Monday, May 27, 2013


On our sabbatical trip to the Caribbean we tried local cuisine whenever we could. In the British Virgin Islands one dish that was on many menus was "Roti".  Our experience with Roti was that it was a curry mix wrapped up in a tortilla.  Today we had a "Caribbean" party and I wanted to serve Roti, so I tried to google a recipe.  It turns out "Roti" is a naan like bread.  In the Caribbean it's filled with a savory curry and served as a ready to eat sandwich,colloquially called Roti, but not really the Indian Roti.

No matter how much I love them, I wasn't up to making individually shaped bread for 30 people.  I settled for making 2 curries and letting folks fill a tortilla with them.  Being me, I didn't follow a recipe, although I looked a few for inspiration.  Here's what I  made.

Beef Coconut Curry

 one beef roast, ~3lbs, whatever is on sale this week
Put in slow cooker with a jar of salsa and cook on low for 6-8 hrs.

You could stop here because that roast beef is pretty good just like this. Pull off bones and fat.  Eat it strait, or shred it and put a little vinegar on it, put it on a bun, and called it a pulled beef sandwich.

If you still want curry, chop or shred the beef and read on.

3 lbs potatoes, cut into chunks (~1.5 in)
 Put in pot, cover with water, salt if desired
Boil to not quite crunchy anymore, but not yet soft.

1 large onion coarsely chopped
4-8 cloves minced garlic
Fry onion and garlic in olive oil or butter
Add curry spice - ~3-5 teaspoons - it should taste good, but stronger than you want the curry to be
 I used Sunny Caribbee's Madras Curry, but just use what you have/like.

Put chopped beef, drained par boiled potatoes, and onion/garlic/curry mixture in crock pot.  Pour one can of coconut milk over the top. Stir it together and taste test.  If you want more spice add it, add salt and peppter to taste.  If you accidentally made your curry to spicy, add extra coconut milk.

Cook on low for a couple of hours.  Serve wrapped in tortillas, or in real Roti if you had the time to make some.

Vegetable Curry

 3 lbs chunked par boiled potatoes

2 cans of cooked beans, or equivalent amount of cooked dry beans, drained

1 large onion coarsely chopped
4-8 cloves minced garlic
Fry onion and garlic in olive oil or butter
Add curry spice - ~3-5 teaspoons - it should taste good, but stronger than you want the curry to be
 I used Sunny Caribbee's Madras Curry, but just use what you have/like

1 large can (2.5 lbs) yams, drained and chopped

1 jar salsa

Combine all ingredients into crock pot heat on low for 2-4 hours, serve wrapped in tortilla.

Notes and modifications

This looks ugly.  I know.  It tastes great though.  Wrap it up and you won't have to look at it.

I made up the pots of curry the night before, put them in the fridge overnight, and then just turned on the crock pots in the morning.

I used beans to add protein to the vegetable curry.  Lentils would have been more authentic, but I was out.

Both crock pots need water after a while, as they started to get a bit dry.  That was after cooking for most of the day, so for a normal meal I don't know that extra water would be needed.

Pumpkin instead of, or in addition to, yams would have been good, as well as authentic.

I think cooked carrots would be good in either curry. ( I don't know if that would be authentic.)

I used salsa because it was easy, and I have a lot of jars  from last years canning.  You could also use fresh onion, pepper, and tomato if that's what you have.

I think the secret to this curry is par boiled potatoes and fried onions/garlic with curry.  After that you can add whatever you fancy, or what left overs you have in the fridge, and it will probably be pretty good.

I have a few curry mixes I use, and I think any would have worked here.  It's just what you prefer.

I'm going to try freezing my leftovers, some pre-wrapped so I can just pop it in the microwave for a quick lunch, and some in a big tub for a family meal.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kefir water

I've been making kefir water for a couple of years now.

This last year I fell behind, having other things on my mind.  Wanting and needing some more pro-biotic support I went looking for my little old pets.  I found these at the back of my fridge.
Yup.  3 jars of kefir.  Not only that, but they were experimental.  One was just the plain sugar water mix and kefir grains, one had a ground calcium tablet, and the other added molasses.  The grains in calcium  had not increased at all, the plain sugar  had doubled, and the molasses had tripled.  So, if your kefir grains are sluggish, I suggest adding molasses.

Here's how I make kefir:

1st fermentation:

3 Tbs kefir grains (I got my from a friend whose grains multiplied)
1/3 cup sugar
1 quart water

Mix all together and let sit out at room temp for 12-72 hrs.

Strain grains out

2nd fermentation:

put liquid w/o grains into bottles
add fruit juice to flavor or flavored sugar syrup and let sit at room temperature for 1-3 days.
Refrigerate what isn't immediately consumed.

Meanwhile take the grains and start over again. 

Super easy, yes?

I happened to have some of the 2nd fermented fruit flavored kefir in the fridge too.  The pomegranate, the grape, and the raspberry were excellent.  The orange had a lovely taste but developed the texture of mucous.  Fizzy mucous at that.  So, looking at the dates - don't leave orange kefir in the fridge for over a year and expect to enjoy drinking it.

The plain kefir water (1st fermentation) had sat in the fridge since last March.  That's, like, 10 months people!  Could they possibly still be alive?  I decanted them, and started them again.  Yup.  They're active and good to go, even the sluggish calcium fed grains.  Wow.   I've set the re-energized kefir back in the fridge, and started a new experiment.  I put some of the extra grains in the freezer, and set some to dehydrate.  Wonder if they'll be alive when I get around to them in a few months?

Notes and modifications:

I don't bother boiling or filtering the water and I haven't had any problems, but if you have a lot of chlorine, or don't trust your water supply might need to do something.