Monday, 28 March 2011

My Windowsill Garden

It’s officially spring! I was rudely reminded of the fact when I woke up on Sunday to find that I had ‘lost’ one hour. I still don’t get daylight saving, isn’t it just a lie to yourself, but on a larger scale? Anyway. It’s spring! And spring is the time to get planting! You can’t get more cheap and local and organic than planting your own.

I wish I could do that Jamie Oliver/ Nigel Slater thing of popping out of their kitchen into the garden and picking all the herbs and vegetables and fruits they need and throwing them into their food. I can’t, of course, because I live on the 6th floor, in a London flat half the size of my mum’s bedroom in Singapore. But also because I have the opposite of green fingers, or at least, I’ve never tried growing anything other than mung bean sprouts for primary school science.

But I have a brilliant gardener of a flatmate (: Who says there’s no reason why we can’t try that out with smaller plants which take very little space to grow and require little attention, most herbs for instance.

Those are the little pots on my windowsill. That’s purple basil, coriander, mint and chilli (of course).

Look at the coriander which was sown a bit earlier!

It’s a lot of fun rotating them so they face the sun and watching them grow from nothing to a little something to a bigger something. Go get planting too!

This is part of Simple Lives Thursday.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Indian Shepherd's Pie

It'll be St Patrick's day in a couple of days, and I thought it fitting to share a shepherd's pie on this Irish festival. I'm doing it Indian-style though, because why not?

I adapted a Gordon Ramsay video recipe for the classic shepherd's pie--I know many people hate his foul mouth but I love how no-nonsense he is. But I also incorporated the spices in kheema matar– this man is brilliant too– for an extra special touch of spicy goodness.

Masala Kheema Shepherd's Pie
serves 4
for the filling
500g lean minced lamb (if it's beef, it'll be cottage pie)
2 large onions, grated
1 large carrot, grated
handful of mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp ginger, grated (or 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste)
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cardommom pods, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masla
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/4 cup whole plain yogurt
sea salt, black pepper
1 tbsp flour

for the mash
3-4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tsp butter
1 tbsp parmesan + extra to top (optional but it'll really lift the dish)
sea salt, black pepper

1. Boil potatoes.
2. Add oil to a hot pan, and the whole spices to toast.
3. Add the minced meat, breaking it up and searing the meat to get the caramelised brown. Season.
4. Grate in the onions, carrots, garlic and ginger. This helps them to disintegrate into the sauce better, a Ramsay tip, which is why I didn't add the onions before the mince like what vahchef did. Also add in the flour to cook out, this will help thicken the gravy later.
5. Add the mushrooms, ground spices and tomato puree, cook for 3 min more, then add the yogurt and let simmer for 10-15 min.
6. Meanwhile, your potatoes should be cooked. Drain, mash and season. Add the egg yolk, butter and parmesan to the mashed potato.
7. Add the green chillies and garam masala powder to the mince and continue to cook uncovered till you get a dry gravy. You don't want a soggy shepherd's pie. Also a good idea to pick out the cinnamon stick (and the cardamom pods) now.
8. Tip the filling into a baking dish, then top with the mashed potato and another sprinkling of parmesan. Fork through (important, to get the crispy edges!), and dot with butter.
9. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 20-25 min, or till golden.

Serve with a light salad, maybe in a more imaginative Indian style with thinly sliced red onions/ cilantro than what I had.