Wednesday 19 December 2012

Naan at Sea

Tired of the store-bought light snacks on board on a day-sail? Getting home hungry because the store-bought snacks are just wind, no solid sustenance? Not going for long sails because you get very hungry in spite of the snacks you took on board?
Why not bake fresh bread on board? Your own product has much more sustenance than the commercial bread, perchance a lower GI.

Here is a recipe for making those delicious Indian flat breads. Some call it naan, the Indian word for bread. It is also known as puri and there are many recipes for this.

You would traditionally have these as a side dish with spicy dishes. Sometimes as a wrapper. There is, however, nothing that stops you from enjoying these with any stewed dish. Just think of it: warm, freshly baked bread that you tear little pieces from to use as a wrap for the food, then for mopping up the last of the sauce in your plate.

Delicious, I tell you.

This one is a leavened bread, baked in a dry pan, therefore easy and quick to make on board. And it goes well with any stewed dish with a reasonably thick sauce. There are unleavened versions that are as easy to make, but we shall discuss those in another post.

The preparation time is short and baking time is as for pancakes. Add to this some waiting time for the yeast to activate (more or less twenty minutes, zero if you use instant yeast) and for the dough to rise, some 1½ hours.
The very short cut on this is to buy ready-mix dough from your local supermarket. Just the baking remains. A very good idea for short passages.
It is advisable to use a large plastic salad bowl for mixing the dough, as things may get messy and your shipmates may complain about the mess. Less mess, less cleaning afterwards. You need a cutting board for chopping the garlic if you haven't got chopped garlic on hand. You will also use the board as a kneading board for rolling bout the dough balls.

It is money well spent to invest in a proper cutting board, even if it is only slightly larger than an A4 sheet of paper. Get the largest one that is useful on your boat.

In the sequence of food preparation on board, this bread is baked while the main dish rests. The dough is prepared prior to meal preparation.

1 teaspoon dry yeast or instant yeast.
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons plain yoghurt, if available.
2 cups white bread flour. Cake flour will also work, but bread flour gives a better texture.
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup molten butter or margarine. Ghee is the best, but perhaps not readily available on board.
3/4 cup warm water
3 cloves fresh garlic, or 3 teaspoons whole cumin seed. I prefer fresh garlic.


Mix the dry yeast and sugar in the warm water. If you cannot hold your finger in the water, it is too hot. In the even of the water being too cold, you will be waiting a long time for the yeast to activate. It should bubble and foam after fifteen minutes.
Skip this step for instant yeast, it works differently.

Mix the flour and salt. I use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients. It is small and a useful implement on a boat and works better than a fork.
Add half the butter and all the yoghurt. When the yeast is nicely foaming, add some a little at a time to your dry mixture. Keep adding yeast until you have a slightly runny bread dough.
If you are using instant yeast, mix it in along with all the other dry ingredients, then add the warm water a little at a time to get the same consistency in the dough. The dough needs to be reasonably elastic.
Wet your hand and knead carefully until the dough gets a ssatiny texture and is nice and elastic. This takes ten odd minutes. Add a little flour if the dough stays runny.
Don't mix self-raising flour and yeast, the two clash and you may end up with interesting results.

Now leave the dough to rise. Smear a bowl with oil or butter to prevent sticking. I usually pat some oil on the outside of the dough ball to prevent the sticking and drying out. Otherwise just cover the dough with a wet cloth and keep it warm. The dough must rise and double in volume before the next step, else you have very flat bread. Rise time should be about 90 minutes.

After the dough has risen to the required volume it gets kneaded back to the original volume for about five minutes or so. Roll this into a cylinder of about 50mm thickness and divide this into six pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball in the crushed garlic or cumin. Then roll each ball out flat into a 100-120mm disk, about 4mm thick, perhaps a small pancake size.

Smear butter or ghee on one side of the naan, then bake one at a time in a dry pan at medium heat. Butter the top before turning the naan over. You do one at a time, which gives you time to prepare the next one in line. In this way you use less space in the galley and you get maximum use of your time.

Bon appetit!

This is a rehash of recipes from, where there is a large number of similar recipes.

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-18

Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Next Baguette Experiment Using Sourdough

My first foray into making baguette ended in a success. I was using instant yeast for those, as I was feeling out on a limb a bit. One of the vagaries of blogging is that one's ego tends to get in the way with the cooking and you wish for a resounding success every time.

Well, the world simply does not work that way. However, it is a lot easier on the ego to just define your effort as an experiment. Then most of the results are a success because then you tend to learn a little with each experiment.

Exactly my thinking this time around. I took a deep breath, opened the refrigerator and hauled out my trusty wild sourdough. Time for the next experiment. I had already proved to myself that I can bake a decent baguette, even though it comes out a bit heavier than the industrial ones. Now it was time for the sourdough version a la Ziets.

This time around I allowed time for thawing of the sourdough to the extent of one hour. It is summer here in the Cape, with the temperature in our little town of Strand getting into the early thirties Celcius, which is quite hot. I did not bother to wash the yeast to get rid of the acid this time, but just fed both the containers with about a cup full of unbleached, stone ground white bread flour.

First rise
This was left to multiply while I went about my normal chores. The starter had more than doubled in volume in the space of two hours and it was time to make up the baguette dough.

The last cup of the stone ground brown bread flour went into the mixing bowl, along with four cups of the white bread flour. A teaspoon of salt went on top, after which I mixed this lot thoroughly before adding the sourdough. This effectively added about

one cup of water. Another cup of water went into the mix, resulting in a very runny dough. So I added another half cup of flour. This made the dough very soft. I mixed this lot by folding rather than kneading. The dough ball was oiled by patting with oiled hands, then left to rise overnight in the closed-off mixing bowl.

Second rise after adding flour
The dough more than doubled in volume in this
heat, but subsided into a runny mess when turned out onto

the kneading board. No sweat, I just added another cup of flour to get the consistency right; a nice soft dough that would stand by itself. This was left for another three hours to rise, before cutting and shaping. The dough again more than doubled in volume during this time. This time I got all the diagnostics right, as well as the remedial work! Chalk up one for reading the manual!

Dough resting after second rise

The dough was divided into two blobs, rolled out, lightly floured and rolled back up. The ends were tucked in nicely and into the baking tins the loaves went.

These were left for about two hours to rise properly again, then sliced on top and popped into a pre-heated, steamed oven at 200ºC/400ºF for 40 minutes. The steam compliments of a small stainless cup of water in the bottom of the oven.

This time the loaves came out as expected. The crust was a bit thicker than expected, but nice and chewy. The crumb had mostly even fermentation holes and was as heavy as the first baguettes made with instant yeast. At least I got the consistency right. The taste was a bit less sour than expected, which is good. Perhaps due to the absence of rye flour. The crumb colour was on the dark white side, but this is good, showing the unbleached effect. I think the coarseness of the flour also plays a role with the denseness of the resulting loaves. Have to do some research, methinks.

Now for a sandwich with real butter and mature Cheddar cheese with my morning tea, I think.

This blog post also linked to Yeastspotting!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-18

Monday 10 December 2012

Hot Chilli Pork With Stir Fry Vegetable Noodles

Just the other day I realised that I haven't made this dish for ages. In fact, the last time was about two years ago. My journey into the world of proper food has certainly taken me along a new path!

So, after a short discussion with the missus, the decision was made. Time for a decent stir-fry dish again.
This dish may be cooked on board, buth one needs to look at the sequence and the conditions at sea. The preparation may take some time. However, it is a very good pastime for idle shipmates to help and have a decent conversation to boot!

I used to make this one in my braai-skottel out of doors. This skottel has  fallen out of use since our relocation to the little town of Strand. This recipe is adapted from a stock standard Chinese recipe for stir-fried pork. It also works very well for chicken and extremely well for turkey. I also cut off all the fat and, in the case of using chicken, I cut off the skin.

The turkey which I am unable to locate locally, except for a whole bird, complete with the requisite chemical basting juices injected, ready for the oven. This recipe calls for de-boned, non basted meat. Wholesome, unadulterated meat.

There is no special addition of salt in this dish. The soy sauce takes care of all of the salt. I use the light soy sauce because I am told it contains less salt.

The preparation of the ingredients takes up more time than to cook the dish. This recipe will render at least four decent helpings. I use the cheapest cuts of pork that I can find, then remove the fat and bones at home. Sometimes you get pork cut up into strips ready for a stir fry at the same price as other cuts. Wonders never cease.


1 kg de-boned pork or chicken. This time I used pork.
¾ cup of cornflour (Maizena)
2 medium sized eggs
1 Thai, Jalapeno or medium heat chilli or ½ a Habanero with the pips removed. Chopped finely.

For the glazing sauce

¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sugar or golden syrup

For the vegetable noodles

1 small Chinese/baby cabbage
½ large or 1 medium onion
2 spring onions, chopped
½ cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 medium carrots, julienne'd. This for the looks!
½ cup of fresh sprouts. Any sprouts
Some baby corn heads
some mangetout
¼ bell pepper, chopped
Depending on the number of servings, you may also use some cauliflower, broccoli and baby marrows. You can also add some rehydrated dried mushrooms. They tend to add to the flavour.
4 squares instant noodles
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon garlic, chopped and minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped and minced
¼ cup soy sauce
Some freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for frying


Get the water for the noodles on the boil and boil the noodles. This takes the longest and gets used last, so it starts first.


For The Pork

Mix the corn flour and the eggs until you have the consistency of a thick batter. Dump all the pork in there after you have cut it up into small strips. Ensure all the meat is covered in the batter. Heat some oil in the pan. I used my Le Creuset buffet casserole, as I was cooking indoors. Add the meat to a medium to hot pan and fry until the outside of the meat is nice and brown. The cornflour will make this easy. Remove the browned meat from the pan and keep to one side. Add some oil and fry the chopped chilli in the oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the meat back to the pan and mix thoroughly. Now add the glazing sauce which is the mix of vinegar, soy sauce and sugar.
Stir continuously until the sauce has thickened enough for your taste, then remove the meat from the pan and keep it warm. I used another Le Creuset saucepan for this, as it keeps the heat nicely in, although the saucepan is still cold.


For The Vegetable Stir Fry

Add some oil to the pan. Fry the white pepper, ginger and garlic for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then add all the vegetables en masse. Stir fry this lot until the vegetables are al dente, then add the cooked noodles. Mix this lot thoroughly, then add the quarter to half cup of soy sauce. This will give some flavour and add the requisite salt to the dish.

Voila, the deed is done!
Heat the meat, if necessary, before dishing up.

Bon appetit!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2013-06-29

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Sourdough loaves with caraway seeds

Yesterday I got a gentle prompt from the missus that we were running out of bread. Time for another loaf.

The last one was not half bad, having sunflower and pumpkin seeds along with the rye. Although it did not rise as expected, the bread lasted long enough for me to take a loaf on board the yacht for the voyage from Port Owen on the West Coast to Gordon's Bay around Cape Point. Good food to have on board.

I was a bit miffed about my starter after my last baking experiment, until I realised that I may have had the dough too runny and did not allow sufficient rise time.

This time around I made a starter by washing the sourdough, dividing it in two and feeding it white bread flour. (AP flour for my American readers.)

As an aside, it seems that my terminology and practices may be frowned upon by some of our friends in the sourdough world. I recently had the ignominous experience of having my reply reference “washing” of the starter on a blog question removed and replaced by a very scientific explanation from someone else. This after I quoted my reference quite diligently. Interesting indeed, even if I felt taken aback.

Anyway, getting back to my present experiment, I made a reasonably soft dough. Three cups of white bread flour, one cup of brown bread flour, salt and water. The starter was also made with another cup of white bread flour. This lot was left to rise for two hours, then I added a little more water. The dough was now decidedly soft, but I left it to rise overnight. Patience is a real virtue here! This was very successful with the dough almost tripling in volume. However, the dough was collapsing on itself, so I had to knead in a little flour again, about half a cup. This lot was split into two parts, patted into long, thin loaves and left to rise in bread pans while I went swimming and tended to my other errands. By the time I got back two hours later, the dough was dripping out of the bread pans.

Time for some contemplation.

The decision went to adding yet some more flour, about half a cup again, then splitting the dough into two halves for making a pair of round artisan style loaves. I added some caraway seeds for garnish and baked them for 45 minutes at 190ºC/375ºF on my paving bricks. There was also my normal (by now) tin of boiling water in the bottom of the oven.

This time around the bread came out magnificent, no over-baking, solid crust and a nice spongy crumb. I was rather hoping for some nice big fermentation holes in the crumb, but it seems that I missed the boat this time around. Some more attention to quantities next time, methinks. The loaves were left for an hour to cool down.

Now for the discipline of not consuming all of this before dinner!

This blog post also linked to Yeastspotting!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-12

Thursday 29 November 2012

Sourdough Loaf With Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

I was quite pleased with my previous effort at baking bread. Especially with getting past my own fear of trying something new or different. And I am getting withdrawal symptoms!

So the decision went to making a sourdough loaf with sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I consulted my copy of Classic Sourdoughs, Revised by Ed and Jane Wood for ideas. The normal recipe requires all-purpose or white bread flour, but I opted for one cup of rye which I used for the starter, then added two cups of brown bread flour to this. Some salt followed, along with the ¼ cup each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I used the seeds raw, as per the recipe. I made bread, using sweetcorn before, which was edible but not really something you want to do often. The taste does not warrant the effort. Better to make a corn loaf with some maize flour added, then use the sweetcorn as an addition.

In this case I think that I am on relatively safe ground, having a recipe for a loaf with sunflower seeds. I have also seen other recipes on the internet using the same mix of seeds that I am using. There seems to be a division of thinking about whether to roast the seeds before using or not. I sucked a thumb and decided to go the raw way. Simply because I feel lazy today.

The starter was made by decanting some of the first wash mix of my sourdough, then adding a cup full of rye flour. This was left on the work top for six hours. Once it started smelling like a live sourdough and developed some extra body, I mixed the dough.

On the topic of washing, it is something I do to the sourdough every time I use it. Take it out of the refrigerator and let it thaw. Then add normal tap water to the top of the container. Stir the mix to get proper dilution, then decant 80% of the contents. I used some of this for the starter, the rest went down the drain. This gets rid of 80% of the acid and the populatiomn. But the gene pool is intact, so the sourdough grows back merrily in the less acid habitat that you just created. The 20% of the sourdough that is left gets fed with some rye flour and a little additional water, then sits and develops a new population, after which it goes back in the refrigerator to lie dormant until my next baking exercise.

Back to the loaf. The starter basically got the same treatment, except the starter got more rye. I need a large population to leaven the loaf. I also added two dessert spoons of brown sugar to the starter. Hopefully this will make a difference to the end result, where the seeds may not be overly sweet.
The loaves were baked at a temperature of 180ºC/350ºF for 40 minutes. Remember I have a fan in the oven and get a more even temperature gradient. If your oven does not have a fan, up the temperature by 15-20 degrees. I had the usual little pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to generate some steam.

The last rise of the loaves in the pans did not look to good but I persevered. As expected, the loaves did not rise much in the oven (very little oven spring.) I was very worried by now, wondering what had gone wrong.

The loaves came out the oven promptly after forty minutes. The longer baking time was to allow for the thicker dough. The loaves sounded nice and hollow to the knock and had a very crisp and firm crust.

After another twenty minutes' worth of cooling and developing the crust, I cut the first loaf. My fears were immediately allayed. The crumb had nice uneven fermentation holes and was nice and elastic with a slight moisture. The fermentation holes were also large enough for me to feel more positive about my effort. I was very worried that the dough had collapsed. This dough was mixed specifically a bit soft and moist. This experiment is a success, but with a lesson or two learned. I think to use a bit more fine flour (white bread flour). This lot had very little fine flour and I suspect that this gave rise to leakage of the fermentation gases. Also, the dough may have been a bit on the moist side, rather like dough for a baguette. This may not work well with a coarser mix of flour.

Other than the above, there are now regrets. The bread came out exactly to the taste and form that I intended, except for the rising.
And the seeds in the crumb makes for a wonderful taste experience. I shall do this again!

This post also linked to Yeastspotting! 

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-12

Saturday 24 November 2012

Korma Curry, Boat Style


I have often thought about the difference between what I do versus your standard urban food blogger, cooking in his or her five star kitchen. Complete with all the electricity and associated equipment. I have also thought at length about what I call in Afrikaans “afskeepkos”. Food made in negligence. I have gone so far as to post (or is it “pose”?) the question on my FaceBook wall, with some reaction.

The answer is not easy to find, as the term “afskeepkos” is a neologism, even in Afrikaans.

The proper answer needs to be researched and pondered, if you will.

The gist lies in the application of the mind in preparing food. Whatever food it is. Leftovers may look and taste like, well, leftovers. Or you can apply your mind and use those same leftovers in an altogether new dish.

Or you can use some of the stuff that you munch on before dinner as part of the dinner dish ingredients.

We are not here to discuss the vagaries of language and application of the mind, we need to cook up something simple for dinner on board. Using two pots and one burner. Perhaps this one will go down in history as having applied the mind.

Chicken Korma is one of the more well-known dishes in India. It is made with onions and cashews, along with the requisite spices. And it is extremely simple to make. If this dish takes more than fifteen minutes in preparation, you are doing something wrong.

The nominal recipe is to use the ingredients in the list below. There are a myriad variations and even my own version differs between batches. But they all taste exquisite.

This one is normally made in the kitchen at home, where you have access to a stick blender or equivalent. Aboard a small yacht there is none of that, hence this adaptation.


For the chicken

500 g (1 lb) de-boned chicken.
3 medium sized onions. More is better for this dish.
½ cup whole cashew nuts. Or one whole cup, but then the dish becomes very rich.
1 clove fresh garlic
1 fresh hot chilli
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
5 black peppercorns
1 cardamom pod, shedded
1½ teaspoon medium masala powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
Small stick cinnamon bark
1/4 teaspoon aniseed seeds.

Or combination of the above. The chillies, garlic, onions and cashews are not negotiable.

1 teaspoon green masala paste (recipe here)
1 teaspoon garum masala
bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
spritz of fresh chives, chopped
some salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter

For the rotis

½ cup white or brown bread flour. I used brown bread flour
½ inch slice of a brick of butter
pinch of salt
¾ cup lukewarm water


For the Chicken Korma

Fry the cashews in a dry pan until they are nice and brown. It works better if you have a cast iron saucepan or pot, because the pot heats the food from the side as well. The heat retention also helps with the rest period at the end. I used my 20cm Le Creuset saucepan for this.

Take them out and crush them as fine as you can get it. I used a coffee mug and the back ends of my kitchen knives. Keep the crushed cashews to one side. Add a dollop of butter to the pan and fry the dried whole spices until the flavour comes out. I use my mortar and pestle to grind the whole spices a little before frying them.

Add the grated onions and fry until they are nice and translucent, beginning to turn brown. This may be difficult as the onions will be very watery because you grated them. Add the chopped fresh chilli and and garlic and fry for another two minutes, then add the dry powder spices. I crushed the cashews while frying the onions to save time by multiplexing. Fry for another minute, then take it off the heat. Add the crushed cashews and a little water to make a batter-like sauce. Then put it back on the heat and bring to the boil.

In the home version you chop the onions coarsely, then fry them until they are brown. The spices are added as above. When everything is ready, the fried whole cashews are added back to the mix and blitzed with a stick blender to make the sauce, adding water as required.

The sauce can be quite thick, leading to burning if careless, so watch it. Add a little water if you get worried.

Now add the chicken. I cut the chicken into thickish slices, as opposed to cubes. They cook faster if they are thinner. Cook slowly until the chicken is tender. Add salt as required. Make sure you don't use too much water. The dish needs to be almost just runny when done. If it is too watery it becomes a mess to eat and most of the flavourful parts get left in your plate. When the dish is nicely done, add the garum masala, the chopped coriander (dhania), and the chopped chives. Put the lid on and set this lot aside to rest.

For the Rotis

This was one of my more successful experiments. The internet is a wonderful place if you understand that different folks have different names for the same stuff. Like rotis. Some call them flat breads, others call similar bread tortillas, even though they may not be made from corn flour.

Whatever the case, I used an idea from a recipe for tortillas. You rub the butter into the flour and add the salt to the warm water. Then add the water little by little to the flour making a very soft dough. This dough will be nice and elastic for only a short time, so work diligently. Knead the dough for five minutes until it becomes satiny. Then roll it into a long sausage about two inches thick (50mm). Cut this into 50mm sections to make small balls.

Roll each ball out into a small disk about 4mm thick. Bake in a dry pan on medium heat until it starts to puff, then turn over. You will know that it is done when it starts to burn in spots. You get a production line going, baking one at a time and rolling the next one while you wait. I used my 24 cm non stick frying pan from Le Creuset, it works a charm.

In the meantime, the main dish is resting and developing flavour. Don't worry. If you used a cast iron saucepan it will not even cool down to edible levels while you are making the rotis. Else heat it a little as required.

You can dish up straight from the saucepan at the table. Two rotis per person is more than enough, there will be leftovers.
And it is accepted practice to use the rotis to wipe out your plate.

Bon appetit!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2013-07-06