Thursday, 14 October 2010

Herbs 'n Spices

I cooked tonight, with Herbs 'n Spices.  For the last couple of weeks I've been cooking most nights.  This is 'Major News'.  It has been a while since I have been so domesticated.  Glenn doesn't really complain about my non-domesticity.  He hints.

There was a period of time - a couple of years back - where Glenn supported me wholeheartedly in my slide into wanton abandonment of the kitchen stove.  He would tell everyone that I spent the last 25 years cooking for him and the kids, so I deserve a break.

I guess he didn't figure it would be such a long and almost complete break.
He has high hopes, I believe, that this is a turning point....
No comment.

I didn't do gourmet tonight.  Actually, I never do gourmet - there are plenty of restaurants in Riyadh for that.  I will, however, text my friend the lovely Miss R and tell her the soup she made for me the other day and told me the very simple recipe for, went down a treat.  And we had fried bread on the side.  Yummm.  Sometimes I get a hankering for fried bread and tonight was one of those times.

Our very interesting topic of discussion tonight was initiated by Glenn's enthusiasm for the soup -

Hubster: What have you put in this?  It's great! It's a herb or something.

Wife: It's a spice.

Hubster: It's ginger or.....(slurp)....this is really good.

Wife: It's turmeric and chicken stock.

Then followed a discussion that would totally bore the pants off, and probably disappoint, real cooks or anyone of intelligence.  Is turmeric a spice?  What's it made from?  What's the difference between a herb and a spice anyway?

Riveting stuff.
And all questions I will have to look up the answers for on Google.
There is a lot of stuff stored in my grey matter, but the section on Middle Eastern and Asian food and it's flavorings is extremely limited.

I admit that my use of herbs and spices has broadened since moving to this region.
My cupboard has a decent, though totally disorganized, range - well, for me anyway.
My cupboard - organised culinary chaos
I also admit that, up until recently, the different smells emanating from almost every corner of this Saudi Arabian city used to annoy the heck out of me.  They're fine if you're from Asian and Middle Eastern countries, or there abouts, because well, I'm guessing they'd be familiar.  But for a Kiwi from Kaeo....they made me cringe just a little and pine for home and the smell of fish 'n chips, boil up, pork roast and decent coffee.

I'm proud to say that, not only in my palate acclimatizing to the flavours, but working to broaden my culinary horizons is a deliberate act.

Currently a strange green vegetable wrapped in cellophane is residing in my frig.  While out shopping I decided to be adventurous, so bought something I'd never eaten before.  I've looked up a recipe on the net and will cook this vegetable, probably on Friday.  (Can't do it tonight 'cos we're going to the NZ Embassy for a Quizz Night and they have awesome food). 

Green vege, lower shelf, front.
It sounds ridiculous but I haven't had the courage to remove the cellophane to see what lies within.  I can tell you the word on the outside says Mullokhiya. 

According to sources on the net, which I have not referenced....
'Molokheya is also known as Tossa Jute (Corchorus olitorius).  It is an Afro-Arabian variety of Jute and a member of the Mallow Plant family (Tiliacea family). It is quite popular for its leaves that are used as an ingredient in a slimy Arabian potherb soup. It is consumed mainly in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and to some extent in Jordan.
In the sub Indian continent (specially Bangladesh) the stems of Jute (Tossa Jute and white Jute) are used to produce fibres to make ropes and fabrics for different uses'.
It all sounds very interesting.
Maybe I should get R to show me how to cook this too?

Will let you know how the Mulukhiya turns out.  From all accounts, herbs and spices are required.

Ka Kite,

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