• Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Freedom in the air

2 PEAS IN A POD

Healthy Eid spread

By Reema Islam And Sarah-jane Saltmarsh

When it comes to the grand spread of the big day, healthy food and Eid somehow do not go together in Bangladeshi homes. Yet, after a month of abstinence, our digestive systems take a while to get used to eating all day. So we gladly bring to you some dishes which we believe will leave your guests wondering why they never ate more at your home!
So here's to a healthy and prosperous Eid to all our readers!

Paella
It is suggested that Moorish slaves would re-use left over rice dishes from royal banquets, leading to the birth of a popular Spanish dish called Paella, which could have originated from the Arabic word baqiyah or remainder. Although the Spanish city Valencia is credited for this dish, we bring to you a much loved international form of polao to liven up your healthy Eid menu!
Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp paprika, 2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste, 2 kg skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
½ kg white fish (Bhetki or a pink salmon), 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 pinch saffron threads, 1 bay leaf
½ bunch parsley, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 lemons, zested and some freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 large red onions, diced, 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped; 2 cups green peas
½ kg shrimp, peeled and deveined
Method:
In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook about 3 minutes then stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes. It will be a soggy mixture.
Smear the fish with some garlic paste and lemon juice, then sauté it in 1 tablespoon olive oil for up to 1 minute on each side. Add salt and pepper towards the end.

Then take 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat and sauté both marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and peas; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink. Stir in the fish and cook together for 3-5 minutes. Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Top with meat and seafood mixture. Sprinkle coriander on top and serve hot!
Health focus
 A healthy mix of vegetables and meat leads to a fulfilling meal of proteins, fibers and vitamins with the psychological satisfaction rice brings to our Bangladeshi bellies!
Mezze platter
A Mediterranean assortment of delights to fill you up yet leave you hungry for more!
Did you know that we have something in common with Mediterranean cuisine? It all starts with one word… Traditionally eaten as an appetizer in Turkish cuisine and almost all over the Mediterranean region, the word “mezze” has an interesting origin.

As can be guessed by its closeness to our Chittagonian Mezban, the word mezze came from the Persian word Mazah which means to taste or a snack. Similalry, our traditional Chittagonian mezban also originates from Persian words (maize is a table) and it also means host in Urdu. This Mediterranean platter should allow your guests to walk about and munch on healthy snacks that not only taste wonderful but leaves you feeling light.  
Chilli paste –
Boil red chillies with brown sugar and vinegar. Paste them and serve as a dip
Cacik –
Mix 1 cup yoghurt with ½ teaspoon garlic paste, ¼ cup lemon juice, salt, mint and coriander leaves chopped finely, cucumber diced and sprinkling of roasted cumin seeds. Mix well. Should taste tangy and hot.
Sweet tamarind chutney –
(A non Mediterranean item meant to lend the mezze a slightly 'deshi' touch!) Leave some tamarind in luke warm water for a few minutes, then take out the seeds and squeeze well to get as much of the tamarind into the bowl, which should make about 1 cup worth of tamarind juice. Add some salt to taste, pinch of jeera, 1 chilli mashed into a paste, 2 tablespoon brown sugar, or 2 tablespoon worth molasses crushed and coriander leaves. Mix well and pour over food to give it a tangy flavour!
Roasted eggplant mash --
Smear the eggplant with some olive oil and hold it over a stove fire and keep changing sides till the outer skin is charred. Take off the skin and mash the pulpy insides, leaving some chunky pieces. Sprinkle rock salt, chopped coriander and pour sweet tamarind chutney on top.
Dolmades --
No Mediterranean cuisine is complete without food wrapped in some sort of vegetable and the dolmades or Samra is a fairly universal dish even known as dolma in Bangla. The dolmades should be prepared using spinach leaves instead of the traditional grape leaves.
Ingredients:
1 kg spinach leaves washed and each leaf separated. Break off the larger pieces from their stems to make a good wrap.
½ kg chinigura rice
1 large onion diced; chopped coriander, chopped parsely, chopped celery according to taste
Salt and pepper to taste and you may add some chillies; pinch of oregano powder; 1 tbsp garlic paste
250 grams tomatoes, diced; 250 grams minced beef or you may leave this meatless and add some raisins instead.
4 tbsp olive oil
 

Method:
Mix all the ingredients with 4 tablespoon olive oil. Take the spinach leaf and fill it up with some stuffing. Fold it from all sides so it resembles a small packet. Normally spinach leaves can be rolled into round or square shapes.
If you do not own a crock pot then heat a large pot of water and when it starts to boil, place a big sieve on top and place the dolmades in it covering them. You might try to also use the earthen pots used for making peetha.
Steam them for about 20 minutes which should be enough to cook the rice. The colour of the leaves will be lighter. Some may even break and rice may spill out.
Serving the Mezze platter
Place all the above ingredients in the middle in a circular manner with some chopped carrots and cucumbers lining the side of the platter that people can use to dip in, along with some pita bread wedges.
Health focus
Used ideally as an appetiser, this is the perfect platter to serve visitors who will be doing their rounds of binge eating throughout the day, so give them something that tastes good, yet leaves loads of space in their stomachs!
Three layered soft dark chocolate and mango with candied nuts
Ingredients:
½ cup semolina
1 cup grated dark, non-sweetened chocolate
1 cup mixture of roughly cut walnuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews
1 tbsp raisins and 2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter, 1 large mango
Method:
Place the chocolate cup in a pan of simmering water to melt. Fry semolina with 1 tablespoon butter till slightly red. Add the melted chocolate with some extra water and cook till the semolina swells in volume and a halwa like mixture forms. Remove and spread on large tray, let it cool.
Cut the mango in large pieces and sauté with ½ tablespoon brown sugar till they are slightly brown. Lay these on bottom of a square serving dish and carefully place the thin chocolate mix on top of the mango.
Use 1 tablespoon brown sugar with the nuts and sauté till the sugar melts, leaving the nuts glazed. Quickly remove and spread them across the mango-chocolate mixture.
Serving
Cut the 3 layered dessert in squares so you have a layer of mango-chocolate mix-nuts and serve with a compote of lemon boiled with sugar.
Health focus
Minimal use of sugar and a nutty and fruity dessert that will again charm your palette leaving you feeling light.

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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