney & Gizzards. Because my family does not eat Pork, I was toying with the idea of making a Chicken Sorpotel for years. I think I may have asked my mom to email me the same recipe multiple times. Last year, just before Christmas, I found an old email print out from my mom, she was kinda annoyed that I was asking for it so many times. This is dated 2002!
Last year, December 2015, I replicated her recipe originally intended for Pork using Chicken Thigh and Beef liver and the results were outstanding, if you have a really good recipe, you can’t go wrong. Many people cannot eat Pork for religious or dietary reasons, so Chicken is a great alternative but if you would like to make this using the traditional protein, pork shoulder is a good cut but the belly is the fattiest and probably the most popular cut used in this preparation. I know you will probably ask – ‘what if I don’t eat liver?’ Leave it out, be warned though without this you’re pretty much going to get a delicious curry, but not a Sorpotel.
I follow a 2:1 ratio, 2 parts Chicken to one part liver. For the Ofal I prefer to only use liver. I find that if you use other organs the textures are all so varied, it just gets too confusing. I’m using Beef liver since it does resembles Pork liver in texture and color. It’s also convenient because of it’s size, but if you don’t eat Beef, Goat or Lamb liver can easily be substituted. You cannot use Chicken Liver as it’s too soft. To replicate the fatty Pork meat, I’ve used Boneless Chicken Thigh and I’ve got this uncleaned as you can see all the fat still on the meat.
Every good Sorpotel starts with a great spice blend. My mother used a lot of Kashmiri Chillies in her masala blend for intense red color without too much heat. Many people add animal blood to their Sorpotel – quite frankly I find that gross, so the Kashmiri chillies are going to have to paint my Sorpotel red for me. This recipe also uses some traditional Goa vinegar. If you cannot find Goa vinegar, you can substitute Red Wine Vinegar.
Please practice food safety, don’t use the same utensils, boards etc for raw and cooked meat and be sure to wash your hands.
And I’ll sign off with a joke – My friend Succorine from Soglechem Succorine said to me ‘Karen bai, did you know Sorpotel was named after a Gujju? I said what? They don’t even eat meat … then she said yes, the man was ‘Sor’ Patel’ … I can’t believe I fell for that one and if you’re laughing, I can’t believe you fell for it too!
Sloppy Joes are an all time favorite but the addition of some Indian flavours take this from a Sloppy Joe to a Sloppy Joginder! Kids and adults alike will like this easy to prepare meal. This classic recipe takes an Indian twist!
When it comes to popular Indian kebabs, Chicken Tikka is right up there. Typically these kebabs are boneless and cooked in a clay oven or a tandoor. The marinade and method of cooking is very similar to Tandoori Chicken that is usually served bone in. I’d like to believe that this original recipe comes from India but it could have also originated from it’s surrounding countries. The popular Chicken Tikka Masala, a gravy version of this dish was invented by a Pakistani Chef in Glasgow. Although Chicken Tikka is usually prepared boneless, they are also made with bone in chicken similar to Tandoori Chicken. It’s distinct taste comes from the use of mustard oil in the marinade paired with the smokiness of the Tandoor. Since most people don’t have Tandoors in their homes, I will be cooking this on my BBQ. You can also prepare this in the oven if you don’t have access to a bbq.
I’m using 1 lb chunks of boneless Chicken in this recipe and will marinate this meat twice. The first marinade consists of 1 tbsp each Ginger and Garlic paste, followed by juice of 1/2 Lemon, salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of Chilli powder. I like to leave this overnight in the fridge or at least for 30 mins.
Next heat some oil and add 2 tbsps of Gram flour. We call this Besan or Chana ka atta. Mix this in with the oil and leave it to cool. To the Chicken I’m now going to add the second marinade. Yogurt, 1/2 tsp each Chilli, Haldi, Garam Masala, Kasuri methi. Add the gram flour paste and mustard oil. Add a little more black salt. I also wanted to mention that I used Kashmiri Chilli powder in this recipe – Kashmiri Chillies are famous for their colour and are not too spicy. Notice the difference between Kashmiri Chilli powder and standard Chilli powder. If you’re using just regular Chilli powder use a little less as it’s much much spicier!
Add the gram flour and 2 tbsps of Mustard oil
I like to marinate this as long as possible to ensure the best flavour anywhere from 1 hr to overnight. Chicken Tikka Masala s often made with bbq’s onions and green peppers so I like to add this to my Chicken Tikka as well.
A note about wooden skewers. I usually do soak them in water to prevent them from burning, but I find that they burn anyway! All it does is extend the time that it takes to finally burn. If I’m going to pull the chicken off the skewers anyway before I serve it, I don’t even bother to soak it, but if I’m going to present them on skewers, I will just cover them with foil. You could also, just slide in a new skewer once cooked, and pop out the old one OR just use metal skewers.
When it comes to sharing a meal with my family and extended family, I always gravitate towards a traditional favorite. This is a recipe for a very typical Goan Kheema. I am from Goa originally and Kheema is the Hindi word for ground meat and it can refer to Beef, Lamb, Mutton or Chicken. This recipe is by Xanti Pinto from Xantilicious.com, a blog that specializes in Goan cooking. I came across her recipe on our Facebook group Traditional Goan Foodies and I just loved it. I’ve made this many times now and have tweaked it ever so slightly to call it my own. What makes this quintessentially Goan is the addition of Vinegar and Kashmiri chillies.
The people of Goa love their song, dance and food and if you watch the beginning to this video, you will see my Dad in action. My earliest memories of Goa are the open fields, the busy kitchens and the amazing food. As I got older and I started to visit Goa for short holidays, we spent a lot of time on the beach, relaxing in many beach shacks that are now an integral part of Goa. There are many Goan recipes on my blog and channel that feature this amazing cuisine, be sure to check them out!
The star of this dish is the spice blend of the ingredients listed below that flavours the meat to give it it’s sour & spicy taste.
This is the end of the road for me in terms of hot summer weather but my BBQ isn’t ready to retire quite yet! We’re going to bump up the flavor of Chicken by smothering it in a fresh Peri Peri marinade and grill on my BBQ. If you don’t have a BBQ, you can sear it in a hot pan and finish it off in your oven. Last year I developed a great Peri Peri marinade and I’ve been using this recipe quite a lot as it’s gives Chicken or fish a great flavour.
The Peri Peri marinade uses the Peri Peri chillies which I have not been able to find so I’m going to use Red Hots instead . These are much larger that the small Thai red chillies and I’m just going to puree them in my food processor and blend them with some other ingredients listed before.
Interestingly enough, these chilies came from Africa and were incorporated into the Portuguese cuisine. Being from Goa, India myself, we still see the remnants of the Portuguese colonies in our culture and our food.