If you are a fan of cooking shows like I am, you know how bad it feels when sometimes you cannot afford the fancy ingredients to come up with gourmet meals. I remember seeing someone joke on Twitter that they were trying out a recipe from a cooking show but when it got to the part where one is supposed to put the dish into the oven, the lady just switched off her cooking coil and went to sleep. Well I discovered that there are some unlikely ingredients that can help you spice up your meals making the ordinary be extraordinary and will not cost you much.
Avocado ( referred to as guacamole )
Avocado is mostly eaten as a fruit while others eat it with food such as githeri or rice and beans so as to add that creamy texture and flavour that it is known for. You can now expand it’s uses with these easy dishes.
Simply take a ripe avocado and mash it into a smooth paste. After that add diced tomatoes, onions, dhania and salt and pepper. Add a little lemon juice to give your dip a kick and voila you have a dip that you can have with snacks such as crisps or tortilla chips.
2.Guacamole on toast
If you want to spice up your breakfast put the above mentioned guacamole dip on toast. It will taste a lot better than Blueband and Jam and you will be full for a good portion of time.
Don’t let the name freak you out, It basically means stuffed eggs. Just boil the eggs until they are hard boiled. Peel the egg shells and cut the eggs lengthwise. Take out the yolk and mix into a smooth paste with the avocado then place the creamy mixture in the hollows that are in the egg whites. And there you have it. If you are thinking of having a brunch meal this would do really nicely.
- Burgers/ Sandwich filling
I went to a fast food restaurant and was suprised to see a burger which had bacon beef and guess what an avocado. Basically there is no filling you can’t have when you have two slices of bread to fill up. My personal favourite is a grilled sandwich with a filling of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, avocado ham and mayonnaise. Thank me later.
Now most of us only know how to cook potatoes either as fried, boiled to make mash potatoes or cooked in stews. Did you know you can also make jacket potatoes? If you really do not have the patience for baking them in an oven wash your potatoes thoroughly then prick holes using a fork. Rub some oil on them then place them on a plate that is microwave soft. Cook them on high heat for 5 minutes. Take out the potatoes and turn them over . Cook for another 5 minutes. You should have soft potatoes by this time. Cut them lengthwise and put a topping of your choice, cheese, butter, or in this case avocado mashed into a creamy paste. Heaven in your mouth.
I was pleasantly suprised to learn that this herb that we have had in many of our dishes such as Pilau and kachumbari had two other names.
What else can you use this herb for apart from garnishing ?Here is what.
- Spicy Dhania Omelette
Instead of having a plain fried egg why not consider having tomatoes, onions and cilantro( dhania). If you are not afraid of cholestrol add some shredded cheese to the mix. Your egg will be full of so much flavour you will have a taste explosion in your mouth.
- Coriander chutney
This is a dip that you will mostly probably see in Indian restaurants and homes. It can be used as an accompaniment with dishes such as samosas, vegetable or meat filled wraps as opposed to just having plain old tomato sauce or chilli.
For the ingredients you will need:
- Cilantro/Dhaniya/Coriander – big bunch
- Jalapeno – 5-6 or to taste
- Bell Pepper – 1
- Chat Masala – 1/2 tsp
- Roasted Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
- Lime/Lemon Juice – 1.5 tsp or to taste
- Ginger – 1″ pc
- Salt – to taste
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Add all the ingredients (except Oil) into a blender and blend to a smooth paste.
- Keep pushing down the chutney to help with the grinding process.
- Add the Oil right at the end for a fnal whirl to preserve the green color.
- Store in the refrigerator or freeze till ready to consume.
I have to confess whenever i hear anyone mention bhajias, my mouth just waters? Instead of making your local eatery rich why not learn to make this tasty snack yourself? The best thing about bhajia is that once you have got the hang of it, you can switch up the ingredients. However one staple ingredient that you won’t miss is the dhania.
Here’s what you will need:
- 500gm potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 cup gram flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley/dhania/coriander
- 1/4 tsp garlic paste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
- a pinch of turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds/ powder
- Oil for frying
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 gram masala
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp of orange or yellow food colour
METHOD OF PREPARATION
- In a bowl, pour in the gram flour. Add all the spices and mix them up with a little water a time to make batter that is slightly thicker than pancake batter.
- Once the batter is ready put in the sliced potatoes a small batch at a time.
- Ensure they are completely coated.
- In a deep frying pan preheat the oil. Hold up each slice before putting in the oil to remove any excess batter. Turn the slices so they can cook on both sides.
- When they are cooked use a skimmer to remove them from the oil letting excess oil drip back. Transfer to a plate lined in paper towel to drain the oil.
Serve while hot with a side dish of homemade tomato sauce.
I was so shocked to find out that this was actually what is commonly referred to as maziwa lala. Yes that very same one which some people eat with ugali or rice. Here are a few more uses to this milk by product.
1.Buttermilk Fried Chicken
You will need chicken, spices ( of your choice), flour, buttermilk and oil.
First of, make sure your chicken is cut into pieces. Next with the spices that you have chosen say salt, pepper, masala, mix the chicken with the spices. Next dip these pieces in the buttermilk and make sure they are completely covered. If you have time marinate the chicken for 3 to 4 hours in the fridge. If you don’t have time, you can let it marinate for 1 hour in the fridge. Next is the flour coating. Mix the flour with salt, dried herbs ( rosemary/thyme) pepper and paprika. Take out the chicken and coat with the flour mixture. Place it in the hot oil, fry for three or so minutes making sure that the coating is a golden brown. Do this for all the chicken pieces. Serve while hot. Delicious.
2.Traditional greens with buttermilk
We all know vegetables are good for you, but the truth is that some of them are bitter and really hard to enjoy. A secret that I discovered through my mother is after cooking the leaves of whatever bitter greens you have with you, let it sit for a few days then add the milk to them. Milk gives the vegetable a distinctive flavour so do not add water.
3.Cakes and pastries
You know the coveted red velvet cake? Well one of the ingredients in this delectible cake is buttermilk. You can also use it as a substitute for milk in your pancakes and muffins.