Weekly rumblings – 5

About Broth

Is it just I, or has anyone noticed the proliferation of  “bone broth” or “bone tea”? It took me a while to figure out that this was nothing other than…. good old grandma’s remedy for every ailment – homemade soup/broth/stock. Technically there appears to be a difference between stock and broth, with the former relying more on bones and the latter being made using more meat.

Why has broth become fashionable again? Apart from the amazing healing and nutritive properties of homemade stock, it also appeals to the “nose to tail” types as it enables us to use parts of the animal, that otherwise would be discarded.

Many believe that making homemade stock is for domestic gods and goddesses, or for mad lunatics. They are right, especially if they follow a traditional recipe. Fine French cooking requires clear stock made with meat and bones, needing hours of simmering, skimming and straining. Even I, who considers myself a cooking nut, would dither at the time and effort needed.

Pressure cooker from Blumenthal’s book

This is where the magic of the pressure cooker comes in, (something many Asian households possess), and something I would highly recommend to anyone desirous of making stock or indeed cooking any beans, legumes etc.



Extract from Blumenthal’s book

None other than Mr. Blumenthal backs me in my passion for making stock in a pressure cooker. Who can argue with him? Julia Child would have, as she trashes the use of the pressure cooker, declaring that it did not give the desired result. To me, the purpose of making stock is to extract all the nutrition from mostly bones, and I rarely add meat except the bits attached to the bones. In frugal Asian homes, no one would dream of chucking a whole chicken into the stockpot, and for breaking down the bones, nothing is better than a cooker.

Extract from Blumenthal’s book

Stock made from bones is more unctuous, the bones having been simmered long enough to release the collagen-rich gelatine, which sets when you chill it. Bones are full of minerals and protein, and cooking them to the point where you can extract these makes perfect sense. Wild animals the world over know this: they’ll go straight for the bones every time they make a kill. We make stock. Click here  for more.

I made a big batch of stock recently, so I’ve provided a recipe for making stock although you don’t really need one. You need organisation; to collect and freeze enough bones.

Pursuit of perfection

Some of you might have seen Felicity Cloake’s column in the Guardian. Every week she attempts to find the perfect recipe for a popular dish. I enjoy reading her weeklies, and admire her attention to research and detail. This week I caught sight of the “The perfect biryani” and at once was transported to the world of a fragrant meaty biryani. Alas, when I turned to the relevant page, I found that her column was about a vegetarian biryani (great for the vegetarians out there), but I was in the mood for the real Mccoy. The discovery of an excellent North African butcher close by, stocking goat meat, was all the incentive that I needed. So this week you have my version of a perfect “dum biryani”.

Recipes this week

With the kids at home, and the kitchen dishing out 3 meals a day, we need some stand-by’s that are super easy. The jazzed up sardines, which involves little cooking, is one such favourite, and part of the new category “Rookie Recipes”.

And when the kids are eating with friends, I want to cook something which other kids will take to easily. Asian chicken wings are universally popular, and are perfect to make ahead. The only one complaining is the husband, who can’t figure out why these are made only for the kids!

A week doesn’t go by without baking, especially with hungry kids looking for treats. The thumbprint cookies are a simple and excellent basic cookie recipe to keep handy, as you can vary the coatings and make many a different cookies from one dough. Americans have a “sugar cookie” recipe that is similar, but I find it too sweet.

AWW biscuits book

Mine originates from an Australian Women’s Weekly book, which my father gifted me 25 years ago. The love of baking never abates.






To round off the baking this week, I made a simple soft wholemeal loaf, which does total justice to my version of PBJ (Peanut butter, homemade of course, and the dark apricot preserve). It’s much easier than my earlier multigrain recipe, and perfect for beginners.

Several readers have asked for easy recipes to be highlighted and others have asked for our family favourites. So from this week onwards, there are 2 new categories under recipes:

  1. Rookie Recipes – These are meant to coax the “won’t cook/can’t cook” to take the first steps into cookdom.
  2. Family favourites – These are the recipes that are liked by every member of the family and ones that find a place at the table at least once every quarter.

List of recipes:

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Apologies to my vegetarian friends, too much meat in focus this week. I promise to make it up next week.

Signing off with a word for my best friend, Sums, for whom the Rookie Recipes were created. Love your husband and make him cook!