40 ingredient lamb curry

 

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet is to ensure you eat a diverse range of natural, minimally processed whole foods every day.  There are so many nutrients in whole food that you just can't take in supplement form, and I've found some of the best advice health advocates give is to encourage you to consume as many good, colourful, real ingredients as you can in order to get the benefits from a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (found in spices). 

My lamb curry is one big hit of whole ingredients, put together into a flavour packed combination that even my usually fussy children can't resist.  Including my bottle masala, which adds 20 freshly roasted whole spices to the mix, there are 40 real ingredients in this delicious meal.  Over 10 different vegetables, plus high quality meat and dairy in the form of ghee and full fat greek yoghurt.  I can guarantee you'll enjoy this curry as much if not more than any Indian take-away meal... because this curry contains the kind of long ingredient list you are actually looking for in your food.

To feed your family fully of goodness, you'll need:

1 kilo of good quality lamb, as free range as you can get, with bones (forequarter chops are great)

half a cup of full fat greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 heaped tablespoon of Spice Mama's bottle masala (or very good quality curry powder)

1 teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of ghee

1 stalk of curry leaves

6-8 spring onions, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 heaped tablespoon of grated ginger

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of grated fresh turmeric

1 chopped tomato

half a zucchini, grated

half a small eggplant, grated

half a cup of pumpkin, grated

2 large potatoes, cubed

half a cup of frozen peas

a large handful of baby spinach leaves 

a large handful of chopped coriander leaves 

With a list of ingredients a mile long, this recipe sounds much more complicated than it is.  To begin, clean and dice the lamb, then marinate in a mix of the yoghurt, tomato paste, bottle masala, salt and sugar.  Leave overnight or even half an hour helps if you're time poor.

Grate all the veggies: zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin, and set aside.

Heat ghee in a large, heavy based pot, then fry off the curry leaves, spring onions, chilli, ginger, garlic and turmeric until lightly brown, then add the tomato and keep frying until lightly mushy.  Add the grated vegetables and keep frying for another minute or two.  Then pour in the lamb and marinade, and fry for a few more minutes until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.

Turn the heat to low, add half a cup of water and cover, cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for an hour and a half.  After this time, add the potatoes, cook for another 15 minutes, then add the peas and cook for another few minutes.  At the end, taste for seasoning, adding more salt if you need to.  Stir through the fresh spinach leaves and chopped coriander just before serving. 

 

 

Healthy black eyed bean and yoghurt curry

 

It's such a relief to be back to healthy eating after snacking and drinking my way through the holidays.  I have so many fabulous, really nutritious recipes from my family archive that I can't wait to share this year.  My mum's black eyed bean and yoghurt curry is up there with some of the tastiest food I have ever eaten.  When she cooks a big pot of this, I can eat it for days... on its own, with rice, roti, or leftover on toast (a highly recommended option).

To cook this for 4 people, you will need:

2 cups of black eyed beans (washed and soaked for a couple of hours), or a couple of tins if you need an easy fix 

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons of oil

1 red onion, finely sliced (optional)

1 stalk of curry leaves (omit if you don’t have any)

1 tablespoon of ginger, finely grated

2 teaspoons of spice mama’s bottle masala (or good quality curry powder)

1 cup of greek yoghurt

sugar and salt to taste

fresh coriander to garnish

Boil the black eyed beans in a large pot of water covering the beans by an inch or so (and the teaspoon of cumin seeds and salt), for around 40 minutes, or until they are soft.  Don’t drain the beans, there should still be a couple of inches of water left and its full of nutrients and taste.  If you're in a hurry, using tinned beans is fine. 

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and fry the onion if you are using on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they are brown and caramelised.  Add the curry leaves, ginger and bottle masala, stir for a minute or so on low so nothing burns.

Add the beans, and stir for a few minutes. Whisk the yoghurt with a cup of water, and with the heat on very low, very slowly stir it into the pan, so it doesn’t split.  

Cook for another 10 minutes or so, taste and add salt and maybe half a teaspoon of sugar; and garnish with fresh coriander before serving.

Easy veggie curry

 

No matter what time of year it is, this easy curry is my go to when I need to up my vegetable intake in a really tasty way.  I can throw in whatever is in season, and I can also make an oil-free version, which makes it totally guilt free.  

To make this curry for 3-4 people, you will need:

1 red onion, finely chopped (optional)

2-3 tablespoons of oil (coconut oil is a good choice)

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped or blended (or a tin of chopped tomatoes will do)

1-2 large green chillies - sliced down the middle and put in whole

1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional)

1 inch piece of ginger, crushed

2 heaped teaspoons of bottle masala (or good quality curry powder)

500 grams of assorted veg, I used cauliflower, snow peas and peas

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

lemon juice, vinegar or tamarind 

Start by heating the oil on a medium fire and frying the onion slowly if using (10-15 minutes) taking your time stirring them until they are soft and caramelised. Adjust the heat so they don't burn, and if they are, add a splash of water now and again and scrape them off the bottom of the pan.  (If I am running short of time I leave out the onion altogether). 

Add the garlic, again optional, the chilli, ginger and the curry powder, fry a minute or so more, and start adding your tomato a very little at a time so you end up with a lovely thick masala paste in your pan.  Finish adding the tomato so you have your gravy, throw in the salt and sugar, partly cover and cook for 15 minutes or so.

While the curry is cooking, prepare and lightly steam your vegetables.  After 15 minutes, throw them into the curry, stir well and cook for another few minutes until they are fully cooked.  Taste for salt and sugar, and add either a good squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon of vinegar or a teaspoon of tamarind paste.  The 'sour' ingredient, along with the salt and sugar, is important to give your curry the right balance of flavours.

Serve the curry garnished with a few fresh ingredients - mint, basil or coriander leaves, sliced red onion, chopped cherry tomatoes are all good.

 

 

Oil free chicken and potato curry

 

My love for Indian food is eternal, but I am constantly trying new ways of making old recipes healthier where I can.  I try not to use much oil in my everyday cooking, it is quite challenging as Indian food generally requires a good amount of fat; particularly for frying off onions and spices.

This chicken curry is cooked with a sauce of oven roasted tomatoes, onion and garlic, and turned out really well, with all the flavour I wanted and none of the calories.

For four people, you will need:

3 large tomatoes, quartered

1 large onion, quartered

2 cloves of garlic, without the skin removed

2 heaped teaspoons of my bottle masala (or any good, freshly made curry powder)

4-6 chicken drumsticks

3-4 potatoes in large pieces

a cup of chicken stock

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste, or use a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice

salt to taste (around a teaspoon unless the stock is very salty, then use less)

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

Pre heat oven to around 200 degrees celsius.  Place the cut up onion, tomatoes and garlic in a baking tray and roast for around 30 minutes.  If it is starting to dry up, add a little bit of water to the bottom of the tray and mix around.  Add the bottle masala, and mix up a bit more, then continue to roast for another 10-15 minutes - you should end up with the veggies being caramelised and brown at the edges, and very well cooked.  Remove tray from oven, squeeze out the garlic and discard the skins, let the mixture cool and blitz with a hand blender or in a food processor until you have a lovely thick spicy sauce.

Pour sauce into a large saucepan, heat, add the chicken drumsticks and potatoes, fry for a few minutes and then cover and cook for 40 minutes or so, slowly adding stock a little at a time.  At the end, taste for salt and add the sugar.  Add the tamarind paste, or a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice until the taste of the curry is balanced and slightly acidic.

Serve topped with fresh coriander if you like it, and hot white rice. 

Roasted pumpkin, ginger and coconut curry

 
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I posted this pumpkin curry recipe at the start of winter and I can't think how many times I have cooked it over the last few months, it has definitely been on high rotation. I am reposting it because although the weather is getting warmer, it is definitely going to stay on the menu in this house.... definitely recommend giving it a go.

To roast the pumpkin:

400-500 grams of pumpkin, peeled and cubed (I use half a butternut pumpkin, or squash)

1 tablespoon of coconut oil 

half a teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of turmeric

half a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds (optional)

For the curry:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 tablespoon of ginger, finely grated

1 tablespoon of bombay bottle masala

1 green chilli

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

1 can of coconut milk - I use Ayam brand

half a teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of tamarind paste

Coat the pumpkin with oil, salt and turmeric and roast for 20 minutes in an oven heated to 200 degrees C.  Leave to cool.

To cook the curry, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the green chilli, curry leaves (if you have them), ginger and lastly the bottle masala.  Keep cooking for a couple of minutes, adding a splash or two of water if it starts to stick.  Slowly add the coconut milk to taste – you can add the whole can or half a can plus half a can of water or stock depending on your preference. 

Add salt, sugar and tamarind, and simmer for around 15 more minutes.  Then add the pumpkin, a tablespoon of tomato paste and stir, cooking for a further few minutes.  Taste for seasoning and toss in a large handful of fresh baby spinach leaves to serve. 

Chicken and coconut curry

 

Of all my granny's recipes, this is probably the most famous and well loved.  When I was very young and living in Bombay, I remember her having her tea on the verandah of our flat, chairing often-heated discussions about the day's menu with her kitchen staff.  Chicken curry was always a favourite, served with pilau, mince cutlets and yellow potatoes.

Mornings would be spent grinding fresh masala and cracking open coconut, with fresh aromatic smells filling the house along with the sound of sizzling pots of frying onions.  Life seemed to be conducted and time pass in tune with the food the household cooked and ate.  If I made a 1000 chicken curries I could not recreate the anticipation and flavour of that delicious lunchtime meal.

To make your own version, you need to use my hand roasted and ground bottle masala, but if you don't have any try a very freshly ground good quality curry powder instead.  Or buy some of my masala.... really :). 

You can also replace chicken in this recipe with any meat, fish or seafood, and adjust cooking times to suit. 

For four people, you will need:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil 

1 red onion, finely chopped or grated (optional)

1-2 green chillies, sliced vertically down the middle 

2 cloves of garlic (optional)

1 heaped tablespoon of crushed ginger (optional)

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

500 grams of chicken pieces (try not to use breast - legs, thigh and tenderloin are ok)

2 heaped teaspoons of bottle masala

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

1 tin of coconut milk or cream

Stock or water

Fresh coriander to garnish 

Marinate the chicken in a mixture of the tomato paste, vinegar, bottle masala, salt and sugar for as long as you can (overnight is great but not essential - I often don't leave it to rest at all if I'm in a hurry).

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onions until brown and caramelised (10-15 minutes), add the curry leaf, green chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for another 2-3 minutes. All of these ingredients are optional, so if you don't have time to fry the onions, omit them. Ginger and garlic will add lots of flavour but you can also omit either one and use more of the other depending on the flavours you like best.  

Add in the chicken and as much marinade as you can scrape in, and fry for another minute or two.  

Slowly add half a cup of water or stock and cover and cook until the chicken is done (15-20 minutes for boneless, 40 minutes for legs or bone-in thighs is a good guesstimate), stirring occasionally.  When everything is cooked, add half to one cup of coconut milk or cream and taste for salt or sugar, then cook for 10 more minutes.  

Garnish with fresh coriander and you can also add a good squeeze of lemon juice before serving. 

 

 

Oven roasted lamb cutlets

 
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This is one of those perfect, easy to throw together one-dish winter meals.  That everyone in my family loves.  Amazingly.  

To make enough for four people, you will need:

1 kilo of lamb cutlets

2 heaped tablespoons of full fat greek yoghurt

2 heaped tablespoons of tomato paste

1 tablespoon of oil 

1 heaped tablespoon of bottle masala (or good quality, freshly ground curry powder)

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

A punnet of cherry tomatoes

Fresh coriander and lemon to garnish

Make a marinade with the yoghurt, tomato paste, oil, crushed garlic and seasonings and coat the lamb.  I do this in a snap lock bag which inevitably tears... and then I saw on Masterchef last week that you can use two bags, one inside the other to prevent this, which had never before occurred to me.  Leave for anything between 30 minutes to overnight, depending on how much time you have.

To cook the lamb, you can grill, pan fry, BBQ or bake it.  For this recipe I put the lamb in a big oven dish and bake it in a 200 degree oven for around 10 minutes, then I take it out, throw in the cherry tomatoes and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the lamb browns and tomatoes go a bit mushy.  

When the lamb is done, take it out and leave it to rest for a few minutes before serving.  Serve topped with fresh coriander and lots of fresh lemon juice. 

 

 

Mince samosas

 

These samosas are the best in the world.  Definitely worth a try... but if you are completely time poor like me, you can use this filling and make curry puffs using puff pastry instead.  I have also recently experimented with baking these samosas too, brushing them with oil and cooking them in a hot (around 200 degrees celsius) oven until done (about 30 minutes). 

To make the mince filling for around 40 small samosas, you will need:

500 grams of beef mince, 3 star (the mince needs some fat)

1 tablespoon of oil

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

a tablespoon of ginger, crushed

1 green chilli, split vertically down the middle 

1 heaped tablespoon of bottle masala (or very good, freshly made curry powder)

1 cup of fresh or frozen peas

1 tablespoon of full fat yoghurt 

1 teaspoon of salt

Fresh lemon juice to taste

(One potato, boiled and mashed, optional)

For the samosas you will need:

1 packet of frozen spring roll pastry

a bottle of peanut oil

To make the mince, heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, fry until it smells nice, then add the bottle masala, followed by the mince.  Keep frying to break up the mince.  Lower heat and cover and cook for a few minutes, then remove the lid, turn the heat back up and fry the mince until it is quite dry and the fat is released (it starts to fry in its own fat).  Throw in the peas and cook until they are done, then add salt, stir in the yoghurt and squeeze in some lemon juice (to taste). You can stir in some chopped spring onion and/or coriander at this point too, and another option is to add in some mashed potato to make the mixture softer.  Set aside and leave to cool.

To make the samosas, defrost the pastry and cut the sheets into 4 strips.  You need two layers of pastry on top of each other per samosa.  In a small bowl, make a thick paste of flour and water and set aside, this is your 'glue'.  Also get hold of a damp tea towel to cover and keep the stack of pastry damp so that it doesn't dry out.  

Starting at the top, fold the pastry strip down into a triangle, and take the opposite corner and fold over to make a slightly bigger triangle.  You should now have a small cone that you need to fill with a heaped teaspoon or so of cold mince.  Once the mince is in the pastry, keep folding the pastry down into triangle shapes, taking the opposite corner each time.  Keep the corners tight so the mince filling stays inside, and use the flour and water paste to 'stick' the folds together.   When you have just a small bit of pastry left, apply some paste and tuck it into the last fold, like an envelope.  The photo above should demonstrate each fold from start to finish where my explanation has failed. 

When you have all your samosas done, you will need to shallow fry them on high heat in a large, heavy frying pan using about an inch of oil.  They won't take more than a couple of minutes on each side to brown.  Drain them on kitchen paper when they are done.

If you have made a big batch of samosas you can also freeze them uncooked in small batches, to make it easy for them to be defrosted and fried up.  You can also easily warm up leftover samosas in the oven to keep them crispy.  We don't really have this problem as they disappear pretty quickly.  

 

Chicken and snow pea curry

 

This is a lovely light chicken curry made with spring onions, and no ginger and garlic. It's perfect when you don't fancy a heavy meal, but still want some chilli.... which for me is, always.

To serve four, you will need:

500 grams of chicken (I used thigh)

3-4 potatoes, cubed

large handful of snow peas

3 tablespoons of oil

8 spring onions, chopped and divided into white and green

1-2 green chillies

2 tomatoes, grated or finely chopped

1 tablespoon of bottle masala

half a teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of sugar

1 stock cube, crumbled up or a teaspoon of stock powder

1/4 cup of coconut milk

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste, or fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a large heavy based pot and add the white parts of the spring onions, stir-frying for a minute or so.  Add the green chilli, tomatoes and bottle masala, and fry for another few minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and it starts to smell aromatic. Add the salt, sugar and stock cube or powder, then add the chicken and fry for another minute or so.  Tip in the potatoes, add a little bit of water (1/4 to half a cup) and cover and cook for 20 minutes or so.  

After this, throw in the snow peas, stir in the coconut milk and tamarind paste (or lemon juice if you don't have any), top up with a bit more water to get the consistency of the gravy to your liking and taste for salt and sugar.  

Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the snow peas are done, and serve topped with fresh coriander and the green bits of the spring onion. 

Simple egg curry

 

This curry started off as a mishmash of neglected fridge items, but ended up being exactly what I needed on a cold Friday night.  Egg curry is a firm favourite in our family and is pretty quick to cook up when the fridge is bare, and you can throw in anything else you have on hand - in this case a big bunch of silver beet. 

To serve four, you will need:

8 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced in half

3 tablespoons of oil

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 inch of ginger, crushed

1-2 green chillies, chopped

2 tomatoes, grated or finely chopped

1 tablespoon of bottle masala (or any other good quality curry powder)

half a teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of sugar

1 stock cube, crumbled up

1 tablespoon of tomato paste 

1/2 a tin of coconut milk or cream

fresh lemon juice 

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and keep frying until they start to smell cooked.  Add the tomatoes, the bottle masala, salt and sugar and stock cube, and stir well until it starts to become glossy.  Add a tablespoon of tomato paste, and then some water, bit by bit, to make the gravy.  

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so until done, then as an option add any vegetables you want (like silver beet in this case) and cook for a few more minutes.   Taste for salt, and stir in the coconut milk.  At last, take your sliced hard boiled eggs and arrange them on the surface of the curry, cooking for another minute or so until warm.  To finish, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and top with coriander. 

Red chicken stir-fry

 

It is the middle of winter and I am living on spicy food in an attempt to warm up.  The colour and flavour of this lovely red stir-fry does a pretty good job of reminding me of summer, and it's easy to whip up with my Bombay Bottle Masala.  If you don't have yours yet, try and use another good fresh curry powder instead, or a combination of red chilli, turmeric and cumin powders.

To serve four you will need:

500 grams of chopped chicken (I used thigh fillet)

3 tablespoons of oil 

I red onion, finely chopped or grated

 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1-2 green chillies, chopped

1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds (optional)

2 tomatoes, finely chopped or grated

1 tablespoon of Bombay Bottle Masala

1 heaped teaspoon of hot paprika or kashmiri chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt 

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1 crumbled up stock cube

1 heaped tablespoon of tomato paste

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste (or squeeze in some lemon juice instead)

Start by heating a tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy based frying pan.  Add the chicken pieces - not all at once, brown them in batches and set aside.

In the same pan add the rest of the oil, then add the onion and start to brown, followed by the garlic, green chilli and cumin seeds if you are using them.  After 8-10 minutes, add the tomatoes, spice powders, salt, sugar and stock cube and stir-fry for a few minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and the whole mixture looks glossy.  Add the tomato paste and stir well, then tip in the chicken and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until done.

At the end, add a bit of tamarind paste or lemon juice and taste to ensure there is enough salt and sugar to balance the flavours.  Garnish with lots of fresh coriander leaves before serving. 

 

Easy yellow fish curry

 

This fish curry is incredibly easy to prepare, and would have been the staple dish in many Indian households where fish was easy to access. In my grandmother’s house, the fresh masalas would be ground and the coconuts opened and scraped first thing in the morning.  The fish seller would come to the door with a selection of the day’s catch, and by lunchtime the curry would be ready.  

I use my bottle masala for this recipe, if you don’t have any, use a very good curry powder (one without salt, sugar, flours, preservatives or anti-caking agents) or try a simple mix of red chilli powder, turmeric and ground cumin and coriander.

For up to 4 people you will need:  

500 grams of fish fillets (I used Spanish Mackerel)

3 tablespoons of oil (coconut oil works well)

a stalk of curry leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon of bottle masala

1/3 teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 teaspoon of salt

a stock cube

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

a tin of good quality coconut milk (I use Ayam brand)

Place the fish fillets on a plate and sprinkle with the bottle masala, salt and turmeric. Turn over to coat, and leave to marinate for 30 minutes or so (you can also cook immediately if you don’t have the time).  In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the curry leaves if you have them.  Turn the heat to medium-low and place the fish fillets in a single layer.  Fry for a minute or so and turn over to brown the other side.  Next slowly add around 200 ml or so of coconut milk, crumble in half to one stock cube and stir gently to mix, ensuring you don’t break up the fish too much.  Let the curry cook on a low heat for 10 minutes or so.  At the end, add the sugar and tamarind paste and stir again.  Taste for salt, sugar and the right amount of ‘sour’ from the tamarind, before serving.  If you don’t have tamarind you can use some freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.  

Chick pea, tomato and ginger curry

 

Tinned lentils and beans make a great, easy to prepare comfort food in the depths of winter.  Today was cold and wet, and this quick to make chick pea curry was the perfect antidote.  This recipe uses my bottle masala, so if you don't have any substitute with a good curry powder or your own mix of red chilli powder, turmeric and whole cumin seeds.

To feed four people generously (you can also easily halve the recipe), you will need:

3 tablespoons of oil 

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 stalk of curry leaves (if you have them)

1 tablespoon of crushed ginger

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Bombay bottle masala

2 large tomatoes, blended to a pulp

2 tins of chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste

1 teaspoon of salt

half a bag of fresh baby spinach leaves

a handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion.  Add the curry leaves, ginger and chilli and fry until everything is lightly brown.  Add the bottle masala, quickly followed by the pulped tomatoes and stir until everything is mushy and starts to smell nice.  Empty the drained chickpeas into the pan, stir well and cover and cook on a very low heat for 10-15 minutes.  Stir intermittently and add a little splash of water here and there if the curry is too dry.  At the end, add the tamarind paste and salt, and adjust water to ensure you have as much gravy as you like.  Just before serving, throw in the baby spinach leaves and fresh coriander and stir through. 

 

Bombay potato chops

 

Potato chops are an institution in Anglo Indian cooking.  They are basically crumbed and fried patties with a surprise centre of spicy mince coated in soft mashed potato, and definitely take the made-for-each-other combination of meat and potato to a whole new level of deliciousness.

In my family of course everyone has their own version of the recipe which they will fight in the trenches to claim as the best.  To maintain my relationship with my mother I had to overlook my Nana's and her old cook Hira's recipe and go with hers, and I have to admit they were pretty amazing.

Potato chops are a bit fiddly to make but they are worth the effort.  You can always make the potato and mince filing a day ahead so you're not in the kitchen for hours doing them all at once. Or more efficiently, make your mum do it for you.  

Eat them with curry and rice or just plain as a burger or in a sandwich... however you do you'll be converted.. especially if you're my Irish husband, who's enthusiasm was so great it stretched to the inadvertent consumption of eggplant.

To make 12 potato chops you will need:

For the mince:

2 tablespoons of oil

300 grams of good quality lamb mince (we used organic)

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 large tomato, finely chopped

1 small Japanese eggplant (or substitute with regular eggplant or another veg)

½ a green capsicum

1 heaped tablespoon of Bombay Bottle Masala (or substitute with a good curry powder)

3 finely chopped spring onions

2 finely chopped green chillies

handful of finely chopped coriander

salt

lemon

For the potato chops:

8 large potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

1.5 cups of breadcrumbs – make your own if you can

1 egg

½ cup of oil to fry

Prepare the potatoes and leave aside to cool.

To cook the mince, heat oil in a large heavy frying pan and brown the finely chopped onion slowly.  Add the garlic and then the tomato and stir fry for a minute, then add the bottle masala.  Next add the finely chopped vegetables – eggplant and capsicum, and when everything is looking well cooked add the mince.  Stir fry to break up lumps and ensure everything is well mixed, add a splash of water if you need to and a teaspoon of salt.  Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  When it is done, stir through fresh spring onions, green chilli and the juice of half a lemon, and check for salt.  Set aside to cool.

To make the potato chops, have your bowls of mashed potato and mince ready, spread the breadcrumbs over a large tray, whisk the egg in a small bowl and roll up your sleeves.

Use a 1/3 cup measure or similar to take a scoop of mashed potato in your hand, flatten it into a round patty and then shape it like you are making a small bowl.  Place a tablespoon of mince into the middle of this, and work with your hands to fold over the potato so the mince becomes enclosed (see pic below). 

It takes a bit of practice, but after a few you should get the hang of it and end up with 12 evenly sized flat potato cakes (it is definitely worth persisting).

When you are done, dip these one by one in the beaten egg and coat them in breadcrumbs.

Heat a good layer of oil in a frying pan, and shallow fry the potato chops until they are golden on all sides.  Drain on kitchen towels and if you need, place them in a warm oven to stay crispy until you serve them.

 

Roasted eggplant, tomato and chilli dip

 

I try to start the week with a few healthy, vegetarian meals to make me feel less bad about snacking all weekend.  I love this spicy roasted eggplant dip, delicious guilt-free eating.

1 medium sized eggplant

2 tablespoons of oil (plus a little olive oil to roast the eggplant)

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 green chilli, sliced vertically down the middle

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds

1 heaped teaspoon of bottle masala

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of tamarind paste

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

fresh coriander

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.  Cut the top off the eggplant and slice it in half vertically.  Sprinkle salt on the open faces, rub the eggplant with a little olive oil, place face down on baking paper and roast for around 20-25 minutes.  Remove it once it is looking well browned and a bit charred, and when it has cooled slightly scoop all the flesh out and set aside.  The skin should come off easily and the flesh should be mushy.

Heat oil in frying pan and fry red onion for a few minutes until it starts to brown.  Add green chilli, garlic and tomatoes, fry for a few more minutes until everything is soft. Add bottle masala, salt and sugar and then add the mashed eggplant.  Stir, cover and cook for a few minutes until everything is combined and looking mushy.  Add tamarind and tomato paste and taste for salt and the right balance of flavours - spicy, sour and sweet.  Finely chop and add a handful of fresh coriander at the end. 

Serve with any flatbread or spread on toast, or eat with white rice (you can add a bit of water if you want to achieve a thinner consistency).