Archive for 30 January 2009

Burmese curry and experimental cheesecake

This morning my partner gave me a fabulous surprise by doing our weekly fruit & veg shop at the local markets – and I was super-excited when he walked through the door with a green papaya.

One thought consumed me: green papaya salad.

We’re not having it for dinner tonight [our hankering for gourmet hotdogs was too great] but I will make it this weekend. Details to appear in a future post.

Wednesday night. My brother was a very welcome and last-minute dinner guest. I was already making amah-nah, a Burmese meat curry modified from the recipe I learned through my old housemate. If he’s reading this, I hope he’s not too horrified to learn of my additions.

I have attached a link to some background info on Burmese food here.

Recipe #6: Amah-nah. Meat curry. Serves 4.

You will need:
• 2 garlic cloves [big ones = more garlification!], finely chopped
• a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
• 1 tsp (heaped) fenugreek seeds, roughly crushed
• 600g diced steak
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp (heaped) paprika powder
• 1 tsp chilli powder
• 5 teaspoons fish sauce
• 1 onion
• cooking oil
• ½ teaspoon shrimp paste [ngapi or belachan]
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 2 large potatoes, diced
• 1½ teaspoons garam masala

A cup of chicken stock may also be needed if the potatoes break up too much – their starch will thicken the sauce.

Massage the meat with the garlic, ginger, fenugreek, chilli, turmeric, paprika and fish sauce and leave in a covered bowl for at least half an hour. Puree the onion in a blender with a little oil then mix it with the meat. Cook the meat in a saucepan [I also put a little sesame oil in the bottom of the saucepan] over a low heat until it is just tender, then add the tomatoes and potatoes. When the tomatoes have reduced, stir in the shrimp paste. If needed, stir in the chicken stock, then the garam masala. Cook for a few more minutes, making sure the potatoes are soft, then turn off the heat. Let the curry sit for 15 minutes before serving.

You can leave the fenugreek seeds out for a more authentic result. I am putting fenugreek in just about everything savoury at the moment, as it is a known galactalogue (aids breastmilk production).

This curry is best topped with balachaung (a mix of fried garlic & shallots, chilli, shrimp paste & dried shrimps – you can buy it in oriental supermarkets). Serve with sides of saffron rice, salted cucumber, pappadums and natural yoghurt.

Now to dessert.

Ok, so my cheesecake wasn’t incredibly experimental. I had a decent benchmark to use in Hannah Miles’ Blueberry & Lemon Cheesecake. My version turned out so fabulously that I was considering serving it to my dinner party guests on Saturday night…but now we are so cheesecaked out that I think a mousse is in order.

Recipe #7: Berrilicious cheesecake. Serves 6.

First thing’s first. Here’s what the finished product looked like:

For the filling, I whipped together: 250g mascarpone; 125g creme fraiche; 250g cream cheese; juice of 2 limes; 3 heaped dessert spoonfuls of pure icing sugar; 1 heaped dessert spoonful of caster sugar [if you hadn't guessed, I don't own a tablespoon measure]. Next time, I will zest one of the limes and add that to the mix.

In terms of a base, I had already saved up a heap of cooked biscuit dough ends for cheesecake purposes. I bashed these in a sealed plastic bag with a rolling pin, then mixed them with 50g melted butter. It would be equally easy to use ~half a packet of premade biscuits – and I would suggest either oatmeal or shortbread cookies for this recipe.

To make the topping, I macerated about 300g of raspberries by mixing them with about 100g pure icing sugar and leaving them to liquefy while we ate dinner. Fresh or frozen raspberries work just as well – just thaw the frozen ones slightly before using. You could actually use any berries you want. I was going to use strawberries, but mine were mouldy by the time I got to them…

To assemble the finished product, divide the base evenly amongst 6 standard-sized (not too big!) old-fashioned glasses and press it in roughly. Spoon in the filling, trying to keep soft peaks. By leaving the filling a little unfinished, you provide little crevices for the raspberry mix to cascade into. Place the glasses in the fridge until you are ready to serve, spooning the liquefied raspberries over the cheesecakes at the last minute. Yum.


Addendum of 10 February 2010:
I’ve made a few amah-nahs since posting Recipe #7 and my favourite flavour combination now includes three cardamom pods that have been bashed with a mortar & pestle (add these near the start), no fenugreek and no potatoes.

I make a sweet-savoury rice to accompany the curry, which involves saffron, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon and cranberries – recipe to follow in a later post.

H :)

30 January 2009 at 12:25pm Leave a comment


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