Vote for my Shawerma Tuna Flavour for a chance to win AED 15,000

Friday, 31 May 2013

Chicken Tandoori - An Easy, Delicious & Healthy Lunch + Winners of Mauritius Giveaways

Whether BBQ'ed or oven roasted, this Chicken Tandoori recipe always turns out succulent

Do you like Chicken Tandoori? I do. However, I must admit. I have tried some Chicken Tandooris where the chicken was dry like wood and despite the vibrant colour, had no aroma whatsoever! Some were too spicy, so much so that you can't really taste anything else. Some versions of Chicken Tandoori that I have tried were generally not pleasant to eat! But, when Chicken Tandoori is done right, it is really a good bite to eat. When done right, it is red and inviting. It can be spicy - or not - and despite being spicy you will still be able to taste the chicken. Good Chicken Tandoori is very aromatic, the smell alone wakens your appetite. It is tender and juicy. The use of yogurt in the marinade tenderises the chicken and generally speaking meats on the bone are always juicier and more richly flavoured. With that said, you can go for boneless chicken and worry not, because marinating the chicken in a yogurt-based marinade will always result in a tender and juicy  experience- provided you don't over cook it. You can go for chicken on the bone, boneless chicken breasts or skewered boneless chicken pieces. You can BBQ the Chicken Tandoori, or you can roast them in the oven. What's not to like!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

"Take It In" & Gingered Crab Samosas - Including the samosa pastry

Gingered Crab Samosas in home-made pastry

While in Mauritius, especially when driving around the island, I kept telling my two kids: "Take it all in". I meant the natural beauty and amazing scenery. Because Mauritius is so naturally stunning, it has that relaxing effect on you. You kind of feel there is no worry in the world, in fact, was there ever any?! "Take it in" my 2 children and husband kept repeating in a joke, making fun of me repeatedly telling them to. Firas would jokingly keep telling them "don't forget to take it in!" and all three of them would burst out laughing!!

Back in Dubai, and we get back to the rushed life of running around, chores, activities, work, work, work and full blown school productions and assessments... and all the mayhem and stresses of our daily lives. My son came to me last night and said: "You know mama, I think you were right. Maybe, I should have taken Mauritius more in! Can we go back so I can really take it in this time?" lol

The best thing about writing these posts, is that they have given me a chance to recall all of the fun. Going through the photos I got to see it all again, and feel like that trip never ended. I have told many of my friends, that I want to live there, and really I would in a blink. I tell you this, because today I am concluding the Mauritius posts on this blog and on my  Culinary Travel Blog, where I have been posting about traveling culinary to Mauritius, what to do and expect... And want to encourage you again to visit Mauritius because it has that unique serenity that you will not experience anywhere else. So do, when you get a chance, go there and when there give yourself a chance to "Take it all in".
Firas is probably laughing his heart out as he reads this!

Simple joys

Samosas are delicious. Crunchy, warm and can be dipped in all kinds of sauces, they are delightful. They are a fabulous way to start a meal, and when made small and dainty they can be very elegant to serve at a cocktail party. Samosas can be filled with all kinds of fillings, so they are an open ground for creativity. Especially when you pair the filling with a creative dipping sauce they can be really delectable. I have tried this gingered crab with rice when in Seychelles - which cooks the same creole cuisine as Mauritius - and in Mauritius samosas are possibly the most consumed snacks. I thought to combine the two very tasty concoctions into one and fill the samosas with the gingered crab. They turned out heavenly, really uniquely flavoured samosas. I have gone with a slightly thinned coconut chutney for a dipping sauce, but you can also go for the Thai sweet chili sauce, which matched the crab perfectly too.
Here is how these samosas are made....

Gingered Crab Samosas
Serves 4-6
You Need
While samosas are a fabulous way to start a meal
and a delectable snack,  they are also
an excellent choice to pass around
in cocktail parties.
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Dipping sauce for serving

For the gingered crab filling
300 g shredded crab meat (please use the real crab meat and not the cured alternative)
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup light cream
1 tbsp rice vinegar
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp curry powder
Salt & Black pepper to taste

for the pastry
250 g all purpose flour
100 ml cold water
1/4 tsp salt

In a large skillet, heat the 2 tsp vegetable oil and saute the spring onions and red onion until translucent. Add the grated ginger and sprinkle with curry powder and seasoning, mix to coat and incorporate. Add the shredded crab meat and stir twice, then pour in the cream the vinegar and the lime zest. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and allow it to reduce slightly. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, make the pastry. Place all the ingredients in the stand mixer and knead until you achieve a soft dough. Using a pasta roller, and the same way you would roll the pasta, roll this dough into thin sheets (see pasta rolling instructions here). Cut the rolled pastry sheets into rectangular strips (20 cm x 5cm).

Spread the sheet out on a clean work surface and place 1 tsp of filling on one end of the strip and roll into the classic triangular shape (see the photo tutorial at the end of this post). Once all samosas are filled and rolled, heat the vegetable oil and deep fry the samosas until golden and crispy. Drain on absorbent paper then line on a serving plate and place the dip in a small bowl at one end. Serve immediately.

Always drain fried foods before placing them on the serving platter

These samosas will be a hit every time you serve them, so make sure you do. I hope you have enjoyed this post, and all of the Mauritius travel posts and recipes.

If you have just dropped by, then I have been posting about traveling culinary to Mauritius on my Culinary Travel Blog, and have been posting Mauritius recipes on this blog so take a look the links are all below. I also have some Taste of Mauritius Giveaways that I will be giving out this Friday 31st May 2013, check this link for how to enter the draw and this link for photos of the Mauritius Giveaways.

I love nothing more than hearing from you, so do let me know what you think of these Mauritius posts, both the traveling posts and the recipe posts (the links below in case you missed any). Which is your favourite post, recipe or activity?

Relative Links
Mauritius Travel Posts

Mauritius Recipe Posts

Samosa rolling picture tutorial

4 more days to announce giveaway winners, make sure not to miss out!
In the meanwhile, make these samosas and munch on them while reading the posts ;)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Shrimp Beignets The Creole Way

Shrimp Beignets

Beignets are one of the most popular starters in Creole cuisine. Brought to Mauritius by the French, beignets made their way into the creole cuisine and became a staple starter that you are offered in almost every restaurant and house. In classic French cuisine, this pastry is made from leavened dough (either by brewer's yeast or eggs) that is deep fried either as is, or used as a casing to cover meats, vegetables or fruits (kind of like a dense batter). Beignet can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes.

In creole cuisine, and in both the sweet and savoury versions, beignet is usually made as a casing for a filling. The filling can be anything, however more traditionally encasing a seafood or vegetable filling for savoury and bananas or plantains for sweet. The sweet filled beignets are then dressed with heaps of icing sugar, while the savoury ones are usually served with a choice of green chili dip, sweet chili sauce or coconut chutney. With that said, the Mauritians have 2 versions of the beignet. One that is dense and creates a thick layer over the filling (see the photo above), and another one that is thinned and creates a crunchy thin layer over the filling (see the photo below). While each one has its unique eating experience, both versions are delicious. In the creole version instead of the fresh brewer's yeast, the cooks use cold beer and have therefore omitted the milk from the recipe. This makes it easy to replicate even if you do not have access to brewers' yeast.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Calamari & Shrimp Vindaye - Mauritius Specialty Mustard Curry

Chefs Jerry & Denis

In my latest trip to Mauritius I met some amazing chefs and even had the pleasure to cook some fabulous meals with a few of them. Two chefs I repeatedly cooked with are chef Jerry and chef Denis, who are private chefs that usually cook for private banquets, serviced villa residents and cater some of the island's most exclusive events. Chef Jerry, had started his career working in various hotels, and spent most of his training under French chefs, which eventually lead him to specialise in French cookery besides Mauritian Cuisine.
A few years ago he left the hotels' kitchens and opened GD, a European cuisine restaurant in Ebene, roseville. The restaurant is always buzzing as it offers a departure from the island's popular fusions and instead offers European dishes, mainly French. At the same time, Chef Jerry started catering and cooking for private events, and that is how I met him. While I never got to visit his restaurant, as my schedule was completely packed, I did get a chance to cook with him - as well as his partner chef, Denis - and savour their food. I have to say the food they cooked was always the best version of the island's specialties.

Salted Fish Vindaye - Chez M Restaurant, Mauritius

One dish that you are repeatedly told to eat when in Mauritius is Vindaye. Vindaye is mainly a mustard curry, mostly done with octopus, but is often made with assorted seafood (Calamari, shrimps, squid, crab...), and is also done with fresh or salted fish. I had tried all versions of this curry and in a variety of restaurants.

I must admit that the salted fish vindayes were not my favourite, I did not enjoy the flavour of the salted fish, but the fresh fish ones were way better. My favourites are the Octopus Vindaye, and the shrimp & calamari one. Absolutely delicious, and really must have when there. So I asked Chef Jerry to show me how vindaye is cooked. I could not be happier, or more amazed at how easy and fast it is to make!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Rhum Arrangé - Infused Rum As done in Mauritius

Rhum Arrange - Just like with everything starts with good ingredients
Opt for good quality rum, and fresh good quality ingredients
"As spirits, extracted from molasses, could not well be ranked under the name whiskey, brandy, or arrack, it would be called rum, to denote its excellence or superior quality." - Samuel Morewood

How would you like the idea of serving your guests, your own signature rum? Pretty cool, don't you think? Well read on and find out how...

Rhum Arrangé is basically flavouring a rum with a melange of flavours. It can really be anything: from herbs, to fruits, to vanilla, and even spices or a combination / mixture of those. While rum is good on its own, an arrangé is way more interesting. Think of it this way, a tomato is excellent on its own, but it just becomes way more interesting when dressed and accompanied by salad. A rum arrangé is also an interesting choice for Apéritifs and/or digestifs. Apéritifs are an excellent way to entice the appetite at the beginning of a meal. So instead of serving the classical amuse bouche, why not pass around a shot of Rhum Arrangé instead? Or to end a meal as a digestif? 

Rhum Arrangé
To make a Rhum Arrangé, you first want to think of flavours and combinations. It is worth mentioning here that as with anything, it all starts with good ingredients. A good quality rum will make all the difference to the final product, and so will good quality fruits and flavourings. so opt for the best ingredients possible.
There are classic combinations that are known to go very well together such as...

Classic Flavour Combinations
  • Vanilla & Pineapple
  • Banana & Coconut
  • Coconut & Pineapple
  • Orange & cloves
  • Orange & Strawberries...
But there are other combinations, less obvious but make for an interesting arrangé ...

More Interesting Flavour combinations
  • Figs and Cinnamon
  • Lemon Leaf & Rosemary
  • Ashta (Zatte) & Vanilla
  • Tamarind and Vanilla
  • Guava & allspice...
The choice is yours, but since you are offering something new, then you might as well go for a combination that is interesting. I, however, for the purpose of this post will give you the recipe of a classic combination simply because its ingredients are very accessible everywhere. Feel free to change around, if you have access to more interesting ingredients.

Giveaways to make your own infused rum (see end of this post)

Another thing to take into consideration is that infusions take a while for the flavours to develop. Therefore you will have to leave your rum infusion for months and sometimes up to a year to macerate before consumption. This makes it all the more special, so you can serve them at special occasions, and even bottle them in a fancy looking bottle and gift them to friends and family...

It is very important to know that you must use glass bottles, and never attempt rum infusions in plastic, or any other disposable material!

Ananas et Vanille Rhum Arrangé
(Pineapple & Vanilla Infused Rum)
You Need

1 liter good quality white rum (preferably double distilled)
1 medium well ripe pineapple
2 vanilla beans, split in half lengthwise
2-3 tbsp sugar syrup (preferably cane syrup)

Pour the rum into a bottle that can be sealed airtight (a large jar or any airtight bottle will work).

Peel the pineapple and remove the eyes. You are free to decide how you want to chop the pineapple, you can either slice it, quarter or chop it into rough chunks. 

Add your pineapple to the rum in the bottle, then add the split vanilla beans and seal the bottle well.

Leave the mixture to macerate for 4-6 months. After the 6 months have passed, add the cane syrup and leave to macerate for 2 weeks extra. After which the rum is ready to serve.

Serve, straight in shot glasses (no ice, no mixers), as a digestif.

Rum infusions are so interesting and very special to serve your guests. Do give this a try, and you will see how you will be making it very often. I have brought you 3 giveaways from Chamarel rum distillery in Mauritius. These giveaways are 3 Rum infusion packets, which you can use to make your own infused rum (see the giveaways here). Make sure to read this link and find out how you can enter the draw, and hopefully you will win one of these giveaways.

Do let me hear from you before you go, tell me if you had ever created your own infused rum, or if you had ever tried one that is home-made? Do you think that after reading this post, you will be looking forward to expanding your rum exploration beyond Cuba Libre & Mojitos? I love nothing more than hearing from you, so do drop me a message before you leave :)

Relative Links

Come back again soon for more, 
& Remember good things must never be rushed, Good things must always simmer or macerate ;)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Mini Cinnamon Glazed Vanilla Tea Loaves - Great surprises sometimes come in small and simple packages

19th Century Tea Tins - Bois Cheri Tea Plantation Museum, Mauritius

Did you know that tea is the most consumed drink worldwide (after water of course)? As it turns out, it is! Come to think of it who does not enjoy a cup of tea in the afternoon with a slice of cake, muffin, loaf or even cookies? You might think that preparing a good bake must take phenomenal skill, or out of this world talent, but that cannot be further away from true! Muffins and loaves are some of the easiest bakes that you can make to enjoy with your family and friends for afternoon tea. Just like with all baking, make sure to follow the instructions fully. Works like a charm...

Tip Muffins and loaves are one of the same. The same batter is used to make both. The difference is in the pan, Muffins are made in round muffin pans and loaves are made in the rectangular loaf pan. Any Loaf recipe is therefore a muffin recipe ;)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Ananas Au Rhum - Sauteed Pineapples. Some things are just too good to be missed

Ananas Flambee - Flambeed Pineapples

Nature is the best creator, and true goodness is always in simplicity.

From the exotic lands of the equator grow such succulent produce as pineapple, sugarcane and vanilla, which have become known as exotic and extremely delectable. The very ingredients of vacations. The foods reminiscent of relaxation next to a stretch of white sandy beaches, accented with high rising palms, and all shades of blue and green. Accompanied by a rainbow of colourful flowers, and the ever so soothing sounds of waves, sea gulls, birds and joyous laughs of islanders in the presence of a clear mind. From the breathtaking aftermath of vigorous volcanoes, and the land that once died a horrific death, springs a new life more promising and way more beautiful than its former self. These are the ingredients of nature, the cycles over which we have no control. The process of creation, for which we are just an accent. And these are the principles of Creole cuisine, where you embrace the natural offering, mainly as it is, and only if you must, accent it, ever so slightly. And when you do, make sure it is from its neighboring plant. As trees that grow close to each other are the best match when cooked together! Could there ever be a simpler understanding of ingredients? Or a simpler approach to cooking?

Sugarcane fields - Mauritius

This Sauteed Pineapples dessert is truly delectable. It is the flavours of islands, of vacations, of merry times and sweet moments. This dessert will take you to far away places, inspire sweet words and force an indulgence that you and your family will really appreciate. It is a celebration of pineapples, cane sugar and its derivative rum accented by the best ever vanilla ice cream made from Bourbon Vanilla pods.

Very simple, easy and super delicious! Here is how it's made...

Adventure of Sugar Giveaway 1, check below for link 
Ananas Au Rhum - Sauteed Pineapples
Serves 4
Award winning Mauritius Rum
You Need

2 fresh Pineapples, peeled, eyes removed and sliced
1/4 cup Dark Muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 shot dark or spiced rum, or more ;)
1 tbsp butter, extra

TIP if you do not wish to use rum, then substitute the same amount for sugarcane juice or apple juice.

Heat the 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet and saute the pineapples until lightly browned on all sides.

In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, muscovado sugar, rum and ginger until well combined.

Once the pineapples are browned, pour the rum mixture over the pineapples (be careful as when the skillet is very hot the rum will light up, make sure to keep your face away from the skillet). Continue to saute  stirring until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is slightly reduced.

Adventure of Sugar Giveaway 2,
check below for link
Transfer to serving plates, drizzling with the syrup. Serve immediately with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream.

That's it!

Do try this recipe, you will love it and find that it is such an easy and quick recipe, ideal for entertaining as it does not require you spending all that much time in the kitchen, when you could be enjoying your guests' company. 

Relative Links

Before you leave, I would love to know if you have ever experimented with different types of sugar? If not, are you becoming more curious to experiment? If you have, which is your favourite unrefined sugar type? I would love to hear your thoughts, so don't shy away, and leave me a comment before you go.

Come back for more soon, and in the meantime,
Have a super sweet day :)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The first Giveaway & Breadfruit Gratin- Totally new to me but the most delicious gratin I have ever had!

Breadfruit is a delicious fruit that grows everywhere in Mauritius!
It grows in the gardens and, if not, is found at every market.
In other places where it is not easily found, it is most likely to be sold in Asian Markets

Breadfruit is a very commonly used fruit in Creole cuisine of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The breadfruit trees are known to be generously yielding and are grown abundantly. In both the Mauritius and Seychelles I have seen these trees grown everywhere and in almost every garden. This is known to be a nutritious fruit that is full of potassium, fiber and carbohydrate. Therefore seen as an energy supplement that is also filling. On another hand, breadfruit is gluten-free, which makes it sought after by seliac patients and those with gluten intolerance. The fruit is also made into flour, and this flour is specifically sought after for its gluten-free characteristic.

Breadfruit can be round or oval, covered with thick, rough green skin and is either white fleshed or beige to pale-yellow fleshed, depending on the type available. Both types taste very similar, however, the yellowish fleshed fruit is creamier when cooked than its white counterpart and is sweeter in flavour when ripe, which makes it especially good for this gratin. In Creole cuisine, braedfruit is used in the making of both savoury and sweet concoctions.

Char-grilled whole breadfruit

 I have tried breadfruit crisps, and chips - deep fried until golden - and they are really gorgeous, very crunchy, tasty and I actually prefer them to potato crisps. I guess I find them different - a bit more interesting. When in Seychelles, I have tried a char-grilled whole breadfruit and it was extremely good. Similar to baked whole potatoes, but with a very interesting texture. It was kind of like (if I may use this simile) ever so slightly damp candy floss in texture, savoury in flavour with a strange creaminess despite being cremated over those coals, literally until black! The whole ceremony of cutting that charred ball with a huge knife, to reveal its white interior, which I was guessing would had been charred too! So wrong I was! It was white, fleshy, creamy, savoury and utterly delicious! I have also tried cookies and puddings made with breadfruit, which were also very interesting to say the least, some actually very tasty. It seems that however way you spin this fruit, it is always deliciously yielding.