As some of you may know, I owe most of my cookery skills, understanding of and passion for food to my Dad. I have asked him to share some of his infinite culinary knowledge with you by doing some guest posts every now and then.
This first post comes about largely by chance. Having seen my post on Kolhapuri lamb, which included a haphazard attempt at a recipe for raita, he sent me an email yesterday with the recipe he uses; I now know why his raita always tastes so much better than mine! I asked him to turn it into a post and also to explain one of the canapés from Christmas Eve, pictured above. The beauty of this canapé is that it look really impressive and tastes great, but is really easy. I hope this will be the first of many posts from Dad, or as he will henceforth be known, Hash Brown.
Raita, the real thing
This raita recipe was given to me by a Bangladeshi chef I worked with.
Raita is a wonderful accompaniment for curries, tandoori meats, samosas, pakoras or as a dip with pappadams. I also make a 'canape' with tandoori chicken or lamb served on a mini pappadam and topped with raita. I dice some chicken or lamb into small cubes then marinate in Patak's tandoori paste as per the instructions on the jar (yes, a bit of a cheat but if there are lots of mouths to feed I reckon it is alright to cut a few corners). Mini pappadams are about 1 - 1.5 inches in diameter and hopefully available at your local Indian deli. To cook the pappadams deep or shallow fry. It is also possible to cook them in the microwave but be prepared to toss a few out until you get the timing right. If microwaving a light brushing or spray of oil improves the flavour. Grill the meat and serve in pappadams with a blob of raita.
The amounts in this recipe are only approximate so be brave and trust your judgement; the only really essential ingredients are the first and last three. You can do it in a pestle and mortar or blender but it helps to roughly chop the stuff first. However, don't put the cucumber in the blender or mortar unless you want a very runny raita!
Grate the cucumber into a tea towel and squeeze out hard to remove any excess moisture. Put to one side.
Put the green chilli, mint, coriander, spring onion, garlic, and spice of your choice in the mortar or blender. Grind or pulse until you have a rough paste.
If using a mortar and pestle, add the rest of the ingredients and stir with a spoon to combine.
If using a blender, scrape the mixture into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
Yours, Hash Brown.
[FYI – Dad seems to still be living in 1960s England, for the record one inch is approx 2.5cm]