Monday, September 26, 2011

Grilled Halloumi and Turkish Fig salad with Persian Pomegranates

A beautiful salad to welcome Fall. A perfect flavor balance with salty grilled haloumi, sweet Turkish figs and tangy Persian pomegranates and a splash of fresh lemon.

Haloumi is a goat's milk cheese from Cyprus and is very versatile as it holds its texture on the grill to a beautiful golden brown.  Other similar textured cheeses are Akawi and Baladi which are also popular all over the Middle East.

Figs (Anjeer)are native to Asia Minor and popular all over the world. In hot climates it is a common fruit and adds an exotic value tag in colder countries. Wasps help pollinate figs.The four types of figs are:

Capri or wild figs -  Produces succulent fruits.

Smyrna figs- The light brown fruits have a distinctive nutty flavor.

Mission figs- Also known as common figs are a deep purple black outside and red inside. It has a rather coarse texture with a sweet taste.

San Pedro figs- Is a lesser know variety and has an intermediate flavor between Smyrna and Mission.

Pomegranate (Anar) is native to Persia current day Iran where it grows wild. The bright red seeds are a rich source of Iron. It is used predominantly as a souring agent. Pomegranate Molasses is used in Fatoush salad and in Indian food Anar dhana (Pomegranate seed) powder acts as a souring agent in curries and kebabs.

Grenadine syrup is made from pomegranate which is used in many beverage, adds a bright red color and a distinctive taste.


Haloumi cheese - 100g sliced 1/2 inch thick
Turkish figs - 2 each
pomegranate - 1/2 a fruit
lemon juice -50ml
olive oil - 150ml
salt, black pepper and sugar- to taste


Grill the sliced haloumi on a hot grill till it gets a golden brown color.(1-2 minutes)
Wash, pat dry and slice figs into wedges.


In a mixing bowl place the lemon juice, salt, freshly crushed pepper and sugar and start whisking until it dissolves.

Start adding the olive oil in a steady stream and keep whisking until it forms an emulsion. Check seasoning. Add the pomegranate seeds and whisk for a minute. The color will turn to a beautiful pale pink and as it macerates it will take a dark hue.  Drizzle generously over the grilled halomi and figs and Voila!
Enjoy with a glass of  Australian Shriaz or Rioja Reserva...

Other serving Ideas
Haloumi and Sunchoke bruchetta

Fig and vanilla marmalade on rye bread

Sweet pomegranate raita or just sprinkled on Tadiq (Crisp saffron rice from Iran)

Happy Autumn!
Bonne Appetite

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kozhi Vartha Kari - Kerala style Cornish Hen

A perfect time of the year for this rustic and simple curry from God's Own Country. Kerala's life line the North East Monsoon is coming to an end. Inviting Mahabali to every ones home with an extravagant Sadhya of 16 or more healthful vegetarian dishes laid out on bright green banana leaves during Onam Festival next week.

Kozhi Vartha Kari translates to "Fried Chicken Curry". When I read about the recipe on
Chef K.N Vinod's note my mouth was watering and was determined to try the recipe on my day off. I told my butcher Salim to give me baby chicken legs and invited a few of my friends to share the meal.


Baby Chicken or Cornish Hen- 1kg

Whole Spices
bay leaf- 1 no (Dried)
cassia or cinnamon - 1 inch bark
star anise- 3-4 florets
cloves- 4-5 pieces
green caradamom- 5-6 pieces
black cardamom - 2 pieces

Spice Powders
turmeric- 1 tbsp
red chili- 2 tbsp
coriander - 3tbsp

vegetable - 3 tsp
yogurt- 3tbsp
red onion (small dices)- 3 medium sized
curry leaves
ginger (julienne)- 1 medium piece
garlic- 3-4 pods
Salt- to taste


1. Remove the skin of the chicken and wash it with running cold water. Place it on a paper towel and pat dry.

2. Heat a pan over slow flame and add the powdered spices and toast it moving it constantly with a spatula 2 to 3 minutes till the flavors come out add a few drops of oil and cook for another couple of minutes. This helps to bring out the flavor of the spices.

3.Transfer the spices to the bowl of chicken add dollops of yogurt, a few curry leaves and some salt and mix well. Allow it to marinate for an hour in the refrigerator.

4.In a pan (Kerala style Uruli or kadai) heat vegetable oil and put the whole spices starting from cinnamon, green cardamom,black cardamom, cloves, star anise, bay leaves and allow it to bloom for a few minutes over medium flame, the cumin and saute.

5. Add the ginger julienne and sliced garlic and continue cooking till the turn a slight golden brown and add the red onions continue cooking till it turns a deep golden brown.( a pinch of salt as it helps the onions to cook faster)

6. Continue adding the curry leaves and the marinated chicken and cook over a medium high flame, cover it with a lid and continue cooking till the Chicken is soft and tender. Check for salt and serve hot with soft Kallu Appams (Rice crepes fermented with toddy (Coconut or palm liquor) and fresh grated coconut added in the batter) or Flaky Malabari Parathas.

A glass of Viognier or Shriaz would be a perfect pair.

Happy Cooking!!!
Happy Onam!


You could find Chef Vinod's Recipe and interesting information about Curry leaves and Cardamom from food writers who have been a great source of inspiration to me.

Chef KN Vinod

Ammini Aunty's

Monica Bhide's