Recipes from Malta

This is actually the third time I’ve cooked a meal from Malta. The first time, I cooked the meal and then just did not write the blog post. Years went by.

Recipes from Malta: Imqarrun

Imquarrum (also called Imqarrun il-forn) is descended from a dish served in Sicily, but the Maltese have adopted it as a traditional staple. The key to making this dish is to be patient.

Recipes from Malta: Roasted Garlic Ftira

Ftira is kind of like a giant sourdough bagel. According to the Food and Wine Gazette, it's been around since at least the 16th century, when it was baked in the ovens of the Knights of St. John.

Recipes from the Maldives

I wanted to sort of start off easy, so I made only two recipes this time. Both were pretty good and not super time consuming to make, though my husband did walk into the kitchen at one point to complain about the bomb that clearly went off somewhere inside an onion or possibly a jar of turmeric.

Where is the Maldives?

Or is it "Where are the Maldives?" I don't know. Some writer, huh? Based on what I'm finding online, "is" is correct or at least the vast majority of people think it is. If not, then I'm going to spend this entire post sounding dumb.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Recipes from the Maldives: Aluvi Hiki Riha (Potato Fry)

I'm almost sorry to say, nothing eventful happened during the preparation of this dish. I mean, it's nice to not almost burn the kitchen down like that one time but it makes for kind of boring reading. Sorry. It's just a very straightforward recipe. Here it is.

First, heat a few cups of oil over high heat until bubbles rise around the non-stirring end of a wooden spoon. Fry the potatoes in the hot oil until brown and drain them on paper towels.

Now heat the rest of the oil over a medium-high flame and saute the onions with the garlic, ginger, curry leaves, and mustard seeds. 

Add the fried potatoes, cardamom pods, and habanero pepper. Saute for a minute and then add the remaining spices.

Continue to cook for two minutes, until everything is well-incorporated. Try not to eat to much because they're deep fried and super bad for you.


Here's the printable recipe:

Ingredients

  • Oil for frying
  • 1 lb potatoes diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 cup onion diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup curry leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a few cups of oil over high heat until bubbles rise around the non-stirring end of a wooden spoon.
  2. Fry the potatoes in the hot oil until brown. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Heat the rest of the oil over a medium-high flame and saute the onions with the garlic, ginger, curry leaves, and mustard seeds.
  4. Add the fried potatoes, cardamom pods, and habanero pepper. Saute for a minute and then add the remaining spices.
  5. Continue to cook for two minutes, until everything is well-incorporated.

Recipes from the Maldives: Beef Curry


The only thing about this recipe that might trip you up is the curry leaves. You can't buy them in grocery stores. I heard (though I don't know how true it is) that there are restrictions on selling them in the US because of pests of some kind, which doesn't make a lot of sense because I found them easy enough on Amazon.com. I will say that weird ingredients seem easier to come by now than they did like three years ago when I was still doing these meals regularly. 

The leaves I ordered were still fresh when they arrived and they came in a huge bag. When I opened the package I was like, what the hell am I going to do with all these curry leaves. So I kept some for this recipe, froze some, and then dried the rest of them in the oven.

Don't do that. They smell really ... I can't even describe it. I had to boil potpourri on the stove to get rid of the very weird, chemically odor that made my head feel like it was going to explode. 

Anyway, here's how to make the curry. To start, mix the first eight ingredients together until you have a paste.



Now heat the oil over a high flame. Add the beef and cook until brown.

Here's some beef in a bowl, because evidently I forgot to take pictures of it actually cooking.


Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, curry leaves, habanero, cardamom, and spice paste. Return the beef to the pan and add the vingear. Stir until well-coated. Add the tomato paste.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender.
Uncover the pan and keep cooking for 15 minutes, or until any remaining liquid has been absorbed and the sauce is thick.



Here's the printable recipe:


Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chuck steak, cut into about cubes
  • 1 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup curry leaves
  • 1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp white vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix the first eight ingredients together until you have a paste.
  2. Now heat the oil over a high flame. Add the beef and cook until brown.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, curry leaves, habanero, cardamom, and spice paste.
  4. Return the beef to the pan and add the vingear. Stir until the beef is well-coated. Add the tomato paste.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender.
  6. Uncover the pan and keep cooking for 15 minutes, or until any remaining liquid has been absorbed and the sauce is thick.

Recipes from the Maldives

I wanted to sort of start off easy, so I made only two recipes this time. Both were pretty good and not super time consuming to make, though my husband did walk into the kitchen at one point to complain about the bomb that clearly went off somewhere inside an onion or possibly a jar of turmeric.

The first recipe I made was creatively entitled "Beef Curry."



With a side of Aluvi Hiki Riha, or "Potato Fry."


All of which were shot with exceptionally crappy tungsten kitchen lights since I couldn't be bothered to drag out and clean up my photography lights because they have like six inches of dust on them from not being used for four years. So this food looks less delicious than it was and you'll just have to take my word for it.

Where is the Maldives?

Or is it "Where are the Maldives?" I don't know. Some writer, huh? Based on what I'm finding online, "is" is correct or at least the vast majority of people think it is. If not, then I'm going to spend this entire post sounding dumb. 

Anyway, the Maldives is kind of a lesser-known Asian country, in fact it's so small you can't really even see it on a map without actually circling it, and even then it's kind of hard to know if that's the Maldives or if it's just that I need to clean the dust specs off of my monitor. 
Maldives Beach. Photo by Simon_sees.


So yeah, the Maldives is small. In 2020, its population was estimated at about 379,270 which is oddly specific for an estimate, but whatever. For perspective, that's roughly the size of Aurora, Colorado, which actually looks bigger on a map than the Maldives because the Maldives is only like 70 percent as large by landmass. The Maldives is also sort of isolated, given that it's right out in the middle of the Indian Ocean and its closest neighbor (India) is 300 miles away. 

There are around 1,200 islands in the Maldives, and each one of them is basically just the peak of a submerged mountain. Beneath the surface of the ocean lies the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, which is a huge "submarine" mountain range. The fact that this place exists at all is actually kind of remarkable since the Maldives has also got the somewhat dubious distinction of being the lowest-lying country in the world, with an average elevation of about five feet. So in other words, the mountains are sticking out of the ocean a little bit, but not really a whole lot. That might have been sort of cool at one point in history but now that the oceans are rising I'm betting there are a lot of Maldivians losing sleep over the precariousness of their tiny, isolated nation.

Like half the countries on Planet Earth, the Maldives was once occupied by Great Britain, but by the 1960s the indigenous people of pretty much every British occupied nation were saying "Please go away" and in 1965 the British actually did. So that was cool, but at the time the Maldives was one of the poorest nations in the world so survival wasn't especially easy. 

Today, the Maldives has a thriving tourism industry (well, when there isn't a raging pandemic anyway), and the food is pretty good, too. The cuisines has definitely got Indian influences and it's full of flavor, as you'll see if you stay with me through the next post.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

I made a blog meal

Sometimes I land on someone's blog after a Google search or something and there's this post that says, "Hey everyone I'm back and I promise I'm going to start posting every week!" And then I look at the date and it was like three years ago and I think, "Don't make promises you can't keep."


I'm pretty sure I might have done that myself on this blog once or twice. And I hate not keeping promises even though it was totally not on purpose. So, no promises.


Things are pretty different in my house than they were the last time I posted here. Two of my four kids are in high school. I got a master's degree a couple of years ago, which sucked up a lot of my time. And I got a stupid job. I mean an awesome job! Seriously, I do love my job but someone else owns my time right now and that's kind of a hard pill to swallow when you've been doing nothing but freelancing and stay-at-home-momming for the last decade and a half. Oh yeah and also there's a pandemic. Have you noticed?


Speaking of freelancing you can check out the stuff I've done for Grunge.com and SciShow, you know, in case you're one of the like three people who used to read my blog and are interested in knowing what I've been up to.


Anyway, I cooked a blog meal the other day. It was fun. I've missed it. Stay tuned and I'll tell you how it went.


Also, every post needs a photo so here is a picture of a chicken. 







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