Indigenous Ingredients | Allspice (Pimento)

A native of the Caribbean and central American countries, the Spanish who “discovered” them during their period of colonisation believed the berries were a type of peppercorn and called them pimienta . They were also known as pimienta de Chiapas because the Spanish also “found” them in Mexico and Guatemala. Because they have an aroma similar to black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, the English called them allspice. They are also known as Pimienta de Jamaica (Jamaican pimento), sweet peppers and Tabasco peppers.

Belize, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico are major growers of allspice, which are harvested from cultivated and wild trees. They are a source of oil, with the larger Jamaican berries releasing a higher content than the berries of mainland central America. In Jamaica the berries are picked green and sun-dried.

Allspice was used to preserve meat at sea, a tradition that continues with the dry jerk marinade for meat in Jamaica. The wood and the leaves of the tree are used to smoke meat, one of the reasons why jerked meat has a very different taste in Jamaica. Allspice is the essential ingredient in jerk sauce and in barbecue sauces produced domestically and commercially.

Some food cultures used allspice in curry pastes and powders. In the countries where it is native, it is a general seasoning in all kinds of food. Northern Europeans, the English, Germans and Scandinavians, generally use allspice in cakes and confections, savoury foods – sauces, sausages, soups and stews – and as an ingredient in pickled vegetables, gherkins in particular.

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Legendary Dishes | Jerk Chicken / Pollo Jerk (spiced chicken)

JAMAICA

Every Jamaican believes their jerk sauce is the best and almost every Jamaican refuses to reveal their secret ingredients, except to say, “pimento (allspice) is essential” and there must be a spicy sour-sweet taste. The amount of oil, soy and vinegar is disputed, yet the liquid-paste ratio must be correct to allow the sauce to stick to the chicken, and oil helps it do just that.

Like every Jamaican we have looked at other versions, tasted various jerked chicken and come to the usual conclusion. As long as you follow the basic rules, what is left is personal taste. So after countless experiments and experiences this is the one we like for now, we might change our minds in a while though, you never know.

6 chicken breasts
270 ml orange juice
120 ml olive oil / vegetable oil
120 g onions / 10 spring onions, chopped
3 tbsp allspice, dry-roasted, ground
45 g palm sugar
45 ml soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, chopped small
4 cm (40 g) ginger root
2 tbsp thyme leaves
15 ml rice vinegar
10 g black pepper, ground
4 scotch bonnet red peppers / jalapenos peppers
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
5 g coarse sea salt
1 lime, juice
Nutmeg, large pinch

Bake on a grill pan in the oven at 180ºC for an hour, turning and basting after half an hour, or grill turning constantly. Alternatively do what the Jamaicans do, cook it slowly over a wood-fired barbeque.

INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS = Allspice | Scotch Bonnet

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Legendary Dishes | Dum Biryani (steamed rice with chicken / lamb / vegetable, fruit, nuts and spices)

INDIA

To make perfect biryani you need to start an apprenticeship in the art of the method, and, as the method varies from region to region, there are various techniques to learn. With Persian influences, biryani was developed by the Mughals in northern India. It has been re-developed in the modern era, ironically further south, in Mumbai. Madhur Jaffrey called it one of India’s “most elaborate rice dishes” understating its complexity. The secret, of course, is in the method, and, like all good cooking, that is all about elaborate preparation. First a vegetable biryani.

Rice
1.5 litres water
400 g basmati rice / long grain rice, washed, 
soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 lime, juiced
2 cm cinnamon
2 green chillies, sliced along length
5 green cardamom pods
10 black peppercorns
1 black cardamom, crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry roasted
1 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted
1 tsp salt
5 cloves
Turmeric powder, large pinch 
1 bay leaf

Bring water to the boil. Add whole spices, green chilli strips, rice, lime juice, turmeric powder and salt. Cook until the rice is al dente, about five minutes. Sieve rice, remove cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside to cool.

Vegetables
300 g tomato, chopped small
200 g carrots, cut into 1 cm pieces
200 g potatoes, cut into 1 cm pieces
150 g cauliflower florets, cut into 2 cm pieces
100 g bell peppers, cut into 2 cm pieces
100 g long beans, cut into 2 cm pieces
100 g peas
Fruit and Nuts
30 g cashews
30 g raisins
Herbs
100 g green coriander leaves, chopped small
10 mint leaves
Spices – Whole
60 ml vegetable oil
3 cm cinnamon
4 green cardamons
10 black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves
1 green chilli, sliced thin along length

Dry roast the black peppercorns, cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds, set aside.

Spices – Ground
1 tsp coriander 
1 tsp cumin 
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chilli

Blend, set aside.

Spices – Paste
30 ml water
2 cm ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 cm turmeric root

Blend into a paste, set aside.

Garnish
250 g shallots, sliced
45 ml vegetable oil 

Fry over a medium heat for 15 minutes. Strain the oil, return the shallots to the pan and crispy. Retain the oil.

Finish
25 threads saffron, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water

In a large frying pan fry the cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves, remove with a slotted spoon and discard. In the same oil fry the potatoes with a large pinch each of cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds until golden.

Repeat the process with the cauliflower and carrots, cumin and fenugreek, until the vegetables take on a little bit of colour.

Add more oil if needed and gently fry the beans and peppers with some cumin and fenugreek, two minutes at most (they must remain crunchy). Remove from pan.

Fry spice paste for five minutes, add ground spice, stir and fry for a couple of minutes, then add tomatoes and fry for 15 minutes. Stir the cooked vegetables into this spice mixture. Stir in the peas and set aside.

Place the oil used to make the crispy shallots in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Spoon half of the rice on top of the oil. Spoon the vegetable mixture on top of the rice. Garnish the top with half of the crispy shallots. Spoon remaining rice on top of the vegetable mixture. Dress top with cashews and raisins, followed by the coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chilli strips and crispy shallots. Finish with a drizzle of the saffron water.

Cover the pot with tin foil and the lid. Steam over a low heat for 30 minutes.

Chicken Biryani
Rice
1.5 litres water
400 g basmati rice / long grain rice, washed, 
soaked in water for 30 minutes
3 cm cinnamon
4 green cardamoms
6 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 g salt
2 bay leaves
Turmeric powder, pinch

Bring water to the boil. Add rice, whole spices, turmeric powder and salt. Cook until the rice is al dente, about five minutes. Sieve rice, remove cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside to cool.

Chicken
1 kg chicken breasts, cut into 3 cm cubes
200 g thick yogurt
150 g onions, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped small
30 ml vegetable oil
10 g mustard seeds
5 g cumin seeds
3 green chillies

Marinade chicken in spice mixture, for at least two hours.

Herbs
100 g green coriander leaves, chopped small
10 mint leaves
Spices – Paste (Marinade)
1 orange, small, juice
1 lemon, juice
20 g spice mixture (below)
5 cm ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 cm turmeric root
Spices – Ground
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chilli
Garnish
250 g shallots, sliced
45 ml vegetable oil

Fry over a medium heat for 15 minutes. Strain the oil, return the shallots to the pan and crispy. Retain the oil.

Finish
4 eggs, boiled, cooled, sliced
2 cm ginger, cut into thin strips
25 threads saffron, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water
Rose water, splash

Remove chicken pieces from marinade. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When they start to pop add the onions and chillies, reduce heat to medium, sauté chillies and onions for about ten minutes. Increase heat, add chicken, sauté for a few minutes. Add spice mixture, sauté for a few minutes, then add tomatoes and finally the yogurt and a pinch of salt. heat through.

Melt one tablespoon of oil used to make the crispy shallots in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Spoon half of the rice on top of the oil. Spoon the chicken mixture on top of the rice. Garnish the top with half of the crispy shallots. Spoon remaining rice on top of the chicken mixture.

Dress top with remaining crispy shallots, ginger strips, mint leaves and coriander leaves. Sprinkle with rose water and saffron water.

Cover the pot with tin foil and the lid. Steam over a low heat for 30 minutes.

Finish with egg slices, serve.

Lamb Biryani

{arriving soon}

 

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Legendary Dishes | Bubur Ayam (rice pudding with chicken)

INDONESIA

There are countless versions of this breakfast-supper dish, from a basic rice porridge dressed with boiled shredded chicken to an elaborate rice congee made with coconut milk dressed with fried chicken, chilli sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce, garnished with coriander leaves, deep-fried onions and omelette strips.

1.5 litres coconut milk / water
2 chicken breasts, marinaded in two tablespoons of sesame oil and one crushed garlic clove for an hour, chopped into 1 cm cubes
400 g long grain rice, soaked in water for two hours
250 g shallots, fried in 45 ml vegetable oil until crispy
200 g onion, sliced
1 egg, beaten, fried into an omelette, cut into strips
2 lemongrass stalks, crushed
3 cm ginger, crushed
4 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp chilli sauce 
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cm cinnamon stick
5 cloves
Salt, large pinch
Coriander leaves, for garnish
Light soy sauce, for dressing
Sweet soy sauce, for dressing

Cook rice in the water with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemongrass and salt until it dissolves into a porridge, remove whole spices.

Pour the sesame and vegetable oils into a frying pan, sauté the garlic and onions for about ten minutes over a medium heat.

Add the chicken cubes, chilli sauce or oyster sauce and seasonings, fry until the chicken is cooked.

Serve the rice with chicken mixture on top.

Garnish with coriander leaves, omelette strips, sweet soy sauce and fried shallots. Dress with soy sauces.

INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS = Cinnamon | Coconut Milk | Ginger | Lemongrass | Long Grain Rice | Omelette Strips | Oyster Sauce | Sesame Oil | Shallots | Sweet Soy Sauce

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Legendary Dishes | Moros y Cristianos (black beans and white rice)

CUBA | CARIBBEAN | SPAIN

Although the basic ingredients remain the same between the two coasts of the Atlantic, Cuba and the Caribbean in the west and Portugal, Spain and western Africa in the east, the methods vary considerably. Some cooks prefer to cook beans and rice separately, a method common on the Iberian peninsua. In the Americas the beans are precooked in an aromatic stock and finished in the rice. And, of course, in Africa and in the Caribbean hot chillies are an essential ingredient, a dash of paprika by comparison in Iberia. Bacon is added to some versions. And in many versions the bean-ratio is 1:1, usually those where the rice is cooked separately and served with the beans to leave the diner with task of mixing the two together – a symbolic gesture that embraces the name of the dish.

900 ml ham hock stock
750 ml water
300 g medium grain rice
200 g black beans, soaked overnight
200 g (2) onions
2 long sweet peppers / bell peppers, 
sliced thin along length (optional)
4 garlic cloves, crushed, chopped
30 ml olive oil / vegetable oil
1 scotch bonnet chilli, cut into thin strips (optional) 
/ 5 g hot paprika 
5 g marjoram / oregano leaves, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
Salt, large pinch
Water for soaking beans

Place the beans in a pot with the water, bring to the boil, remove scum. Drain the water and add the beans to another pot with one of the onions, quartered, two garlic cloves, the bay leaf and the hock stock. Cook until the beans are almost cooked, about 65 minutes. Strain and retain the cooking liquid. In a large deep pot fry the remaining onion and garlic with the chilli or paprika and peppers, about five minutes over a high heat, stirring constantly. Add the herbs and rice, coat in the mixture. Add 550 ml of the cooking liquid. Bring to a low boil, add beans, bring back to a low boil. Remove from heat, cover and cook over a low heat until the rice is almost dry, but has not stuck to the bottom of the pot.

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Legendary Dishes | Caws Pobi (cheese on toast aka Welsh rarebit)

WALES
225 g cheddar cheese
50 g butter
30 ml beer
Mustard powder, pinch
Salt
Pepper
Toast

This is more than mere cheese on toast. Bring butter and cheese together over a low heat with constant stirring, adding the beer to finish. Season with mustard, pepper and salt, then pour mixture onto slices of buttered, warm toast. Brown under the grill.

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Legendary Dishes | Atzem Pilaf (rice with orzo pasta)

GREECE | TURKEY

This increasingly popular pilaf, once made barley and then with thin noodles and occasionally with pieces of chicken or lamb meat,  is now made with the rice-shaped pasta called orzo.

2 litres vegetable stock 
800 g carolina rice, soaked in 800 ml hot water, 
washed, strained, cooled
300 g orzo pasta
100 g olive oil
35 g salt

Heat oil in heavy-based deep saucepan and sauté the orzo until they turn brown. Add rice, stock and salt, cook until orzo and rice are soft.

See A Whole Different Bowl of Rice.

INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS = Greek Rice | Turkish Rice

LEGENDARY DISHES


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