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Envi ene bon ti salade melanz? While the average Mauritian is not a huge fruit eater, he/she will hardly ever say no to a freshly prepared fruit salad topped with tamarind sauce and disel pima/ chili salt. A colourful meli-melo of tropical fruits including mangoes and pineapple, our traditional fruit salad is not a homemade entity but derives its popularity from the road side sellers who usually extend their fares to markets and beaches on Sundays and holidays.

It will not be an uncommon sight if you come across one today on our crowded public beaches, which are always so on the eve and the day of a public holiday. And as we are celebrating our Independence Day today, there is, I’m sure, no better occasion to do a post on something we can proudly call as our ‘national’ salad. As the official celebrations unfold this afternoon in Champ de Mars in the attendance of eminent personalities, many will undoubtedly gather in more informal surroundings with the same feeling of being fier d’etre mauricien/ proud to be a Mauritian.

MAURITIAN FRUIT SALAD

Ingredients:

2 semi ripe mangoes

1 medium pineapple

1 small cucumber

10 jamalacs/ love apples

1 carambole/ star fruit

2-3 dried red chilies

1 teaspoon kitchen salt

3 tablespoons tamarind

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Method:

  • Peel mangoes, pineapple and cucumber. Cut each fruit into bite size pieces or chop into thick slices.

  • Cut the jamalacs into halves and slice the carambole thinly. Place all chopped fruit in a large bowl.

  • Crush the dried chilies and salt together in a grinder or in a mortar until it turns into a fine powder.

  • Remove any seeds from the tamarind and soak the pulp in 2 tablespoons warm water for 5 minutes.

  • Combine the tamarind pulp with 1 tablespoon of chili powder. Add more water and grind together.

  • It should form a sauce of slow dripping consistency. Toss this dressing over the bowl of fruit salad.

  • Mix till well combined and leave to stand at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.

  • Top with extra tamarind and serve in plastic cups along with extra salt and chili powder. Serves 4.

Mauritian Fruit Salad

The habit of making lazy lunches on weekdays is kinda setting in. Pasta salad is one such dish I keep repeating if I can’t be bothered to cook something more elaborate. Plus they are really forgiving; throw in anything you feel like in a bowl of cooked pasta. Season & toss and you have an instant meal that you’ll wolf down just as fast.

For salads, short or decorative shaped pasta is best. Macaroni, farfalle, penne rigate and coquillage are good options. In this post I’m using Panzani‘s cute spiral shaped torti.  It’s the only brand of pasta I’ve ever used and gives pretty consistent results.

You should definitely top it with some grated parmesan if you love cheese [like me]. The family is not fond of anything that smells of cooked cheese so I tend to keep those recipes for days when I’m home alone. Not that I mind 😉

PASTA SALAD

  

Ingredients:

3 cups uncooked pasta

1 cup chicken, diced

2 medium carrots

1 handful french beans

1/4 cup sweet corn kernel, drained

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 red onion, diced

2 large eggs

12 large prawns, deveined

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

Method:

  • Prepare chicken by rubbing it in a mixture of salt, pepper, sweet paprika and lemon juice. Let it stand for about 1 hour.
  • Dice carrot into 1/2 cm cubes and chop french beans into slivers. Stir fry french beans over low heat until tender.

 

  • You can also cook them along with the carrots if you dnt like your veggies raw. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Cook chicken in a large pan in its own steam for abt 30 mins.

  

  • Next fry the eggs and cut them into strips. Stir fry prawns.
  • Bring water to boil in large pan. Throw in pasta and 2tsp salt.
  • Cook over medium heat until al dente for about 5-7 minutes.

 

  • Drain and toss with 1 tbs oil and 1 tbs dark mushroom sauce.
  • In a large bowl mix all the ingredients and season with salt & pepper.  Garnish with spring onion and serve right away.

 

For the rich buttery pound cake below, I halved the recipe from my food processor cookbook and added some tutti fruitti instead of raisins. You might notice that they barely show up on the pics as I only had half of what the recipe calls for. I served half of it for afternoon tea and saved the rest for guests who were to show up later that afternoon. Hmm, it could well have been a cake of halves!

TUTTI FRUITI CAKE

  

Ingredients:

125g unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 2/3 cup cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 pinch salt

75 ml milk

100g tutti fruiti

 

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 oC. Grease and line a 7×3 inch loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat to a fluffy consistency.

 

  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.
  • Carefully fold dry ingredients into egg mixture with a spatula alternating with milk till well combined but do not overmix.
  • Stir in tutti fruiti before you spoon batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 40 mins until skewer comes out clean from centre.
  • Cool completely and dust with icing sugar if desired.

Note: The drink featured on the Tutti Fruiti cake pics is a mug of Vico’s 3 in 1 cereal drink with oat, soya and malt.

I’ve been lazy lately. Well, not in the kitchen. It’s just that I did not feel like blogging after a weekend of cooking and baking. I dunno how those working mothers manage to write at the end of a long tiring day. I cannot quite picture myself there :S

Tuna salad is my staple lunch when I’m home alone. It  is a one-bowl recipe that can be whipped up in minutes. You can have it on its own or along with fresh baguette or sandwiched between slices of your favorite bread for a light picnic meal.

SIMPLE TUNA SALAD

Ingredients:

1 can [185g] Tuna Solid in Oil or Brine

1 large red onion, diced

1 large tomato, seeds removed and diced

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1-2 tbs fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

2 tbs sweet corn kernel or chopped baby corn

2 tbs fresh pineapple, diced

Green olives, optional

Method:

  • Drain tuna well and place in a large clean bowl.
  • Add all other ingredients. You can add/delete/substitute ingredients according to taste & availability.
  • Combine with tuna until evenly distributed.
  • Toss lightly with 1-2 tsp of  light mayonnaise and 1/8 tsp pepper/paprika or any salad dressing of your choice.
  • You dnt need to add salt/oil as the tuna will provide all this.
  • Makes a good filling for sandwich breads. Serves 2.

I’ve been wanting to make yogurt at home for days. The price tag on store bought individually packaged cups is very off-putting. These days I find the Panier de Yoplait shooting upto Rs98.89 😦 That kinda encourages me to make my own. The advantages, other than saving a few rupees, are many:

1. You can pick any flavour you fancy other than what you see on the shelves. You can experiment with fruits, spices and extracts to personalise your creation. Dnt be over-enthusiatic though!

2. You can always change your mind and stop the yogurt-making proces at the point that suits you. If you cnt stand the long hours of waiting for your yogurt to set, you can always give it a strong stir and turn it into thick refreshing lassi.

3. Homemade yoghurt tastes great and is free from the harmful unhealthy preservatives and sweetening agents used in the industrially processed ones. Health benefits relate to improved digestion and make it a choice ingredient in ayurvedic medicine.

4. If you dnt use all of it, you can always refrigerate the amount left or use it in cakes and desserts. You can use it to replace milk, buttermilk or sour cream and expect a fluffy texture.

5. If you are of the environment-conscious type, you’ll be happy to hear that homemade yogurt cuts down pollution by eliminating the use of those many plastic containers.

And lastly you’ll have the satisfaction of making it from scratch. The main ingredient here is a tbs of patience, a cup of patience and a whole lot of patience. My yogurt got converted into lassi, largely owing to the family’s impatience but I wnt complain. There can be no better drink that a cool mildly flavoured lassi to end a meal.

A brief about this refreshing Indian milk-based drink before coming to the actual recipe. Lassi is famous throughout India especially the northen state of Punjab as you often get to see in Indian movies. It is served in tall copper or pewter glasses with a dollop of desi ghee or clotted cream. A salted version also exists.

LASSI – INDIAN MILKSHAKE

Ingredients:

6 cups milk

1 cup plain unsweetened yogurt

2 tbs sugar

2-3 tsp almond paste

Few strands of saffron

Pistachios, for garnish

Method:

  • Place milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan under low heat and stir regularly until it starts frothing. You can do this in a double boiler to prevent milk from burning.
  • Remove from heat and cool for a minute. Pour into a large container with a well fitting lid.
  • Dump yogurt into hot milk and stir lightly. This starter yogurt contains the bacteria that will cause the rest of the milk to curdle.
  • For lassi, you can use the mixture after 2-3 hours of setting time. It will be thick and runny with the lower portion slightly wobbly. Stir vigorously to combine solids with milk and chill.
  • Before serving, stir in sugar, saffron and almond paste. Sprinkle with pistachios or nuts of your choice. You can flavour with fresh fruit purée like mango or strawberry.
  • To make yogurt, close container and leave indisturbed in a warm place for at least 6 hours or overnight. Once it appears to have set, move to refrigerator and store till ready for use.
  • Keep some aside as starter for another batch. You can safely store it in a clean container for about a week.

The starter yogurt reminds me of my high school chemistry classes. Sulphuric acid manufactured by from sulphuric acid 🙂

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