Well, I’ve been busy cooking up a storm in the kitchen this morning as part of my experiment in using up random kitchen cupboard items. I decided I’d have a go at using up some of the semolina and try the Indian semolina cake recipe Christine suggested. It’s by Anjum Anand who had a great TV show last year on Indian cooking, and it’s a pretty good store cupboard recipe really because it just uses semolina, yoghurt, water, spices and whatever vegetables you might have to hand. Although if you don’t have them in your spice rack admittedly you’d probably have to go and buy mustard and cumin seeds, or substitute something else instead. Luckily we had some already, but we didn’t have any sesame seeds so I substituted poppy seeds.
It’s very easy to make too – you just combine the semolina, yoghurt, water and vegetables into a batter, fry up the seeds in some oil and add that to the batter and some bicarbonate of soda, and then stick the whole lot in a little loaf tin and whack it in the oven. No problem! Although after I’d put it in to bake I suddenly realised the bicarb was past its sell by date – er… January 2007! – and so I was a bit worried in case it wouldn’t work properly, but it didn’t seem to be a problem. The cake was great – it’s a bit like a really big, light onion bhaji. Very tasty!
While I was waiting for the Indian semolina cake to bake, I decided to try out making nettle tea. I’d noticed some fresh nettles cheekily growing in one of our flower beds yesterday and have been meaning to try nettle tea for years. Apparently you have to pick the young leaves as the older leaves can be bitter. Being a coward, I used a pair of rubber gloves to pick them and a pair of scissors as recommended in the recipe, but my heart sank when I realised there was a big slit in them along one of the fingers! Fortunately I managed to pick them unscathed. It didn’t say in the recipe how many you needed, so I just picked a random bunch and put them in a pan on the stove, covered them with water and boiled them until the water went green. A guy from Essex & Suffolk Water showed up in the middle of it all to read the water meter and must have thought I was mad, but didn’t bat an eyelid.
I have to admit I was half expecting the nettle tea to sting me, which is silly given you drain the nettles from it before you drink it and boiling them neutralises the sting anyway. But I was pleasantly surprised. It had quite a mild flavour, not unlike a light green tea, and I was quite happy to drink it without sugar or lemon. Apparently lemon turns it a pink colour, which is a bit weird! Am quite tempted now to try them sautèd with potatoes to see what they taste like. DJ has suggested we go on a major nettle foraging trip so we can make nettle beer, which I think is a great idea. Still got half a bag of semolina left, though, so might make some shortbread and give it to a friend when I go and visit. That way I don’t necessarily have to eat it as I’m still watching my weight!