explorer, educator, creator and communicator
culinary: pertaining to kitchen or cookery [f. L culina kitchen]I cannot remember a time when I have not been interested in food. As a young child I delighted in poring over the pictures in my mother’s cookbook and by age thirteen I was regularly cooking family meals. My fascination with food and cookery was undeniably rooted in greed as I liked to eat —a lot. I did not let the ‘sinful’ origins of my curiosity deter me though. I have allowed my culinary instinct and curiosity to guide me throughout my life and it has taken me deeply into another culture ; fostered many friendships; inspired me to write; and given me an incredible education.
In the past I have worked in restaurants waiting tables, managing staff and sampling desserts and drinks; trained as a professional cook; run a canteen, a food cooperative and café and a catering business; fed artists and firefighters; and cooked many many meals for friends.
I currently teach people to cook and work with them to develop a holistic understanding of how culture, politics and economics impact our relationship with food and understand how food marketing often misinforms us; run culinary workshops; speak at events; and create fabulous meals and food adventures for small groups. I am also the author of several books about food history, culture and travel and am currently working on a book about my Anglo-Celtic culinary heritage. I write two blogs: Eating India and Writing Food, the occasional article and review and develop recipes.
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Malabar Coast fish kofte with coconut sauce
500g white fish fillets
½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp white vinegar
3 shallots, grated or minced
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp dried coconut
the zest of one lime
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
I red onion, grated
1 tsp white poppy seeds ground to a paste*
½ cup yoghurt
½ cup thick coconut milk
fresh coriander leaves
vegetable oil for cooking
To make the kofte
Cut the fish into chunks. Mix the turmeric and vinegar with a little salt. Marinate the fish in the vinegar mix for 30 minutes.
Drain the fish and process it in a food processor with all the remaining ingredients. Do this on the pulse setting as you want the fish to retain some texture; it should come away from the sides of the processor jug and form a large ball (just as dough does)
Shape into golf-ball size balls gently between the palms of your hands and then slightly flatten them so that are more disc like.
Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
You can choose to gently shallow fry or steam the kofte. Set aside when cooked.
To make the sauce
Mix the garlic and ginger pastes with a little water to make a paste.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wok or a heavy based pan over a medium-high heat. When hot add the cumin seeds and allow them to ‘pop’ then mix in the onion and stir until it softens a little. Mix in the garlic and ginger and the poppy seed paste and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and then the yoghurt and stir for 1 minute.
Stir in the coconut milk. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the sauce for 10 minutes. Stir the butter into the sauce.
Just before serving slide the kofte into the sauce and allow to warm through. Serve garnished with fresh coriander leaves.
* White poppy seeds are available from some Indian grocery stores and can be difficult to find. If you can’t get any please do not substitute black poppy seeds – these are not the same thing and they make the sauce look like black sludge. The best substitute is raw cashews or blanched almonds.