Keep Those Cards and Letters Rolling In

cards and letters:

This week has seen a multitude of culinary questions arriving in my in-box. Here’s some, and my answers.

Mangala asks: “Your recipe for Anzac cookies calls for golden syrup. In India, we do not get golden syrup. So what choices do I have? Can I use honey?”

My reply: Ayurveda suggests honey should not be baked. Do you have any liquid sweeteners, like a runny gur or jaggery? If not, mix a little hot water with some smashed jaggery and warm it to make a thick honey-like paste. Use that.

Bobbie asks: “One teaspoon dry yeast equals how much fresh yeast?”

My reply: 1 teaspoon dry yeast = 2 teaspoons fresh yeast

Carole asks: “I am making curry puffs and gulab jamuns. Can I use the same ghee to fry and would you suggest doing one before the other or does it make no difference.”

My reply: Yes you can definitely use the same ghee but you should fry the gulab jamuns first, then the curry puffs second. The principle behind it is that the gulabs will hardly affect the flavour of the ghee but the curry puffs will.

Sarva asks: “There’s a dessert recipe I want to try that serves what they call Vanilla Anglaise on the side – very many egg-yolks involved. I don’t eat eggs so what recipe could you suggest to substitute for this? And what is Verjuice?”

My reply: Well the Anglaise is a very rich egg-based custard. I would substitute a nice custard made from milk, perhaps a little cream, sugar and a good vanilla custard powder. Or to keep a white colour, use milk, cornstarch, sugar and pure vanilla extract or paste.

Verjuice is the juice of green (slightly unripe) grapes. Nice as a vinegar substitute in dressings etc.

Maharani asks: “Recently I’ve gotten some recipes calling for an ingredient outside of my sphere of experience: ‘curry powder’. Of course, curry powder is available at my local supermarket, but I’ve always been under the impression that this is a very inferior seasoning, and that self-respecting cooks make their own spice blends. Can you recommend a recipe to make my own “curry powder” to substitute in recipes which call for it?”

My reply:

Yes, here’s a lovely one. It’s sort of a Middle Eastern Curry powder. Very nice flavours. The quality of your ingredients determine the outcome. You will need to do a bit of dry-roasting and grinding.

Homemade Baharat Spice Blend

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1/4 small cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
seeds from 4 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Toast slowly the peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, coriander seeds. cardamom seeds and cloves over low heat until aromatic and slightly darker. Do not burn. Grind them in a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder along with the paprika and nutmeg.
Posted by Kurma on 8/7/07; 1:10:28 PM

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