Recipe: Black lentil soup with smoked pork belly and grilled scallops

Warm yourself up with this delicious lentil soup from the kitchens of the luxury 5* Le Prince Maurice.

Ginger root

Ginger adds extra warmth to the soup

Serves 4
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Soaking time for the lentils: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 250g cleaned scallops (without roes)
  • 15g butter

For the soup:

  • 200g black lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • 50g boucane (smoked pork belly)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 5cl crème fraîche
  • salt and pepper

1. Soak the black lentils for 2 hours.
2. Peel and chop the onion and garlic separately. Grate the carrot. Finely dice the celery and carrot.
3. Cut the boucane in two pieces. Fry the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger and boucane in hot olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the drained black lentils, thyme, parsley and curry leaves. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 hour on low heat.
4. Remove the boucane, blend and sieve the soup. Add the crème fraîche and correct seasoning.
5. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Grill them for 2 minutes on each side.
6. Using a hand blender, blend the soup with the butter. Serve hot with the scallops.

Choosing wine from the menu

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a total newbie to the world of wine, our Head Sommelier at Constance, Jérome Faure, is here to share his expert knowledge with you.

Jerome Faure
Jerome Faure

This week, Jérome takes a look at the difference between conventional and organic wines.

Conventional versus organic wine

A conventional wine is a wine produced from grapes grown using farming methods which include the use of chemical products.

Organic wine is made from grapes certified by a recognised body such as Ecocert, as organically farmed – AB (Agriculture Biologique) in the French system.

How wine is given organic certification

AB certification requires, above all, respect for a set of guidelines aimed at banning the use of all chemical products, such as pesticides, fungicides and fertilizer. At present there are no guidelines for how the wine itself is treated.

Gaining AB certification involves wine growers subjecting themselves to lengthy administrative procedures, which is why some growers are not interested in obtaining it. But at the same time, these growers may use few or no chemical products in their vineyards. So it’s possible to come across a wine without an AB label that is nonetheless made from organically grown grapes…

Choices, choices… which wine is best?

Red wine in glass
How to choose wine

You’ll find good wines among both conventional and organic types.

To oppose organic to conventional wine is simply to oppose certified to non-certified ones. As we’ve already said, many winegrowers are organic but uncertified, and others, even if not organic are very sparing in their use of chemicals.

Some go even further by working in accordance with biodynamics (the natural rhythms of cosmic forces), whether they’re certified or not.

If you’re dining in a restaurant, the best way to decide is to rely on the selections of a good sommelier.

The Constance Group takes great care in its choice of wines, and at Constance Ephelia in the Seychelles the wine list indicates which wines are certified organic or biodynamic.

Tell us what you think

Do you prefer organic over conventinal wine? Tell us what you think. You can get in contact with us via Twitter, Facebook or use the comments section below.

Recipe: how to make coconut milk

Coconut tree in Seychelles

Coconut tree in Seychelles

Today Chef Rufus Elizabeth of Seselwa restaurant at Constance Ephélia Resort explains how to make coconut milk the traditional way.

Coconuts are poetically called ‘suspended water’. They’re used in many different culinary preparations in the Seychelles – the most famous one is probably the kari koko, or curry with coconut milk.

1. To make fresh coconut milk, you need to use a dry coconut. First remove the husk by splitting it on a sharp rock. If you buy it in a supermarket, it will come without the husk.

Splitting coconut husk on a sharp rock

Split the coconut husk on a sharp rock

2. Then, break open the nut. This can be a dangerous operation if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Seychellois do it with a machete… but please don’t try this at home!

Instead, I’d recommend using a pastry roller or a metal pipe. The trick is to place the nut in your hand the right way. It will easily break open if you hit it right in the middle, against the sense of the fibers.

3. Hold the nut tightly in the palm of your left hand, hide your fingers, and hit it with the pastry roll. If it doesn’t break the first time, try again.

4. Place a glass or bowl under to collect the coconut water.

5. Once the nut is open:

  • Sieve the coconut water and use it to prepare a delicious drink. It’s perfect pure and ice cold. Seychellois have it for breakfast to give them strength for the day.
  • You can also mix it with white rum and prepare a delicious punch.

6. Remove the pulp from the shell: one easy way is to use an oyster knife. Protect your fingers as the blade can easily rip against the inside of the shell.

Scrape the pulp out of the coconut

Scrape the pulp out of the coconut

Try to keep at least one side of the coconut shell intact. Seychellois use it a measuring unit and call it the kafoul.

7. Rinse the pieces of pulp. You can choose to keep the brown skin around it or remove it with a knife. Grate the pulp. Seychellois use a traditional grater (a piece of sharp metal on a wooden plank). At home, a blender is probably your best bet.

8. Place the grated pulp in a bowl. Add a bit of fresh water and let it soak for 5 minutes.

9. Place the preparation in a clean cloth. Wrap the cloth around the pulp and press with your hands on top of a bowl. The coconut milk will be extracted slowly.

Sieve milk through the husk

Sieve milk through the husk

To do this, Seychellois use a piece of natural coconut husk. They call it tamis coco.

10. Keep the coconut milk in the fridge until you need it. Keep the dry grated pulp to prepare pastries such as a delicious coconut tart, or a coconut jam.

11. If you want a thicker milk, or coconut cream, allow the milk to rest for 2 to 3 hours. The liquid will progressively split and the coconut cream will stay at the top. Use a ladle to gently collect it from the top.

It may be easier to open a can of coconut milk but what a pleasure to make your own!

 

Constance Belle Mare Plage celebrates Divali 2011

Guests and staff enjoyed a beautiful evening at Constance Belle Mare Plage on Tuesday 25 October, to celebrate Divali, the festival of lights.

Special dishes and decorations

Special dishes and decorations

Our chefs prepared special dishes for the evening, with traditional table decorations created from coloured rice.

Celebrations took place at Indigo and Citronelle restaurants.

The name Divali comes from the word Deepavali, which means ‘row of lamps’.

Divali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.

Don’t miss more lovely photos of Divali at Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice on our Constance Facebook page.

Preparing for the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival 2012

Preparations are well under way already for the 7th Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival, due to take place in March next year.

Gala evening 2011

Gala evening 2011

Bruno Le Gac, our Corporate Executive Chef, gives us an insight into the organisation behind what’s become the most prestigious culinary event in the Indian Ocean.

On the last day of the Festival Culinaire, we’ve already started thinking ahead to next year’s event…

The festival has been extremely successful since it began in 2005. Every year, we work harder than ever to make the next edition even more memorable than the last.

What’s new for 2012?

In 2012, guests will be more involved in the competition, so they really feel the excitement of the competing teams. They’ll feel the anticipation and suspense ‘live’, like on the competitive cookery shows on TV.

Planning next year’s festival

At the end of each festival, we have a debrief with the organisation team to discuss which parts of the program to keep, what needs to be adjusted and what innovations we should introduce to the next festival. From this discussion, we begin to write the programme of events.

The internal organisation in the hotel is a huge task. Chef Dominique Grel and his team have become experts at this. But it’s always a lot of work and requires great dedication.

Choosing who takes part

Then we have to think about who’s going to take part.

The judges and the winners 2011

The judges and the winners 2011

The European chefs

It’s a difficult alchemy to pull off because the professionals that we invite need to connect and share something special together. It’s all about harmony.

Being a food-lover, I like to describe the sense of competition as being akin to chilli. A touch of it is nice to bring a bit of zing, but too much is overpowering and counter-productive…

There’s now a large family of chefs all over Europe who have become friends through the event, and who meet up regularly.

The judges

The choice of the jury members is also extremely important. They must be well respected professionals who can all get along well, even if they have different backgrounds and ideas about what makes a great dish.

The island chefs

Last but not least, we need to select the candidates from our hotels. For the first time this year, we’ll have participants from 6 of our resorts. The process has already begun.

  • First step is a questionnaire.
  • Second is a practical task where the chefs have to create two classical recipes ‘from the book’. No innovation required – it’s all about technical ability and precision.
  • Third and last step is a competition with two recipes to make. The ‘basket’ of ingredients is the same for all chefs, and they are free to prepare anything they want out of it. We want to see technique of course, but mainly we’re looking for talent, creativity, taste and elegance.

The winners earn the right to represent their hotel, their colleagues and their country during the final event that takes place in Mauritius in March.

Let the show begin!

Find out more

Don’t miss our article about the spirit of the Bernard Loiseau Culinary Festival.

And if you want to know more about the event, get in touch with us. You can get in contact with us via Twitter, post photos to Facebook or use the comments section below.

Recipe: Chicken Tandoori Marinade

Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds

This week Siddq, our Sous Chef at Jahaz Restaurant, Constance Halaveli, brings you his special homemade recipe for Tandoori Chicken Marinade.

Ingredients

  • 1 large chicken
  • 5g cumin seeds
  • 5g coriander seeds
  • 20g garam masala
  • 8g chilli powder
  • 4 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
     

1. Pre-heat your oven to 220 C
2. Prepare the ground cumin and coriander. Take your cumin and coriander seeds and toast over a medium heat until the spices become very fragrant and brown a little. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. When the toasted spices have cooled grind them in a pestle and mortar to a fine powder, reserve until needed.
3. Make the garlic and ginger paste - simply puree 50% fresh peeled ginger and 50% fresh peeled garlic. Mix together. This keeps for up to 7 days in the fridge if stored in an air tight container.
4. Blend all the ingredients from the recipe together, season to taste with salt and pepper, reserve.
5. Take 1 large chicken and completely remove the skin. Make 3 slices diagonally across both breasts and thighs approx 5 mm deep. This helps the marinade to penetrate and also ensures that your chicken will cook evenly. Then coat the chicken well with your Tandoori marinade.
6. Place chicken on a tray in the oven and leave until the edges almost blacken, when you see this colour change, lower the oven temperature to 180C and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the meat has reached 74 C. When cooking chicken, allow 20 minutes per 500g + an additional 20 minutes at the end.
7. Alternatively, you can cook the chicken on the BBQ.

Every Friday we publish tasty recipes from the Indian Ocean. If you’ve got a favourite dish from your holidays with Constance Hotels, get in contact with us and let us know which recipe you want us to feature next.

You can get in contact with us via Twitter, post photos to Facebook or use the comments section below.