As Lemongrass is getting more and more popular in recipes, this is becoming a very common question.
If your not sure what it is, Lemongrass is a citrusy , hard herb that is very popular in Asian cooking, in particular Thai food. It imparts a lovely fragrant lemony aroma and works well in broths, curries and drinks.
It generally comes in sticks that can vary in thickness and length. Most of the flavour is in the lower two thirds of the stick, so this is the part you would need to use to get best flavour.
How you prepare Lemongrass will depend on how you intend to use it. If you are looking to infuse, then ‘top and tail’ it, removing the spiky looking top part about an inch or so down and cut the bottom off close to the end. Then bash them with the side of your knife to help release its oils and use as required, cutting into smaller pieces if needed.
If your going to use your lemongrass in a curry, you can prepare it the same as above, just peel off some of the tougher outer layers first, then use it whole, sliced or crushed into a paste with other ingredients.
All in all, Lemongrass is a great ingredient, versatile, adding a lovely fragrant flavour to any dish. Try some Lemongrass out in your cooking, available online at www.theasiancookshop.co.uk.
What Spices Go In A Masala Dabba?
This is a common question that gets asked with nearly every Dabba bought. The simple answer is that there’s no fixed rule to what spices you keep in a masala dabba but a good guideline to selecting your spices is first taking a look at what dishes you most commonly prepare. For example if its a simple curry base then you can’t go wrong with turmeric, cumin, coriander etc, but individualise it to your own cooking preference i.e no need for chilli powder if you are a fan of milder dishes!
A common misconception about masala dabba is that they are used for simply spice storage. This of course is partly true, but masala dabba are traditionally used for more convenience and most indian kitchens will have more than just one. Each masala dabba will be filled with a set of spices specific to the cooking of a favourite dish, so it is ‘convenient’ – grabbing one tin full of what you need and not hunting around searching for packets or pots around the kitchen. This is the reason you do not see huge masala dabba pots that will hold full packets of spices or masala dabba with individual lids as it would all combine in making it too bulky, heavy and impractical, losing the tradition of its original use to be quick and handy.
You just have to keep it topped up and fill it with whatever spices you use most.
I have many masala dabba at home with one I call my ‘Thai Dabba’, filled with just Thai spices for when I fancy a nice Thai Green Curry!
And finally if your considering another masala dabba, take a look at these two we have available currently online.
Clear Masala Dabba by The Asian Cookshop
Available in various sizes check online here Clear Masala Dabba
Solid Masala Dabba by The Asian Cookshop
Available in various sizes check online here Solid Masala Dabba
Take Care, Chef @ the asian cookshop
RECIPE: Chicken Madras | The Asian Cookshop
Try this great recipe out for Chicken Madras, really great results in a few easy steps – made even easier with my secret ingredient ‘Onion Masala Base’ – a universal curry paste created similar to the ‘onion gravy’ used in British Indian Takeaways/Restaurants for that authentic curry taste.
Serves about 2/3 persons.
What you will need:
2 x Small chopped/diced onions
500g x chicken breasts cubed
BUY ALL YOU NEED FOR THIS RECIPE ONLINE HERE: Chicken Madras Recipe Kit
Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a pan for about 30 seconds on high heat.
Reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onions and stir for a few minutes until lightly brown and soft.
Add about a 2 inch stick of dalchini cinnamon, 2 indian bay leaves [torn], 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 green cardamoms, 1 tbsp rajah mixed masala curry powder, 1 tsp tomato puree and stir.
Now add all of the Shaheens Onion Masala and stir in well and cook for a few minutes.
Add 500g of cubed chicken breast and stir in well, then cover pan and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
Now add about 200ml water and continue to cook covered for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
Uncover and add 2 tsp lemon juice, half tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, about half tsp salt [or to taste]. Cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes to reduce and thicken.
Ensure cooked through and serve hot with indian bread and basmati rice.
Tips: I like my curries quite thick , if you prefer more sauce reduce it for less time so it does not thicken as much and use less onions at the beginning [or dice up onions finer]. Watch out for the green cardamoms once cooked, not everyone likes biting into these whilst eating so it may be wise to fish them out before serving!
HOW TO PREPARE ‘BOMBAY DUCK’
As you may already know ‘Bombay Duck‘ is not actually from duck, but is a type of fish called Lottiya or ‘Bummalo’. It can be eaten fresh or dried and is very popular in India and other parts of Asia, especially Bangladesh.
In the UK, Bombay Duck was made famous during the 80’s & 90’s when the growth of Bangladeshi ‘Indian’ Restaurants would serve fried dried Bombay duck as a starter often alongside poppadoms or eaten crumbled over curry or rice. This salty snack is quite an aquired taste that not everyone likes. Lovers of Bombay Duck are many, with many more newbies joining the Bombay Duck followers to keep this great traditional delicacy alive.
The name ‘Bombay Duck’ is said to originate from the Days of the British Raj, with comparison being made to the strong pungent smell of dried uncooked bombay duck as we know it and the smell in the Bombay mail trains that moved dried fish from coast to cities. In India ‘Daak’ or ‘Duck’ translates to ‘Mail’, hence ‘Bombay Daak’.
When cooking dried Bombay duck you will have to spend some time preparing the fish in order to use it correctly. When you first open the pack you will be hit by a strong pungent fishy smell that can be off putting. Do not worry this will lessen once soaked and and again once cooked. The final dish will still have a distinctive smell but that is part of the enjoyment for many.
With a pair of kitchen scissors, take off the head and the tail about a cm in. At first sight you may be shocked at how vicious looking the Bummalo fish is, they are pretty mean looking with huge shark like teeth and big jars in comparison to body.
Now it is important to cut away the fins and thick black scaly bits. Just trim down the sides, pulling away any twisted bits to straighten and trim. With some parts like the fins, it may be easier to use your hands and simply pull these bits off. Be careful not to waste too much, but also be aware that it is best to remove as much of these parts as you can, to get the best flavour from your final dish. Its time consuming but definitely worth it, as they can otherwise leave a bitterness that can ruin your work.
Once trimmed, cut into approx 1 & half inch pieces. You are after quite thin pieces, so anything too bulky and wide should be cut thinner or into two. I usually prepare a whole pack or two and store ready to use next time, so its done and out the way.
The Bummalo fish only has one main bone which is the spine running down it. Once cooked, this is quite soft and normally chewable [for adults], but it can be left in or removed to your preference. To remove, it is easiest once soaked and soft. I find it depends on how you are cooking it. If its fried then you don’t really notice as the whole things crispy. It may be worthwhile doing for the dry curry [unless you are flaking the flesh off, as this will separate the bones anyway.]
Now to clean – wash thoroughly in water and then leave to soak for about 20 mins. This will soften and reduce the saltiness.
You will be left with soaked prepared Bombay Duck.
There are many ways to cook Bombay Duck. I will run through a couple of my favourite ways including the classic fried style as served in British Indian Restaurants.
Take the prepared soaked Bombay Duck and pat dry with kitchen towel.
Now mix the chilli powder and turmeric powder together and place the Bombay Duck in, to cover and lightly marinade.
Heat oil in a frying pan and once hot add the Bombay Duck, a few at a time, frying them off till golden brown.
Now take out onto kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt [season with pepper if required]. Enjoy hot. Some enjoy it more ‘well done’, simply fry for a bit longer. Experiment and get the balance you like.
Bummalo Chilli [Dry Shutki Bhuna]
3 or 4 pieces soft Kokum [washed]
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 onions [finely sliced]
2 tomatoes [sliced]
2 green chillies [sliced]
6 cloves garlic [minced]
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
half tsp of salt [plus salt to taste]
2 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp water
1 tsp Jaggery Goor
A good handful of coriander [roughly chopped]
1 tsp tomato paste
Add oil to pan and heat. In hot oil, fry the garlic until golden. Add onions and green chilli and salt. Fry until lightly brown and onions soften, becoming translucent.
Now add the tomato paste, turmeric powder plus the chilli powder and stir in.
Add water and cook for few mins and then add tomatoes, Kokum and Jaggery Goor. Stir and Cook until tomatoes soften.
Now add the washed soaked Bombay Duck, stir and cook for a few mins and then add the lemon juice. Simmer and cook for 8-10mins – the sauce should thicken, cook a little longer if required.
Stir in coriander leaves and salt to taste. Serve hot with Indian Bread or Rice.
This dish can also be prepared with diced potato, add about 5 mins before Bombay duck as they will need more time to cook and soften.
Another option referenced earlier is to flake the Bombay duck , once soaked it will be soft and you can take out the spine then break the flesh up and add to the dish.
Great results, give it a try.
Buy Bombay Duck here: Bombay Duck
Chef @ the asian cookshop
Ok, I have been a lover of Henna [or Mehndi as I know it] since childhood. I was always fascinated by the beautiful bridal colours and designs as I grew up.
Like most new users I always found it hard to get a great ‘Bollywood’ colour out of my Henna but over the years have picked up a few tricks that should help you get the best colour out of your henna and stain darker.
- To start with, its best applied when your warm, I don’t mean hot and sweaty – but warm. I find it stains less on cold skin.
- You do not want a barrier [like lotion/moisturisers] coming between your skin and henna, so wash the area well with soap and warm water, then dry well before applying.
- It sounds obvious, but the longer you keep it on, the darker the stain. Now, I’m talking hours here to get the best results – I usually keep it on anywhere from 6 to 10 hours [yes, even overnight with it wrapped up!]
- You will find it initially dries out within 20 mins, but the ‘trick’ is to rehydrate it with ‘sugar water’. This is 50/50 sugar and warm water mixed together and dabbed on with a cotton bud or ball. Just gently dab a little over the drying henna design and it will moisten and start to release more colour. The sugar’s there to help the paste ‘stick’ a little better. You want to keep the henna moist so repeat if required to squeeze the most out of your henna. Also make sure you do it before it dries out to much, as henna will dry, crack and fall off.
- When you are ready [or have had enough!], you can wash off the dried henna and apply an oil like olive oil gently on the design area – I find clove oil very good for this. Any washing of the design will start to fade the colour, so I sometimes skip this part and instead just peel off any dried flaking bits of henna and apply the clove oil without any washing.
- The henna colour does usually get a little darker over a day or two and I like to apply Vaseline on the area before I know it will get wet or be washed. This will act as a light barrier to help maintain the colour for as long as possible [Hardcore, I know but needs must!]
Small tips that should give you better Henna colour, Good Luck!
Just wanted to share this quick recipe I tried with great results.
I have been trying to recreate an old favourite first discovered on my travels, known simply as ‘Jalmitah’, which is thick, sweet and hot, packed with spicy goodness.
Most ingredients were in my pantry anyway but I wanted to use a base paste and went for the Ferns Korma Paste.
Really easy with great results. Enjoy!
Serves approx 2
You Will Need:
1 medium onion
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1large chicken breast [cubed]
1 stick cinnamon bark [2 inch approx]
- Peel and slice the onion.
- On a slow/medium heat, warm pan and add vegetable oil, then stir in sliced onions.
- Add indian bay leaf and dalchini – Stir and break up onions cooking till lightly brown and soft.
- Add cubed chicken breast and cook, stirring to brown evenly.
- Now add 3 tbsp Ferns Korma Paste and stir in well, stir and cook for a few mins.
- Add approx 150ml coconut milk and stir well, then increase to medium/high heat. Cook for a few mins and then stir in palm sugar.
- Continue to cook and once boiling reduce heat, do not cover and continue to cook maintaining simmer level.
- Stir on intervals and you will see the sauce thicken [approx 15mins]
- Once cooked through and sauce thickened, you are ready to serve.
- Serve hot with basmati rice & naan or chapati.
Tips: I like it quite hot, but to make it milder you can use less paste maybe 2 tbsp. Prepare and soften the palm sugar beforehand [i.e needs to be softened in microwave first as per instructions.]
Chef @ the asian cookshop
Ferns Singapore Noodle Paste Just Reduced.
NOW JUST £1.49!
Singapore Style Noodle Stirfry
Delicious and easy to prepare this has bags of flavour and is great with thinly sliced chicken strips.
3 tsp Ferns singapore noodle paste
1/2 cup of shredded cabbage
2 large peppers, chopped into long thin strip
2 large carrots, chopped into long thin strip
3 finely chopped spring onions
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp tomato puree
4 tbsp oil
2 tbsp soya sauce
season to taste
Boil the noodles for 5 mins with 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt.
While these are cooking heat the oil in a wok and then add the ginger, garlic, spring onions, carrots, peppers and shedded cabbage and stirfry for 1 min.
Then stir in ferns singapore noodle paste and stir fry on a high heat for a couple of minutes.
Once cooked add the soy sauce, tomato puree and a pinch of salt and serve.
Also try with shrimp, shredded beef or diced chicken.
Ferns Singapore Noodle Paste is available to buy online at the Asian Cookshop here:
Satay BBQ Sticks
A rich, flavoursome satay that has a delicious spicy, nutty flavour. I marinate for longer to really get the flavour into the meat and then BBQ – when the suns out!
For Marinade: 3 tbsp yeos satay sauce, 2 tbsp yeos light soy sauce, 1 tsp yeos pure sesame oil, 2 tsp yeos malaysian curry powder, 3 tbsp white sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 small onion and garlic clove, chopped.
Mix marinade in bowl and marinate beef for 1hour, skewer beef cubes and grill satay until cooked. Warm yeos satay sauce and serve as a dip, garnish with cucumber and onions as desired.
Yeos Satay Sauce is available to buy online at the Asian Cookshop here:
Stirfried Shrimp in Hoisin Sauce
A great, easy to prepare stirfry that produces a delightful shrimp dish that is packed full of flavour. Both delicately spiced and sweet, the added salted plums in lee kum kee hoi sin sauce really works well in balancing the sweet notes. Ready in just a few minutes. Enjoy!
Recipe for Shrimp with Hoisin Sauce
I usually serve with some fragrant jasmine rice and like to cut down on the peppers. Instead try adding in other vegetables like chopped onions and tomatoes. It cooks up thick and almost ‘jammy’ – my favourite type of stirfry!
LKK Hoisin Sauce is available to buy online at the Asian Cookshop here:
Traditional Tandoori Chicken
Delicious easy to prepare Tandoori Chicken, perfect grilled or for BBQ [if the weather holds up!]
Tandoori Chicken Recipe by Ferns:
3 tsp ferns tandoori paste
4 tbsp yoghurt
2 x chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
1 inch piece root ginger finely chopped
juice and zest of one lemon.
Method: In a large bowl mix together the tandoori paste, yoghurt, ginger and lemon zest/juice. Fan the chicken breast out and cover in the curry paste. Leave to marinate for at least 30 mins. Cook under a hot grill for 10 mins and then turn and cook for a further 5 mins. Serve hot with sliced onion and lemon slices and tandoori roti or bread of your choice.
‘This is a great tasting, simple recipe that has delicious results! I marinate longer to really get the flavour into the meat. Just cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge overnight and by next morning you will be ready to cook with flavourfull chicken.’
Great with some Mint Raitha Yoghurt.
Ferns Tandoori Paste is available to buy online at the Asian Cookshop here: