Posts Tagged ‘Raan’

A Happy Holiday (Christmas)

December 18, 2016

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With the issue of a school in Queensland not toeing the Christian line, I thought it best to use both forms; A Happy Holiday and a Happy Christmas.
http://theaimn.com/you-better-watch-out/

Christmas (without snow) is almost here. Yesterday we bought the pavlova and, as is now an Oosterman tradition, we will be roasting the Indian Raan dish. The lamb will be marinated for a couple of days in the yoghurt and lemon mixture with the usual spice of garam masala which includes cinnamon, cloves, chilies and whatever I feel like chucking in. I rarely measure quantities which gives an uncertain and exciting edge to the end dish. Sometimes it bombs but at other times it will surpass even our wildest culinary imaginings. A good Raan in the middle of a hot Australian Christmas is to be applauded and revered. It is really the true spirit of Christmas. It used to be possible to buy a large shoulder of hogget or an ageing sheep. Not anymore. It is all lamb now. A hogget is to be preferred for slow roasting.

But I am straying.

You know how it is! We used to walk with our dog Milo past a house which has a large window reaching to the floor. Very often it showed an old man reading and three small dogs all seated on a variety of cushions. The man and his book on a recliner chair. A charming and intimate picture. Milo would run up to the house and the man and his three small dogs, framed in this large window, would all be aroused by Milo’s short burst of furious barking. The three little dogs did likewise. It would just last a second or so and Milo would dart back to us. It was a little tradition without fail each time. The man would laugh and we would wave to him. It was a neighbourly bit of fun. Then, without warning, the dogs and this man were gone.

The grass at the front of the house is now overgrown and the man’s car hasn’t moved. The curtain, that was never used before is now drawn across the large window. We are not sure what has happened. Milo still expects a return of the fun, but it hasn’t. He looks disappointed each time we pass the house. It has been at least a month since the last barking and waving-back exchange. I hope things are alright and it will all come back, but that’s not a given! Sometimes things don’t return to what was. No matter how one wishes.

Another strange thing which doesn’t bode well is that the chickens on the other side of our fence have stopped cackling. Worse, the door of the pen is open. I suggested to Helvi that perhaps the owner has died. ‘It is more likely that the chickens have died’, Helvi said. I responded, ‘only three days ago they were full on after having laid eggs. The chickens were cackling like mad,’ I added. The owner of the chickens is also an old man. His name is Harley. He has a wooden sign ‘Harley Davidson’ screwed on the outside wall of his veranda. Perhaps he used to ride a Harley bike. I will ask him next time I see him.

Harley always dresses in neat long sleeved shirts and wears jeans. A reserved man with a good sense of humour. He loves his dogs. They are a very large Bernese, and a lively small Jack Russell. Harley also does the gardening, feeds his chickens and reap the eggs. All of these would be combined each afternoon with Harley sauntering around his garden while sipping a glass of white wine and puffing a cigarette, overlooking his domain. A picture of a contented man. No doubt his wife would not have him smoking inside. That’s how it has gone now. I hardly ever see the wife, but she is there. Harley and I sometimes talk a bit and each time he would shake my hand.

I do hope to see him soon and look forward to wish him a Merry Christmas.

I also wish all of you, dear followers and friends, a Happy Christmas AND a Happy Holiday.

The magnificent Raan Curry for Christmas beckons

December 9, 2013

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If the Turkey for Christmas is getting a bit hackneyed and the ham has soured, consider the Raan dish. I won’t bother with giving you the exact details in grams ounces or kilos. Try and create your own Raan by just imagining tasting the combination of the different herbs, spices and ingredients.

You know that if you put in a kilo of salt the dish is likely to be very salty. Cooking is very much anticipating how things will taste by mixing and imagining the taste of the mixed ingredients before cooking. The religious following of recipes with the book propped up against the kitchen whisk is never going to be a surprise. Not as a failed dish nor of a basking in the glory of an unimaginable masterpiece, hailed by Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and all your guests for years to come. Take the risk!

So, here we go. The bulk of this dish is mutton or at least a large leg of sheep. You need a well aged leg not a lamb leg although that is permissible as well. This dish is Northern India and as you travel up further north, the Indian cuisine starts to be less chilli hot and becomes more infused with the sweetness of yoghurt and dried fruit, raisins, currants etc. of the Northern regions.

The secret of this dish is that the leg of mutton is allowed to cure or ‘cook’ for about three days in the fridge by the acidity of the marinade. The marinade has to be enough to cover the meat. Voila, you need plenty of good quality yoghurt, the juice of about 4 lemons about 200 grams of raisons and currants, a tablespoon of turmeric, a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, about 4 red-hot chillies, some cloves and about two teaspoons of cardamom, salt and sugar.

Mix the marinade in a mixer and let stand for about one hour, mix again. In the meantime pierce the leg and insert cloves of garlic. Good juicy garlic and not the cheap Chinese tasteless carton stuff. Poor the marinade over the lamb in a dish large enough to hold the leg.

Put in the fridge and leave for about two to three days occasionally turning the meat.
Then… as the excitement mounts…pre-heat oven to 200c and cook the lamb for about 30 minutes. Turn heat to 160c and cook 45 minutes for every kilo of the meat. It is cooked when the meat falls off the bone. When it does. Turn off the oven. Boil basmati rice.

I was amazed some years ago when we had Japanese students living in our house they were using an electric rice cooker. When I told them I thought the Japanese had invented boiling rice, they smiled politely but they never tried my system. She said, oh no… too risky! Can you believe it?
Here is how to boil rice; Just cover the rice with one finger digit of water on top of the rice and bring quickly to boil without the lid on. When water is disappearing and holes appear in the rice, put on the lid and turn the gas off. Wait for about twenty minutes and the rice should be dry crumbly and cooked. Perfect

Now, this is the important bit… Break the lamb into bite size chunks, put on the plate with the rice and pour some of the marinade over the lot. Some chutney or cucumber with yoghurt as a side dish compliments the dinner. Have it with chilled water with lime slices floating on top. Don’t muck around with wine. It spoils it. Have it afterwards.
Enjoy and let me know the results.