Saturday, August 25, 2012

Crab Soup with Leek

This is one more of "end of market recipes." What can you pick out at the market near the end of the day, and still turn into something edible. Kind of a challenge that you put yourself in utilizing whatever odd and ends that would surely have got wasted next day.

Picked out these crab legs. While the crabs were still fresh, the fact that most of them had broken their claws fighting surely meant that they would have gone out with the trash the next day. Since I am still not confident on cleaning whole crabs, I somehow managed to convince the counter guy just to sell me the legs. Here's the recipe for a light fragrant soup with crabs legs and leek. Lovely for those rainy evenings when you are soaked to the bone.

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  • Crab legs- 8oo gm
  • Leek- 400 gm, chopped
  • Onion- 1 large, chopped
  • Ginger- 1/2 inch shredded
  • Garlic- 3 cloves, shredded
  • Turmeric- 2 tsp
  • Red Chilli powder- 1 tsp
  • Pepper- 1/2 tsp
  • Salt- To taste

Preparation (Cooking time 1.5 hrs):

Clean crab legs in fresh warm water. Crack them lightly. Boil with turmeric, chilli powder, salt for 1 hour. Add in chopped leek, onions, garlic, ginger and pepper.

Simmer for 1/2 an hour on low flame. Serve hot.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Aubergines stuffed with cheese, bacon and 'methi'

Quiz time: Identify what possible concoction can you make with the ingredients shown below? And how does a single guy end up with these esoteric ingredients for dinner on a weekend?

Had gone to the supermarket to buy eggs, and the smallest package was 30 eggs. Since that didn't make sense and I was short of loose change, I picked up three small aubergines and a discounted bottle of grated cheese. All for OMR 1.7. Having solved the first problem (which always leads to a bigger one), I was raking my brains on what to do with them and the stuff I had back home.

So here it is a new brinjal/ eggplant/ aubergine bake. With all due apologies to all the grand dining places whosoever served me Parmigiana/ Moussaka or the lovely Karniyak from Hachi Baba from Istanbul. Just to set the record straight and preempt future libel from anyone who has done any of these three recipes, "I, declare that this recipe is my sole creation and bears no resemblance or relation to any of the above mentioned, or not mentioned, eggplant recipes (living or dead), cooked, served, dreamed of and enjoyed by anyone anywhere. Any resemblance is purely coincidental."

Ingredients (Serves 1- Very hungry and tired bachelor on weekend):

  • Baby aubergines- Three small, tender.
  • Cheese- As much as required/ possible; I used a dry mix of Romano, Parmesan and Asiago as that was the only one on discount.
  • Dried bacon flakes- 1 tbsp
  • Fenugreek/ Methi- 2 tsp dried leaves
  • Butter- 1.5 tsp
  • Chilli flakes- As hot as you want it.
  • Olive oil for basting
  • Salt- To taste

Preparation (Pre-bake time- 10 mins, Baking- 5 mins)


Hollow out the eggplants with a small knife. Keep the pulp separate.

Add salt, butter, bacon, cheese, chili flakes and fenugreek (methi leaves) leaves to the mix. And lightly fry in a skillet till the ingredients blend in.

Baste the eggplant shells with olive oil/ butter and stuff with the pre-cooked bacon and cheese mix. Seal the top off with a little extra cheese to trap in the juices.

Pop into microwave and cook at 600 C/ Medium for five minutes. Serve hot as hors d'evours or for dinner to a hungry guy on a weekend.

And ready for dinner.


  • Being as cheesy as it is would suggest serving this with a tzatziki or even a simple side dish of yogurt and shredded cucumbers and unleavened bread.

Spaghetti with bacon

Being the Eid break, have had more time on my hands to try out new things. This going to be a quick one. One of those dishes that you throw around in a jiffy if you have a small group to feed. Takes less than 20 minutes and can be thrown together with the bare minimum of hassles with easy to buy and store ingredients.

 Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Spaghetti- 200 gm
  • Tomato Mozarella sauce- 100 gm (In absence of tomato mozzarella sauce  you just any ready made salsa and throw in a handful of shredded mozzarella
  • Pepper- 1/s tsp coarsely grated
  • Garlic- 3 medium cloves, chopped
  • Bacon- 3 small rashers, minced (You can substitute with 3 tbsp of dried bacon as I did)
  • Fresh Basil- 4-5 leaves
  • Olive Oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Salt- To taste

Preparation (Cooking time 25 mins):

Boil pasta with salt and water in microwave on high heat setting for 10 minutes. Add in everything else except basil leaves and microwave on high for 10 minutes more. You will know your pasta is done from the rich crust formed.

Leave it to stew in own juices for 10 minutes. I find that this way the pasta absorbs the sauce better and is real succulent. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.


  •  Leaving pasta to soak in the sauce for five-ten minutes before serving really makes it open up and become more succulent. Added advantage being that you are left with no extra sauce to dry out at risk of burning the dish.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paella de Marisco (Seafood Paella)

An eternal favourite. Sea food lover, spicy food. Spanish cooking, just homemade comfort food, or for the dinner date you want to impress with your cooking skills (mind you keeping a bottle of wine comes in handy if you hope to keep the evening going).

Been planning to put up my own take on this for quite some time, and today finally did it. Kind of a celebratory Eid lunch with one of my best mates from school- That's him as the sou-chef in the pictures.

Interesting trivia- The Catalan word 'palella'  is derived from the Latin root- 'Patella' which means pan- just like the old Hindi word, "Patila".

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Great thing about living in Oman, you end up getting the freshest sea food you can imagine,. The Fish market at the Corniche in Muscat is a foodie's delight.

Rice (Arroz)- 2 cups, preferably brown; suggested that you soak rice overnight for faster cooking.
Tomato- 5 ripe medium sized
Octopus/ Squid- 300 gm, chopped small
Shrimp- 300 gm
Mussels- 200 gm, shelled
Fresh clams- 500 gm, cleaned in shell
Garlic- 6 medium sized cloves, shredded
Red chilli- 6 large, dried
Pepper- 2 tsp peppercorns
Chilli powder- 2 tsp
Bay leafs- 5 large
Olive Oil- 5 tbsp
Chicken/ fish stock- 1/2 cup (Not a strict requirement, but does add flavour to rice).
Salt- To taste

Preparation (Approx 1.5 hrs):

Clean clams and boil them on a medium flame for 5 mins. Chop tomatoes finely. Puree in blender to a fine slush.

Fresh clams- almost right off the boat


Remove clams and replace with chopped octopus for 10 mins. Remove and preserve stock for later. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil on medium flame. Add shrimps, once they start  getting soft stir in the mussels. Cook on low flame for five mins. Remove shrimps and mussels from fire, throw in the garlic. Lower flame and keep stirring till garlic turns translucent. 

Add in tomato puree. Keep on medium flame for ten minutes. Add rice, chicken stock, cover and cook for twenty minutes. Add chopped octopus along with 1 tbsp olive oil. Adding oil at this juncture, helps trap the flavour of the octopus in the broth rather than let it escape with the steam.

Cook on low flame so that the rice can absorb the flavours from the other ingredients. Keep the mixture flowing easily, if required add the stock from the clam and  octopus. After about twenty minutes add in the shrimp, mussels and clams. Add pepper, bay leaves, chilli powder, remaining olive oil.
Voila! And we are all ready to go.

 Cover and let it simmer for ten minutes on a low flame. Serve hot.

  • As I mentioned earlier a bottle of wine adds something to it. My current favourite- Rioja Tinto from Spain. Else you could always take it easy with 'clara' (more about  this in the upcoming blog on easy-on-the-fly cocktails), a glass or two of 'Sangria' or even sparkling water.
  • If you are really out to make the kill, suggest keeping a good CD on hand. Might I suggest flamenco. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Baked pranws in tomato/ coconut rum sauce

The genesis of this idea is from a fish dish I had at a Sri Lankan friend's place for dinner. With all due apologies to him, this one has nothing common with the lovely fish he served except the use of a coconut liqueur to marinate.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Prawns-  400 gm medium size; de-viened, shelled
  • Tomato puree- 1 cup
  • Garlic- 4 cloves; finely chopped
  • Pepper corns- 2 tsp; coarsely crushed
  • Butter- 2 tbsp
  • Vinegar- 3 tbsp
  • Coconut rum- 4 tbsp (I used Malibu, better would be if you could find vinegar made from coconut arrack)
  • Red Chilli's- 2 large (coarsely crushed)
  • Salt- To taste

Preparation ( Marination overnight + 30 mins cooking time):

Clean prawns, add half the chopped garlic, 2 tbsp rum, vinegar, salt, half the chilli flakes and half the pepper. Cover dish with foil and let it marinate overnight.

In an oven proof dish, add the tomato puree, remaining, chilli, pepper, garlic and the prawns. Add salt to taste. Bake in oven at 220 C for 30 mins. Fold in the butter, and the remaining into the prawns,  and leave in the still warm oven for 5 mins.

Finally. In background you can see my laptop as I am updating this blog entry
Serve hot with with rice or unleavened bread. The coconut rum/ vinegar gives a normally garlicky dish a mellowed earthy taste. Bon appetite.


Great for wintery days where the tomato base warms your tum. If you want, by adding an additional cup of tomato puree and using smaller prawns you could convert this into a ready soup.