Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sri Lankan Mulligatawny Soup


Mulligatawny Soup is a curried soup that is literally translated as "pepper water".   I love soups and a spiced up soup is perfect for the cooler days we are having lately. 

I have wanted to add a Sri Lankan Mulligatawny Soup to the blog after seeing so many westernized versions out there.  I talked to my mother about this soup and said the versions I have made with prepared curry powder are just not giving me the right flavor.   She told her recipe/method for Mulligatawny soup so I took that as my outline and made my own version here. 

I like this soup plain, but I also cooked some rice to go with this soup to make it a hearty meal for my family.  Actually, in Sri Lanka it's also served with something we call string hoppers (recipe for the string hoppers will be up someday soon). 

My kids were first not sure if they wanted to eat a curried soup, but I insisted that they taste just a little of it before deciding for sure.  I added some rice and gave them only a half bowl to try out first.  Soon they were bringing their bowls back to me and doing a total "Oliver Twist" by asking for more please.  The second helping was a nice hearty bowl of soup.

I saved a helping for my mother to try out so she could give me the official thumbs up or down.  She gave me a thumbs up, but said my broth base was not as thick as she makes her base.  My mother told me that she likes to add small diced potatoes to the soup and this helps thicken the soup more with the starch.  Since I'm more into low carb foods and I try to avoid too much starch in the foods I eat,  I opted not to put potatoes into this version.  Of course, if you like potatoes, add two medium peeled and diced  potatoes to your soup after you add the stock and chicken to the pot.  

Now don't let all the steps and the ingredients intimidate you from making this soup.  If you prep the stock the day before the soup comes together very quickly and it's mostly simmering on the stove until the final few steps. 

So add some peppered water into your life this fall... it will warm you from the inside out.    

Sri Lankan Mulligatawny Soup

by Curry and Comfort
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
 (6-8 servings)
Chicken Stock:
  • 2-3 large chicken breast (skin off, with bone)
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion (rough chop)
  • 2 stalks celery cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot cut into large pieces
  • salt and black pepper
For Mulligatawny Soup:
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (roasted)
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (roasted)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (roasted)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (roasted)
  • 2 tsp white rice (roasted)
  • 1/2 Tbs black pepper seeds
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic grated
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 medium onion (red preferable) finely diced
  • 1 cup carrots finely diced
  • 1 can (10oz) diced tomato with chilies (I used Rotel)
  • 8 cups prepared chicken stock with shredded chicken
  • red chili powder to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds pounded or fennel powder
  • 2 tsp lime juice or to taste
  • salt to taste
  • Rice
  • lime wedges
1. The day before, make the soup stock by placing all stock ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Then lower heat down to medium and simmer for 1 hour. Strain stock and discard all ingredients accept chicken.
3. Shredded chicken off the bone and place back into the strained stock (discard bones).
4. Allow stock to cool to room temperature and place in fridge overnight so any fat will float to the top of stock and congeal.
5. The next day before making soup, skim the fat out of the soup and discard. Set stock aside until needed.

1. In a dry pan lightly roast on medium-low heat the rice, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds until fragrant. Careful not to burn spices. If the spices burn, redo this step.
2. Take the roasted seeds and add black peppercorns. Then either pound in a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder until powdered finely. Set aside.
3. In a large soup pot, add 2 Tbs of canola oil. On medium heat saute the onions, celery and carrots with a little salt until they start to get tender. Then add ginger and garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
4. Next add the roasted spices and saute for a minute with the aromatics. Then add the can of diced tomato and green chili.
5. Season with with turmeric and chili powder. Finally add the prepared chicken stock with the shredded chicken. Cook for 25-30 minutes.
6. To finish soup, pound or use powdered fennel and stir into coconut milk. Strain this fennel and coconut milk mixture into soup and stir well.
7. Turn stove off and add lime juice. Stir well and taste for salt and seasoning. Serve hot over rice if you like.
Powered by Recipage


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Gail Simmons' Spaghetti Pie


I love this Spaghetti Pie!  That’s right, I said Spaghetti Pie! I make a lot of pasta dishes at home, but I have never made anything like spaghetti pie before and I have to thank Gail Simmons’ new cookbook, Bringing It Home for introducing me to this fun and easy recipe that my family just devoured. 

If you are a fan of the TV show “Top Chef”, then you already know about the fabulous judge, Gail Simmons.  I was so excited when I was offered to review her new cookbook, "Bringing It Home".   

This is a beautiful cookbook with page after page of amazing photos and recipes.  I was inspired to try several of her recipes out to figure out which one I should share with you today.  It was hard for me to pick a winner because all of the dishes were delicious.  Of course, once my family had the spaghetti pie (featured on the cover of her book) they said I had to feature it because was so fun and delicious.  

Some of her other amazing dishes are Spaghetti with Burst Cherry Tomatoes and Basil, Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich, Chocolate Banoffee Pie and Scallops and Peas with Mint Gremolata. I have already bookmarked several more recipes to try on the request of my son, daughter and husband.   This book is not just full of great recipes, but Ms. Simmons also shares ingredient tips, cooking techniques, and even personal stories that are fun to read for any food lover. 

Now let’s get down to Gail Simmons’ recipe for Spaghetti Pie!

·       Unsalted butter for greasing the pan
·       2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
·       1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
·       2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
·       ¾ pound broccoli or broccoli rabe, trimmed, stems and florets chopped into ¼ inch pieces (about 2 ½ cups)
·       1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
·       1 tablespoon tomato paste
·       1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, tomatoes crushed by hand
·       Kosher salt
·       1 pound dried spaghetti
·       ¾ cup whole milk
·       3 large eggs
·       2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
·       2 ½ cups (8 ounces) grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese
·       2 ½ cups (8 ounces) grated fontina cheese
·       1 ½ cups (3 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
·       1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
·       Special equipment: 9 ½ springform pan 

Note: Ms. Simmons uses a springform pan in her recipe, but my son was insistent that I put it in a pie pan since it was a pie.  I think it came out just as nice.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the oven to 425ºF. Butter a 9 and 1/2-inch spring-form pan. Tightly wrap the bottom of the pan with a large sheet of foil, crimping the foil against the outer edges to tightly seal.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli and 1 tablespoon water and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking the meat into small bits, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute, then add the crushed drained tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping any bits from the pan, until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Add salt to the boiling water and cook the spaghetti just until very al dente, 7 to 8 minutes (look for a white spot in the center when you bite into a strand). Drain the pasta (do not rinse) and reserve the pot.

In the pasta pot, whisk together the milk, eggs, pepper, and 3/4 teaspoons of salt. Stir in the cheddar, fontina, and 1 cup of the Parmesan. Add the sausage mixture and spaghetti; stir until well combined.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared pan. Using a spatula, smooth the top. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the edges are golden and bubbling, about 35 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Turn on the broiler. Sprinkle the pie with the sage and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat until the cheese is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the inside of the pan. Let the pie rest about 10 minutes then release and remove the sides of the pan. Cut the pie into slices and serve warm.

This recipe and all the recipes that I tried got two thumbs up from my family.  Look out for Gail Simmons cookbook, "Bringing It Home" for even more fabulous recipes to try for your family. 


Disclosure:  I was provided a complimentary copy of Bringing It Home by Gail Simmons.  All opinions are my own.

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sri Lankan Christmas Cake

Sri Lankan Christmas Cake is is not your typical fruit cake.  Yes, it has some fruit and nuts, but it's got so much more rich and delicious ingredients that it's bursting with flavor.  A small piece is all that is required for any sweet tooth.  
My mother and I took this Christmas cake journey together.  I have helped her make this cake once before, but never quite paid attention like I did this time.  This time we did not simply follow a recipe that told us what we needed.  This time we created many of our own ingredients and then created our own version of this cake.  
The traditional cake has a few ingredients that are hard to come by in the US.  Even in Sri Lanka these ingredients are mostly store bought and never made from scratch.  So we created these ingredients with the raw fruits/vegetables found in the Asian grocery store.  The process took us a couple of weeks to get everything ready before we could actually put a cake in the oven. 

This is not a cake you can simply whip up together at the last minute.  This is a cake that takes some thought, patience and planning.   That's why this cake is served at a time that is so joyful and full of celebration.   Christmas is a time that things should slow down and you serve your family the best you can offer.  This Christmas Cake is a perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.


Chop and Marinate these ingredients:

1lb Pumpkin Preserve (recipe here)
1lb Ginger Preserve (or crystallized ginger)
1lb chow chow (recipe here)
1/2lb candied peel (orange, lemon peel no citron)
1lb unsalted cashews
1lb raisins
1/2lb golden raisins (sultanas)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove powder
1/2 cup Brandy
3Tbs rose water
2 Tbs honey
1 16oz jar plum jam
1 cup golden syrup (see recipe here

Cake Batter Ingredients:
1/2lb semolina (lightly roasted)
2oz all purpose flour
1lb unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1lbwhite granulated sugar
15 egg yolks
10 egg whites (whipped)

Day 1: Use a food processor and chop the pumpkin preserve, chow chow, raisins, golden raisins and candied peel until they are small pieces (but not into a paste).   Then chop the cashews into small pieces.  Add all the ingredients together then flavor with the cinnamon powder, nutmeg, clove powder, cardamom powder, honey, golden syrup, plum jam, brandy and rose water.  Mix all ingredients together really well and allow to marinate covered in a cool dark place overnight (or a few days)

The day you are going to bake the cake:
1. On medium low heat, roast the semolina until golden color and fragrant.  Then sift with the all purpose flour and set aside. 


2. Separate 15 eggs and whip 10 egg whites until they reach soft peaks.  Set egg whites aside.   Note: Save those extra egg whites.  You can make freeze the egg whites, make an egg white omelet or even meringue kisses.

3. Use a mixer to combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Then add egg yolks one at a time until fully mixed together.


Now you have all your ingredients ready to mix together for the cake batter:  

1. Marinated mixed fruit and nuts
2. Roasted semolina and flour (sifted)
3. Egg Whites whipped to a soft peak
4.  Creamed butter/sugar and egg yolks

 Mixing the Cake Batter: 

In a large bowl (this will make about 10lbs of batter) with a strong wooden spoon place the creamed butter/sugar and egg yolks. 

Slowly add a heaping cup of the marinated fruit/nut mixture and stir until combined.  Then  add a few tablespoons of the semolina/flour mixture and stir again until combined.  

Then follow up with a scoop of the egg whites and fold in.   Repeat by adding these three components to the cake one at a time and stirring well between each addition until all the ingredients have been used.

Preparing the pan for Baking:  


Heat oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit and prepare baking pan with 2-3 layers of parchment paper and apply some cooking spray or butter.

Pour batter into pan and place pan on a large baking sheet for stability as well as keeping the bottom from getting too dark.   Bake for 3-4 hours until cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. 

Note:  If top is becoming too dark, cover pan with foil on top to shield the cake.  Allow cake to set in a cool place overnight before serving.

 Serving and presenting the cake:
Cut into small squares (about 1-2 inch squares) and serve on a platter.   

They can also be individually wrapped in wax or oil paper.  Then wrapped again in Christmas wrapping and served.


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Roasted Butternut Squash Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing


Roasted Butternut Squash, Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing is a wonderful alternative to the usual bread or cornbread stuffing most families eat at Thanksgiving.   The stuffing has small bite-size pieces of roasted butternut squash and browned sausage with lots of celery, onion, sage, thyme and quinoa to create a wonderfully flavorful stuffing that will make your Thanksgiving table very inviting. 

The grocery store is abundant with all kinds of squash during the fall months and I had to grab a few butternut squashes and make a recipe for Thanksgiving.  I made this Roasted Butternut Squash, Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing as an easy stove-top and gluten-free alternative to making  regular bread or cornbread stuffing on the Thanksgiving table.  It still has the sausage I love in stuffing and all the flavors of stuffing, but roasted butternut squash and quinoa is the base of this recipe so it's healthy too. 

I made this stuffing a few days ago and there was was no turkey or other sides to join it.  I actually loved it just as it was as a main dish.  So, I definitely will not be waiting for Thanksgiving to make this again.  Of course I added extra spice to mine because I love everything extra spicy.

If you have not worked with butternut squash before, it's very easy.  I see a lot of folks at the grocery store buy the prepackaged cleaned and cut butternut squash.  If you can peel a potato, you can definitely work with a butternut squash.  I really love roasting the squash to bring out all the sweetness and give it more depth of flavor.  

I also love quinoa and don't fret if you think it's hard to cook.  I cook it all the time on the stove and it comes out perfectly every time with with my method.

 Thanksgiving is almost a week away... I can't wait to dig in!  

Directions on how to clean and roast butternut squash:  
Step1:  Wash squash and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin off the butternut squash. 
Step 2:  Cut the squash in half by cutting at the base to remove the "round bulb" as shown above.  The seeds are only in the round base part of the of the squash. Use a spoon to scrape out all the seeds. 
Step 3: Cut butternut squash into the size of pieces you want. 
Step 4:  Place cut pieces of butternut squash onto a baking tray (I lined mine with parchment).  Season with salt and black pepper and add 2 Tbs of canola oil and toss well to coat all the pieces.  Then Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25-35 minutes or until the squash is roasted to your desired texture.  

Roasted Butternut Squash Sausage and Quinoa Stuffing 
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer

4-5 cups of cooked Quinoa (cooking instructions here)
1 large butternut squash/3-4 cups roasted small diced pieces
1lb hot sausage browned well
1 large onion finely diced
2-3 stalks celery diced
1 tsp dried thyme
1-2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
red chili flakes to taste
2 Tbs fresh sage finely minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and black pepper to taste

Step 1: Roast butternut squash per directions above.

Step 2:  Cook quinoa. Here are my cooking instructions for quinoa.

Step 3: Brown sausage well.  If you have more than 2-3 Tbs of oil, drain excess fat out of the pan.  Then add the onion and celery to the browned sausage and cook for several until they soften.

Step 4: Then add the dried herbs, garlic powder, fresh sage, red chili flakes, salt and black pepper. Saute for another few minutes and add the chicken stock. Next add the roasted butternut squash and toss well. 

Step 5:  Finally add the cooked quinoa and toss with all the other ingredients in the pan.  Taste for salt and seasoning and adjust as needed.  Serve warm or hot. Enjoy. 

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.