Posts Tagged ‘curry’

A guest post from my brother who has been eating healthily as the Leicestershire County Cricket fitness test looms on the horizon. Surely nothing can make you regret that extra portion on Christmas day more than carrying it with you on a bleep test. So he has posted a recipe which will help shift the Christmas excess…as well as shifting some of the Christmas day leftovers (see photo below).

Greg’s Angry Red Curry

It’s the time of year when days are winding into one another and people are sinking deeper into their armchairs. My angry red curry will kick start folk’s metabolisms if nothing else. With fitness testing and a tour of Sri Lanka coming up, I thought this would be decent way to acclimatise. So this is a meal I’ve recently inflicted on my family.

For Greg’s Naughty Chilli Paste:

1 onion
3 Scoville-heavy red chills
4 garlic cloves
1 chunk of fresh ginger
2 loaded tbsp of chilli powder
2 tbsp of sun dried tomato paste
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground corriander
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 anchovies
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
Dash of cinnamon

Blend all of this up in the smoothie maker you got your little sister for Christmas, and then put it in the fridge.

For the rest of the curry:
2 onions, diced
another clove of garlic
2 red peppers, sliced
1 aubergine, sliced
leftover cooked Christmas beef (too manly for turkey)

To make the curry, fry 2 the onions and then add the garlic. Next, add the aubergine and pepper to the pan. Once sufficiently sweated, pour in the pre-prepared chilli paste. Next, add the leftover Christmas beef to the pan. Again, garnish with coriander.

Serve up with rice, a passive yoghurt dip (see below) and mango chutney. Get someone to drive to the local curry house to pick up s of lotpopadoms and peshwari naans.

Preparation is improved if you can dress in theme whilst cooking. Gap yar wife beater top works well.

For the accompanying ‘Passive yoghurt sauce’:

1 cucumber
250ml yoghurt
bit of of mint
one lime
bit of coriander

Grate and strain your cucumber
Stir this into the yoghurt
Chop mint add the juice of a lime, and garnish with coriander.

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My family don’t shoot.

A few years ago Dad killed quite a few tadpoles by turning on a water pump that pumped them out of the pond (though Mum transported most of them back to safety in a tea strainer), and he did once tentatively tread on a paving stone he’d put on the head of a rabbit which had been badly mauled by a dog.

If someone’s catching fish, then Dad will chuck them back. If our dog kills a hare then my parents go into mourning and the death of a wren always evokes more emotion than is normal.

Despite this, Dad can polish off a steak like the next person*. Considering the anti-shooting stance at home, there is always an exceptional amount of bacon, sausages, pork pie, chicken, steaks…etc… in the fridge.

As an enthusiastic carnivore myself, I realise that if I want to carry on eating meat, (which I do) then somebody has got to kill it. And although I’m not very good at the shooting part (purely incompetence – no moral stance), I’m more than happy at dealing with the bird afterwards to make sure that every bit of the meat gets eaten and enjoyed in the most delicious way so the bird hasn’t been killed in vain.

So, when I was invited shooting last weekend I jumped at the chance. Well, that’s not strictly true – I was actually doing a Haagan Daaz tasting competition in Leicester Square when the shooting part was going on (post coming soon). But I was there for the party afterwards. And to help sort the pheasants the following morning.

Charlie gutting the pheasant

Rory cutting the wings

Andy and Buck washing the meat

So, lucky old me headed back to London with a stash of ten pheasant breasts to play with.

But when I started looking up recipes, I was saddened that most of them involved pints of cream and big glugs of booze - two things I don’t need any more of at this time of year. And two things that could swamp out the delicious pheasanty flavours.

After a bit of furtling around, I came across Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe for a pheasant curry so I decided to give it a go, interested to see how the strong, gamey flavours worked with all the spices.

Before we start, I should point out that I tweaked Hugh’s recipe a little bit. He suggests roasting the marinated bits of bird for half an hour before adding it to the curry sauce. But pheasant dries out horribly quickly which made me far too scared to stick it in the oven – especially because I was using just the breast which dries out quicker than, say, leg still on the bone.
So I friedthe marinated breast in a hot pan for a couple of minutes to seal the meat and give it some colour, then I put them in the simmering curry sauce so that the meat cooked through.

If you happen to procure some pheasants, then do give this a go. I’m usually very critical of my own cooking, but this really was delicious. It made me wonder why people ever use chicken in curries, and it made me wonder why people ever cook pheasant in cream and booze when this combination was clearly meant to be.

About four whole (jointed) pheasants…though I used ten breasts – I think this part is flexible.

For the marinade
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp thick yoghurt
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 golf ball-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
2-4 red chillies, finely chopped

For the tomato sauce
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 small nugget fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1-3 small red chillies, finely chopped
5 cloves
1 tsp salt
175ml water

The flavoured ghee to add at the end
125g butter (I did NOT use this much, probably more like 80 - I suppose it depends how much of a curryhouse taste you’re craving!)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp tomato purée
4 tsp honey
170ml double cream
1 tbsp fenugreek
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for the marinade

Firstly, mix together the marinating ingredients in a big bowl. Put the pheasant meat in it and pop the covered bowl in the fridge overnight (though I kept everything marinating for 36 hours).

The first step of putting together the curry is the tomato sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients into a big pan and heat. Weirdly, Hugh’s recipe didn’t require the garlic to be cooked first, so everything was just bunged in the tomato sauce raw – I followed the instructions and it turned out just fine, so I would advise you do the same!

While the sauce is gently bubbling away, heat up another frying pan with a glug of oil in the bottom, then pup the pheasant breasts in one by one, sealing the meat. Then cut the pheasant breasts into bitesized pieces and and pop them into the tomato sauce.

If you have any leftover marinade in the bowl at the end, then scrape that out in the tomato sauce too.

Let the tomato sauce with the pheasant in it simmer away gently for 20 minutes. In the meantime, make the flavoured ghee by melting the butter on a gentle heat, then adding the cumin, honey, fenugreek, tomato puree, pepper, lime juice and cream.

Just as you’re about to serve the curry, pour in the flavoured ghee, which should turn the curry from a deep red colour to a warm orange colour. Serve with roti and rice. Delicious!

* Disclaimer. I spoke to my mum this morning who informs me that her and dad are in fact now vegetarian, so apologies for the inaccurate steak-eating allegations above.

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There are over 150 different languages spoken in India.
Whether it’s one of the 422 million Hindi speakers or one of the 38,000 Lepcha speakers, it seems like everyone has a different word referring to the same thing.

It’s not just the language that changes every time you get off a train, but the food as well. If you’re looking for something bread-like to accompany a curry then you could go for a naan, roti, chapatti, dosa, puri, appam, phulka…you get the point.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Like most Brits, I knew that a korma was generally quite creamy and yellow. I knew that the main purpose of a Vindaloo was for blowing the heads off boozed-up stag parties and I knew that Baltis were steeped in national pride having never set foot in India, but being invented in Birmingham. But that was about it.

The Pataks and Sharwoods have added to the mystique surrounding the art of curry making. I suppose it’s in the interest of these curry sauce magnates to imply that their ready-made jars contain a complex combination of ingredients that couldn’t possibly be put together by the British home cook.

But I’ve had a revelation. And a big part of it is because I’ve discovered the true meaning of ‘masala’. For all my life up to now, ‘masala’ was just a generically Indian, curry-related word which was spoken with great authority when ordering an Indian: “I’ll have the chicken tikka masala and a Kingfisher”.

But as of last week, I’ve learned the simple truth that a ‘masala’ is just a mixture of spices, often combined with a bit of water for a DIY curry paste. Get a basic arsenal of spices, learn what goes with what, and you’ve suddenly got a huge repertoire of curries at your fingertips which will exceed anything on the Tesco shelves.

In Fort Cochin I went on a cooking course and learned some basic masala recipes which I’m I thought I’d share with you, dear reader, below.

Fish Curry

MASALA for fish curry
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp fenugreek powder (too much fenugreek in masalas can create a bitter taste)
4 tsp chilli powder (I’ve got Kashmiri chilli powder which is a warm, medium strength)
mix together with ½ water glass of tap water

Also (for 4 people)
500g meaty fish (we used barracuda)
½ finger-sized piece of ginger (cut into ½ cm squared pieces)
6-8 cloves of garlic
3-4 shallots (loosely cut)
4 tbalespoons of coconut oil (corn or sunflower is ok, but avoid olive oil)
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
4-5 teaspoons of tamarind paste

Pour the oil into a pan, and on a low heat start cooking the garlic, shallots, mustard seeds and ginger. Stir together the masala in a separate bowl, and then add it to the pan with the garlic etc., ‘roasting’ it on a slow heat for 7-10 minutes, until it starts to turn a darker colour.

Add the tamarind paste, and then use a good splash of water to rinse out any residue from the masala bowl and add it to the pan. Add a little salt or curry leaves (as in photo) if you fancy. Then turn up the heat a little bit so the curry is starting to bubble very gently—at this point carefully add then add the fish. Cook gently for 20-25 minutes, and try not to mix it too much—fish is more likely to fall apart than meat or vegetables.
Nb. If your curry is looking too watery, then add a little cornflour mixed with water or some potato flour to thicken and stir in gently.

Green Pea Curry

MASALA for Chickpea or Green Pea curry
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 ½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
Mix together with ½ glass of tap water

Also (for 2-3 people)
150-200g chick peas or green peas
1-2 onions
1 finger-sized piece of ginger
5 garlic cloves
(Optional) coconut milk
(Optional) fresh tomatoes

Sautee the onion, ginger and garlic in oil. Add the masala, and gently roast until it begins to turn a darker colour and the oil starts to separate a little. Add the peas or chickpeas and cover with a mug of water – just enough so that the water is sitting a little below the line of the vegetables. If you fancy, then add fresh tomatoes at this stage (or anything else that takes your fancy.) Cook on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Add a mug of thick coconut milk if you have some lying about—make sure that the pan is off the heat when you add this otherwise it will curdle.

Dhal Curry

MASALA for Dhal Curry
1 ½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp tumeric powder
Mix together with ½ glass of tap water

Also (for 2 people)
1 cup red lentils
2 ½ cups of water
Sprinkle of mustard seeds
6-10 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
3 tablespoons of coconut oil (sunflower or corn is fine—avoid olive oil)

Sautee the garlic and onion. Add the mustard seeds, and then the masala—though don’t cook it for too long as cumin and chilli can burn quite easily. Tip in the lentils and water into the pan with the garlic, onion and masala, then cook on a gentle heat, adding salt to taste. Serve with chopped coriander leaves and a hearty squeeze of lime juice.

Leelu Roy making chapattis

Making Chapatti (roughly 8 chapattis)
1 cup of lukewarm water
2 cups of wheat flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp corn/sunflower oil

Use one hand to bring together the flour, water and salt in a mixing bowl. If it’s a little wet then add some more flour. Knead it, then add the oil and knead again for a couple of minutes.

Divide the dough into little, lime-sized balls. Sprinkle a little flour onto a surface and then roll them out to a couple of millimetre’s thickness.

Put the chapatti on a medium heat pan, and cook until it begins to turn colour, then brush some oil on both sides, press and turn with a spatula. Keep them warm by stacking them and covering with a tea towel—reheating them in an oven or microwave will turn them hard.

Leely Roy making chapattis

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Back from Kerala about a stone heavier, covered in mosquito bites and buzzing from an epic adventure.

We travelled between Fort Cochin, Ooty and Alleppy on trains, buses, and boat. We infiltrated the Maharaja of Mysore’s summer palace, had an epiphany over the actual meaning of ‘masala’, and Tom narrowly escaped serious injury after throwing himself headfirst down an 8ft ladder carrying a tea tray.

But I’m not going to prattle on, because a picture speaks a thousand words, so here we go…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Tomorrow is the start of National Curry Week . Sure, the national event might’nt have as much clout as Christmas or New Year (not yet anyway…) but it is a chance to have a go at breaking the poppadom tower challenge (currently 5ft 1”) or the samosa speed challenge (how many can you wrap in 10 minutes?)

…or, you could just use it as an excuse to whip up a curry, which is exactly what I did. The lovely ‘wallahs’ at Dishoom - my favourite Indian restaurant –sent me the recipe for their legendry Ruby Murray curry, which kept me warm on many not-so-balmy summer evenings at their not-so-tropical Chowpatty Beach pop up on the South Bank.

The great thing about this curry are the clean, delicate flavours – it’s not swilling in ghee or saturated with cream. Although mine did taste good, Dishoom’s version was darker in colour then mine, and the flavours ran deeper…maybe I just prefer eating other people’s food…but if I work out any sort of tweaking to the recipe that makes the curry end up more like Dishoom’s version, I’ll let you know.

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients – they’re so cheap and easy to come by (especially round Bethnal Green) and once you’ve invested in a boxful of ‘Indian ingredients’ then the next curry you make will be even cheaper, and you’ll already have the key ingredients which is always satisfying.

Ingredients (for 2)
50ml vegetable oil
6 chicken thighs (boneless and cut into 2 inch cubes)
5 green cardamom pods
4 bay leaves
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
20g tomato paste
several dried chillis (Dishoom recommend a Kashmiri red chilli pod)
3 large chopped onions
20g ginger paste
30g garlic paste
20g coriander powder
10g cumin powder
3 large, chopped tomatoes
fresh coriander (to garnish)

I thought I’d stick to the recipe and use boneless chicken thighs – I’m not a fan of using chicken breast, especially in a recipe that involves cooking things for a long time, because they dry out so easily. The problem is that buying boneless thighs is pretty expensive, so have a go at boning them yourself – this guy will show you how. It really is worth it, and the meat is so much more flavourful. Do this before you begin so everything is all prepped and good to go.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks and chilli until they start to crackle and release their flavour.

Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, then add the ginger and garlic pastes, then the coriander and cumin powder.

Then, after a couple more minutes, put in the tomatoes and chicken, and whack up the heat.

Let the curry bubble away for 25 minutes. The chicken should be juicy and tender – but not pink, so do check before serving. Garnish it with fresh coriander, and serve with rice, nan, poppadom…or my favourite, rotis.

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Am just off to eat the leftovers of this delicious vegetable curry for lunch.
Cheap, healthy and really, really tasty!

Ingredients (for 4)
2 red onions
2 chillis
1 (200g) tin of chickpeas
2 (200g) tins of tomatoes
1 large aubergine
1 teaspoon of cumin
Coriander (fresh or dried)
4 garlic cloves
250g fresh spinach

Start by dicing the red onion, and gently cooking it in a heavy-bottomed pan with a bit of oil. Add the chopped chillis, crushed garlic, cumin and coriander (only if you’re using dried coriander – if you’ve got your hands on fresh coriander, then add it at the end with the spinach). Next, drain and rinse the fresh chick peas, then chuck them in. Then chop the aubergine into 2cm cubed chunks, and add that to the pan as well. Cook for five to eight minutes on a medium-low heat.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Taste some of the sauce, and check that it’s seasoned to your liking—add some more spices, salt or pepper if you fancy.

As you’re reaching the end of cooking, then stir in the fresh spinach until it’s fully wilted, and (if you’re using fresh coriander) then add that too.

This could work as a delicious vegetable side dish with lamb. Serve with rice for a conventional curry—though we just ate it with some flatbread so we could mop up all the juices.

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In my ongoing quest to find the best of the best curries, I’ve come across another worthy contender.

Hazraj has just opened in Kentish Town, and delivers delicious, cheap Indian street food rather than the overpriced, Anglicized curry-sludge that Londoners are subjected to in so many other curry houses round the city.

For £5.95 you can make your own curry tiffin. Apparently the choice of curries started at a 40-strong repertoire, but was skilfully whittled down to six winners (so that customers aren’t overwhelmed by the choice): chicken tikka masala, chicken malai korma, chicken mughal jalfrezi, lamb kashmiri rogan josh, crispy prawn bhuna and saag paneer.

A selection of the curries on offer to eat in or take away

I went for the lamb rogan josh. The meat was tender, and sauce was delicately spiced – the two most important aspects of a winning curry.

There’s then a choice of four different rices and three different nans – as well as a selection of sides (all £1.95) such as and Dhal Makhni (spiced lentils) and mixed vegetables. I also had a delicious chai latte, which I was told are “selling like hot cakes”.

Sadly the interior is a bit bleak, and it is quite out of the way (unless you live in Kentish Town in which case it must be brilliant) - apparently there are plans to open a chain in Belsize and Highgate though. If you find yourself in NW5 though, it’s definitely worth a visit (and if you don’t, then still contemplate a trip) – you won’t get a better meal in London for £5.95.

Turn right out of Kentish Town tube, and walk a couple of minutes until you reach the point where the roads fork into Highgate and Fortress roads - it’s on the corner at the Fortress side. Opening hours: 8am - 11pm (except Saturday when it opens at 9am and Sunday when it opens at noon.)

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Just a quick scan of my post about Dishoom’s Covent Garden restaurant will tell you what a huge fan I am of the place. So, imagine my excitement when I heard that this summer, they’re lying down sand, stringing up bunting and pumping out beats on the Southbank, to create a pop-up ‘Chowpatty beach’.

Unlike the main restaurant, the Dishoom pop-up is more about snacks and light supper, which can be eaten outside, or in the incredibly decorated portacabin that houses the bar and kitchen.

The menu is described (by Dishoom!) as ‘outrageously tasty.’ And it is. We started with zesty lime and chilli calamari (£5). It’s served in a corrugated cardboard vending cup, and is absolutely delicious – I could have quite happily eaten platefuls all evening.

For main, Tom and I split a mixed vegetable curry (£6.50) and a homestyle chicken curry (£7) which were also light, and flavoursome – and helped heat us up on what was not the warmest evening to be sitting outside.

The only let down at Dishoom is the booze. It tries really hard to plug ‘Gola ices’ which seemed to be luminous-coloured shots with ice flakes, a cross between a slush puppy and some heinous ‘80s cocktail.
Annoyingly, the wine starts at £19.50 for a bottle, which jars with the menu that’s otherwise about good value, cheap eats. It wasn’t even that nice. Especially frustrating when Gordon’s wine bar is 5 minutes walk away, and does, better value and cheaper wine.

I’m definitely going back there – especially on a long, balmy night. There’s more of the menu to try out, and when I’ve got through it, then I think I’ll just start from the beginning again. The only difference is that I’ll get it to take away, and bring my own bottle in a brown paper bag!

The Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar on the South Bank

Popping up from 13th May to 4th October
Monday – Friday: Noon ’til late
Saturday – Sunday: 10am ’til late

Dishoom Chowpatty Beach,
Queen Elizabeth Hall Terrace,
Southbank Centre,
Belvedere Road,
London SE1 8XX

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I was brought up in Leicester. So you can imagine my shock when I went to India, and realised that Indian food was nothing like the ‘indians’ of my childhood.

No luminous, heavy sauces and surprisingly few meaty curries. The food wasn’t one-dimensionally hot and spicy, but complex spiciness – fruity or delicate, or herbal or eye-watering chilli heat.

Dishoom prides itself on being London’s “first Bombay cafe” – and if that means that it serves food like you’re in India rather than a loose English interpretation of Indian food, then it has definitely got something of a claim.

I started off with a lamb tikka roomali roll which was a whole host of lovely, light flavours all wrapped up in a roti. My sister (somewhat of a curry connoisseur) went for the Ruby Murray - the curry of the day - which was chicken in spicy tomato curry sauce, all cooked behind the counter.

Dishoom is in Covent Garden, and it’s a very cool space on a street otherwise overrun with chains: open filament lights dangling from the ceiling, fresh brick walls and collages of Bollywood stills.

The breakfasts look phenomenal – from bacon naan rolls to fruit roomali and Bombay omelettes it’s enough to almost want a hangover for the opportunity of going out for breakfast to get fixed.

Having given it quite a lot of thought, I can honestly conclude that this is one of the best Indians I’ve ever had – a huge, and well considered claim.

12, Upper St Martin’s Lane

http://dishoom.com; 020 7420 9320

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