I have posted recipes from “Moro The Cookbook” by Sam and Sam Clarke before. After Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem”, this is one of my favourite collection of recipes from the Middle East. As the name “Moro” suggests, the recipes in this cookbook are a Spanish-Islamic fusion dating back to the Moors who came from Morocco and ruled the Iberian peninsula (Spain, Portugal, Andorra, parts of Southern France and Gibraltar) for nearly 700 years.
Given I am a vegetarian, I have probably not used this book to its full capacity but the vegetarian recipes such as Aubergine and red pepper salad with caramelised butter, Carrot and cumin salad with coriander and fatayer that I have tried so far have been spectacular. This recipe is another one of Sam & Sam’s vegetarian gems – the sweet tartness of the orange, the salty-oiliness of the olives and the crispy-gooey-saltiness of the grilled feta are a match made in heaven.
Semlor (singular : semla) is the Swedish name for these delectable little (OK my version was little) buns. I first saw them on a friend’s Fascebook page more than two years ago. Her Scandanavian partner had produced these around Easter time and from her pictures, they looked delicious. I remember reading at the time that the buns were full of cardamom and that’s all I needed to know. Buns with cardamom, almond and cream sounded like something that would be right up my alley.
All my semlor-related knowledge came from Wikipedia and from this page which is also the source of my recipe (s). Traditionally, these buns are meant to be eaten on Mardi-gras or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday – the day before the start of Lent. Apparently, in Sweden there are long queues at bakeries that specialise in making and selling semlor on Shrove Tuesday. Having made semlor once, I reckon they should be an all-year bun, not just Mardi-gras buns. Just make sure you don’t eat them like the old Swedish King Adolf Fredrik did. Fable says that he died after eating 14 servings of semla in hot milk.
With this post, I have provided links to the recipes I used and have demonstrated the methdolofy in pictures. Hope you find it useful and give it a try!
Whole cardamom pods in the background. In the foreground, from left to right (1) half-open pod (2) peels (3) seeds (4) ground cardamom
I think I will be disqualified from entering any Michelin star restaurants in the future for using the word “stylz” in my header. Soooo not on, but hopefully it conveys my excitement about having dined at a Michelin star restaurant for the very first time (possibly the last) in my/our life. ZOMG!
So, we were cruising through the Kentish countryside and a good friend had informed us of a “very affordable” Michelin star restaurant called “Apicius“. Apicius refers to a collection of Roman cooking recipes though the word “apicius” was a common phrase for the Roman “foodie” back in 4-5 A.D. Intrigued by their name and under £30 lunch fare, I found out where they were (Cranbrook, Kent), their number and decided to call and ask if they’d have a table for Sunday lunchtime. This was about 6pm on Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a table the following day. So began our Michelin dining adventure.
Did you know that the “Michelin Red Guide” which rates and lists all Michelin starred restaurants was an invention of the Michelin brothers of the Michelin tyre fame ?
Garam is the Hindi word for “hot” and Masala stands for “spice”. Despite that, Garam masala is not hot like chilli is but is a warming, beautifully aromatic mixture of spices such as cumin, cardamom and nutmeg.
“Curry powder” is a common thing one finds in the Western supermarket but one you wouldn’t find in an Indian grocery shop. Masalas on the other hand are a lot more familiar to the Indian ear and let me assure you that each of them is a unique blend of spices and is used to flavour only certain dishes. Of these, garam masala, is in my opinion the king of all masalas as it is really versatile and can bring life to the most boring of vegetables. You can cook it into a dal or sprinkle it on top of one, you can use it to flavour savoury lassi or the mashed potato filling that goes into a samosa , and to add flavour to the bean mixture that goes into vegetarian nachos – it’s uses are endless. Someone’s even written a page about the many avatars of garam masala.
I have given you the garam masala recipe from the book “How to Cook Indian” by my favourite chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I would highly recommend this book as would I it’s sister book “Mastering the Art of Indian Cuisine”. The garam masala recipe itself is really simple once you’ve assembled the raw ingredients. Being quite a strong flavouring, you only need to use a tiny amout to flavour any dish and so it lasts a fair while in a cool dry place in your pantry.
Hope you try making it and come up with new ways of using it!