Making ghee at home

I love cooking curries and try to get as authentic a flavour as I can, well when cooking British Indian food anyway. I have been on the look out for ghee for a while and found it very expensive to buy here in China. I had heard of people making their own but it always seemed quite difficult. 

One day, much to the despair of my husband, I thought I would give it a go. He has a phrase that always seems to come out at these moments of determination ‘why make things if you can buy them’. Well, I like to find out if I can make it myself and if it tastes as good. I also like to know what is in my food. The latter can sometimes be more important living away from home. 

I found a couple of good food blogs that gave a good description of the process and set off. The process involved boiling or simmering butter until it separated and left the clarified butter underneath. You need to scoop out and sieve the froth and curds that rise to the top. After which you should have a lovely clear caramel coloured liquid. It did actually work and I was quite happy with the final result. I think the butter was left a little too long in the pan and it has started to colour and caramelise, it has a lovely nutty sweet smell to it now though. 

I have since, used the ghee in many Indian dishes and it seems to work quite well. I’m sure I could improve on the process but for the cost of a couple of bars of butter I think it has done the job.



Cooking at home

It’s not just eating food overseas that I love, I also love cooking food at home too. I have had a few chances to try new things this week and I am quite happy with the results. 

Last weekend, as with many weekends, I made a few different curries for dinner. According to my husband, my curries have got better and better and he now gets very excited to try them. I love collecting spices from the different places we travel to and seeing how they are used. It has been interesting see how familiar spices from different countries have slight differences in taste. We had a rather intimidating visit to the wholesale spice market in Colombo while visiting Sri Lanka at Christmas. They were clearly not set up for tourists buying small quantities and as a result I came away with much bigger bags of spices than I had planned on. The black peppercorns we bought were very fresh and have a very strong, spicy aroma and taste. They are distinctive when added to dishes back home.

So, using lots of these new spices I cooked a curry feast back home. I made tikka masala, John’s favourite, and a lamb pasanda which I have made previously but this version tasted completely different. I also made a lamb kofta curry from The Hairy Bikers Meat Feasts book. I have not made a curry like this before but it was delicious. The lamb meatballs give the curry a really nice flavour and texture. 

Here is a photo of the final results…with me looking exactly like I had spent the afternoon in the kitchen.

A few days after the curry feast, I made another recipe from The Hairy Bikers Meat Feast cookbook. We were trying to think of a dinner that would be a good way to celebrate my grandma’s passing. We decided it had to be something with an Irish element and in the end went for a Guinness and steak pie. I have never made a meat pie before on my own, or at least not quite like this so I was excited for the challenge. 

I slow cooked the beef in the stout along with mushrooms, carrots and onions. I added herbs and seasoning also. The pie filling then spent the afternoon slowly cooking away. When it came to the pastry, I made it from scratch, which was a bit more difficult than anticipated. In the end though I managed to line, fill and top two quite presentable pies. One went in the oven and one in the freezer. Here is the pie ready to be eaten.

Lastly, I took on another challenge this weekend. John chooses our Saturday night feasts and he requested pizzas. He insisted that it was about time I added a pizza to my repetoire. We bought the best ingredients we could find for our pizza toppings, which in China is not always the easiest. After much looking we could not find anchovies, which was a shame but we settled on pesto and salami and ham and pineapple. 

I made the bases in the bread machine with yeast that seemed to have a life of its own. The dough had risen so much by the time it had finished that it overflowed the pan. I rolled it out and added the toppings. We had originally planned on thin crust pizzas  dough was so risen that they became deeper based pizzas. Once cooked they were actually pretty tasty, I surprised myself. Here they are…