Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pumpkin Mulah (stew) with (or without) Lamb

This pumpkin stew was my mother's favorite dish while she was pregnant with me. I love it as well. It's one of the few Sudanese dishes that is sweet and savory at the same time, the sweetness courtesy of the pumpkin and onions, and a little sugar if necessary. The meat (if you choose to add any) will be flavorful and tender as long as you are careful to cook it on a low flame, slowly. Don't be impatient, like I sometimes am, and turn the flame up.

I've been looking for a recipe for this pumpkin mulah for quite some time and a friend of mine recently managed to get this recipe from her mother (while her mother was making it for lunch). So, SHUKRAN, Samiera, Sara's mom. This recipe is much appreciated!

What you need:
  • 3 medium sized onions, diced
  • 2 tbs oil for sauteeing (I like olive oil, but use what you like)
  • 1/2 pound of lamb, chicken, or beef for stewing, cut into bite sized pieces. Chicken can be left on the bone, cut into legs, thighs, etc.
  • 2 cups of pumpkin, cut into (1 inch) cubes
  • 3 tbs tomato paste or 2 cups of peeled, diced tomatoes or a large can of peeled, diced tomatoes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tsp kazbarah (I know, I know! But I can't find a translation! Put in whatever spices you like!) ... perhaps coriander! It is coriander - but it's not the fresh green kind. I think it's the seeds, ground. So use that :)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

What to do:
  1. Sautee the onion in a little oil until they're soft/wilted.
  2. Once they're wilted (but not cooked till brown or anything) add just enough water to cover the onions.
  3. Leave on medium heat until the water is evaporated. You want the base to be thick because the pumpkin lets out a lot of water as it cooks! So make sure your base is thick before you add the lamb and pumpkin later.
  4. Add the meat (if desired).
  5. Add the spices.
  6. Stir until the onions have disintegrated, basically until it all melts into a saucy texture.
  7. Add either tomato puree or peeled, diced tomatoes.
  8. Leave it on a low flame until the meat cooks.
  9. Or if there's no meat, add the pumpkin.
  10. Leave on low heat until the pumpkin cooks.
  11. When the pumpkin is cooked, you're done, but feel free to leave simmering for longer to soften the meat and/or pumpkin more.
Tip: If your pumpkin isn't very sweet, add a few tablespoons or more of sugar or honey to sweeten the sauce.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Garlicky Chicken Strips

My son loves chicken nuggets and chicken fingers. I am trying to get away from buying pre-packaged frozen foods, so I made these chicken fingers with actual chicken (no fillers!) My son was very happy with the end result and also helped me prepare them by using a fork to give the chicken pieces their egg baths. He doesn't like gooey things, but if your kids do, have them help with the whole breading process. It's fun!

What you will need:

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips or nuggets
  • 3-4 eggs, scrambled, seasoned with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying (I use a mixture of corn and olive)
  • Marinade - see recipe below or use any marinade you like

What to do:
Place cut chicken pieces into marinade and mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour, or as long as 6 hours.

When you are ready to prepare the chicken for frying:

  1. Place the flour in a tray or pan with sides like a cake pan to limit the mess
  2. Place the breadcrumbs in another tray or pan.
  3. Take a piece of chicken and wipe off some of the excess marinade.
  4. Put the piece of chicken it in the egg, coating completely.
  5. After coating with egg, let the excess egg drip off and coat the piece in flour.
  6. Shake off excess flour and put the chicken back into the egg.
  7. Let excess egg drip off and coat the piece completely with bread crumbs, turning over until the outside of the chicken is coated and feels quite dry.
  8. Repeat until all pieces are coated, working carefully to ensure that the coating stays on the chicken. You can sprinkle extra bread crumbs on the coated pieces to stop them from sticking to each other.
  9. When all pieces are coated, heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan over a low-medium or medium flame. The oil is ready for frying when a drop of water dropped into it "pops" noisily. Be careful, if you use this method, though. Hot oil hurts! You can, instead, put the end of a wooden utensil into the oil. If the oil bubbles around it, it's hot enough.
  10. Place chicken pieces into the pan carefully, not touching. They should sizzle when you place them in, but gently. If the oil is loud and furious, it's too hot. Turn it down a bit.
  11. When pieces are golden on one side, or a little brown for extra crispiness, turn them to the other side. When the second side is browned, remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Press down gently on the chicken to make sure it feels firm but not hard. If the chicken is too soft, it's probably not cooked through.
  12. When you're done frying, they're ready to serve!

Yogurt and Garlic Marinade:

1 cup of plain yogurt
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
juice of one lime

Mix marinade ingredients together.