During these stressful times, with the world panicking from the fear of transmission of the Covid-19 virus, the importance of comfort food cannot be overemphasised.
Having comfort food not only improves our mood, but also gives us relief from the stress of uncertainty and isolation.
In these chaotic times, the sight, small, and taste of good food is relaxing and comforting. It provides a sense of stability and structure sorely missing in our lives. Further, we get nourishment of the body and soul that we so desperately crave and need.
With this in mind, I am sharing three of my favorite recipes of comfort food. Here are the recipes from my kitchen.
Garlic Noodles with Mushrooms and Spinach
8-10 brown mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
1 large bunch of fresh spinach with stems and leaves, cut into 1-inch pieces
10 ounces dried wheat noodles
1 red onion, medium size, finely chopped
3 – 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cube vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2-3 Thai red chilis
1 tablespoon roasted combination of spice powder (1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, and 2 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes; combine and roast, then blend into a fine powder)
1 teaspoon black pepper, crushed
3 tablespoons melted butter (2 tablespoons for stir-frying noodles, and 1 tablespoon to fry mushrooms and spinach)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt according to taste
Bring water to boil, then add noodles with salt. Cook uncovered until the noodles are fully cooked, then drain and set aside.
In a small bowl stir cornstarch with oyster sauce, fish sauce, and roasted combination of spice powder until the cornstarch is completely dissolved and becomes a smooth sauce. Set aside.
Heat the butter over medium-high heat, then add mushrooms and spinach. Stir and cook for about 3-5 minutes until they turn light brown. Turn off the heat and adjust the salt. Season with pepper. Set aside.
Preparing stir-fried noodles:
Heat the butter in a large heavy skillet pan over medium heat and add onions. Cook until the onions soften. Combine garlic and cook until it becomes brown and fragrant. Add the cube of vegetable stock and cornstarch sauce, stirring rapidly until it develops a thick consistency.
Tip: Add water to maintain the thickness consistency of sauce.
Then combine noodles, the combination of mushrooms and spinach, and sea salt. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, allowing all the flavors to be infused. Garnish with Thai red chilies, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and serve hot.
Spicy Tuna on Sourdough Bread
2 tuna fish cans (medium-size)
6 slices sourdough bread
1 cube of fish stock (or vegetable stock)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 red onion (medium size), finely chopped
1 tablespoon roasted combination of spice powder (1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon raw coriander, and 2 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes; combine and roast on a low flame, and then grind into a powdered form)
1 cup spring onion, finely chopped
2-3 fresh Thai red chilies, small size, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped with stems and leaves
1 teaspoon black pepper, crushed
Salt according to taste
2 boiled eggs, sliced
½ cup alfalfa
Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add onions and sauté until they become translucent and soft. Combine turmeric powder, mustard seeds, fish stock cube, and one tablespoon water, and stir rapidly.
Then add tuna fish and cook uncovered until all the water dries up and the tuna is cooked. At this point, combine the roasted combination of spice powder and salt, reduce heat, and sauté for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
On a serving plate, spread tuna gently on the bread slices. Serve with boiled sliced eggs, reddish, or alfalfa.
Mozzarella Cheese Stuffed Lamb Meatballs with Herbs & Spices
2-pounds ground lean lamb
2-ounce sharp mozzarella, cut into 12 cubes
½ red onion, medium size, chopped
1 potato, large size, chopped
½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro with stems, finely chopped
2-3 fresh green chilies, small size
1 teaspoon garlic and ginger paste
2 teaspoons ‘baharat’
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon roasted gram flour (‘besan’)
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 tablespoon roasted combination of spice powder (1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon raw coriander seeds, and 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes; combine and roast on low flame, then grind into a fine powder)
1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
Parchment paper as needed
Salt according to taste
In a food processor, add parsley, cilantro, garlic & ginger paste, green chilies, ‘baharat’, gram flour, onions, potato, egg, paprika, red chili powder, roasted combination of spice powder, and salt, and give it a quick blitz. Keep the mixture coarse.
Then combine the mixture with ground meat. Allow the mixture to marinate the meat, cover it, and set it aside for a few hours.
Tip: Do not blend the ground meat in the blender, as over-mixing will result in a paste-like dense mass which can make the meat chewy when baked. Also, ‘Baharat’ provides the patties a delicious aroma and flavor
Rub hands with melted butter. Take small portions of the mixture and flatten. Place a cheese cube in the center, and shape into a meatball. Repeat the same steps with for all the meatballs.
Place the parchment paper on the baking tray. Lightly brush the parchment paper with olive oil. Bake until meatballs are thoroughly cooked for about 20 -25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with cherry tomatoes and your favorite sauce.
Note: Instead of mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan or feta cheese can also be used.