Monday, October 12, 2009

Ganga's Fijian-Indian Young Jackfruit Curry

A few months ago, one sunny morning, my friend Vidya and I got up at the crack of dawn* and made our way to Sydney's weekly flower market. Strolling past vibrant pinks and exuberant reds, the air perfumed with the scent of budding hyacinths and blossoming tulips, I wondered what hidden delights the day will hold...

Walking away, arms full of proteas, oriental lilies and the odd orchid, we decided to stop at the fruit and veggie market next door. We were pleasantly surprised to find young jackfruit on sale - what luck!! We grabbed a couple, some fresh loofah, and she suggested we head over to Ganga's place (her mum) for some Fijian-Indian young jackfruit curry! I felt so blessed to be able to witness the making of this traditional dish, first hand. While Ganga made fresh roti, Vidya and I picked stunning little bishop crown chilli peppers and cumquats from the garden. Then we chopped up the jackfruit, making sure to cover our hands and chopping boards in oil to avoid getting covered with the sticky white latex inside the young fruit (not as bad as it sounds actually, at least in my limited experience with the fruit!) The pieces had to be as small as possible, and once they were cut up, they were sautéed with onion, lots of garlic, and a plethora of Indian herbs and spices.

Soon it was time to eat - loofah curry, young jackfruit curry and warm homemade roti with some pickles on the side - the flavours were intense, fiery, amazing! The texture of the jackfruit curry, in particular, was divine. We stuffed our selves silly, and found it hard to stop eating, each bite being tastier than the last. It was sooooo good!!

When it was time to go, Vidya and her mum packed some curry and roti for my significant other and fids** at home (Oscar looooved the roti), as well as the goodies from the garden - chillies, cumquats, rosemary, curry leaves, tea leaves and some succulent cuttings for my balcony. As I left I felt so grateful to have been so openly welcomed and utterly spoiled by Vidya and her family - for one day, I felt I had been transported to Fiji and felt a part of her family. Is there a greater gift someone can give you?!?!

The delicious jackfruit curry left such an impression on me that I made it the next day, and once again a few days later, and actively have been hunting young jackfruit ever since! With Ganga's blessing, I have recorded the recipe for you here, I hope you find it as wonderful as I did!

* i am a night owl, so wasn't exactly 'crack of dawn' but felt like it ;)-
** fids = feathered kids :)

Serves 1 of me or 3 regular folk, hehe ;)

800g young unripe jackfruit
1 medium-sized onion, finely diced
1 small head of garlic (yes, a whole head, or 4-5 very large cloves), minced
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric, ground
1/2 Tbsp curry powder (or 1/2Tbsp ground coriander and 1/2 tsp garam masala)
15 curry leaves
3 hot chilli peppers, finely chopped
a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt (don't be shy with the salt!)
2 Tbsp oil or ghee + extra oil for coating knife and chopping board
Some lime juice (optional)


Coat a sharp knife and chopping board in oil, and cut off the spiky jackfruit peel.
Chop the jackfruit into large chunks, remove the centre core and discard it.

Chop the jackfruit chunks into small pieces. (The smaller the better here, so be patient and you shall be rewarded with superior texture in the final product. Traditionally this was done by hand, so if you have the time, do so! You will notice the jackfruit naturally breaks apart into little bits.)

Heat oil or ghee in a deep large saucepan. When hot add onion and sauté until translucent. Next add the fenugreek, cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, curry powder (or ground coriander and garam masala), garlic and fry for a few seconds until fragrant. Next add the chopped jackfruit, curry leaves, chilli, salt and 1/2cup of water. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 40 minutes, until tender, making sure to add small amounts of water while it is cooking so the curry does not dry out.

Taste and add more salt if necessary and some lime juice wouldn't hurt, though it wasn't necessary in Ganga's original recipe. Top with fresh coriander and serve!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Guvablossom is back!

After many months of neglect (oops!!) Guavablossom is back!! Luckily, I only neglected posting, not cooking, so have many new recipes to share with you! Recently we have been trying to eat as many raw foods as possible, so will be including some new tropical raw recipes in the near future! Watch this space for a new recipe in the next few days, in the meantime, enjoy some new family photos ;)-

Suco loves a scratch ;)-Suco eats with a spoon!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guava cream éclairs topped with vanilla-bean white chocolate

I was so so excited to get the first little pink guava of the season and I wanted to do something really special with them. After a couple of weeks with my head burrowed in Jane Austen’s Emma, however, they had started to get a little too ripe… and… ended up as jam! Although there's nothing quite like sweet home-made guava jam on a hot croissant first thing in the morning, it wasn't worthy of being the first guava recipe on a blog entitled 'guavablossom'! While munching on the croissant, and with cuisine Française obviously on my mind, I decided to turn the jam in to a pretty baby pink cream filling for crisp éclairs! The combination of vanilla, white chocolate and guava makes me swoon, and I'm sure it will please you too! Enjoy!

Makes around 15 éclairs

Guava jam
1 cup guava pulp (see Method)
1/2 cup sugar
squeeze of lemon juice

Choux pastry
100g butter
15g sugar
pinch of salt
250mL water
125g flour, sieved
4 eggs, beaten

Vanilla-bean white chocolate topping
100g white chocolate
25g butter
1 vanilla pod

Guava cream filling
200mL cream
1/2 cup guava jam, ingredients above

To obtain 1 cup of guava pulp, place peeled and chopped guavas in a food processor for a few seconds and then use a sieve to get the hard seeds out.

To make the guava jam: Place guava jam ingredients (guava pulp, sugar and lemon juice) in a saucepan and bring to the boil while stirring, then simmer for 10 minutes. The guava jam can be prepared ahead of time.

To make the Choux pastry: Put the butter, sugar, salt and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour in flour and stir quickly over low heat until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and beat in eggs one at a time until you obtain a smooth glossy paste.

Using a piping bag with a 1cm-diameter plain nozzle, pipe the Choux pastry in straight lines about 10cm long on to a greased baking tray. Bake in a 200C oven until crisp, around 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the guava cream filling. Whip the cream and then gently stir in the guava jam with a spatula.

Once the éclairs are out of the oven allow them to cool. Using a small knife make two slits in the side of each éclair (near each end). Pipe the guava cream slowly in to the slits. Alternatively, you may cut each éclair in half lengthways and then pipe the guava cream in to each éclair.

To make the topping: Melt the white chocolate and butter in the microwave. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthways, and scrape the seeds in to the melted white chocolate and butter mixture and stir. (Keep the vanilla pod to scent your sugar jar or to make some vanilla-scented olive oil.)

Drizzle the melted white chocolate mixture on to the éclairs and... voilà!

(Note the photo of the infamous guava blossom above, which my kind friend Vidya sourced and drove me to one sunny Saturday!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dark chocolate tarts with red dragonfruit and blueberries

My love affair with dragonfruit is only recent. The first few experiences years ago left me unimpressed - I thought at the time, not much flavour for such a flashy exterior! I then had the fortune to try the fruit straight off the cactus plant on which it grows, at an exotic fruit farm in northern NSW... and WOW! So sweet and with a delicate perfume that excites the senses. When it's good - it's really good! It's a beautiful fruit to look at, a deep bright magenta inside and out. There are also smaller yellow-skinned white-flesh varieties - these are super sweet. Although the fruit is perfect when eaten alone and doesn't require any accompaniment or embellishment, I wanted to take advantage of that beautiful colour... and what better than with a decadent dark chocolate tart?! The pastry is full of almost bitter dark organic cocoa and the filling a creamy rich dark chocolate. Sugar is used very sparingly in this recipe, the key is to exhibit the complex flavours of chocolate, the berries and the dragonfruit… perfect with an espresso!

A few notes on preparation. The dragonfruit does not come in the ball shape shown in the photo above! To create the balls I used a 1/8 teaspoon measure to scoop balls out of the dragonfruit - more on this in the method section below. For those of you that have never made sweet pastry, the key is to keep all of the ingredients very cold, including the flour. I learned this the hard way, after serving hard pastry to my poor unsuspecting guests a couple of times! :)

Makes 400g pastry, I made this into 4*7cm tarts and 1*23cm tart (there is enough pastry for 16*7cm tarts, if you have enough tins)

1 large red-skinned red-fleshed dragonfruit
1 punnet blueberries (about 150g)

150g flour
25g good quality dark cocoa
pinch of salt
75g butter, cold
40g icing sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly

200g soy cream (dairy cream is ok if you prefer it)
50mL soy milk (dairy milk is ok if you prefer it)
150g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
4Tbsp rapardura sugar (you may add more, depending on your taste!)
1 egg

To prepare the pastry, mix the flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Add the cold butter and rub with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Incorporate the icing sugar and then the egg. Knead gently for a minute and then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the small tart tins, take little apricot-sized pieces of dough and roll out.

Line each tart tin and carefully trim the excess pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Prick the bottom of each tart with a fork and then refrigerate the tarts until the oven has preheated, at least 15 minutes. Then blind-bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

While the pastry is baking, prepare the filling. Combine the cream, milk, sugar and chocolate in a saucepan and heat until the chocolate has melted through. Cool slightly then stir in the egg but avoid whisking as it creates air bubbles.

Once the tarts are out of the oven, fill each tart with the chocolate mixture.

Bake the tarts at a low temperature (50C) for 15 minutes or until set. While the pastry is baking, prepare the dragonfruit. Peel the skin off the dragonfruit (no need to use a knife, it peels off like a banana). Using a semi-spherical metal 1/8 teaspoon measure as if it were a melon-baller, scoop small balls out of the dragonfruit.

Arrange the blueberries and dragonfruit balls on the tarts and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Macadamia and wattleseed Baklava

Is there anything better than a dark Turkish/Bosnian coffee with a sickly-syrupy-sweet slice of Baklava and a mid-afternoon chat with a good friend?! Growing up I watched my mum prepare Baklava many times, and as soon as my brother and I were old enough, we would sit down as a family for a Bosnian coffee with baklava, and sometimes Turkish delight and tahini Halva. What wonderful memories! She used the more traditional walnut in her Baklava, and though it didn't require any changes, my love for experimentation has resulted in this Aussie version! Wattleseed, for those of you who may not have heard of it, is the seed of an Australian Acacia plant. It has a subtle flavour and aroma reminiscent of ground coffee and cocoa - a perfect addition to this dessert!

Makes 750g Baklava

200g ground macadamias
1 tsp ground and roasted wattleseed
3 Tbsp rapadura sugar
100g butter, melted until liquid
200g filo pastry

150g rapadura sugar
150mL water
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cardamom pods
1 Tbsp rose water
1/4 tsp orange flower water

Preheat oven to 180C. In a bowl combine the ground macadamias, wattleseed, and 3 Tbsp of sugar. Grease a small baking dish (mine is 25cm by 17cm). Place a couple of sheets of filo pastry in the baking dish, folding the edges in so it is the right size. Top with a little bit of butter and sprinkle with some macadamia mixture. Cover with another 2 sheets of filo pastry and press down gently. Repeat until all of the macadamia mixture is used up. Finish with 2 sheets of filo pastry. Press down firmly. With a sharp knife cut the baklava into pieces - vertical lines in one direction and 45 degree diagonal lines in the other. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the syrup. Place the sugar, water, lemon juice, cardamom pods and orange flower water in a saucepan and heat gently while stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Then increase the temperature and simmer for 10 minutes without stirring. Stir in the rose water and remove the cardamom pods. Keep syrup warm while waiting for baklava to finish baking. Once out of the oven, pour syrup evenly over the top of the baklava. Allow to cool before serving.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mole Poblano with crunchy avocado and mango salsa

Being a life-long chocolate addict, I still remember the sunny day a few years back when I discovered that you can eat it in a main meal. (What?! I don't have to wait for dessert anymore?! Fantastic!!) Since then we have had the pleasure of feasting on Mole Poblano many times and now I think I have the perfect accompaniment: crunchy avocado and mango salsa! Celery and red capsicum offer the crunch, while buttery avocado and sweet tropical mango taste divine with the nutty-spicy-chocolatey flavours of the mole.

Serves 3

Crunchy avocado and mango salsa
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small red capsicum (i.e. sweet pepper, for non-Aussies!), diced
1 large mango cheek, diced
1-2 shallots diced
1 avocado, diced
handful of coriander, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup

Mole Poblano
2 corn cobs, sliced in 5cm-thick rounds
1 sweet potato, large chunks
(Other veggies you have in your fridge may also be used, e.g. plantain, green beans, pumpkin...)

1 dried ancho chilli
1 dried pasilla chilli
1 dried mulatto chilli
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
30g goji berries (use raisins if you prefer)
30g almonds
30g peanuts
30g sesame seeds
3-4 handfuls corn chips, crushed (do this by hand straight in to the pan)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/2 tsp allspice
400ml vegetable stock
50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

Deseed chillies, tear in to small pieces, fry in 1/2 Tbsp peanut oil for a few minutes then transfer to a bowl. Cover chillies with boiling water and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes. While the chillies are soaking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Parboil the corn and sweet potato for 5 minutes then set aside. (Roasting the sweet potato will bring out a better flavour, if you have the time!) To prepare the salsa, mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Drain all but a little of the water from the chillies and blend to a puree in a small food processor.

Heat the remaining peanut oil in a frying pan. Fry the onion until softening slightly then add garlic, goji berries, peanuts, almonds, sesame seeds, corn chips, oregano, thyme and fry for a few more minutes until almonds are just starting to brown. Add the cinnamon, cloves, star anise and allspice and fry until fragrant. Add the chilli puree and vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with a hand held blender (warning: wear an apron!) or place in a food processor. Return to the heat and add the chocolate, stirring while it melts. Season to taste with salt and maybe a little sugar.

Add the corn and sweet potato chunks and simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve with brown rice.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone! :)

We have a new addition to our family! Suco joined us in December 2008. He is a gorgeous baby blue-fronted Amazon parrot. He hasn't had a chance to try guava yet but so far he is obssessed with mango, blueberries and green beans!

More recipes will be online soon. Watch this space during January for sorbet, a macadamia-studded dessert and more!