Sides

Nori Tamagoyaki (Rolled Omelette with Nori)

A variation on the traditional Japanese Rolled Omelette (tamagoyaki), Nori Tamagoyaki is as visually appealing, as it is delicious!

As with all tamagoyaki, this version is also normally cooked in a makiyakinabe, a rectangular pan specifically designed to churn out perfectly formed rolled omelettes. While it is possible to make it in a regular omelette pan, it will be a little harder to achieve the desired shape. However, with a bit of creative trimming, you may still be able to approximate the perfect tamagoyaki!

When it comes to the technique of rolling your nori tamagoyaki, the same principles apply as when rolling a plain tamagoyaki. A calm head and timing are essential. As with a regular tamagoyaki, you need to start rolling the omelette whilst the egg is still a little wet. However, when you layer the nori onto the wet egg, you need to leave a small gap around the perimeter of the egg mixture otherwise the layers will not stick together when you start rolling.

For more Japanese recipes, please click HERE or to find out more about how to stock a Japanese Pantry, please click HERE

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Tamagoyaki 卵焼き (Rolled Omelette)

Tamagoyaki 卵焼き (Rolled Omelette)Only the Japanese could complicate something as simple as an omelette!

In a food culture that values aesthetics almost as much as taste, it’s not entirely surprising that even the humble omelette fell foul of an extreme Japanese makeover. Thankfully though, tamagoyaki’s impressive presentation isn’t at the expense of its flavour!

Eaten throughout Japan, tamagoyaki’s appeal lies in its versatility, both in terms of its taste and uses. Because the omelette is served at room temperature, it makes the ideal addition to bento boxes and makes a great nigiri sushi topping. More commonly though, tamagoyaki is eaten as part of a Japanese breakfast. While typically served plain, tamagoyaki often have a “filling” in the centre – salmon/tuna flakes, fish roe or blanched spinach are all popular choices. Torn-up sheets of nori can also be added, these are layered on the egg mixture as it sets. This not only tastes great, but it also looks very impressive! Whilst all versions of tamagoyaki contain some sugar, some are very sweet – it is really up to you how much sugar you want to use.

Tamagoyaki are usually cooked in a rectangular pan called a makiyakinabe. While it is possible to make it in a regular pan, the finished product will be less than perfect. With a bit of trimming though, you should be able to approximate the desired shape. It does take a while to “master” the technique of rolling the omelette, but with a calm head and a bit of patience, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Timing is key, you need to start rolling the omelette whilst the egg is still a little wet, otherwise the “layers” won’t stick together. You’ll have a few mishaps along the way, but you’ll get it right soon enough. There is something immensely satisfying about making your own tamagoyaki, even if it’s not perfect!

For more Japanese recipes, please click HERE or to find out more about how to stock a Japanese Pantry, please click HERE

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Pumpkin Fritters (Pampoenkoekies)

Pumpkin Fritters (Pampoenkoekies)I know they may sound a little weird to the uninitiated, but pumpkin fritters are absolutely delicious!

Enjoyed either as a light snack or side dish to a traditional boerekos spread, these little South African delights are very easy to make, are surprisingly healthy and always go down a treat.

Naturally sweet, they are a great way to dupe vegetable-phobic youngsters into eating one of their “5-a-day”. When lightly sprinkled with cinnamon sugar however, they make a great sweet treat that are impossible to resist!

For more Sweet Treats from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

If you would like to read more about South African food please follow this link or for more South African recipes, please click here

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Fattoush (Moroccan Bread Salad)

Moroccan Bread SaladFar and away my favourite Moroccan salad, fattoush is both tasty and filling.

Popular throughout the Middle East, this bread salad is similar to an Italian panzanella. Not only is it a great way to use up old bread, it is also a great addition to any Moroccan meal. It even makes an interesting alternative to your typical “braai” salad and is a great option for any vegetarian guest you may have.

In this recipe I’ve used tinned artichoke hearts, but you can substitute these with any number of alternatives if you want – I would recommend using either some grilled green bell peppers or perhaps some grilled baby marrows (courgettes). Traditionally the recipe calls for oily black olives, but these aren’t always readily available so I would just use the tastiest black olives you can find instead.

For more delicious Moroccan recipes please click here or if you would like to read more about Moroccan food please click here

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Couscous (Plain and Cinnamon)

Plain CouscousCooking the perfect couscous may seem easy and generally it is, but it is also very easy for it to go very wrong. I should know, I’ve had enough couscous catastrophes to last me a lifetime; too wet, too dry, too clumpy – if there is a couscous calamity out there, I’ve suffered it!

In spite of my failings over the years, I’ve persevered with my mediocre attempts until I finally figured out the key to good couscous: olive oil…and your index finger. Sounds a bit strange? It’s really not. In fact, the key to my couscous conundrum is surprisingly simple – the trick is to lightly oil the grains before adding the boiling water. This simple act will produce clump free, fluffy couscous every time. I’ve been following this simple method for years now and I’ve been enjoying the perfect couscous ever since – now so can you.

For more delicious Moroccan recipes please click here, or if you would like to read on about Moroccan food, please click here

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Couscous Tabbouleh

Couscous TabboulehOften mistaken as being Moroccan, tabbouleh is originally from the Middle East and is commonly served as part of a meze. Especially dear to the Lebanese – the dish is so loved, it has even been granted the honour of having its own celebration: National Tabbouleh Day! So widely popular is tabbouleh, this humble dish is seen as a common cultural link between the divided people of this once war-torn nation; reflecting the diversity of the Lebanese people through its diverse ingredients. Seemingly, for the Lebanese at least, this makes tabbouleh something worth celebrating.

For the rest of us, however, it is just a salad.

So whilst traditionally part of a meze, in Western convention it is more likely to be served as an accompaniment to a main meal such as a tagine, stew or even a barbeque. Typically made with bulgur wheat, tabbouleh can also be made using couscous. Whilst not entirely authentic, I prefer using couscous as I find bulgur wheat a little chewy and, to my mind, it can weigh a good tabbouleh down. I have also recently rediscovered the joys of quinoa, which would also make a great base for a tabbouleh.

The great thing about tabbouleh is its adaptability – provided you have some fresh herbs and lemon, you can virtually use any ingredients you have available. There’s really only one “rule” to consider when assembling your tabbouleh (and even that isn’t set in stone) and that’s the ratio of couscous to herbs. Traditionally the couscous is actually one of the secondary ingredients and not, as is common practice, the main ingredient – this honour actually falls to the fresh herbs. Traditionally the herbs should make up at least 70% of the overall tabbouleh, but this is rarely the case in Western interpretations of the dish, where the ratio is often reversed in favour of the couscous. In truth though, it is not really that important – all that really matters is making the dish to your own tastes and preference. After all, your tabbouleh doesn’t symbolise the aspirations of the Middle East, it is just dinner.

For the recipe of perfect couscous, please click here.

If you would like to serve tabbouleh with some delicious Moroccan dishes, please click here

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Kimchi Risotto

If you follow this blog you’d know that I’m a tad obsessed with two things: kimchi and risotto! As much as I love both, I must admit I had my reservations about combining these two distinct flavour elements into a single dish. Kimchi and rice; that was a no-brainer, but kimchi and cheese? I just couldn’t get my head around how that would actually taste, frankly it sounded like fusion-cooking gone mad!

For a long while I just dismissed the notion of a kimchi risotto as a misguided attempt to make spicy fermented cabbage palatable to the uninitiated, by giving it a conventional context; but like cream-cheese sushi, it risks becoming a cultural and culinary aberration, an oxymoron that contradicts the very essence of what it purports to be. If you like that sort of thing, great, but it’s simply not for me. Generally speaking, fusion for fusion-sake leaves me cold.

Then one day I found myself in a serious food-rut; we’ve all be there before, we all know what grim times ruts can be. As I stared blankly at the contents of my refrigerator, I desperately hoped for a spark of inspiration. Nothing, we were mere minutes away from ordering pizzas for dinner, again. Then my eyes eventually rested upon that omnipresent fridge staple – kimchi. So strong was my desire not to have pizza, I thought: “Oh, sod it”. I figured making kimchi risotto was a win/win situation; either it would be amazing and I would love it, or it would be deplorable and I’d feel justified in my initial scepticism. I don’t mind admitting that I hoped for the latter, I don’t like being wrong.

As hungry as I was, I tried my best to dislike it, but I couldn’t. It was fantastic! My initial concerns about the combination of kimchi and cheese were unfounded. In reality the richness of the cheese muted the bite of the kimchi; mellowing it just enough to allow for an appreciation of the subtle flavours that normally hide behind the spicy, sharp bravado of kimchi. To my surprise, fusion cuisine had done the unthinkable – it had made kimchi taste better.

Does this fusion revelation mean I’ll be tucking into a portion of cream-cheese & biltong maki any time soon? Don’t count on it, but there are plenty of fusion temptations out there; bacon ice-cream, anyone? Perhaps not.

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

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Tarka Dhal

Tarka DhalDhal is perhaps the unsung hero of Indian cuisine. All too often dismissed as a poor man’s curry or a dreary side dish, dhal is in fact so much more. Nutritious, simple and varied, dhal deserves to feature in any Indian meal. Personally, I could happily tuck into just a bowl of dhal and rice!

This recipe is dhal in its purest form. Flavoured with turmeric and seasoned with a tarka, this dhal recipe is delightfully simple and incredibly tasty.

The recipe uses two different types of dhal, red and yellow, but feel free just use 150g of either.

Unlike curries, dhal is best eaten on the same day it is made.

For more of my top picks for an Indian feast, please click here

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Lobia Khumbi (Black-eyed Beans with Mushrooms)

Sometimes the best meals come into your life quite unexpectedly and they stay with you forever – this is such a dish!

Many years ago I was planning a dinner party and one of the guests came with a painfully long list of dietary restrictions, chief amongst them being the double-act of inconvenience that is veganism and gluten intolerance! As I suffer from neither affliction, my instinctive response was just to cancel the dinner altogether, problem solved! Never one to back down from a culinary challenge, however, I decided to go ahead with the dinner after all and serve the mother of all vegan cuisines – I went Indian.

Lobia Khumbi (Black-eyed Beans with Mushrooms)Your rogan joshs and butter chickens aside, Indian food is perhaps the most karma-conscious cuisine in the world. With a mind boggling array of vegan and vegetarian dishes to choose from, one is never short of tasty delights from the sub-continent. An Indian feast is always a great option for a dinner party as the multiple dishes needed, allow you to cater for a wide range of tastes and needs, all without compromising the overall success of the meal. Generally speaking, whether the dish be vegan or laden with meat, all Indian food goes well together.

Which brings me to this particular recipe. Lobia Khumbi (Black-eyed Beans with Mushrooms) is a great addition to any Indian spread, be it part of a full-on feast or humble midweek meal. Hearty, wholesome and filling, this dish is so good it could almost turn me vegan! Whilst the black-eyed beans add an earthy undertone that balances out the spices, the mushrooms are actually the star of the dish, adding a “meatiness” that appeals to both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Add some tarka dhal and rice to the mix and you have a meal fit for the most pious (and discerning) monk. Who knew that good karma could ever be so damn dharma-delicious.

For more of my top picks for an Indian feast, please click here, or for more great Indian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

Note: this dish also makes an excellent alternative to your traditional sides dishes like mash potato, as it is mild enough to “fit” comfortably alongside most flavours. I recently served it with some pan-fried fish, sautéed kale and a tomato lemon butter sauce and it was absolute fusion-heaven!

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Mushroom and Lemony Lentils

Sometimes all you need to produce culinary magic is a couple of tins of lentils, a few basic ingredients…and 24 hours.

Mushroom & Lemon Lentils with Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper & Tabasco SauceThis recipe is store-cupboard alchemy at its best and is a great healthy alternative to the usual starch-demons that plague us all, like mash potatoes or rice. Infinitely adaptable, these lentils go well with just about anything; from grilled meats, to a stand-alone salad – this is healthy eating at its most appealing.

These lentils go particularly well with a piquant counterpoint, such as a Roasted Red Pepper and Tabasco Sauce, perhaps dotted with some Crema di Balsamico.

If you plan to serve it as a salad, top with some sliced avocado and perhaps some pomegranate seeds.

Most recently, I partnered these lentils some grilled Toulouse sausage from Rudi’s and it was simply delectable!

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