Friday, 27 April 2012
Beauty is only skin deep
They say if you wait patiently the perfect one will come along eventually. I was lucky enough to find the perfect baking blog already a while ago, and I've mentioned it several times in previous posts. This is of course the brilliant Kinuskikissa. Last week, I also found the perfect food blog, Kauhaa ja rakkautta (this is a Finnish pun on the saying rauhaa ja rakkautta which means peace and love, whereas kauha means ladle so it translates roughly to ladle and love). Usually, when browsing blogs you get one or two ideas from each, but then pretty much ignore the rest. For these two, I want to cook every single recipe. I can't choose. I browse the blogs for hours, and am starting to feel like I know all recipes by heart. I guess when you find the right one, you just know it in your heart. As an additional bonus, I found an old blog by the same person who writes Kauhaa ja rakkautta, which will keep me drooling long after I tried every recipe in Kauhaa ja rakkautta.
Why do I keep raving on about these Finnish blogs? Maybe I should read some blogs from other countries as well? I do. There are so many great food blogs out there. But like I said, the ones mentioned above just feel different. I'm not sure why that is though. Many, if not most of the recipes in the blogs are not traditional Finnish, but a mix of many different places around the world. But they have been chosen by someone who shares the food culture with me, so maybe they have picked recipes that are particularly well suited for the Finnish palate. Maybe it's easier to imagine how things taste when they are made of ingredients I'm familiar with ever since my childhood (especially true for baking, there are several ingredients I need to have imported from back home if I want to bake something a bit out of the ordinary). I'll probably keep returning to this point every time I cook something using Finnish, imported ingredients. I don't think I am homesick much (apart from missing my family and friends of course) and I don't think the UK is a bad place to live or that the selection of food in the grocery stores would be poor. Not at all, I have discovered many new flavours and ingredients here. But at the end of the day, I love to return to the Finnish food blogs, and often end up cooking things from them, with minor or major modifications.
This little dish is quite simple, but don't let that fool you. It's also not the prettiest dish, but don't let that put you off either. It's quick and easy, and only requires a few minutes of hands on time. It makes a lovely meal on it's own, or as the side for chicken, fish or meat. It has a wonderful, warm flavour to it. As an added bonus, your kitchen will have the lovely scent of coconut milk which feels both exotic and comforting at the same time. The link to the original recipe is here.
Sweet potato and lentil stew (serves 2 or 3):
3-4 garlic cloves
a few cm of ginger root
1 tsp virgin coconut oil
1 large sweet potato (about 200g)
2 large tomatoes
120 g dried green lentils
400 ml coconut milk
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp black pepper
Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger root. Dice sweet potato and tomatoes. Cook the onion, garlic and ginger root in the oil for a few minutes, add tomatoes and sweet potato, and cook another couple of minutes. Add lentils, coconut milk, juice from the lime and the spices. Cook slowly until the lentils are done, but make sure not to overcook so that the lentils stay chewy. If the stew gets too thick, add water, if it's too runny, cook without a lid for the last 15 minutes or so.
According to my estimates, one serving (half of the recipe above) contains approximately 480 kcal (27g fat, 50g carbs, 11g protein). When it comes to coconut milk, I'm going against my principle of never buying reduced fat products and always go for the reduced fat one as I can't justify the extra calories. I need to get over that, I'm sure the full fat coconut milk tastes much better and the extra calories are nothing compared to the hundreds I ingested in the form of cake, fudge and Belgian waffles over the weekend...
Like I said earlier, don't let the simplicity of this dish fool you. Or the fact that it looks a bit... green. It tastes lovely, the sweet potato and sweetness of the coconut milk go together perfectly, and cooking it all in coconut oil brings the whole coconuttiness to new level. I really recommend making this from green lentils, as red ones would get overcooked and gooey. If you only have red lentils, make sure to add them later, after already cooking the stew for a while as they usually only need 10 minutes or even less. The red lentils would make a more aesthetically pleasing choice, though. But for me, the most important thing is flavour, not looks.