Taste Tease

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve done a post. I just started a new job and have been training all week! Plus, I don’t have regular internet access anymore. Once I get my new work schedule sorted out, I’ll be posting regularly again.

I just wanted to share a few snapshots of some of the meals Dan and I have made recently. I’ll be posting recipes (and hopefully better pictures) in the near future, so stay tuned!

We’ve been making Pierogi by the boatload! So good. SO good. IMG_20160131_221732674

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We’ve also made Texas Chili with smoked peppers. SPICY but delicious!IMG_20160131_221741591

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Here’s a picture of the best Chicken Bacon Cheddar Jalapeno Ranch Burger I’ve ever had. We used chicken thighs instead of white meat and we ate it with an awesome creamy coleslaw. IMG_20160204_214205444

Last but not least, Dan bought Ahi tuna steaks again and made me this gourmet salad! (He ate a tuna burger that looked fantastic.) IMG_20160206_011443311

Keep an eye out for recipes and another Taste the World post soon!

Hawaiian Yellowfin Poke

Oooooh man… If you ever get your hands on some really good fresh tuna, don’t be afraid – eat it raw! Sushi, Sashimi, Poke – three delicious ways to eat raw fish. Dan and I made our own awesome version of Hawaiian Poke – super easy and no cooking (wink wink) involved.

If you get fresh tuna and absolutely have to cook it, please try to keep it on the rare/medium rare side of done. Overcooked tuna is a sad thing.

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However, if you think you’re up for it – go the raw route!  Poke can be served with rice, salad, cucumbers, sprouts, or anything else you come up with. We ate ours with additional dipping sauces (soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil/hot sauce), pickled ginger, bean sprouts, and wasabi paste. (We, of course, used Black Market Hot Sauce for this recipe – Chili Garlic Lime to be precise.)

There are so many different recipes for poke – look at a few and come up with your own combination!

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This recipe would be a S if you follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

Hawaiian Yellowfin Poke

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb sashimi grade tuna
  • 2-4 green onions – thinly sliced
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro – chopped
  • 1/8-1/4 c toasted sesame oil (sesame oil can be over powering so start with the smaller amount and ad more if desired)
  • 1/4 c dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 T hot sauce
  • 2 T sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. With a sharp knife, dice tuna into 1/4 inch cubes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and hot sauce. Taste and adjust flavors to your preference.
  3. Add tuna and remaining ingredients to marinade.
  4. Cover and let marinade in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Can also be eaten immediately.)

Enjoy!

 

 

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Taste the World – South Korea

So uh….we jumped ahead in our journey. Because, well, Dan was craving Korean short ribs. I’m pretty sure Korean short ribs are at the top of Dan’s “Favorite Meals” list so I was more than willing to skip half the alphabet in order to make him happy.Capture2
Along with the ribs we also made spicy Korean kidney beans aaaand kimchi!! Oh. My. Word. I think I’m in love. Fresh kimchi is possibly the best thing ever. I’ll definitely be making it again, and soon.
All of the dishes were pretty easy to make, albeit somewhat time-consuming. Although the recipe looks complicated, the kimchi was much easier than I expected. We followed this video and recipe from Maangchi – a talented Korean chef who was very enjoyable to watch. I can’t wait to see what other videos she’s put together!
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Once again, our photography skills are lacking nonexistent. Hang in there! Some day we’ll figure this out.
Speaking of pictures, you may notice a hot dog in one of them. Dan and I will put anything and everything on a hot dog, and if it’s spicy or pickled – so much the better.  Naturally, we had to make a kimchi dog. Totally worth how stuffed we were after eating so much food. I’ll write a post in the near future focusing on hot dogs and all of the crazy and delicious combinations we’ve discovered!
I’m not entirely sure how authentic the spicy kidney beans are to traditional Korean cuisine. Regardless – they were a tasty, easy side dish.
There are so many Korean dishes that we still want to try – we’ll most likely post at least once more about South Korea. We’ll also do a post about North Korean cuisine. Although the dishes and flavors are very similar between the two countries, I’ve read that North Korean dishes are generally less spicy and often utilize seafood, broths, and noodles. Capture4
For those of you in the know – what is the one Korean dish we HAVE to try?
 

Korean Short Ribs

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients
  • 5 lbs Korean style beef short ribs
  • 1 c brown sugar, packed (alternative sweetener and 1 T molasses can also be used)
  • 1 c soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar
  • 1 medium onion – finely diced
  • 1/4 c fresh minced garlic
  • 1-2 T minced fresh ginger
  • 2 T toasted Sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs Thai basil – minced
  • 6 Serrano peppers – minced, optional
  • 3-4 green onions – thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Let it sit until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add short ribs and marinade to a large zip lock bag (remove most of the air before sealing).
  3. Turn bag over a few times to coat ribs evenly with marinade.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. When you are ready to cook the ribs, preheat a grill or a cast iron pan to high heat.
  6. Drain off excess marinade.
  7. Cook ribs 3-4 minutes on each side, turning once.
  8. Garnish with sliced green onions.

Enjoy!

Notes:

  1. When looking for short ribs – try to buy the thinnest, widest, and leanest ribs available. (The ribs will still have some fat, which is good, but many of the ribs for sale have excessive amounts.)
  2. Serrano peppers are optional, the longer the ribs marinade – the spicier they will be.

 

For our beans we used a Soyaki marinade I found at Trader Joe’s. This replaced the sugar, soy sauce, water, and some of the ginger and garlic.

Spicy Korean Kidney Beans

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 standard size can red kidney beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 T ketchup
  • 3 T brown sugar (alternative sweetener and a dollop of molasses could also be used)
  • 3 T soy sauce or Braggs Aminos
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1-2 T garlic – minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger – minced
  • 1-2 green onions – thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat.
  3. Cook until sauce has reduced slightly.

Serve as a side dish or over rice. Garnish with green onions.

Don’t forget to check out Maangchi’s recipe for Kimchi which can be found here: http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/tongbaechu-kimchi

 

Taste the World – Albania

Whew! I really struggled trying to write this post. It seems that all of my creativity has disappeared. The food this week was delicious, comforting, and challenging. My co-chef was attractive and entertaining. And yet – my brain is only stringing together boring sentences. For your sake, I’ll try to make this fast.
     Our Taste the World experiment took us to Albania this week. We actually spent several days on this country because we made two meals instead of one. The first meal consisted of Tav Ma Presh (a leek casserole), which we ate with smashed new potatoes and a common Albanian tomato and cucumber salad. The second meal required the majority of an afternoon to prepare because we just had to make Flija – a traditional dish with it’s own celebratory day!
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Tav Ma Presh is primarily made of leeks, along with some red peppers and minced lamb, beef, or chicken. It’s a hearty comfort food that reminds me of Shepherds Pie without the mashed potatoes. A lot of the recipes we looked at actually suggested serving it with mashed potatoes or just as a side dish for another meal. We tweaked the traditional recipe to utilize what we had on hand (ground beef and baby potatoes), and we both loved the result! We also wanted a tiny bit of spice so we added a few red jalapeños to our dish. You’ll find our recipe for this and the other dishes below.
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The cucumber and tomato salad was pretty basic but the addition of green onions and lemon juice made it a refreshing contrast against the rich and fatty Tav Ma Presh.
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Our attempt at making Flija was not entirely successful, but it was an interesting challenge nonetheless. March 18th in Albania is Flija Day and families invite their friends and relatives over for the day to prepare and eat Flija! A whole day for one dish? Flija takes at least three hours to prepare.
     Flija is a many layered “cake” made with a simple pancake-like batter that is baked in layers and brushed with a thin, creamy, yogurt batter. The finished dish can be eaten with either savory or sweet toppings. Flija is traditionally made outside, near an open fire. A large metal lid called a sac is placed over the fire and hot coals are piled on top to maintain the temperature. The sac is used to bake each layer of the Flija as it sits near the fire. The process is kind of difficult to explain clearly – I recommend watch one of the following videos to see how it is made traditionally.
 
To make our Flija, we had to improvise. We used my deep cast iron pan and baked each layer under the broiler in my oven. Mistakes #1 and #2. We also played with the recipe a little bit and combined several recipes that we found. Mistake #3. None of the recipes specified whether or not the pan should be preheated – so I preheated. Mistake #4.
     The bottom layers of our dish were burnt and crispy – a result of preheating and (I think) using cast iron. All of the edges were over cooked and each layer was denser and chewier than I think they were supposed to be – a result of being in a hot oven for 3 hours and the recipe we used.
Still – we were able to taste the potential in the edible parts of our dish. We’ll be keeping an eye out for a suitable pan and lid to attempt this dish again the traditional way. I’ve included our recipe below because I’m not entirely convinced the recipe was the problem. I’ve also included a few links to a few basic recipes in case you suddenly have an afternoon free and the desire to stand next to a fire or oven for most of the day!
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On to the recipes!

Tav Ma Presh

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 3-5 large leeks, green parts removed and cut into approximately 1/2 in. diagonal slices
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 T tomato sauce
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 2-3 red jalapenos – sliced
  • beef stock
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium high heat and sauté leeks until soft.
  3. Place leeks in a baking dish.
  4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the frying pan and cook the onions and the ground beef.
  5. Add the tomato sauce, red peppers, salt and pepper to taste and enough beef stock to cover everything. Bring to a boil.
  6. Pour the meat mixture over the leeks and bake for 1 hour at 375.

Serve as a side dish or with choice of potatoes.

 

 

Smashed New Potatoes

  • Servings: variable
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients 

  • baby potatoes – 6-12 per person
  • olive oil
  • salt
Instructions 
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lay potatoes on an oven safe pan and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to coat evenly.
  3. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
  4. Roast in oven for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. (Can also be cooked longer until skins start to get crispy.)
  5. Remove from oven and smash each potato with a fork.
  6. Pile potatoes on a platter and serve.

 

 

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Citrus Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients  

  • 3-4 large tomatoes – medium diced
  • 1 large English cucumber – quartered and diced
  • small bunch green onions – thinly sliced
  • 1-2 T good olive oil
  • 1-2 T lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Taste and adjust lemon juice and seasoning as needed.

 

 

Flija

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: experienced
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Ingredients 

  • 5 eggs
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 3 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 – 8 oz package cream cheese – softened
  • 2-3 T butter – melted
  • 1 c plain yogurt
  • water – as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Combine first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Consistency should be similar to a thin pancake batter. (Batter #1)
  3. Combine last four ingredients in a separate medium bowl. Add enough water to reach a very thin consistency. (Batter #2)
  4. Using a squeeze bottle or a spoon, spread a thin layer of batter #1 on the bottom of the pan as a base.
  5. Place pan under broiler until batter is cooked and starting to brown in spots. Remove from oven and spread a thin layer of batter #2 as the second layer.
  6. In a “star” pattern, add a layer of batter #1.
  7. Bake again.
  8. Repeat these two layers, alternating the star pattern so that the “cake” slowly grows evenly, until pan is full or batter runs out.
Serve with jam, cheese, spicy vegetables, or other choice of topping.
I’ve included a few “in progress” photos to help illustrate the recipe.
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Have you been to Albania? What was your favorite dish?

Satisfying Salmon and Kale

At this time of year, all I want to do is hibernate and drink copious amounts of creamy coffee. Christmas and New Years are past and the cold has officially set in here in the NW. Instead of embracing the grumpy bear persona – I should be taking brisk walks and eating delicious healthy fats and life-giving leafy greens.

Ha ha! Let’s not get too crazy now. One step at a time. Food first, walk later…maybe.

So the real question is: What’s for dinner? Answer: Baked salmon and wilted kale!                 Stay with me. It tastes better than it sounds.          Bake some salmon. Rip up some greens and add a little flavor. Enjoy! It really is that easy.

Wild salmon and kale are both considered super foods! Together they are full of iron, calcium, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, and vitamins D, B12, B6, B3, K, A, and C. I’m not even mentioning all of the other crazy nutrients salmon and kale contain.

I love salmon because it is just so satisfying and filling. And I love kale because I’m a little weird and I like the strong, deep, green flavor it has. I also like the fact that kale doesn’t disintegrate and get slimy the way spinach does when it’s cooked for longer than a minute.

20151231_175230This dish is so simple it doesn’t really need a recipe, but I’ll give you one anyway. This is a perfect deep S meal if you follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

But first, a few notes from my inner food/health nerd. Some vitamins, including A and K, are fat-soluble – meaning our bodies rely on the presence of fat to properly absorb them. Iron can only be properly absorbed when paired with vitamin C (found in vinegar), and calcium requires vitamin D (found in salmon). When you compare the nutrients found in these two super foods – you find a match made in heaven. You can find links to more detailed explanations at the bottom of the post.

Now the recipe!

Baked Salmon with Wilted Kale

  • Servings: 1+
  • Time: 20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • salmon filet
  • fresh kale – 1-2 large leaves per person
  • salted butter
  • vinegar of choice (flavored, rice wine, apple cider, etc.)
  • toasted sesame oil
  • Braggs Aminos or soy sauce

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Place salmon (skin side down) in an oven safe pan and dot generously with butter. Bake for 15 minutes or until the flesh flakes apart easily with a fork. Remove from oven. While salmon is baking, prepare the kale. Begin by washing thoroughly and shaking off excess water. Remove the tough center core from each leaf and cut or rip remaining greens into large bit size pieces. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat and toss in kale pieces. Stir to heat evenly and continue to cook until kale is slightly wilted. A couple of tablespoons of water can be added if necessary to prevent sticking and burning. Pile wilted kale on a plate and drizzle with a few splashes each of vinegar, sesame oil and aminos. Top with a serving of salmon and enjoy!

Reference Links

The Healthiest Way to Eat Kale

Salmon Nutrients

Nutrient Absorption of Spinach (sharing because it’s similar to kale)

Do you have a favorite way to eat salmon or kale? I’d love to find some new ways to enjoy these super foods!

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Shirataki Noodle Stir Fry with Over Easy Egg

Dinner last night was easy, fast, cheap and delicious. My favorite kind of meal! This dish is extremely versatile and only requires one key ingredient – Shirataki noodles! Never heard of them? Me either, until I started following the Trim Healthy Mama Plan a few years ago.

Shirataki noodles are pretty much miracle noodles!

  • Gluten free
  • Dairy free
  • Grain free
  • Zero carbs
  • Zero fat
  • Zero everything

Sounds to good to be true. Shirataki noodles (also known as Konjac/Yam/Glucomannan noodles) are traditional Japanese noodles made primarily from glucumannan, which is a water soluble fiber. Water soluble fiber =  I know what you’re thinking – zero everything means zero flavor too, right? That is true, but it also means they will take on any flavor you choose to give them!

I see a lot of recipes that recommend using Shirataki noodles in Italian style dishes. I prefer to use them primarily in Asian style dishes, since that’s where they originated. So, dinner last night was an Asian noodle stir fry with an over-easy egg on top! I didn’t have any meat in the fridge and I had very few vegetables – so I improvised! Zucchini, onion, dried seaweed, Shirataki noodles, a few sauces, and an egg. Together – a very cheap and satisfying meal.

The key to enjoying these noodles depends on how you cook them.

  1. Rinse
  2. Boil
  3. Dry roast

These three steps are important. When you open a package of Shirataki noodles, they have a strong fishy smell. This smell will disappear in the rinsing/boiling process.

Nearly any kind of meat or vegetable can be added to this dish. Be creative! Just cut everything small and consider cooking the meat separately and adding it at the end. I think a fried egg is a nice addition (and it was my only protein), but you can choose to use a different protein source instead.

As written – this recipe is an S if you are following the THM plan.

*Shameless advertisement warning* I used my boyfriend’s Chili Garlic Lime Hot Sauce for this recipe!

Here’s my recipe for Asian noodle stir fry – Enjoy!konjacnoodleswithfriedegg

Shirataki Noodle Stir Fry with Over Easy Egg

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15-20 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1(70z) package Shirataki Noodles
  • 1 medium zucchini – diced small
  • 1/2 onion – diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger – minced
  • Braggs Aminos or soy sauce
  • butter or coconut oil for frying
  • toasted sesame oil
  • Asian style hot sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional) 1 Tbsp dried seaweed – soaked

Instructions

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  2. Rinse Shirataki noodles in a colander under cold water for at least 1 full minute.
  3. Add noodles to boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. While noodles are boiling, preheat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat (do not add any oil or fat).
  5. Drain noodles well and add to frying pan. Dry roast for several minutes  until noodles are visibly dry and “squeak” when  stirred.
  6. Move noodles aside so there is space in the middle of the pan. Add a few tablespoons of butter or coconut oil to the center of the pan.
  7. Add diced onions and ginger and saute for a few minutes, until the color starts to change.
  8. Add a few more teaspoons of oil if needed and add the diced zucchini. Continue to saute and then stir to combine all ingredients.
  9. Add several splashes of Braggs Aminos and hot sauce and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  10. Drain seaweed and add to pan. Stir to combine and remove pan from heat.

To fry an over easy egg:

  1. Preheat a small frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add a small amount of butter or coconut oil and melt.
  3. Crack an egg gently into the pan and cook until the egg whites are opaque and the egg moves freely in the pan.
  4. Carefully flip the egg over and remove from the heat.

Serve stir fry with a drizzle of sesame oil and a few extra drops of hot sauce. Top with the fried egg. Enjoy!

 

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Taste The World – Afghanistan

Here begins the grand adventure we have undertaken. Cook a meal from every country in the world. I know this isn’t a new idea, but we are very excited! Let me introduce a special guy…my boyfriend Dan! He is the owner of Black Market Hot Sauce Company as well as a top-notch cook at a cool little local restaurant. We obviously both love food. We’re also both pretty bad at geography. The solution? Cook a meal from every country and learn a little about each country, and hopefully it’s location, in the process! (Don’t tell anyone but, we’re mostly just excited about the whole trying-new-food thing.)

I feel the need to apologize here for the photo quality. Hopefully it will slowly start improving. I learned today that my man has a knack for getting a decent picture in horrible lighting!

Why start with Afghanistan? Uh…’cause we’re so creative that we decided to start alphabetically. Next up – Albania.

The food we made today was amazing! Afghanistan was the perfect country to start with (how convenient). Even after researching recipes, I didn’t really have a good idea of the unique flavors and dishes contained in Afghan cuisine. I know the two dishes we made did not even begin to scratch the surface.

20160105_152331Dumplings, mint, meaty tomato sauce, yogurt, cilantro, sour dried plums, turmeric, spiced chicken, onions, ginger, garlic. On and on. So many flavors contained in two dishes; and everything tasted fantastic together!

It was a little challenging to find good recipes for Afghan dishes. Some were impossible to follow, some were overly vague, others sounded like they could have originated from any middle eastern or Asian country. In the end we decided to take several recipes for one dish and combine them. I’m hoping we didn’t step on any toes in the process. Regardless, the final dish was delicious!

We made chicken korma and mantu (dumplings) as well as attempted to make naan. I say attempted to make naan because ours turned out less like a soft flat bread and more like a crusty round loaf.

Word to the wise – if you decide to make these recipes, you will be dicing a lot of onions.20160105_152635The combination of yogurt, spices, lime juice, plums, and ginger in the korma was unexpected and completely different from any other curry dish I’ve had before. It was slightly spicy as well as tangy, savory, and sweet. This dish was great with our naan bread and it would have been perfect served with a rice dish. You can find our recipe for chicken korma at the bottom of the post.IMG_20160105_185320695The mantu were surprising simple and well worth the extra time it took to put them together. The filling was simply onions and spiced meat. They were served with a meaty tomato sauce and a garlicky yogurt sauce and garnished with mint. The flavor combination of mint, yogurt, tomato and onions was my favorite part of the whole meal! Mantu are generally made for special occasions in Afghanistan because of the extra time they require. We followed this recipe from Lucky Peach. We used a combination rice cooker/slow cooker to steam our dumplings but other cooking methods (including boiling) would work just fine.IMG_20160105_185305570No Afghan meal would be complete without tea. I’m sure I made it incorrectly but I made a simple chai tea with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and green tea. It was very light and aromatic. All in all, our first meal in this experiment was a huge success!

Chicken Korma

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 10 dried sour plums
  • 1 whole chicken or 3-4 chicken leg quarters, cut into smaller pieces
  • 2-3 T oil or fat, for frying
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1-2 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 Anaheim chilies, thinly sliced
  • 3-5 red jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Soak dried plums in water for about 1 hour.
  2. Heat oil to medium high in a deep frying pan or stock pot.
  3. Brown chicken pieces in hot oil.
  4. Remove chicken when browned and add onions, garlic and ginger.
  5. Saute onion mixture for a few minutes until the color starts to change.
  6. Drain plums and add all remaining ingredients to frying pan, stir to combine.
  7. Return chicken to pan. If needed, add enough water or cream to prevent burning.
  8. Cook on low heat for about an hour or until chicken comes off the bone easily.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve family style with a garnish of cilantro and lime wedges.

 

I would love to hear from anyone with experience in Afghan cooking and food!