Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lets Go to Nepal - FB Challenge #2

IMG_3482

Challenge Prompt: Ready to tackle a classic dish from another culture? Pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with. You should include how you arrived at this decision in your post. Do your research then try to pull off successfully creating this challenge. Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal, and document your experience through a compelling post.


When I started thinking about PFB Challenge 2 I started to sweat. Not because I was afraid of cooking from another culture, but because I have cooked most other cultures food and I needed something different. I would have loved to have fallen back on Ethiopian food or Korean food or any of the others that I feel comfortable with. I thought and thought. I thought about doing food from Tuva although I did wonder how I would find throat singers to make it seem authentic. Not only that but I think throat singers would annoy Dr. Food to the point he wouldn't eat the food. Hm, maybe not that bad but it would give him indigestion.

So, I did some more thinking and it dawned on me that I had never really cooked Nepalese food. You see, my friend Lori always told me about recipes but never wrote any of them down. Lori is in California and so I don't get to see her anymore. Her husband Ajit is from Nepal and she has learned recipes from his mother. That is it! I will do Nepalese food.

First off I needed to get into the mood. I always have prayer flags laying around so why not put them to good use.

IMG_3481

Pretty authentic. Wait but there is more. I had to get my menu together and to tell you the truth there just isn't that much out there. I searched and then I searched some more. I did it! I came up with authentic.

IMG_3477

So, as you can see I went and foraged for a chicken. As luck would have it I found one at Whole foods! yay.

IMG_3479

Next the chicken was boiled in spices (I will give you the recipe later because I KNOW you will want to make this).

This is the part that it gets authentic. I have to preface this picture by telling you that I sort of have a phobia about food that is left out or that isn't refrigerated or that is old. So, here you have the part of the challenge that is out of my comfort zone.

You hang the chicken to dry for at least 4 hours.

IMG_3487

This is what my kitchen looked like and I was praying that a neighbor didn't "stop by" to say hi.

IMG_3490

So time went by and it was time to start the rest of the meal. I enlisted the help of my Sherpa. His name is Rajesh Kumar (I did my research on Nepalese names...see? AUTHENTIC).

IMG_3503

Rajesh Kumar was willing to help cook as long as I lifted him up onto the counter so that he could get a good look at what was going on.

IMG_3504

He did refuse to help with the dishes though. He said something about his dad telling him to come right back home after he helped Auntie Janis.

IMG_3514

Fair weather sherpa I tell ya. Onward with the food.

The chicken was put on the grill with wood chips and off the fire to the side for 2 hours.

IMG_3499

After 4 hours of hanging in my kitchen and 2 hours of sitting there on the grill (oh I can't tell you how this is making me nervous and HOW out of my comfort zone this is) the chicken was done. For simple food this was a LOT of work. I felt like I was risking my life with the chance of salmonella .

IMG_3507

Meanwhile as this chicken was on the grill I was making Nepalese Gizzards. Grow up! They are really good. I grew up eating them but then again, I also ate Gefilte Fish. I like the Nepalese version even more than the kind I grew up with which was pretty much boiled gizzards .

IMG_3508

Ok, so not the prettiest sight but I have to tell you that they tasted incredible. We ate these while we were getting the other stuff ready.

Through research I found that mustard greens are a very common vegetable in Nepal. I went to the store and bought some. Unfortunately it ended up that I grabbed kale instead of mustard greens but I figured they were both green and no one is perfect.

IMG_3513

I then went for a lentil and rice dish that through reading, found that this really was the staple of Nepalese food and what is eaten almost every day. I also really liked this dish.

IMG_3522


There you have the dinner. It was not my favorite (expression my mother reminds me to say instead of HATED IT). I just snuck a taste of the chicken and hid the rest under my napkin because *I* didn't want to get sick. I had asked Dr. Food 100 times if he thought it was ok, which he said he thought it was fine (he has the PhD so I let HIM eat it if he thought he was so smart). He really liked the chicken. I opted for the greens (which I really liked) and the lentils and rice. When it comes down to it lentils and greens is probably what the Nepalese eat more often than chicken. So, *I* ate AUTHENTICALLY.

I leave you with a word from my sherpa Rajesh Kumar:

"Don't eat chicken that has been hanging around for four hours"

IMG_3505

Gizzards Nepalese Style
by Lori Rana who got the recipe from her nepalese mother-in-law See? Authentic!

I usually make about two packages of the gizzards and hearts from the meat section of the grocery store. I would think this is about a pound to a pound and a half.


Bay leaf
1/4 t Methi
1/4 t Coriander seeds
Whole dried red chili pepper
1 medium sized Onion slivered
3 Jalapeño chili (discard the seeds and membrane)
2 T minced Garlic (you can adjust up on this if you wish, I usually use about 8-10 cloves)
1 T minced Ginger (you can adjust up on this if you wish, I usually grate about a 1 X 1 inch portion of ginger)
1 T Ground Cumin (you can adjust up on this if you wish, I heap my T)
1 T Ground Coriander (you can adjust up on this if you wish, I heap my T)
1/4 t Turmeric
1/8 t of ground chili powder
1 t Graham Masala
1 to 1 1/2 lbs Gizzards and Hearts
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cilantro

1. In a frying pan use approximately 2-3 table spoons of oil and bring to a medium/high heat. Add bay leaf, Methi, Coriander seeds and dried red chili pepper and fry until items start to turn a golden brown.

2. Add slivered onions and fry until golden brown. Add chopped Jalapeño, minced Garlic and Ginger, reduce heat slightly and fry for a couple of minutes.

3. Add Cumin, Coriander, Turmeric, Graham Masala and Chili (You can adjust quantity up a little as needed).

4. Add Gizzard and hearts (I usually cut the gizzards in half). Continue to fry until completely done and slightly tender. When all ingredients are in the pan I will sometimes add a tiny amount of water and cover for a little while so the meat braises slightly. However, you really want to end the cooking on a medium heat frying them to cook off the liquid for a more dried/fried consistency.

Garnish with cilantro.


Mustard Greens
Website: http://www.nepalhomepage.com/society/recipes/v-mustardgreen.html

1 lb. Musturd greens, washed, peeled, cut into small pieces (I made it with Kale by accident and it was really good)
3 dried red chilies
½ teaspoon jwanu seeds (lovage seeds)
½ teaspoon musturd seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole timur (szchawan pepper)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons musturd oil
2 tablespoons fresh dill weed, finely chopped
Salt to taste


1. In a non-stick pan heat 3 tablespoons of musturd oil. Splitter jwanu seeds, whole timur musturd seeds, and cumin seeds until they turn dark.

2. Fry dried red chilies for 15 sec. till it turns dark.

3. Add garlic, ginger, ground pepper, and turmeric; fry for 1 min in low heat. Add musturd greens to the spice-mixture, and stir-fry for about 2 min. Salt it. Increase the heat to high; cook the musturd greens until wilted and the excess liquid has evaporated off. Do not overcook the greens. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped dill weed. Serve with rice.

Chicken Sukuti

(Crispy Smoked Chicken Marinated in Nepali Spices)
Website: http://nepalicooking.tripod.com/poultry.htm

INGREDIENTS
3-4 lb. whole chicken
1 tablespoon cumin powder
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 tablespoon chili paste
1 teaspoon ground timur (Szechwan pepper)
1/8 teaspoon asafetida
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and Pepper
10 cups water for boiling

DIRECTIONS
1. In a large pot, boil water combined with cumin powder, ginger, timur, asafetida, nutmeg, half teaspoon of turmeric, salt and pepper.

2. Dip chicken into the boiling water and cook for about fifteen minutes, turning frequently.

3. Remove the chicken from water to drain.

4. In a small bowl, combine a half teaspoon of turmeric, chili paste, molasses, honey and salt; mix well. Pat dry the chicken and rub inside and out with the spice mixture.

5. Tie the marinated chicken around wings and hang for at least four hours to allow a complete marinating and dryness.

6. Place the air-dried marinated chicken in the charcoal grill further away from direct fire. Allow smoking for about two hours, or until the inside meat temperature reaches 160oF and the skin has turned crispy.

DAL BHAT (RICE AND LENTILS)
from Website: food-nepal.com

Plain Rice (Bhat)
2 cups rice (Basmati or Long grain preferred)
4 cups (1 lt) water
1 tsp butter (optional)

Lentils (Dal)
1½ cups lentil (any kind)
4 to 5 cups of water (depends preference of your consistency of liquid)
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic, minced
6 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
3/4 cup sliced onions
2 chillies (dried red chilies preferred) (depends on your preference)
Salt to taste

OPTIONAL
¼ tsp (pinch) asafetida
¼ tsp (pinch) jimbu
1 tbsp fresh ginger paste



PREPARATION
Rice:
Wash rice and soak for 5 minutes.
Wash rice and soak for 5 minutes.
Boil the rice over medium heat for about 10 -15 minutes. Stir once thoroughly. Add butter to make rice give it taste as well as make it soft and fluffy.
Turn the heat to low and cook, covered, for 5 more minutes until done.


Lentils:


1. Wash lentils and soak lentil for 10 minutes.

2. Remove anything that float on the surface after it and drain extra water.

3. Add drained lentils in fresh water and bring to a boil again. Add all spices.

4. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until lentils are soft and the consistency is similar to that of porridge.

5. In a small pan heat the remaining of butter and fry the onions, chilies and garlic.

6. Stir into the lentils few minutes before you stop boiling. Serve with rice.

40 comments :

  1. Great post...unique, entertaining narrative and interesting photos. Looks like you had fun and so did I reading about it. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post! How funnie and you have the kitchen decked out even.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is the BEST post I've seen for the 2nd challenge. I couldn't stop laughing, you're so hilarious! I loved that you chose a food that was sooo incredibly far out of your comfort zone. Your did a fantastic job with the food and your post was beyond amazing! Good luck and congrats on making it through to the 2nd round!

    I can't wait to read more of your blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. These was a very interesting post! I loved reading it; it's very entertaining. You sure got my vote! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. what a fantastic post! a very entertaining read and the food looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I LOVE it!!! And I would totally eat that chicken ;) LOL...great post =)

    ReplyDelete
  7. This looks absolutely amazing! The chicken hanging reminds of my dad attempted something similar...once...and he's too adorable!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think it looked amazing, and I'll borrow the kid thank you very much! Nothing like cut kid smiling to brighten ones day! BEST OF LUCK

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nepalese cuisine sounds very exciting. You are very fortunate to have had access to some authentic family recipes. Great post! Love the hanging chicken. Good luck with round 2!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. choice of dishes are cool looks delicious

    ReplyDelete
  11. Janis, I loved this post!! Congratulations on moving forward, I see you going a long way. I will probably not be hanging a chicken in my kitchen, but I'm ultimately impressed that you did!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congrats on conquering (sort of) your fears!
    I love how you made an authentic snack of gizzards to go along with it as well.
    and yes, gefilte fish rocks!
    Good luck:)

    ReplyDelete
  13. This was such a great post! I love the photos of your helper.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This was a great post, thank you for sharing on foodbuzz! You're writing style is really entertaining and I look forward to reading more : )

    ReplyDelete
  15. LOL! This is such a funny post, from the hanging prayer flags to the hanging chicken, and that cute boy who looked like he was wearing some oversized jumper. You really took a lot of time and effort in putting this post together, and for that, you deserve to go onto round #3! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your sherpa is adorable! Great post, and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Can he come cook with me too? Either he's super entertaining, or you're a super entertaining writer, or both, but this post has got me tickled all over!
    I think you did a fantastic job for the 2nd challenge...voting for you for sure! :D

    ReplyDelete
  18. loved your post, cute sherpa, the poor chicken and the flags hanging in your kitchen. funny!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Janis, again - brilliant post. BRAVO! I am over here rolling in my chair laughing - how great and entertaining. Jeff had me read it out loud to him (he's on the couch) because I was belly laughing. You are a great writer, comedian and all around family gal all the way. How cute is Rajesh Kumar? Adorable little guy.

    Thanks for so many laughs this Sunday eve -
    -Butter

    ReplyDelete
  20. You've done it again Janis!! Great post. I love the very authentic little Sherpa you found. The chicken looks very delectable. I have no problem with meat hanging around for a while. Wish I could have been there. You've got a vote from me!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm with Kathy. If you end up cooking a meat having it dry age or hang around is not really an issue. It isn't what we are all used to, but that is challenge isn't it!!

    Looks like fun.

    Jason

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hahaha love the Sherpa. Oh to be your neighbor...

    The picture of the chicken hanging had me busting up. It looks like it has little fat arms and legs and a big puffed out chest. All it's missing is a too-small head. I'm not sure I wouldn't have been afraid of being sick either, but as long as your kitchen wasn't insanely hot, it was probably fine.

    ReplyDelete
  23. OMG, Janis! I am laughing out loud, all by myself in the middle of my living room because of that picture of your kitchen with the chicken in the air, dog on the floor and prayer flags under the hood vent! Totally hysterical! Oh, I love your posts. I don't need to tell you that you have my vote. P.s. I love that the label on the chicken says "it may be missing giblets" what's that about? where did they go?

    ReplyDelete
  24. wow, nice job! i love all the pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a great story, and the food looks absolutely incredible! Good luck, I hope you make it to the next round. I voted for you!

    You can see my entry here and hopefully vote for me! http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/973

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great post and lots of really great recipes. You got my vote! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Janis, I didn't think anything would be new to you, you're ALWAYS going out on a limb into new and uncharted territories, and yet you're able to to it again. KUDOS and I hope to see you in round three with me :-)
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  28. a truly unique post - love it. you got my vote!

    ReplyDelete
  29. yes, I agree, unique post!
    you have one of my votes. (See my entry here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/869)

    ReplyDelete
  30. (See my entry here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/869)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Very cool! I want to try this. Voted for you. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  32. UM Janis. Hysterical. I literally am like "where the flip can i get myself some flags for my kitchen!?>!?!?"

    Love it love you! voting now missy!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Amazing work on this challenge! I am so inspired. You have my vote.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Cutest sherpa I've ever seen! My little sous chef decided to stick his finger in the bag of raw chicken marinating in the fridge for my PFB post to taste it, so I ended up making a call to the pediatrician about the risk/symptoms of salmonella! You'll be happy to know that generally there is a, um, noticeable gastro intestinal upset in the first 24 hours after exposure if it's going to develop, if not, you're fine.

    Hopefully we can both head back to our comfort zones now. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sounds like such a fun day of cooking! I would have definitely tried everything! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Cutest sherpa I've ever seen! My little sous chef decided to stick his finger in the bag of raw chicken marinating in the fridge for my PFB post to taste it, so I ended up making a call to the pediatrician about the risk/symptoms of salmonella! You'll be happy to know that generally there is a, um, noticeable gastro intestinal upset in the first 24 hours after exposure if it's going to develop, if not, you're fine.

    Hopefully we can both head back to our comfort zones now. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Funny and beautiful post ! Good luck !

    ReplyDelete
  38. I think it looked amazing, and I'll borrow the kid thank you very much! Nothing like cut kid smiling to brighten ones day! BEST OF LUCK

    ReplyDelete
  39. These was a very interesting post! I loved reading it; it's very entertaining. You sure got my vote! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete