Swedish food mafia

Updated: Jun 21, 2020, 07:58 IST | Prutha Bhosle | Mumbai

The Sweden Consulate in Mumbai has started a cooking series to share culinary secrets from their region with Indians for cheer during the lockdown

Inside the Sweden diplomatic compound in Mumbai, a young and passionate intern is cooking up a storm during the lockdown. What started as an experiment on May 2 has now evolved into a fun cooking series that celebrates Swedish food culture and history.

The Swedish Cooking series was initiated by the Consulate office's cultural affairs officer, Renisa Dsouza. "We were looking for new ways to exhibit and promote Swedish culture as it is one of our core missions. Online channels have now become essential for engaging with our connections, so we decided to start a social media series to feature Sweden's food culture and history," says Anna Lekvall, Consul General, Consulate General of Sweden, Mumbai.

Johan Rudhag
Johan Rudhag

Swedish cuisine hinges on healthy, local produce, while certain preparation methods trace their origins to the Viking era. The country's best culinary treasures have always come from the forest and the sea. The idea is to share all these culinary secrets with Indian followers via Instagram and Facebook. "Swedish food culture is constantly evolving, with sustainability and innovation as the key focus. For example, the popular New Nordic Cuisine promotes the traditional Scandinavian recipes for fish and meat, building on the use of local products while reviving and adapting some of the older techniques like marinating, smoking and salting," Lekvall adds.

Johan Rudhag, 24, who joined the office as an intern in January this year, seemed to be the perfect choice to host the online series. Rudhag, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor's in Business & Economics at the Lund University in South Sweden, says, "I remember helping my parents cook weekend dinners when I was six. Since then, my interest has only peaked. During this pandemic, I think the best thing to do is cheer up people in any way you can."

Anna Lekvall
Anna Lekvall

Unfortunately, the pandemic cut short Rudhag's India stint and he returned home in March. But he continues to create cooking videos from Sweden which are released every week in India. "Swedes love food. We have public holidays even to celebrate specific dishes. So, certain bits of the series have been planned around those days, while the rest cover popular and traditional dishes," Rudhag adds.

He says all his recipes can be easily executed by any Indian chef in lockdown. "Swedish food in general is easy to make. The procedures are straightforward and do not involve too many steps. The ingredients are also available in Mumbai, otherwise, you can always use substitutes."

The ongoing series will conclude on June 27.

Swedish Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)

History: Kanelbullar are an integral part of the Swedish culture enjoyed at parties and Fikas—the traditional Swedish coffee breaks. The buns are so popular that October 4 is celebrated as Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden.
Yield: Approx. 20 cinnamon buns
Duration: 2 hr

Dough: 25g yeast, 50g butter, 300ml milk, 45g granulated sugar, ½ tsp salt, ½ tbsp ground cardamom, 500g wheat flour.
Filling: 50 g butter, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 45g granulated sugar.
Coating: 1-2 eggs and pearl sugar

Dough: Crumble the yeast into a bowl. Melt the butter in a pot, add the milk and warm it up on a low heat until lukewarm (37°C). Add a bit of the liquid from the pot onto the yeast and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Add the rest of the liquid, cardamom, sugar, salt and almost all the wheat flour, save a little bit for kneading the dough. Knead the dough by hand until smooth and flexible or by using an electronic dough mixer until the dough does not stick to the bowl anymore. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to raise for 30 minutes.

Filling: Mix the sugar and cinnamon into the butter until fully incorporated.

Knead the dough on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a rectangle shape, approximately 30 x 40 cm in size. Use a butter knife to spread the filling onto the dough. Roll the dough up tightly from the long end of the rectangle. Cut the roll into 2 cm wide pieces. Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray. Place the pieces cut side up on the parchment paper. Cover with cloth and let buns raise for another 20 minutes.

Coating: Whisk the egg in a bowl and then brush the buns with the egg. Sprinkle some pearl sugar on top of the buns. Bake in the oven at 250°C around 8 minutes until nicely golden brown. When the cinnamon buns are done, place them on an oven rack to cool slightly before eating or storing.

Swedish meatballs (KoÌttbullar)

Swedish meatballs (Köttbullar)

History: KoÌttbullar is the most popular dish based on an 18th century recipe from Turkey introduced by the Swedish King Charles XII. The dish is traditionally made with one or two grounded meat varieties tightly rolled with local herbs and served with lingonberry jam, mashed potatoes and pickled veggies such as cucumbers.
Yield: 4 portions
Duration: 1.30 hr

Meatballs: 700g minced meat, 1 onion, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 38g bread crumbs, 1 egg, 200ml heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste and butter for frying
Mashed potatoes: 700g of potatoes, 75g butter, 100ml heavy cream, finely ground white pepper, pickled cucumber, 1 cucumber, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 tbsp white vinegar, 750ml water, 3 tbsp granulated sugar, 25g fresh flat leaf parsley
Sweetened lingonberries: 300g lingonberries (can be substituted for cranberries or red currant), 85g granulated sugar
Cream sauce: 200ml stock and 200ml heavy cream

Pickled cucumber: Mix salt, vinegar, water, sugar and chopped parsley in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Slice the using a mandolin or a knife. Put the slices in a bowl and pour the pickling liquid over it. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to soak for a few hours before serving.

Sweetened lingonberries: Mix berries and sugar in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Cover and leave until ready to serve.

Meatballs: Mix the bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the heavy cream over the bread crumbs and mix. Leave to soak for a few minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the bread crumbs. Peel the onion and grate finely on a grater. Mix the grated onion with bread crumbs mixture, minced meat, dijon mustard and egg. Fill a bowl with water and put a piece of parchment paper on an oven tray. Dip your hands in the water and shape the minced meat mixture into balls and transfer to the oven tray. Whenever you feel like the mince starts to stick to your hands, dip hands in the water again.

Mashed potatoes: Peel potatoes and cook until soft in lightly salted water. When soft, pour out the cooking water and mash with a potato masher or fork. Gradually mix in butter and heavy cream. To finish add salt and white pepper to taste.

Melt some butter in a frying pan. When the butter stops sizzling, add the meatballs to the pan in batches. Let fry on one side until the meatballs have a nice golden brown surface, then flip and fry on the opposite side as well.

Cream sauce: Once you have fried all the meatballs, pour the stock and heavy cream into the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the flavours from the meatballs into the sauce. Bring to the boil and then lower to a medium heat. Let the sauce simmer until it has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.

Serve the meatballs with the mashed potatoes, pour some sauce on top and put some pickled cucumber and sweetened lingonberries on the side.

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