30 March 2012
26 March 2012
|Easy ginseng breakfast congee|
Cosmopolitan Currymania is so humbled to receive samples of Ontario Ginseng from the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association (OGGA), Canada, which works collaboratively with the Canadian Government partners including Canada Brand and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). This Ontario ginseng is the original North American ginseng having a unique flavour and prominent medicinal uses. Interestingly, North American ginseng was the first Canadian product traded to Hong Kong since 1700s.
|Premium Ontario ginseng products|
Why Ontario Ginseng?
Ontario ginseng is a premium and a much sought-after product not only in Hong Kong, but worldwide! The OGGA has strict cultivation standards, which makes this ancient herb even more medicinally valuable.
· Ontario ginseng relaxes and cools human body and is a reliable herb for fighting against stress.
· It boosts overall health and vitality and strengthens internal organs.
· It enhances blood circulation, inhibits blood-clotting and regulates blood pressure.
· It is widely used for its anti-ageing and anti-cancer properties.
· It stimulates the immunity and helps the body to fight against infections.
· It controls bad cholesterol in the body.
· It improves memory.
· It boosts physical stamina.
· It improves vision and hearing.
· It improves male fertility and erectile dysfunction.
· Ontario ginseng improves symptoms associated with post-menopause.
How to take Ontario Ginseng?
· The powdered root is sold loose or in capsule form, although powdered ginseng extracts are always available in capsules.
· In Asia homes, the dried root of ginseng is a part of the daily diet commonly in the form of ginseng tea or with an infusion with other herbs. The dried root is boiled (simmered) for three to four hours in water (please refer to the daily dosage below), in which dried chrysanthemum flower and wolfberries can be added.
· Ginseng has been used effectively in traditional Chinese medicine till today to cure a variety of ailments.
· Ginseng can be infused into chicken soup for a great comfort dish. Ginseng-chicken soup is very popular in Asia and it helps in fast recovery and longevity.
· Ginseng powder can be added to your regular morning smoothies or milk shakes, for sound health.
· Yes, ginseng can be used in cooking too! It can be added to marinades and hotpots. Some Asian cooks prefer soaking the roots in water overnight before being used for cooking, whereas others add the dried roots directly. I prefer the soaking method as the roots become very soft by doing so. Also, I do not discard the soaked water: I generally use it up in cooking.
The Recommended Amount According to OGGA
If you are boiling this, boil not more than 9 g ginseng (dried roots) in about 720–960 ml water for 45 minutes. For making an infusion, pour 150–240 ml boiling water over 12 g of cut and dried root. Soak the roots for 20 min. The recommended dose of dry ginseng extract is 330 mg three times a day.
Try making this easy ginseng congee (Asian rice soup) with me (recipe below). It is nutritious and empowered with the benefits of this wonder herb! I have used pork (with bone) in this congee. Vegetarians can omit the pork and the chicken broth and use vegetable broth and taro (yam) cubes instead.
Easy Ginseng Breakfast Congee
Glutinous millet: ½ cup
Asian rice (except the Basmati variety): ¼ cup
Mung beans with skin: ¼ cup
Lotus seeds: 2
Salt for soaking the rice: ½ tsp
Shitake mushrooms (chopped roughly): 5
Oyster mushrooms (chopped roughly): 5
Pork with bones (cut into medium-sized pieces and marinated in 1 tbsp soy sauce and ½ tsp salt for 1 hour): 250 g
Carrots (de-skinned and cut into medium-thick rounds): ½ cup
Chicken broth: 1 l
Salt: 2 tsp (or according to taste)
Dried Ontario ginseng roots (thinly sliced): 8 g
Garlic (finely chopped) 1 tsp
|Both shitake and oyster mushrooms add an unique taste to this congee|
Wash the first four ingredients thoroughly and soak the first five ingredients in just enough water to submerge the contents. Let it soak for 1 hr.
Soak the ginseng in ½ cup water overnight. Boil all the ingredients, except the ginseng for 1 hour on a low flame. Remove the lid and add the ginseng now, along with the soaked water. Stir evenly.
|Congee is a one-pot comfort food and very nourishing. Adding Ontario ginseng to it makes it a complete health food.|
Cover the lid once again and boil for another 1 hour, till the contents look creamy.
20 March 2012
|Fruit-Raisin Icebox Cookies|
My kids Aditya and Ayontika wanted to take cookies for the whole class in their school. Although this week was super-busy, still I did not want to turn down my little ones’ requests. I wanted to do something simple and yummy. So I chose this recipe. I replaced some of the ingredients in the original recipe and added a few to create my own tailor-made recipe for Fruit-Raisin Icebox Cookies. I hope the readers of Cosmopolitan Currymania would like these cookies. These are quite filling and make great accompaniments for picnic with kids!
Oh yes, did I tell you how exciting Cosmopolitan Currymania Cooking Classes are going? It is absolutely a great experience to share Indian culinary nuances with the localites and expats here. The best part of the show till now is cooking Indian flatbreads!
I am keeping this post short and sweet. Let the cookies do all the talking now!
Fruit-Raisin Icebox Cookies
Ingredients (inspired by the book “Great Cookies”):
All-purpose flour: 3 cups
Baking soda: 1.5 tspSalt: ¼ tsp
Chopped fresh pineapple: ½ cup
Chopped glacé cherries: 1 cup
Unsalted butter (softened at room temperature): 2 sticks
Granulated sugar: 1 cup
Egg (large): 1
Peanut butter: 1 tsp
Cranberry raisins: ½ cup
Sift together the flour, baking soda and the salt. Combine the cherries and pineapple and coat the evenly with a little flour, so that the fruits are separate and not sticking to each other. Keep aside.
Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter till soft. Add the sugar slowly, while continuing the beating. Finally add the peanut butter and the egg and beat for 1 min to get a nicely beaten butter-sugar-egg mixture.
Add the flour now, little at a time and continue to blend over low speed. Finish off by folding in the fruits (cherries, pineapple and raisins).
Form a dough and refrigerate (covering this with a cling film) for 30 min. Now make 4 cylindrical doughs (logs) out of the main dough and refrigerate (wrapped with cling films) for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375˚C: the baking trays should be positioned on the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
|Before going into the oven|
Remove the logs from the refrigerator and cut ¼-inch discs. Place these cookies about 2 inches apart from each other on the cookie sheets. Bake at 375˚C for 8 min. Make sure that at the end of 4 min, you swap the positions of the trays: this ensures even baking. After 8 min, give a standing time of 5 min, before removing from the oven.
13 March 2012
|Vegan cheese dukbokki (Korean rice cakes with vegan cheese)|
[This recipe is at number 1 position among Foodbuzz Top 9 today (15th March, 2012). Thank you foodies and a big thanks to the Foodbuzz Editorial Team once again!]
Yes, I know. You must be thinking how can cheese be vegan? That’s what I thought, until I got samples of multiple-award-winning, 100% dairy-free Sheese Vegan Cheeses for product review. These imported cheeses are made of soy milk, along with other ingredients and tastes just similar to natural cheese using milk. Although I chose smoked cheddar cheese, edam cheese and blue style cheese for my review, there are other great flavours to tickle your tastebuds as well! These are strong cheddar, medium cheddar, Cheshire and cheddar with chives, among the hard cheeses. If you are a fan of cream cheese, try the vegan cream cheese (original), which is so soft and creamy: just perfect for making a scrumptious vegan cheesecake in a healthier way! Not only that, Sheese is going to add a new, amazing flavour of sweet chilli cream cheese very soon in place of the Mexican style flavour. The existing products also include garlic and herb and cheddar spread.
These cheeses are not only dairy-free, but also free of gluten, egg, lactose, Kosher and hydrogenated fat! So this is a healthy alternative for everyone, whether vegan or non-vegan!
Sheese is available at the following shops and restaurants in Hong Kong:
Great Food Hall
Basement, Two Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Tel: 2918 9986
Tel: 2918 9986
The Loving Hut in Wanchai
Shops B&C, G/F, The Hennessy, 256 Hennessy Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong (MTR Wan Chai Station,
Exit A3 (Restaurant at Johnston Road next to Caltex Gas Station)
Tel: 2692 6641
Exit A3 (Restaurant at Johnston Road next to Caltex Gas Station)
Tel: 2692 6641
Just Green Organic Convenience Store in Central
No. 52 Graham Street, Soho,
Central (between Staunton Street and Hollywood Road)
Tel: 2801 5611
Central (between Staunton Street and Hollywood Road)
Tel: 2801 5611
Apart from these, Sheese is also available in The Loving Hut in Kowloon Bay and Tai Po, Harvester in Sheung Wan, Ali Oli in Sai Kung, Little Giant in Causeway Bay and Great Perfection Natural and Fine Food in Kowloon. The products can be purchased in Macau a well from ParknShop Superstore Flower City, Taipa. To order by email or phone, please click here to know more.I personally liked the Edam, smoked cheddar and the blue style cheeses very much: these have just the right kind of matured-cheese taste, just right for my culinary experiment using Sheese vegan cheeses!
However, I picked up Sheese smoked cheddar cheese and the edam for making a popular Korean street food called dukbokki (pronounced as topokki or ddukbokki), which is one of my favourites. This is an amazing dish using Korean rice cakes and Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang) as the indispensable ingredients. Being an Indian (since we like our food to be hot and spicy!), I did not find gochujang to be “that” hot: in fact, I was relishing spoonfuls of pickle-like gochujang just like that! It has a typical hot-sweet-n-sour note which I fell in love with!
|The main ingredients for vegan cheese dukbokki|
I really wanted to make a completely vegan version of dukbokki for my vegetarian and vegan friends and now I got the right ingredients together! I decided to add Sheese cheeses for a creamy, cheesy flavour to the traditional dukbokki, giving dukbokki a more “cosmopolitan” flavour, which worked out fantastic!
It is a common practice to add anchovies, dried seaweed and chicken stock for preparing the dukbokki. Obviously, I did not use any of these. So how did I give the traditional dukbokki a vegan twist? Scroll down and you’ll see how easy it is!
Vegan cheese dukbokki (Korean rice cakes with vegan cheese)
Korean rice cakes: almost ½ pack (400 g)
Sheese dairy-free edam cheese (chopped finely): ¼ cup
Sheese dairy-free smoked cheddar cheese (chopped finely): ¼ cup
Grated carrot: ¼ cup
Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang): 2.5 tbsp (adjustable)
Sugar: 1.5 tbsp
Soy sauce: 1 tbsp
Vegetable stock: 1.5 cup cups
Sake: ½ cup
Sweet potato (peeled and cubed): 1 (small)
Pear (cubed): ½
Onion (finely chopped): ½ cup
Garlic (crushed): 2 tbsp
White button mushrooms (chopped): ¾ cup
Baby green brassica: 8
Chives (chopped): ½ cup
Tofu (cubed): ½ cup
Enoki mushrooms: handful
Salt: according to taste
Oil: 1.5 tbsp
Rinse the rice cakes in warm water for 1 minute and discard the water. Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onions, garlic and salt. Sauté for 2 min and add the grated carrot. Continue to sauté for 3 min and then add the rice cakes, taking care that the oil coats the rice cakes evenly (to prevent them from sticking to each other).
Add the brassica, white button mushrooms, tofu, pears, chives and sweet potato now, followed by the gochujang, sake and vegetable stock after 5 min of sautéing.
|Adding the Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang)|
Stir and cover to let it boil for 10 min. Open the lid and add the sugar, enoki mushrooms and soy sauce and stir well. Cook with lid open and on a medium flame, till the soup is reduced to almost half.
|Adding enoki mushrooms towards the end. Sake increases the flavour of the dukbokki|
Add the Sheese vegan cheeses and continue to cook till the dukbokki is almost dry.
|Adding the stars of the show: Sheese vegan cheeses (smoked cheddar and edam)|
Garnish with chopped chives and chillies.
11 March 2012
|Celebrity chef Chuck Hughes in Hong Kong|
Hong Kong Jockey Club at Happy Valley, Hong Kong, was quite a happening place last week. This was because Montreal-based celebrity chef Chuck Hughes was here to mesmerise his guests, including the media, with his exceptional culinary talent. He played host to an exclusive dining event for selected people. I am thankful to the American Express and the Asian Food Channel, for inviting me as a part of the media to sample the food cooked by him right in front of us!
|Chef at work: so easy-going and competent!|
If you are a fan of Celebrity Chef Series on Asian Food Channel (AFC), reason for you to smile! The series returns this month once again and will be showcasing Chuck Hughes who will make cooking an easy-going and fun-filled experience for his fans! AFC broadcasts on “now TV”, channel 527, in Hong Kong.
Chuck emphasised on cooking with fresh and quality ingredients. As he cooked food for his guests, I noticed his confidence in his cooking skills and playfulness with his ingredients. The dishes demonstrated were easy, less time-consuming and tasted scrumptious! I particularly loved the dessert very much: tasting absolutely out-of-the-world with a touch of style!
Speaking about style, Chuck Hughes has a positive and a truly magnetic personality. His sense of humour is something which comes naturally to him. In his first dish (popcorn shrimp) which he cooked in front of us, he used honey as an ingredient. When one of my journalist friends enquired about which kind of honey to use, he innocently replied, “Canadian!”, before telling us the actual answer, which set everyone laughing!
The featured recipes were:
· Popcorn Rock Shrimp with Spicy Honey
· Pan-Seared Beef Carpaccio with Potato Chips, Fried Capers and Lemon Aioli
· Chocolate Tapioca Arancini
These dishes are one of his most popular dishes. So I was really inquisitive on how he makes them!
|The chef made this special spiced honey to top the fried shrimps|
The first dish was deep-fried shrimps with a crunchy coating. I loved the spicy honey which the chef prepared to drizzle over the shrimps. It was simple, unique and flavourful. The spicy honey was infused with garlic, peppercorns, chilli flakes, smoked paprika and sea salt. I noticed that he loved adding citrus zest in his dishes, which really added a subtle flavour and aroma to his treats.
|Pan-seared beef carpaccio, as served to me|
The second dish was classy. The beef was succulent and not overcooked. First, he coated the beef tenderloin with crushed coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, kosher salt, black pepper and oil (we use the same spices to marinate meat in India as well!). He made a terrific lemon aioli to go with it, which is basically an emulsion of spices and beaten egg in olive oil. Here too, he added lemon zest for a refreshing flavour. I must say, I never had such lemon aioli before, so tasty and made in minutes! The presentation with spinach leaves, fried capers and potato chips made it all the more inviting.
|Chocolate Tapioca Arancini|
Frankly, I was eagerly waiting for the final dish, as it was a dessert and I am highly sweet-toothed. I never tried experimenting much with tapioca before, but now I am definitely going to explore with tapioca in my upcoming recipes on Cosmopolitan Currymania. Thanks, Chuck Hughes, for inspiring me! He deep fried a mixture of soaked tapioca, cream and milk by making small balls out of them. Not only that, the balls were oozing with sinful chocolate ganache filling, which gave the dish a level of its own!
Cosmopolitan Currymania would like to thank American Express and the Asian Food Channel for highlighting cooking as an art and for introducing Hong Kong to such amazing talents. I really learnt a lot of culinary nuances from him in that event. Full of life and having a down-to-earth personality, the chef is an exemplary that with hard work and enthusiasm, only sky is the limit!
6 March 2012
|Korean kimchi: A superb health food|
[This article was originally published in Zomppa, the International food magazine.]
Korean food is amazing and Korean Kimchi epitomises it! Based at Hong Kong, I have eaten Korean food quite a number of times and every time I order a Korean main course, I get to taste some kimchi for sure. For those who are wondering about what kimchi is, I’ll tell you that it is a spicy, fermented pickle made with vegetables alone or with a mixture of vegetables, seafood and meat. For a Korean, it means a lot more than being just an indispensable part of the meal. It is a part of the Korean culture and the pride of Korean cuisine! In fact, a Korean woman’s culinary skills are judged by the kinds of kimchis she can make!
Why should you eat kimchi?
You must be wondering about why I am emphasising on kimchi, when there are so many different types of pickles available all over the world. After all, the Indians are happy with a spoonful of tangy achaar, the Chinese savour humchoy and the Japanese love zukemono: all being different kinds of pickles. So why kimchi?
I will tell you why. Kimchi has been regarded as one of the best health foods all over the world. This is because it is low in calories and cholesterol and is rich in healthy micro-organisms, vitamins (A, C and B-complex), calcium and other minerals. In Korea, during the harsh winters when snowfall occurs continuously, kimchi offers a handy and good source of nutrition. The healthy micro-organisms and enzymes (produced as a result of fermentation) present in kimchi aid in metabolism and bowel movement. Research has proved that kimchi has anti-cancer properties as well!
Sometimes, salted shrimps, salted anchovies, baby octopuses, oysters or other seafood are also added to the kimchi. These additionally provide proteins, amino acids, fats and extra calcium.
Common ingredients and kinds of kimchi
Kimchi is a harmony of different kinds of ingredients with the right kind of fermentation. There are more than 100 kinds of kimchis. Korean Napa cabbage kimchi (paech’u kimchi) is the most popular kimchi. In all kinds of kimchis, red chilli peppers actually help in speeding up the fermentation. Korean cabbage (nappa), spring onions, Indian mustard leaves, slender cucumbers, white radish, wild lettuce, watercress, wild leeks, Asian brown mushrooms (p’yogo), salted and fermented fish (chotkal), garlic, ginger and red chilli peppers are the common ingredients. The methods of making the same may vary from one kimchi expert to the other.
Popular kimchis found in Hong Kong are cabbage and radish kimchis. If you happen to visit Korea, don’t forget to taste one of these kimchis:
· South-East Korean kimchis (hot): sesame leaf kimchi, soybean leaf kimchi and garlic stalk kimchi
· South-West Korean kimchis: kat kimchi (Indian lettuce leaf kimchi), yuja tongch’imi (special radish kimchi flavoured with citron)
· West Korean kimchis: kosu kimchi, squash kimchi
· Seoul: Royal chang kimchi, susam nabakchi (kimchi with ginseng)
· Central Korea: eggplant kimchi, spinach kimchi, pumpkin kimchi
· Eastern Korea: kkaktugi kimchi using salted fish
· Buddhist temple kimchis: these are mild kimchis and do not use animal products
Here is a popular Korean fried rice recipe using kimchi. It is delicious and mildly spicy. However, you can make it more spicy by increasing the amount of black pepper powder in this recipe.
Kimchi Pokkumbap (Kimchi Fried Rice)
Rice, steamed: 1.5 cup
Kimchi (I used a mixture of cabbage and radish kimchis): ¼ cup
Beef or pork (cut into very small cubes): ½ cup
Spring onion greens: ¼ cup
Shallots (chopped): 2 tbsp
Garlic (finely chopped): 3
Toasted white sesame seeds: 1.5 tsp
Soy sauce: 2 tbsp
Black pepper powder: 1 tsp (or according to taste)
Sesame oil: 1 tbsp
Light oil: 5 tbsp
Salt: ½ tsp
Marinate the pork with soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, chopped shallots, chopped spring onion greens and garlic for 30 min. Fry in 1.5 tbsp oil.
|Marinating the meat for kimchi fried rice|
|Frying the pork for kimchi fried rice|
Finely chop the kimchi and squeeze extra juice. Reserve the juice for the final step. Fry this chopped kimchi in 1 tbsp oil.
Finally, fry the rice with the rest of the oil, adding the salt. Mix the fried kimchi, kimchi juice and the fried pork to this rice and stir well until dry.
|Frying the rice with fried kimchi|
Serve with chopped spring onion greens. You can add some fresh kimchi over the rice as well!