Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Seb aur Gaajar ka Murabba (Apple Preserve and Carrot Preserve)

Why is it that as we grow up, one by one, we start liking, in fact relishing, those very foods and dishes that we detested when we were younger? I remember I used to hate ginger when I was a child, I used to hate the chilliness and tingling sensation felt on the tongue, but now ginger in a dish just ranks it so much higher to other dishes... and I love Injipuli (ginger chutney) to bits. There was a time I used to hate cabbage and cauliflower, ooh I used to stay far away from them, but now... I loooove to have my cabbage thoran and coleslaw; and one of my favourite things is to have chilli gobhi dry(cauliflower). I wouldnt mind even plain gobhi aloo like the one musical made a while back. I remember I used to hate green pepper once but now cant live without it in my salad and on my pizza and sometimes in my pasta... All this makes me think I shud now try all the things I used to hate to eat before, maybe I'll like them!!

Why I'm going on like this is because recently I was given a plate of 'Seb ka Murrabba' (Apple Preserve) by my mum. Its good for me in the winter months she says (knowing that I had an cholecysectomy operation recently and should be having good and nutritous things to eat). I made a big pout since I didnt like the stuff (or so I thought) and hadn't eaten it for years, and hesitatingly put a piece in my mouth.

WOW, it was like the flood gates of a huge dam of yummy fruity syrup had been opened up in my mouth.

"huggle muggle duggle" I said to her with my mouth full.
"WHAT??" she said.
"This is so yummy, how do you make this mum?"

She told me and I was stunned beyond words at how easy it was to make and how yummy it was tasting! I couldnt figure one bit why I had disliked it before. My mum says traditionally murrabbas are typical winter preserves and very good for healing and for example 'Gaajar ka Murabba' (Carrot Preserve) is said to be good for improving eyesight. Also Murrabbas are said to have a warming effect (Taasir) on the body so they are good to have in the winter months. The best murraba to have is said to be 'Aamla ka Murabba', but we've never seen fresh Aamla here in Africa and I promised I would have it on my next trip to India. Murabbas should be had only two to three pieces at a time with a handful of blanched and peeled almonds. That is so probably because they are so sweet and satisfying that you can't have more than that in one sitting. So mum made whole bottles full of carrot and apple murrabbas for me and I relished them all through my sick leave and recovery time. To my surprise I did recover whithin a couple of weeks, and what beats me is how can a syrup cooked fruit and veggie help so much to heal? I couldnt understand it from the scientific point of view.. Like, why shouldn't I have raw apples and carrots? Does anybody know? And what else do you know about murrabas and syrup fruit preserves? Any information would be so welcome. Enough rambling and now and onto the recipe!

Seb ka Murraba (Apple Preserve)

Like all cooking with apple the best to use is Granny Smith apples (the green and slightly tangy ones)

1 kg - Apples
1 and 1/2 kg - sugar
5gms - citric acid (preservant)
750mls (3 cups) - water

Peel and deseeed the apples. Keep them in a bowl of water as you peel others so that they dont discolour. Quarter the apples.

Combine in a pot the sugar, citric acid and water to make a syrup. When the syrup comes to a rolling boil, put in the apples. Boil for 10 minutes.

Cool and bottle with blanched, peeled almonds.

Gaajar ka murraba (Carrot Preserve)

1 kg - Carrots
1/2 kg - sugar
5gms - citric acid (preservant)
250mls (1 cup) - water

Peel and chop the carrots into bite size chunks.

Use the sugar and water to make a syrup. When the syrup comes to a rolling boil, add the carrots. Boil for 20 minutes.

Cool down and refridgerate in the same pot. Repeat the procedure the next day at the same time (boiling for another 20 minutes). Repeat one more time the third day.

Cool and bottle with blanched, peeled almonds.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Spinach and Feta Pizza

Most food bloggers that I have been reading recently are talking about the ‘lovely spring air’, ‘spring blossoms’, ‘warmer weather’, ‘fresh spring vegetables’, etc etc. While all the food bloggers brag about the warming weather in the northern hemisphere, here we are hit by colder and colder winter nights, and a chill in the air in the southern hemisphere, brrrrr.

Even though it doesn’t snow in most parts of Africa, it does get pretty cold, which makes me wonder how the Khoi-San people, no offense meant, survive in the Kalahari desert with just their animal skin chaddis. Ok back to my comfort recipe to indulge in, while some of us sit wrapped up in blankets in front of the TV. My hubby says the best pizza he’s had is the one made at home, so I make this quite often, and keep trying to experiment with different toppings. This spinach and feta one, I tried, came out way beyond my imagination. It had an amazing flavour, was warm and so comforting.

I’m wondering if I can send it in as a late entry to Indira for JFI & WBB : greens, I’ll give it a try!

What you need:
- 500g self raising flour
- 50g margarine
- 1tsp oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic crushed
- 150ml tomato puree

- A few sprigs fresh basil
- Dried oregano
- 50g feta cheese
- 500g fresh spinach leaves
- 200g mozzarella cheese
- Salt to taste
- White pepper and black pepper to taste

Makes two pizzas 30cm in diameter. This is for people who like a thin crust. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Pizza dough: Rub in 50g of margarine into 500g of self raising flour. Add water to make soft dough. Cover with a damn cloth and keep aside.

Tomato base: Sauté some garlic lightly (don’t brown it too much) in a tsp of oil, and add the tomato puree with finely chopped basil leaves, dried oregano, salt and white pepper to taste. Keep aside when ingredients have combined and cooked well.

Toppings: feta cheese and crumbs and spinach puree. Cube the feta cheese making sure the cheese doesn’t crumble too much. Also we don’t have to use a lot here coz we will be topping with mozzarella finally. For spinach puree: blanch fresh spinach leaves, and puree them in the processor to get a thick dark puree.

To assemble: Roll out the dough into two circles of about 8mm thickness onto a baking tray. Spread the tomato base. Spread the spinach puree. Scatter the feta cubes.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, salt and black pepper to taste. You can sprinkle dried origanum too.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C until the base is cooked and golden from below. Switch on to the grill to cook the top until golden. Cool slightly, slice evenly before serving.