Paneer Jalfrezi-With Raab! Yum.

Dinner last night was a take on Rick Stein’s paneer jalfrezi a recipe from his “getting better with every recipe I try“, ‘India’ cook book. This recipe is basically an indian curry stir fry of peppers and tomatoes but as there was a shortfall of peppers in our kitchen I added extra green capsicum and some broccoli raab. Funny, I hadn’t heard of ‘raab’ until I read Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial‘s post today and she mentioned broccoli raab in her post. It looked  suspiciously like what I was growing and had picked to use in this dish. I had planted and grown seed labelled as Broccoli ‘Sessantina grossa’, guess what? Yep, broccoli raab. I’m much more excited about it now, just thought it was a scrungy variety of broccoli until I researched it more closely.

As well as adding the ‘raab’ I also had some pre soaked yellow split peas that were prepared for another dish, I ran out of puff for that, so they went into the pan too. I cut back the chilli powder in the recipe by half and the curry flavour was beautiful, just right. Served with steamed rice, but I would love to have tried it with some fresh naan or flatbread.  That can wait until next time when I make it with more peppers and tomatoes when they are at the peak of their season. I love any dish with indian  paneer cheese (similar to a heavy cottage cheese) in it and the split peas added a nice textural change. Worked out well and tasted delicious.

Paneer jalfrezi

Paneer, Pears and Green Manure,

On my last visit to the Dandenong Market I bought a packet of Paneer cheese to have on hand when I felt the need to use it. Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese, easy to make but sometimes you just don’t plan ahead of time, so having some ready made is handy. One of my many favourite Indian dishes is Mattar Paneer (Mutter Paneer, Matar Paneer), but I have only ever ordered it at a restaurant or as take away. Mattar Paneer is a vegetarian dish with peas, lightly toasted paneer in a spicy tomato sauce base. Now was the time to have a ‘crack’ at making it. Took the bull by the horns and googled a recipe that I thought would be suitable and less than an hour later we sat down to a truly delicious version of Mattar Paneer.  Sorry photo a bit dodge! I followed the recipe pretty closely apart from using a ‘stubby’ of tomato passata as the tomato content, I wasn’t sure if they meant large or small green chillies, so I used 3 jalapeños and instead of all that heavy cream I did 2 greek yoghurt/1 cream. I was worried it would be a bit too spicy initially but it mellowed out to a beautiful smooth flavour. Definitely a do again recipe, Link below.

Mattar Paneer Recipe


Pear Tree

While doing a ‘tour of the estate’ last weekend I noticed my espaliered pear tree was looking quite strange on one branch. Notice the discolouration or purpling of the bottom branch?

Espalier Pear

Closer inspection led me to see the tiniest little piece of tie wire sticking out and I wondered it this in fact being ring barked from an early supporting piece of tie wire. It made me think of when as a kid you squeeze around your thumb and the blood is trapped making it look purple (or was I just a very strange kid?).

Ring Barked Pear Tree

Got out some pliers and manage to remove quite a length of wire. Bound the wound with some grafting tape and just have to hope I’ve gotten to it in time and don’t lose the branch. I think there is still some hope as there is obviously some sap getting through.

Green Manure Crop

The wicking bed I planted with a green manure cover crop a couple of months ago looked like it was ready to have the crop slashed and turned in. This form of organic manuring is beneficial in returning all nutrients back into the soil. It is a great way to add organic matter and ‘resting’ the bed in between crops. If legumes are in the mix a good source of nitrogen is also an added  benefit. This bed will also get a load of broken down ‘stuff’ when I clean out the chook house next week.

Green Manure readyTrimming Green Manure

Green Manure slashed and turned in

Other Odds & Ends-Jerusalem Artichokes

I planted a couple of tubers early in the season (or was it last spring?) had no idea what they did, how they grew or what to do with them if I got a harvest. I noticed a couple of tubers were protruding from the soil so took that as an indication they were ready to harvest. Quite a pleasant surprise when Mr ATMT stuck the fork in the ground!

IMG_4212 Jerusalem artichokesI now need to find out how to deal with them and have come up with a couple of different recipes I’ll try. Seems to be an underlying theme by experienced though, not commonly referred to as ‘Fartichokes’ for nothing. Stay tuned!



Christened my new toy! Indian Karahi.

When we were in India last March, I was smitten when I saw some heavy cast iron pans that resembled asian woks but were much heavier,  being used by street vendors wherever food was made or sold.  These pans were sitting on little charcoal or clay stoves and people were cooking all varieties of things from curries to sweet treats and everything in between. I was keen to acquire one but didn’t have the opportunity (or luggage space) while we were away  but made it a goal to source one on our return.

Indian KarahiI occasionally go to the Dandenong (or Springvale or Footscray) Market to stockup on items that are hard to almost impossible to source in our local shops. I made a trip to Dandenong a couple of weeks ago and managed to find an import shop that stocked some of these pans. Not sure where I would store it in my non existent kitchen, I justified my purchasing it with no basis at all and paid a whole $25.00 for a ~3ml thick cast iron karahi.  I also bought a cast iron chapatti pan that is just waiting in the wings for its first outing!

With the decision to try Annabel Langbein’s South East Asian Curry that is in her Free Range Cook Book as the base for a vegetarian (with some chicken!) curry. I had today harvested some eggplant, beans and zucchini which are all good for use in a curry and it meant I could christen my Karahi as well. Although mine is not quite as heavy as the ones I saw in India, it is pretty darned thick and takes me back to the streets of Jaipur, Delhi, Varanasi and all the other cities we were lucky enough to see.

Karahi on BBQ

My oh my! This curry was so good I was  blown over with the flavour! I followed the recipe pretty much exactly but halved quantities and skipped the shrimp paste as I didn’t have any. The karahi was just gorgeous to use, even heat on low simmer and I can’t wait to come up with another reason to use it. As with most cast iron cookware, it is not going to get a huge scrub, just a rinse and wipe out, a smear of oil to prevent oxidation (rust) and it will be great.

Shame I’m not a food photographer because then I could create a photo that captures the spectacular flavour of this curry! Thanks again Annabel!

A.L. Asian curry paste base