Stollen : German in my Dubai Kitchen

It was last year in December that I heard about stolen on Dubai one, I was in sri lanka at that time doing my masters in sugar flower and cake decorating from Knightsbridge university UK. It was a busy time with sugar flower making for the exams and taking care of a 3 month old baby. I heard the word stollen and was wondering if that an ingredient but I dint have the time to browse the internet and find out the meaning. It’s been a year since then and only a week ago I came across some posts and images of stolen, it’s the winter season and seems like stolen is a good that’s famous in December. They call the Christmas season but I call it the winter season. So finally I goggled for stolen and went through the Wikipedia which gave a brief detail on what’s stolen and where it originated. I learnt that stolen originated from Germany and is kind of a fruit loaf but it’s special and is not called a fruit loaf because of it marzipan centre. This bread is made with less sugar but dusted with excess amount of powdered sugar to give it that festive look and sweet taste. The marzipan also acts as a sweetener in the stolen.

Trying out a German recipe was really interesting and according to me if you can’t travel around the world you need to cook international cuisines. Talking about international cuisines, I believe international cuisines means atleast one dish from one country. Once I went for an international buffet and was very disappointed to find just a few selections of dishes which were mostly from the eastern part of this world and not even a sushi for it to be worth having on a sailing boat. Don’t you readers agree with me?

So I decided my blog needs an international touch while my taste buds were craving to experience different flavors from around the world and in no way am going to get to travel around the world to taste the traditional food of different countries so I cook and bake different recipes. This stollen is said to be a traditional German good especially done during the Christmas season and I here that some bakeries have started getting orders for stollen as early as November so you know how the good is on demand now let me explain how it tastes and the role each ingredient used played a role in my cooking life.

As I went through the recipe on my big book of baking the ingredients were very interesting. The dried fruits and peels were some of which I am familiar or had on my pantry while a few I had to substitute and adjust to make sure I had the perfect stollen from German. The spices used on the stollen were also were readily available on my pantry. The cinnamon powder and cardamon pods which I later pound and used the inside were some I have tasted and used on my cakes and desserts. One spice I have never tasted or used on a sweet dish was nutmeg powder, yes, I never even imagined of using it. I was so reluctant to use it though I was generous to use the said quantity amidst doubts if the nutmeg will taste good on a dessert or cake. So only way to find out if it’s good or bad is by trying it, that’s what my hubby always mentions every time I say something. So I take it as an encouragement and try different things. One other ingredient that was mentioned was dark rum. We don’t use those or consume them in any form so I had to substitute it with my favorite malt drink the one and only Bavaria pineapple flavor. The moment I poured it on my dry fruit mixture I heard the sizzle of the malt drink. This malt drink works wonders on substituting for alcohol.

So finally my dough was ready and I popped it into my oven in a couple of hours. The moment it was done I could not wait but glaze it with butter and powdered sugar. As soon as it was done I sliced it and started eating a few slices. Trust me the fear of how the nutmeg would taste vanished the moment is saw my final product the snowy looking loaf standing on my kitchen top with the winter breeze squeezing itself through my window making the atmosphere wonderful with the aroma of a baked stollen with all those spice mixed filling the air. The perfect winter treat in this December in Dubai can never be better than a German stollen.

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English Stew in Dubai Winter

I remember when I was a kid loving the site of snow on movies, I used to watch home alone every school vacation with my brother and we would wake up early just to watch holiday movies. Mostly in December is when I love watching home alone. It just gives the holiday spirit with a winter touch and decorations all around. Although in sri Lanka we never experience snow or a very cool climate especially in colombo except during rainy days watching these movies that shows snowing scenes gives me a mere pleasure. I literally enter the movie as a viewer and experience the event and that’s why I love watching movies with snowing scenes or atmosphere.
Having moved to Dubai in June it was very hot and the beginning of summer in June 2011. It’s been 3 and a half years now and I’ve experienced 3 winters in Dubai. I just love the winter in Dubai and believe it’s better than snowing weather. I hardly can bear the cool weather yet I really really enjoy it. Like the movies I watched I see the interior and food fill the shops and stores in Dubai with winter goods and decorations. I just love roaming around here especially during the evenings as I enjoy the bright lit roads of Dubai.

“They call it Christmas, I call it winter”. mafaza haleem

According to me one other thing related to winter or makes me feel so like winter apart from the weather is food. Food plays a major role in winter. That’s when making large pots of stew at 4 pm in the afternoon make the house warming. Having hot chocolates over a movie and dinner is something I just love about winter.
It was a very cool evening as I opened the window and the house was filled with the aroma of my beef stew cooking on my pressure cooker at a very low heat.
I checked online for some British stew recipes and found felicity cloakes article on the guardian very informative. she had a detailed post on the basic ingredients used on a British stew and how they helped enhance the flavor of the stew. she has researched through many cookbooks on making a British stew. the article highlights the basic ingredients which were meat, onion, carrots and some vegetables. she also mentions barley or dumplings also can be added depending on the author. after reading this article it reminded me of the soup we make in sri Lanka. it’s like a traditional in our family ad some functions we have lunch which we call “soup and rice” as basically the best part is having rice with soup though there will be 5-6 varieties of curry and vegetables served along with the rice and soup.

usually the soup we call is like a stew, very thick but we preserve some extra liquid so we can pour on our rice and drink the remaining. basically our soup which has a stew like texture is made with the leg part of the cow or goat and some vegetables which we also call “soup badu” or “soup stuff”. In the local market if we ask for soup badu they with give a bag filled with  a slice of cabbage, a few leeks, a carrot, a potato, a radish and some green beans. we also use barley and dhal as a thickening agent and once I tried substituting broken wheat instead of barley which had no difference in the texture.  we season the soup with some salt, pepper and turmeric and some cumin powder.

so making this British stew was a different experience as I used some stew mix which i had on my shelf and needs to be used up before I leave for my vacation in sri Lanka. although my soup and British stew were having a similar texture they both are two different dishes because a stew is slow cooked while my soup id fast cooked or pressure cooked. though i used my pressure cooker for the stew it was cooked for nearly an hour on a very low flame which only released 2 whistles in that 1 hour.

I believe I have unlocked the British stew successfully and is moving onto some German food. lets get back with another food story until then have a nice day.

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all images and words used on this blog are completely mine and please leave a comment if there is anything or email me at therecipewriter@gmail.com

 

mafaza haleem

Chicken BBQ and Foccacia – Food Story & Recipe

Food Story

I have never done or seen a BBQ live in my life until I met my husband and we moved into dubai. The first year in dubai, winter appeared in just six months since I moved into dubai. All supermarkets were stocked with winter clothes and BBQ items from charcoal to BBQ grills and many offers on Chicken. I was so excited to have a BBQ and finally my husbands office had a BBQ party to which I was also invited. It was a family get together as well for office staffs and the boses birthday so the party was held on the 31st of December night which was planned to go on till early in the morning of january 1st.
I reached the party and had a warm welcome. After spending some time chatting with Co – staff employees wifes and the boses family I was so distracted by the sight of wine being served for guests who preferred to drink and later on I made up my mind as these things are common and we can never stop whats on around us unless it’s our residence.
Similarly if we are at a hotel, we do not leave without eating just because the hotel serves alcohol for the customers who as for a drink, do we?
No we dont.
so I was feeling a bit comfortable and planning to have the first BBQ which was being grilled live in front of my eyes.
I was with my hubby’s cousin and his wife who was a person who cover her face. She hardly drank or ate anything and they were in a hurry to leave as we were supposed to attend another bowling party at a bowling centre in mirdiff.
I was so wanting to eat the BBq which I agreed to eat a few pieces soon as I was served waiting for none except the heat to cool down. We quickly ate the BBQ which I learnt later that it was not chicken but duck meat.
Soon as we left the party in haste to beat the new year outing Traffic and reach the bowling centre in time to play and celebrate the new year. So this is my story of trying oyt a BBQ live for the first time in my life.
Later on in mid winter I and my hubby got together and had a BBQ night on a weekend.
And we also had a good get together amongst my husbands friends and cousins.
After having all these fun in dubai I was sincerely reminded of my family back in sri lanka. They are same as myself have never tried a BBQ live and tasted at home. So I decided I will try this out with them and let them experience the joy of winter food.
On my recent vacation to sri lanka I went shopping for a instant BBQ grill and got some chicken meat marinated with nothing special but the normal spices at home.
It was a bit drizzling outside while I tried to light the instant grill inside the courtyard of our house.
It took a few unsuccessful attempts and finally ended up adding a bit of kerosene into the grill and the chicken meat hardly got cooked. Fimally I decided to place the chicken on top of the gas flame and get it grilled. The kitchen was filled with mild smoke and I was sweating due to the heat. The chicken was finally cooked but there were more to be cooked. I was so tired and exhausted of struggling to do a BBQ and failing I decided to get the rest of the chicken baked. Finally I was having chicken done using two different methods grilling over medium flame and baking in a moderate oven.
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The presentation

I wanted to serve the three elements individually on a plate but decided to assemble it in top of each other and make it more easier to eat and appetising for the eyes.
So finally I cut and placed the foccacia bread in a tray and topped it with a slice of capsicum, tomatoes and a piece of the chicken.
I served each one a set of these with one being flame grilled chicken while the other being oven baked chicken.
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The Foccacia Bread

This was none other than my very own recipe inspired by jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals. I never measured any ingredients and I usually add them according to my experience and knowledge.
Refer my pizza dough in zataar keema pizza and am sure you’ll get all your bases perfect.
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My BBQ Recipe

Ingredients
500 gms chicken
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon chillie powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
Salt to taste
Method of preparation
1) Clean, wash and pat dry the chicken.
2) Add all the ingredients and mix well.
3) grill over a BBQ grill until done or bake in a moderate oven according to the time required for your oven and until cooked evenly.

Serve with a choice of bread, rice or rotti over a spread of some humus, raw vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicum, onions and lettuce or even any other green vegetable.

Serve with humus and flat rotti to give the dish an arabian twist.
Drizzle some extra olive oil to give it an Italian twist and serve with foccacia.
For an indian taste serve with sambar and plain rice or some cumin rice.

Hope you enjoyed this post.
(C) travelandfoodworldwide mafaza haleem