lamb

Busting my chops…

Chop Chutney by Yudhika Sujanani

Chop Chutney by Yudhika Sujanani

Success is not a destination…it is a journey. And I can truthfully say, that the road is not paved with success. There are gravel roads, highways and cobbled paths but there are more failures and disappointments than victories. I have never opted for the easier routes. It doesn’t sit comfortably but there are times that the road was clearly the wrong one. If we made all the right choices, we would definitely not work as hard. The lessons we learn often come from failure. There is so much we learn about our ‘inner circle’ only when we experience dismal failure…suddenly our good friends disappear and some of them stay close, encouraging and guiding us through the darkness. I am thankful for all the lessons…good, bad and ugly.

Looking back over the past decade, I have been busting my chops…learning lessons on my journey and persevering through. I started out in the food world when I was 14 years old…buttering bread and rolling cutlery in paper serviettes. I started out by just lending a hand in the kitchen…running errands and always assisting the weakest link in the food chain. But as I climbed the ladder, every rung came with it’s own lessons and a better view too. I eventually opened a restaurant and that also came with it’s lessons. I loved food but hated the restaurant admin that kept me out of the kitchen. I paid my school fees and learnt very quickly that if I wanted to serve delicious food, I would have to work on the admin in the day and chef during the dinner service. Welcome to the life of a restaurateur…seven years of double shifts and three kids I wasn’t putting to bed later, I sold Salaam Bombay to concentrate on the career I have now.

I started doing live cooking demos and became the brand ambassador to a large food corporate…I was still working double shifts but from home. I made samosas, thousands of them, for the Broadacres Superspar to fill up the financial gaps in my bank balance. The financial shortfalls was what led me to launch a range of spices called Curry Me Home at the same Spar. My first recipe book followed a few months later. Through this time, there was rejection, a few bad surprises and the road had been bumpy at the best of times.

I have busted my chops since I was 14, and there are people out there that assume that a strategic marriage is behind my success. Frankly, my marriages have been the failure that has fueled much of my drive to succeed. I have experienced my fair share of divorce ugliness but will not be a casualty of the process or ugliness that comes with it. Marriage to a wealthy man can provide financial stability but it will not provide you with knowledge and wisdom to succeed as an independent woman. The men that claim that their wives had married for money lack good common sense. Imagine the foolishness of a man who does this, raising questions about his wisdom and intelligence. There have been a few murmurs going around and either way, whatever people believe, I am going to take it a a compliment…because I am that resilient, smart and business savvy to succeed. And if I ever decide to become that gold digger, I am sure that I will be successful at that too.

As adults, we often speak of our sacrifices…quite recently and increasingly often, I watch my kids and think of how much they have sacrificed by not having me around as much as they would have liked. They complain sometimes but most often understand, accept and tolerate the workload that comes with the lifestyle we enjoy. But the lifestyle doesn’t come from what Indians refer to as ‘being a sponge’ or gold digger. If I opted in as a ‘sponge’, my kids would have had more time with me and definitely little respect!

I have worked double triple time and still do, never turning down work and being an entrepreneur 24/7. I am a cook, teacher, author, TV presenter, PR lady and manufacturer! I have always known that no matter how hard you work, there are always ‘those people’ who just love busting your chops! The petty, mindless comments and stupidity of the gossip, leaves me asking questions about the lack of education and imbecility! When the fits of giggles subside, I recognize that lives can be that empty!

All of this and I throw my hands in the air and declare, ‘To each chop, his own!’, I suppose! Which brings me back to the chops….here is my recipe for a golden oldie from Durban….Chop Chutney! This is a Sunday favourite but also a great way to recycle lamb chops after a weekend braai.

Chops Chutney

Serves 4

Ingredients

1,4kg lamb chops
250ml water
15ml crushed ginger and garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Salt to season

50ml sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml salt
1 sprig curry leaves
3 – 4 green chillies
10ml crushed ginger and garlic
5ml – 10ml red chilli powder
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2,5ml ground cumin
2,5ml ground coriander
2,5ml garam masala
1ml turmeric
Pinch of sugar
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Pour the water into a 30cm AMC gourmet roaster, then add the ginger and garlic.
Arrange the lamb chops in a single layer.
Add a cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
Simmer the chops until the water has evaporated and the meat is tender.
The fat from the chops should be left in the pan.
Fry the chops until golden brown and season with salt.
Pour off the excess oil.

Heat the sunflower oil in a 24cm AMC pot and fry the onions with salt until light golden brown.
Add the curry leaves and chillies, saute for a few seconds.
Stir the ginger and garlic into the pot and then add the red chilli powder.
Add the tomatoes, then the remaining spices.
Simmer until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes soften.
Sprinkle in the sugar and pour the cooked tomatoes into the pot with the lamb chops.
Toss the lamb chops in the tomato chutney to coat.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

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To crush a bunny chow….

 

Ready to bunny....Yudhika Sujanani on Mela

Ready to bunny….Yudhika Sujanani on Mela – Wardrobe: Sun Goddess

 

For heaven’s sake, we are not cooking up a bunny rabbit! It’s a  Bunny Chows and almost like traveling back in time…you have to take a trip down memory lane….so how do you describe eating a bunny….is it to eat a bunny?  No!  Everyone has their own terminology…to kill a bunny….to crush a bunny or to slay a bunny but there is never any cutlery!

 

Indian fast foods have a story behind them….and bunny chow was a way of serving curry in hollowed out bread that didn’t need a plate or cutlery…it was borne in times of hardship, racism and apartheid.  The best ‘Durban fast food’ was the result of those difficult times so yes, while we now live in a generation of born free’s, the bunny chow movement is still going strong!

 

When I think bunny chow, I think Island Hotel in Isipingo Beach!  My Nan’s sister, Phyllis owned the Island Hotel…well, it was owned by the ‘B V Naidoo’ clan that owned the hotel.  Strangely enough, the Andhrite community still speak of clans!  I do find it quite amusing…what if you just don’t have a clan or fit into one either?  I was never a fan of the chicken bunny….give me a good old bean bunny  or my other bestie, the famous lamb bunny.

 

We loved visiting Granny Phill!  She was always feed us…making sure that we were over fed and cheerful when we left….and definitely in need of an arvie nap!  She would cook up large batches of curries in massive pots…the cooking gene runs deep in our family!

 

Granny Phyllis passed away a few years ago…but she has left some beautiful food memories behind….we would smell the curry in the car park of the hotel and we knew that she was around!  She cooked with love and hearty…a larger than life personal with a sense of humor that just made us giggle!

 

Today, on SABC 2’s Mela, we are celebrating our ‘South African’ess’ on the show!  An iconic South African dish…should we call it a dish?  Dish or not…it’s really a feast!  This is a basic recipe….you can play around with it….for me personally, a Bunny Chow should have some of my favourite Durban flaves…..hot, spicy and it screams out for pickle!  I always have bits of pickle masala left in bottles in the refrigerator….and it’s just too delicious to throw out so we live with the irritation of the oily rings they leave in cupboards, shelves and counter tops!  If you missed today’s food Mela episode, click here to take a look: https://yudhikayumyum.com/sabc-2s-mela-videos/mela-bunny-chow/

 

There is just something about pickle…it has a magical ability to get out of the bottle! Maybe, it’s just too delicious to stay in a bottle!  So, here is a great way to use of those delicious bits of pickle masala….just pop a few scoops into your curries…it works well with paneer, chicken, seafood and lamb….my favourite is the lamb curry!  I also add some ‘home made fat chips’ to my bunny.  I squish the chips on top of the curry and then spoon more of that pickle masala sauce on top just to make it a super treat!

 

It’s also one of my favourite fix it ingredients….if the curry just needs a bit of ooooommph, add a scoop and it will remedy a bland curry transforming it into a magical one!

And the ingredients are....

I use lamb shanks or knuckles for this curry…I don’t enjoy the texture or flavour…maybe, I should say lack of flavour in leg of lamb so although it is boneless, it falls short on flavour!  I pop up to our local….the Broadacres Superspar and get Mr Pat to prepare the lamb cuts for me!  He is brilliant and one of those old school ‘blockman’ or butchers!  On his recommendation, I have tried a combination of knuckles and shoulder which I must say resulted in the tastiest curry ever!  Shoulder would be just a little too bony for a bunny.

 

If a bone finds its way into your bunny chow….just keep going!  Your fingers are going to get messy anyway so it’s not a train smash!

 

Rules for eating a bunny…just a quick lesson on bunny chow etiquette:

 

1. No cutlery

2. Only share a bunny with someone you know….it would just be weird to eat a bunny with someone you didn’t!

3. No bunny chows on first dates – save that for maybe the second!

4. Soft drinks work best with a bunny…I mean really, who ever drank red wine or champagne with a bunny…and fruit juice is just as bad!

5. If you love someone, let them have the soft bread on top!  You can also let them have the only potato or the last one!  That’s really saying, ‘I love you…big time!’

6. Need to rinse your fingers after an ‘outdoor’ bunny feast….use the windscreen washer….works perfectly every time!

The Bunny Chow....by Yudhika SujananiLamb Bunny Chow

 

Makes 4 quarter bunnies!

 

4 lamb shanks, each weighing around 350 – 400g

60ml sunflower oil

2 cinnamon sticks

2 bay leaves

1 onion, finely chopped

7,5ml coarse salt

60ml crushed ginger and garlic

45ml red chilli powder

10ml ground coriander

5ml ground cumin

5ml garam masala

2ml turmeric

2 tomatoes, blanched and chopped

30ml pickle masala, optional

 

Home-made potato chips, to serve

 

 

Heat the oil in a large AMC pot. Fry the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.

Add the onion, sprinkle in the salt and sauté until the onion is light golden brown.

Add the ginger and garlic, stir for a few seconds, then add the red chilli powder.

Place the lamb shanks into the pot and coat in the spice mix.

Pour 500ml boiled water into the pan, then add coriander, cumin, garam masala and turmeric.

Simmer until the meat is tender and starts to leave the bone – you may need to add more water if necessary.

Remove the shanks from the pan, and place on a chopping board. Leave to cool slightly, and debone the shanks. Discard the bones.

Add the tomatoes to the sauce and once they soften, add the deboned lamb. Stir the pickle masala into the lamb and simmer for a few minutes.

Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

 

To serve:

 

Slice a loaf of bread in half and hollow out the soft inner, leaving the crust intact.

Spoon the lamb into the bread and then top with coriander and freshly made potato chips. Spoon more sauce over the chips and serve.