Saturday Night Treats (Part 1 of 3) … Skewered Prawns with Zataar, Cumin and Red Chilli

Saturday Night and everything sucks on TV. And then I’ve kinda hung up my dancing shoes for a bit (which is a seasonal thing with me. And NO that doesn’t mean I’m in the winter of my youth… 😉 Besides I have a friend staying over who says that she dances like a horse, and I’m sure she wasn’t referring to the ones you see at show jumping events, so I really wouldn’t have been able to drag her along. But I’m not complaining. It is wonderful having friends over. It gives me another reason to cook and receive a compliment at the end of it, which I’m certainly not averse to.

Now I wanted to enjoy my evening in every way and didn’t want to end up stuck in the kitchen all evening, so I prepped everything in advance and kept it simple, which left me free to chatter away, play a couple of hands of UNO, sip on some extra spicy Bloody Marys and listen to some music… Perfect!

Here’s a sneak peak at the menu… 😉

1. Skewered Prawns with Zataar, Cumin and Red Chilli served with a delicious dip.

2. Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia 

3. Potato Salad with Spring Onions, Cucumber, Roasted Walnuts and Celery (with a home-made dressing… which I also used as a dip for the prawns).

But putting all of these into one post may just be too much, so I split ’em up into three starting with…

The Skewered Prawns with Zataar, Cumin and Red Chilli…

You’ll need about 20 prawns (medium to large sized with their tails on)

2 teaspoons zataar

1level teaspoon freshly pounded cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

large pinch of salt

juice of 1/2 large lime

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons evoo (extra virgin olive oil)

Start by cleaning the prawns, or if you have pre-cleaned prawns make sure that the vein (aka the poop-chute) has been removed. Now some of the larger sized prawns have 2 veins, at the front and at the back, so make sure you get both of them out completely.

Wash the prawns well and drain them thoroughly, then pat them dry before marinading them in the zataar, cumin, chilli powder, honey, lime juice and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil marinade. Don’t add the salt in just yet.

Keep your prawns marinading in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (An hour should also be okay if you’re in a hurry, but I prefer to keep them marinading longer).

When you’re ready to cook the prawns, sprinkle on the salt and skewer the prawns onto wooden skewers that have been soaking in water (This will prevent the skewers from burning) and brush with some of the marinade to which you have added the balance tablespoon of olive oil.

I used my trusty grill pan to grill the prawns

Then piled them onto a platter and served them with a dip/dressing I made from my own home-made mayonnaise and hung yoghurt.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

Corn, Ricotta and Fenugreek Samosas with a Peanut, Mint and Coriander Chutney

Why isn’t it the weekend yet?

We all love weekends, don’t we? Except possibly…. and quite understandably so, harried mothers of quadruplets with ADHD or workaholics for whom the work week never ends anyway. For me, weekends usually mean that I can sit and watch a bunch of films on my laptop because the TV stations air crap, and who watches the news on weekends. Frankly I stopped watching the news a while back, even on weekdays. ‘Breaking News’ is only so for the first 15 minutes, after 2 hours it sort of moves into the ‘Stale News’ segment. Someone should educate our news channels about that… yeah, imagine the running bar saying, ‘Stale News… we broke it an hour ago, but we’ve got nothing else to run with. Sorry.’

I love weekends anyway. Perhaps this weekend I’ll watch ‘The Help’ yet again, though I’m really not so much of a chocolate pie person ;-). Thank heavens! And I’ll rest my back which I put out trying to dismantle a three-door cupboard. Almost done with the cupboard, but had to stop because after taking off the doors and the drawers and the drawer rails and lugging all of it about, my poor back yelled ENOUGH. So that was that.

But weekends also mean good food and cooking and/or baking and I can’t wait anymore for the food fiesta to start. So here’s my lead up to the weekend… Samosas.

Like every Indian worth her or his salt, I’m a sucker for a good samosa. Meat filled or vegetarian, there are so many different fillings you can put into them. They are truly the most versatile snack especially when eaten with a nice chutney. But then I caught a glimpse or my burgeoning hips and almost decided not to make them, when the penny dropped.

I could bake ’em instead of using the dreaded deep fryer.

So these are my delicious little baked triangles of corn, ricotta and fenugreek (aka Methi) served with a peanut, mint and coriander chutney (sort of like an Indian pesto without the olive oil).

I’ll admit I slacked up a bit here, because I didn’t make the pastry dough, and I won’t blame it on the bad back. Al-right, who am I kidding, I shall… there! The bad back meant using samosa wrappers that you’ll find in the freezer section of most supermarkets. So that cut out a huge chunk of the work on these because all you’ve got to do is boil the corn till just done (al dente for corn) and drain it before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Here’s a list of the ingredients –

I cup corn kernels

2 cups fenugreek (methi) leaves

3/4 cup ricotta

1/2 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds

1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds

1/2 red onion (minced)

2 green chillies

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil (for the filling) + 1 tablespoon (with 2 tablespoons melted butter) for brushing the samosas

Samosa wrappers (as required)

2 tablespoons flour and little water to make a paste to seal the samosas

Sauté the onion with the chillies and cumin in the olive oil, and add in the washed and drained fenugreek leaves. Use a salad spinner if you like to get all that water out of the leaves before you put them into the pan. Cover and cook for a minute till the leaves wilt, then add the pre-boiled corn, and the salt. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes, then remove the lid and cook till all the water in the pan (if any) has evaporated. Leave the veggie mix aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile get started on your chutney, for which you’ll need –

1/2 cup peanuts toasted and skinned

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/4 cup coriander

juice of 1/2 lime

1 green chilli

4 – 5 large pods of garlic ( I had really teensy weensy ones so I used about 10)

1/2″ piece of ginger

3 – 4 tablespoons of water (more if you want it thinner)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Pulse the ingredients in a food processor until you get the consistency you desire, adjusting the water content accordingly. Add an additional squeeze of lime juice over the chutney once done, mix and transfer into a bowl. Cover with cling wrap until required.

Back to the samosas –

You’ll need to thaw the pack of samosa wrappers completely and separate them. Meanwhile add the ricotta and sunflower seeds to the cooled corn and fenugreek and mix well. Take one wrapper and fold over one end to make a triangle, and fold that end again so that you get a cone pocket. Spoon in your filling being careful not to overfill. Then fold over so the pocket shuts and fold again. Finally for the last fold over you may need to put in some sort of edible adhesive like an egg wash or flour mixed with water which works really well for these. And voilà, your samosa is almost ready to be baked.

But wait, before you get all excited you’ve still got a whole lot of filling and the samosa wrappers to go through. So back to work.

(Some of the photos here are a bit blurred. I thought about leaving them out, but then they chronicle the process. So here they are, I suppose it was difficult multi-tasking or was it the darn painkillers…hmmmm???)

Clear at last! I suppose the painkiller wore off

And then there was a plateful…

Brush these beauties with a mix of butter and olive oil, and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 220° C for about 15 – 20 minutes or till they are nice and golden brown.

You may need to turn them once to ensure that you get even browning on both sides, but keep an eye on these babies coz you dont want them burning.

Get that chutney out, plate up, and what are you waiting for? … Dig in!

The doctor did say that I was supposed to eat with those painkillers. So, here’s my plateful.

All mine!...errr... Doctor's orders.

Oh n before I forget… have a great pre-weekend!

That’s the sun from my window this evening.

Now isn’t nature a beaut?… Damn! It’s them meds talkin’ again.