Burmese Tomato Salad

Burmese Tomato Salad

Burmese Tomato Salad

Burmese Tomato Salad

Burmese Tomato Salad

Three weeks into my stay in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) I’ve settled in and have tried lots of new recipes. I’m attempting to build up a good all-round knowledge of local foods so I can recreate them when I eventually return home.

One thing that stands out about my stay in Yangon is the incredible heat! It’s so hot that if you go outside between the hours of 8am to 5pm, its like asking for a bucket of water to be thrown at you with the amount you end up sweating! Eugh! The infrastrusture of this emerging economy is also in it’s infancy so frequent power cuts happen. Often large businesses will have back up generators but where I am currently volunteering (a social enterprise) such luxuries are not within easy reach. It doesnt happen too often so I shouldn’t complain! 🙂

With it being so hot, I find my appetite has lessened and I often don’t feel hungry. Rice and noodles are the staple diet here but often eating hot meals is the last thing on my mind. So the delicious Burmese salads are always a light meal choice to turn to. Back home I found that having a salad at lunch time did not keep me full for long, so I often added some protein (usually chicken) and avocado or cheese to bulk it out. Here dairy is not used in the traditional diet and good cheese is expensive and hard to find.

I could eat this tomato salad every day, three times a day if I could! The fried onions and garlic and the peanuts add texture and a creaminess to the salad whilst the tomatoes, coriander and lime juice add freshness. It’s a perfect combination and keeps me full for a long time…

Burmese Tomato Salad

Burmese Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh tomatoes (halved and thinly sliced)
  • small bunch fresh coriander (chopped)
  • small handful of fried onions
  • smal handful of fried garlic
  • quartre of a white cabbage (finely sliced)
  • small handful of roasted peanuts (lightly pounded)
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (leave out if you want to make it vegetarian)

Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients together just before you want to eat it, simple! 😀

A lot of Myanmar salads seem to have the same base ingredients, try this salad with some slices of deep fried tofu added (tofu salad). It is another amazing light salad to try out.

Quesadilla: With refried beans, sweet potato and tomato salsa dip

Quesadilla: A Cracking Good Food Session

Quesadilla and Salad

Quesadilla and Salad

According to Wikipedia, a quesadilla is “a flour tortilla or a corn tortilla filled with a savory mixture containing cheese, other ingredients, and/or vegetables, cooked often on a griddle, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape”. Or as the Cracking Good Food Cooking Lead called it “fancy cheese toasties”.

Stuffed flat breads are available the world over, in various forms and flavours, so are a fairly good way to introduce people to new flavours and foods without it seeming too different from what they may be used to. In the UK, a ‘cheese toastie‘ is, in its’ purist form, two slices of bread with some cheese in between them and grilled until the bread has crisped up and the cheese all gooey inside. There are of course lots of variations to these fillings, my personal favourite being cheddar cheese, mushrooms and chilli flakes! Even thinking about it makes my mouth water…

Cracking Good Food is a community cooking network promoting cooking from scratch, and using sustainable and seasonal ingredients. So for this session we were showing older people how to use store cupboard ingredients and left overs to create tasty quesadilla in less than 30 minutes. I guess the significance of the session being for older people was that it was the main age group the client worked for. When chatting with some of the participants, some were nervous of cooking recipes that hadn’t been taught by their mother/grandmother. Whereas others were keen to try new recipes from different world cuisines. The ease of this dish means that it is open to anyone who wants to create their own tasty meal, especially those on a tight budget or wanting to reduce their food waste by using up bits of left overs in the fridge.

Quesadilla, Hot Salsa and Salad

Quesadilla, Hot Salsa and Salad

Using ready made large wheat flour tortillas, and created an easy version of ‘refried beans’, sweet potato filling and a hot tomato salsa. I’m going to share these recipes from memory as I forgot to pick up a recipe sheet!

The fillings and salsa dip use the same base flavour ingredients which helps bring synergy to the dish but also means there are fewer ingredients to buy for people living on a tight budget, as well as reducing the numbers of spices being left to go stale in the cupboard!

Refried Beans

Refried Beans

Refried Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of black eyed beans (rinsed)
  • 1 can of pinto beans (rinsed)
  • 1 medium red onion (finely diced)
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a large, deep sided, frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned.
  • Add the cumin and all the beans, simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add water if it is looking too dry.
  • Once ready, add salt and pepper and coriander and give a final stir through.
Hot Tomato Salsa

Hot Tomato Salsa

Hot Tomato Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (use chopped fresh tomatoes if preferred)
  • 1 medium red onion (diced)
  • 1 large sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a medium saucepan heat the oil and slowly fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned
  • Add the sweet red peppers, tomatoes and spices. Simmer over a low heat until you get a smooth paste like texture, about 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with coriander before giving it a final stir through

Spiced Sweet Potato filling

Ingredients:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 medium red onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground smoked chipotle chili (or any chili powder)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, boil the sweet potato until softened then drain the potatoes, saving some of the water for later. Roughly mash the sweet potato leaving some big chunks for added texture
  • In a medium saucepan heat the oil and slowly fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned, then add the spices
  • Add the mashed sweet potato to the spices onion and garlic and stir until thoroughly combined. Add some of the saved potato water to the mix so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Warm through but do not overcook.
Quesadilla

Quesadilla

I’m not going to go through the steps of how to put together a quesadilla as there have been some great people before me who have already published step by step guides, so please refer to them.

Quesadilla and Salad

Quesadilla and Salad

Going back to the ‘cheese toastie’ comparison, the only other ingredients you need are the bread and the cheese. So get your tortillas and some of your favourite cheese and start building your tasty quesadillas… and you don’t need to be over 55 to enjoy them! 😉

Afghan Beef and Bean Soup: Shorwa e Ghosht

This recipe has been another one of my experiments. These days I have really struggled to make nutritious and interesting evening meals as I have been distracted by various things that life throws at you. My partner and also have very different preferences when it comes to food, he likes very heavily spiced foods, red meat and lots of carbohydrates! I prefer white meats, like a balance of sweet, bitter, savoury and spice in my food and am trying to loose a little weight at the moment…

One way around this is to make separate meals, every so often. This isn’t ideal as it takes away some of the magic brought by communal eating. However there are the odd occasion when I’m not going to be home for dinner, so this is when he gets to eat meals I wouldn’t normally want to eat!

For this Shorwa e Gosht I took inspiration from Humaira at ‘‘Afghan Culture Unveiled’ who makes the recipe in a pressure cooker. I decided to do the opposite and make it in a slow cooker, kind of like a stew. I also didn’t have some of the ingredients required so made some substitutions. 

Ingredients

  • 500g Diced Lean Beef 
  • One Red Onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai Chilli, chopped
  • 2 tbs Olive Oil
  • 3 tbs Tomato Paste
  • 2 tbs Ground Coriander
  • 2 tbs Ground Cumin
  • ½ tbs Ground Turmeric
  • 1 tbs Salt
  • 1 can Water
  • 1 can Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Chickpeas

     

Method

  • SautĂŠ the onions, garlic and beef in a frying pan until lightly coloured
  • Add all the spices, salt, chilli, and tomato paste and stir to evenly coat all the meat
  • Add kidney beans and chickpeas and reuse a can to add the water
  • Mix it all up and transfer to a slow cooker, cook for at least 6 hours on ‘low’ or 3-4 hours on ‘high’
  • Serve with some yoghurt drizzled on top and some crusty bread or Nan

 

After all those hours of slow cooking the beef was extremely tender and melt in the mouth. The ‘soup’ was more of a thick sauce, hence being more stew like. However if you would prefer a soup, just add more water before slow cooking. 

I think I earned a few brownie points after this meal! 😉

Chicken Tikka Potstickers: the dumplings with a twist!

I have previously posted about potstickers/dumplings/gyozas before but for this recipe I have used the basic idea of the potsticker and given it a South Asian twist!

Chicken Tikka Potstickers

Chicken Tikka Potstickers

Chinese potstickers are traditionally served with a milder flavours in comparison to spicy South Asian cooking (as with a lot of Chinese cooking the flavours are simple and subtle) and the dumplings served with a simple dipping sauce, usually based on soy sauce and vinegar. Taking inspiration from the was South Asian samosas are served, I decided to add a little spiciness to the filling of the potstickers as well as serve them with a couple of punchier dips!

Recipe

For the dumplings:

  • 1 packet of pre-made dumpling pastry (I’m too lazy to make my own this time!)
  • 4 skinned and boneless chicken thighs (chopped very finely or minced)
  • 2 tbs Tikka Masala curry paste (or make your own spice marinade)
  • 1 medium cooked potato, crushed (I used left over roasted potatoes)
  • 2 chopped spring onions (can use leeks or onions)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsp oil (for frying)
  • Boiled water (for steaming)
Potsticker wrapping

Potsticker wrapping

For the Chilli, Mint and Yoghurt Dip

  • 1 cup of natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs green chilli sauce (I used bottled)
  • 2 tbs mint sauce (I used bottled but you can use fresh mint too!)
  • Salt (to taste)
Mint and Chilli Yoghurt

Mint and Chilli Yoghurt

For the Spiced Tomato Dip

  • 5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs oil (for frying)
  • Spices (I used 1 tsp each of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and dried chilli flakes)
  • Curry leaves (a few)
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 0.5 tsp sugar
  • Salt (to taste)
Spiced Tomato Chutney

Spiced Tomato Chutney

Method

For the dumplings:

  • Mix the chicken with the Tikka paste and allow to marinade for a few hours of over night.
  • Mix the raw chicken with crushed potatoes and leeks and add a little salt.
  • Wrap the dumplings using about 2 tsp of filling per dumpling. Line a couple of plates or baking trays with ling film to put the dumplings on to avoid them sticking the plate. make sure the dumplings aren’t touching as they will stuck together. You can also stick them straight into the freezer on the tray/plate then stick them into freezer bags for later use.
  • In a heavy based sauce pan that has a lid or wok, add the oil and warm up. Add the dumplings into the pan, fairly close together, completely filling the pan but with a little space between each dumpling as they expand during cooking. Fry for a few minutes until the bottom of the dumplings have browned a little.
  • Now it is time to cook the filling, so add some water to the pan (about 1 cup), cover with the lid and steam for 5-10 minutes on a low heat (until the filling is cooked through). If there is still water left in the pan, increase the heat to evaporate the remaining water and crisp up the bottoms.
  • The dumplings will stick to the pan (hence the name ‘potstickers’ but with a little care and the help of a fish slice spatula, you can easily lift them out!)
  • If cooking from frozen, no need to de-frost them. Just stick them straight in the pan and steam for an extra 5 minutes.
Potstickers- chicken tikka

Potstickers- Ready for the freezer

For the Chilli, Mint and Yoghurt Dip:

  • Mix everything together and add salt to taste, simple!

For the Spiced Tomato Dip:

  • Dry roast the whole spices and curry leaves in a saucepan
  • Add oil and cook the onions until softened
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, stir and then cook for a few minutes until they are soft and most of the juices from the tomatoes has gone
  • Add the salt, sugar and vinegar and cook for a couple more minutes
  • Taste and allow to cool
Chicken Tikka Potstickers

Chicken Tikka Potstickers

I made a batch of these and froze them for future meals when there is no time to cook or I’m too tired. Today was that day!

The filling was nicely spiced and very much reminiscent of the taste of chicken samosas but a lot lighter since they aren’t deep fried. The potatoes in the filling help to keep it all quite dry so there is less risk of the dumplings bursting, however it also means that dips/chutneys are very much necessary!

The spiced tomato chutney worked very nicely, as the vinegar added a sharpness that lifts all the flavours and brings back in the freshness that you would normally get from a traditional Chinese dipping sauce. Then the minty yoghurt cools everything down… So delicious! I ate at least 10 in one sitting! 🙂