Local Heart, Global Soul

June 21, 2013

Step-by-Step Indian Cooking Lesson: Chingri (Prawn) Malai Curry (An Original Bengali Speciality)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Chingri (Prawn) Malai Curry (An Original Bengali Speciality)

16-20 medium sized prawns (approx 1kg)
½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
2 medium onions (finely chopped)
3-4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoon (grated) root ginger
3 bay leaves
4-5 whole green cardamoms
4-5 cloves
½ small stick cinnamon
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon gee (or vegetable oil)
½ teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
1 chopped chili or ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)

In this recipe we will be using creamed coconut, which at first I thought was coconut cream by just another name and raised the question: How then are either of these different to coconut milk?

I didn’t know so I googled: Wikipedia tells me: Creamed coconut is a coconut product,  the unsweetened dehydrated fresh meat of a mature coconut, ground to a semi-solid white creamy paste. It is sold in the form of a hard white block which can be stored at room temperature. It has an intense coconut flavor. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In cookery it is chopped into pieces or grated before it is added to dishes.

By adding warm water it can be made into coconut milk or coconut cream.
Creamed coconut is added to Indian, Thai and Asian recipes to enrich curries and sauces.

In the west it is primarily used in confectionery items, ice cream, and sauces. Not to be confused with the related coconut cream, which is a liquid.

Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. The difference is mainly consistency.

It has a thicker, more paste-like consistency, while coconut milk is generally a liquid. Coconut cream is used as an ingredient in cooking, having a mild non-sweet taste.

Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. The color and rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high oil content. Most of the fat is saturated fat.

I understand that people around the world have different access (or not) to specialist ingredients and therefore since I have a few more  recipes in this series I will also soon be running a competition where you will be invited to make a comment on  these genuine Indian recipes.One lucky winner will then receive a small parcel of the more specialist items so that they can make and enjoy these recipes at home as well. Watch this space!

Method:

Clean and wash the prawns thoroughly. Add a little salt and turmeric powder to the washed prawns and leave to one side.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a medium shallow pan or wok, heat the oil…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Crush the whole green cardamoms slightly in a mortar and pestle to get maximum flavour…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the whole green cardamoms and the whole cloves to the oil…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then add the pieces of cinnamon and the bay leaves… and saute for a few minutes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add the chopped onions and chili (optional) and stir fry until the onions turn soft brown (approx 7 minutes).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Next add the ginger paste  and continue frying the mixture until the oil separates from the masala (spices)  This should take 4-5 minutes. If the mixture sticks in the pan add a little water to prevent burning.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add about 3/4 the coconut milk (don’t  use it all yet!) and simmer for about 5 minutes. Here is what our block of creamed coconut looked like…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The coconut cream mixed with water…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

How much of it we used at this stage of the recipe…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ok, this photo should have come before the last one, this the first lot of coconut cream and water going into the pan…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Let it gently simmer for a few minutes on low…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add the sugar (not pictured) and salt…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finally add the prawns to the mixture and stir thoroughly.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now add the leftover coconut cream and water…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Simmer gently so that the shrimp start to cook through… (they will start to turn from a grey colour on the outside to pink)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Add  the gee (clarified butter) , it adds a richness to the taste and helps thicken the sauce just a little. Cook until the prawns are done (5-6 minutes)  Teacher’s Note: Do not use garlic sauce since it will over-power the delicate taste of the prawns.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finally sprinkle with gram masala powder…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Teacher’s Serving Tip: serve with Peas Pilau or Indian bread.

February 20, 2013

A Little Bit of France in the Haagse Bluf…

Following  yesterday’s post about the Haagse Bluf buildings,  here is a photographic post about the two fountains that can be found there. The only fact that I know about then is that they are original French fountains… and on a personal level … I think they are beautiful.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 19, 2013

How to Be Original … and Fake at the Same Time!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Shopping arcade in the centre of the Hague known as “de Haagse Bluf” is a rather unique feature of the Hague.

It’s basically a small and almost enclosed “Plein” (square) or courtyard reached by narrow pedestrian streets or shopping arcades.
So, we have  shopping streets and arcades of shops leading to a square that contains more shops: ok, nothing dramatic or out of the ordinary so far.

However, what’s really unique about the Haagse Bluf is less the shops it contains and more the strange juxtaposition of the buildings they are housed in. The inner Plein buildings certainly make people do a double take. Old very traditional Dutch building façades have been not so subtly incorporated into very new building forms.

It’s a very odd mix of old and new architecture fused together and most people probably assume that the architect just sketched in some Dutch traditional character features into their fake frontages. Wrong: some of these frontages are exact replicas of actual buildings elsewhere, many of the originals are still standing, but several have been demolished in years past.

That said, these demolished buildings did not completely disappear: much of their stone ornamentation was saved and re-incorporated into these replicated façades, which now begs the question: does this mean the façade made in the Haagse Bluf is fake or original or a bizarre mixture of both?

Wikipedia (Dutch language text only) tells me that one of the façades is a copy of the “Het Pagehuis” (The Page House) which dates from the beginning of the 17th Century and it still stands facing the Binnenhof at it’s address of Lang Voorhout 6.

One façade is a copy from a building on the Denneweg, dating from 1898 and another façade (Kaldi Coffee and Tea company) comes from a building located at Markt 4 in Delft within metres of the Delft Stadhuis.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The foundations of the house in Delft date from the 13th century but the original building was destroyed and then rebuilt after a city fire in 1536, added to in 1760 when it was used as retail storage space, complete with “hijsbalk” (cantilever or lifting beam) as explained in one of my earlier blog posts.

By chance I happen to have a photo of  (part of) the original building in Delft in my photo archive to show you as well.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I’m nowhere near an instant fan of modern architecture.

I therefore surprised myself that I completely and totally love the buildings here in the Haagse Bluff, despite the fact that no effort has been made to cover that fact the the façades are attachments to modernist cube-form buildings.

Logical says it shouldn’t work, but reality is that it does! The two fuse together brilliantly and it’s wonderful to see a total renovation of part of the city centre pay homage to local historical past.

I used the Haagse Bluf website to figure out the identities of some of the buildings: the first photo in this post originates from Noordeinde 17 in The Hague, the second building is completely from the original building  that stood at Hooftkade 195 because the entire façade was saved and bought here when the building was demolished. It dates from 1889 and was formerly a distillery of the firm WFGL Spanish.

http://www.haagschebluf.com/ (Dutch language text)

http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haagsche_Bluf (Dutch language text )
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagehuis_(Den_Haag) (Dutch language text)
http://historie.hdpnet.nl/pleinen.htm (Dutch language text)
https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/new-327/ “When the Stairs are too Narrow, the Dutch just Open a Window…”

The Nickelson building in the photo below is a replica of Noordeinde 6 (which still stands as a commercial premises) but was formerly a store-house from 1901 built in a Viennese Secession and Gothic inspired style.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next photos show a replica of the Denneweg 56: a former showroom in 1898 of the foundry E. Beekman, designed by Jan-Willem Bosboom, is an early example of Hague iron and glass architecture. The building at the Denneweg  is considered one of the main exponents of Art Nouveau in The Hague.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is a replica of the Denneweg 4, built in 1870.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I took this photo from the wrong angle, not knowing when I made this photo that it’s a replica of Markt 4 in Delft. Ironically I have half of this red brick building in a photo in my Delft photo archive because I was photographing the building next to it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The original of Markt 4  in Delft, below  (building on the right.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Genuinely old building close to the Haagse Bluf…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Street leading into the Haagse Bluf…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Decorations in the shopping arcade…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The original “Het Pagehuis” …stands not too far away…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… and the replica (almost… this building is narrower so they seem to have made some adjustments)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself, who is usually fairly neutral and certainly not emotional about buildings said with a big sigh of relief “thank heavens it’s not just boring flat cold block walls”.

The Haagse Bluff has this effect on people: it doesn’t ignore that people live in the modern world but it does work aesthetically around it. I personally think these buildings are inspired, giving them a sense of history in their façades gave them soul, and who wouldn’t want to embrace a place that has soul?

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