Red cabbage stir fry

 

We have made our red cabbage stir fry at the Bombay Cook Club a few times recently and have many requests for the recipe.  It's so easy, so healthy and so tasty... full of nutrient packed ingredients like mustard seeds, turmeric and ginger.  Red cabbage is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat, full of anti-oxidants and properties that can assist in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.  It is also low in calories, and full of immune system boosting vitamins like vitamin C.

You can use pretty much any vegetable as a substitute for the cabbage, including potatoes, cauliflower, peas, capsicum and zucchini.  Just make sure you adjust cooking times to suit. 

Here below is how you make it:

1/3 to ½ a red cabbage, finely sliced (you can use a ready cut bag of coleslaw mix for convenience too)

1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

1 tablespoon of grated ginger

1-2 green chillies (to taste), sliced vertically down the middle

½ teaspoon of black mustard seeds

½ teaspoon of cumin seeds

½ teaspoon of turmeric

½ teaspoon of salt (to taste)

Sprinkle of black pepper

Juice of a lemon

Fresh coriander to garnish

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan and fry the curry leaves for a minute or so, then add the mustard seeds, followed a few seconds later by the cumin seeds.  These ingredients will start to spit and pop, then add the green chilli and ginger and fry for a minute or two. 

Add a handful of cabbage and then put in the turmeric powder (so it doesn’t burn directly in the oil), then keep adding the cabbage, stir-frying quickly so it doesn’t overcook and stays a bit crunchy.  Cook for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat.  Squeeze in the juice of a lemon, and add salt, and a grind of black pepper, to taste.  Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Spicy vegetable dal

 

I eat spicy Indian food all year round, but in winter it really becomes comfort food. This spicy, vegetable laden dal is a great way to up your veggie intake and use up everything in the fridge, you won't be able to stop eating it.  Best of all, I make this version with no oil... so it's a good everyday guilt-free meal.

For four serves of dal, you will need:

1 cup of toor dal, moong dal or red lentils (most dals will do)

4-5 cups of water

1 red onion

2 tomatoes

1-2 green chillies

A selection of vegetables: I used zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant and silverbeet

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of tamarind paste, or the juice of at least one lemon

Fresh coriander to serve

Wash and rinse your dal well, and soak it in about 4 cups of water for half an hour to a few hours. Bring it to boil in a large pan, and once it is boiling, skim all the scum from the top and discard.

Have all your vegetables cut into large chunks, and add them now.  Add the cumin seeds, salt and turmeric, lower heat, cover and leave to simmer for about an hour.

This dal is done when everything is lovely and mashed up looking.  You can now blend it, or just mash any large pieces of vegetables up with a potato masher.  At this stage I like to put in some greens - silverbeet or spinach, and cook for another 10 minutes or so.  Taste the dal, add more salt if needed, and the tamarind or lots of lemon juice.

If you want to add a tarka, at this stage you can heat some ghee, fry some more onion till it is brown, garlic, curry leaves, mustard seeds and more cumin seeds, and add it to the dal.

Serve with lots of fresh coriander.  When I made this dal, I coated some Japanese eggplant in olive oil and salt and grilled it, then used it to garnish the dal... it was delicious.

If you're like me you will eat this all winter... sometimes I freeze portions and heat with a bit of extra liquid so I can drink it like soup.

Enjoy!

Lamb biryani

 

Biryani is one of India's oldest dishes, first eaten at the courts of the Mughal emperors in the 1600's.  Biryanis were traditionally lavish, full of meats, dried fruit and nuts, the best rice, saffron and silver leaf.  My mum's mum made an incredible biryani on days of celebration in our family, and mum continues the tradition.  I feel lucky to be able to make it myself, and hope my children will also learn one day.  

The recipe below is for an easy version of biryani - one that takes an hour or two (depending on whether you use a pressure cooker - my mum does, I don't) rather than several.  Don't be put off by the seemingly long list of ingredients, it's actually not too hard to put together.  Perfect for a winter weekend feast.

For 6 people you will need:

750 grams of diced lamb (forequarters, chops... it needs to be a bit bony)

3 medium onions, sliced finely

1 cup of oil

1 cup of yoghurt

1 tablespoon each of crushed garlic and ginger

1 chopped tomato

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

2 teaspoons of chilli powder

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

3-4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon of whole cloves

3 large black cardamom

1 teaspoon of peppercorns

1 teaspoon of shah jeera (black cumin)

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

3 cups of basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for half an hour in 6 cups of water

1/2 a teaspoon of saffron

1 tablespoon of ghee

salt and sugar

Start by marinating your meat in a large, non-reactive bowl: add the yoghurt, turmeric, chilli, ground coriander and cumin powders, ginger and garlic, mix and leave aside (if you have time you can marinate this the night before).

The next and one of the most important steps in biryani making is the onions.  You need to basically deep fry them crisp and golden brown, don't worry about the oil you can drain a lot of it once they are fried.  This onion mix is called birista, see the photo below.

To fry the onions, heat the cup of oil in a large, heavy pot, add the sliced onions and fry well, stirring often until they are crispy and golden.  With a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and drain them on kitchen roll or newspaper... this gets a lot of the oil out.

If you are using the same pot to cook the lamb, drain it of most of the oil, turn the heat back on, add the onions back in and then the marinated lamb.  Next add the chopped tomato and all the whole spices (bay, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and shah jeera), a heaped teaspoon of salt and a spoon of sugar, a little bit of water (like a quarter of a cup) and cook on low for 1.5 to 2 hours until the lamb is tender, stirring occasionally to ensure a nice thick, dark brown gravy is developing.  If you are using a pressure cooker (which takes the least time), you need to cook it for 30 minutes only.

Once the lamb is on, cook the rice.  You should have 3 cups soaked in 6 cups of water, add a teaspoon of salt, a glug of oil and bring it to boil.  Turn down the heat to low and cover, then cook for 10-12 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Once it is cooked, add a tablespoon of ghee and stir in.

Once the rice and lamb is cooked, the next step is to assemble the biryani.  Layer the meat in a large oven dish, and follow with the rice.  You can do one layer of each, or a few layers, but always end with the rice.  

Take your saffron and put it in a tiny bowl with a couple of tablespoons of hot water, which will turn orange.  Swirl this on the top of the rice to give it lovely yellow streaks.

Cover the dish with a lid or foil, and put this in the oven on medium heat - around 180 degrees celsius, for about half an hour.  When it is ready, you can serve it topped with silver leaf, or fried onion, or some toasted slivered almonds or other nuts.

Serve with raita or kachumber.

 

 

Spicy cauliflower, pea and spinach vindaloo

 

This is a very tasty way of getting a lot of different vegetables into a meal: I've used cauliflower, peas and spinach but you can throw pretty much anything you have in the fridge into this curry.

For around four people you will need:

Half a head or so of cauliflower, washed and broken into pieces

A cup of frozen peas

A cup or two of washed spinach leaves 

2 tablespoons of ghee

1 red onion, finely chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 stalk of curry leaves, omit if you don't have any

2 teaspoons of vindaloo masala

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

3 tomatoes, blended, or a tin of diced tomatoes

2-3 teaspoons of vinegar

Heat the ghee and fry the onions gently for 15 minutes until they are lovely and soft and caramelised.  It's really important to fry the onions well at this stage.  Add the curry leaves, garlic and green chilli and fry for another few minutes until the garlic smells cooked.

Add the vindaloo masala, and the tomato, bit by bit, stirring between each addition - you want to build up a thick glossy gravy slowly.  Once the tomato is added, add the cauliflower and peas, and a bit of water or stock to top up the gravy.  Simmer for 20 minutes or so, then add the salt, sugar and vinegar, tasting the curry to make sure you have the balance of flavours right.

Stir in the spinach leaves and serve with hot white rice.

 

Vindaloo steak and crispy potato stir-fry

 

Here is comfort food at its easy best: when you need something tasty but don't have a lot of time to cook.  This recipe is for two people, but can easily be doubled or multiplied to feed more.

You will need:

300 grams of eye fillet or other good cut of steak

1 large or 2 medium potatoes

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon of ghee

1 heaped teaspoon of vindaloo masala powder

1 tablespoon of vinegar

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped, to garnish

fresh coriander, to garnish

squeeze of lime juice, to garnish 

Peel and dice the potato into small cubes, mix with a teaspoon or so of oil and a little sprinkle of salt and roast it in a hot oven or under a grill until they are golden and a bit crispy (say 20-25 minutes).  

While they are cooking, slice the steak into fine strips.  If you have had time earlier, pop the steak in the freezer for an hour or so as it will be easier to slice if partially frozen, but this is not essential.

Heat ghee in a frying pan, fry the crushed garlic for a minute or so, then add the vindaloo masala, followed by the steak.  You only want to stir fry this on high heat for a couple of minutes, after which add the vinegar, salt and sugar and turn off heat.  When the potatoes are done, toss then into the pan, and then garnish with red onion, coriander and fresh lime to taste.

 

Almond and saffron kulfi

 

Sultana made her famous kulfi for our first Spice Mama pop-up Masala Chai morning tea on Friday, and as always everyone loved it.  The version pictured here is of her pistachio kulfi, but yesterday's was almond, cardamom and saffron... yum!  

The recipes for both are below:

ALMOND AND SAFFRON KULFI

1 tin of sweetened condensed milk (395 grams)

Tin full of ground almonds

2 tins full of whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon of saffron strands

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Pour out the condensed milk into a bowl and use the empty tin as a measure for the rest of the ingredients.  

Whip 2 tins worth of cream until soft peaks form. Mix the ground almonds, cardamom and saffron with the condensed milk, then gently fold this mixture into the cream.  Cover bowl tightly and freeze until set.  

This is traditionally a non-whipped ice cream, but you can also put it in an ice cream maker at this point if you want a lighter texture.

PISTACHIO KULFI

1 tin of sweetened condensed milk (395 grams)

Tin full of shelled, roasted pistachios

2 tins full of whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon of saffron strands

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Pour out the condensed milk into a bowl and use the empty tin as a measure for the rest of the ingredients.  

Fill  the tin with shelled, lightly roasted pistachios (around a cup) and then grind these in a blender with the cardamom and saffron strands until the mixture is finely powdered. Whip 2 tins worth of cream until soft peaks form. Mix the pistachios with the condensed milk, then gently fold this mixture into the cream.  Cover bowl tightly and freeze until set.  

This is traditionally a non-whipped ice cream, but you can also put it in an ice cream maker at this point if you want a lighter texture.

Ilona's spicy pepper dish

 

It's such a pity that people don't write any more.  Real writing, beautiful handwriting, on thick paper.  My great grandmother and grandmother's hand written recipe books mean so much more and convey so much more emotion than if they'd been typed into a word document.  Fading script that gets shakier as the books end, smudges, doodled patterns... the books talk to me in a way the typed word never could.  And the letters! Lovingly written aerogrammes on wafer thin paper from India, gossipy and full of news .... I would do anything to go to the letterbox and find one.

Luckily I'm from a family of hoarders, and we still have boxes of paper everywhere. Mum just found this recipe in an old letter written to her by her friend Ilona ... I decided to make it on a whim and oh my goodness!  It's delicious!  Cook it now!  You will need: 

3 peppers (capsicums): red, yellow and green, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

a stalk of curry leaves

2 teaspoons of besan (chickpea) flour

1 teaspoon of red chilli powder

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

oil

squeeze of lemon juice

Make a paste of the besan, chilli, turmeric, salt and sugar by mixing it in a small bowl with a little (1-2 tablespoons of oil) and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, waiting until they pop.  Add the finely sliced peppers and stir fry quickly for a minute or two on high heat.

Add the besan paste, stir it in, and then turn down the heat for another minute or so to finish cooking while stirring to make sure it has blended in.  

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Green chilli chicken kebabs

 

These chicken kebabs are so quick to make and are perfect summer food, easy to grill or barbecue and serve with flatbreads and salad.  To make them for four people, you will need:

500 grams of boneless chicken thigh 

half a red onion

3-4 green chillies

1 teaspoon of salt

half a tablespoon of cumin powder

half a teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of ginger, grated finely

1 teaspoon of garlic, crushed

Juice of half a lemon

bamboo or metal skewers

Blend all ingredients apart from the chicken in a food processor or small blender (the nutribullet is great for this) to make the marinade.

Trim fat from the chicken and chop into pieces around an inch square.  Mix in the marinade in well, then leave to sit in the fridge for as long as you have - overnight is best but even 20 minutes will do.

Thread the chicken onto skewers and grill or barbecue till done.

Serve with lots of fresh lemon.

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.

Spicy seekh kebabs

 

Yes, it's nearly 40 degrees here in Perth today but I need to toughen up, I have Christmas cooking to do!  The hotter the weather the spicier my food seems to become... actually that applies when it gets colder too... so I don't think the weather matters - I need my food hot!  These seekh kebabs are easy to make and great to grill or BBQ, perfect served with a big salad and flat breads.  To make around 12 skewers, you will need:

500 grams of good quality lamb mince

6 large green chillies

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 a medium sized onion

1 teaspoon of grated fresh turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric

1 teaspoon each of crushed ginger and garlic

Juice of half a large lemon

1/3 cup each or chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of oil 

bamboo skewers (soaked for 30 minutes)

Take all the ingredients except the lamb and whiz them up to a thick paste in a food processor.  The thermomix is good, and I have been using my Nutribullet which works perfectly.  

Place lamb in a large bowl, add the marinade paste, get in there with your hands and mix it all really well... knead it like dough for a couple of minutes until everything is really combined and the lamb is soft and mushy.  Cover and keep in the fridge overnight if you can, or for as long as you have before cooking.

To make the kebabs, take a small handful (a quarter cup or so) of the mince in your hand, roll it into a ball and then mould them slowly into a long sausage shape.  Place a skewer into the middle, push it down gently and then shape the mince around it so wraps around the skewer.  

Flatten the kebab slightly so it will sit flat, and place on an oiled grill tray under a hot grill or BBQ plate for 10 minutes on each side or until lovely and brown.

Serve with lots of lemon juice and fresh herbs.

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.

 

 

Turmeric roasted cauliflower salad

 

I have spent the winter roasting everything is sight, and am having problems weaning myself off all of the amazing roast vegetables I have become addicted to, particularly pumpkin, sweet potato, potatoes and cauliflower.  

Luckily, I am successfully converting many of my roast meals into salads, and this completely invented on the spot cauliflower concoction was so good, it deserves to be immortalised in an actual written recipe.

For a side salad for four, or a meal for two, you will need:

Half a head of cauliflower

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/3 of a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1/3 of a teaspoon of salt

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon of olive oil

A bag of washed rocket leaves

Half a lime, chopped into quarters

One chopped red chilli 

A handful of coriander leaves

Some sliced red onion

Salt to taste

Start by heating the oven to 200 degrees celsius.  If you have a whole cauliflower, slice it into two, then slice thinly into pieces around half an inch thick.  Wash and dry the cauliflower pieces.  In a small bowl, add the turmeric, mustard and cumin seeds, salt, lemon and olive oil and mix.  Spread the cauliflower pieces on an oven tray lined with baking paper, and using a pastry brush, brush the cauliflower on one side with the turmeric mix.  

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is looking browned, even a little bit burned around the edges.  Remove from oven, turn the pieces over, brush with remaining marinade and continue to bake until this side has also browned well.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the rocket leaves, coriander leaves, red onion, lime and chilli slices. Squeeze over with a bit of lime juice and add salt to taste.  Place around half this mixture on a serving platter, top with pieces of cauliflower, and then add remaining salad and arrange to preference.

You can definitely use a bit more oil both to roast the cauliflower and to dress the salad - but I'm trying really hard with my oil free cooking, so am very conservative in my use.

I have to say this ended up being a very tasty and also very filling meal... I did end up eating nearly half a cauliflower for lunch on my own, but I was in heaven the entire time!!! Enjoy.

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. 

Amazingly easy palak paneer

 

Paneer is so easy to make once you try it you won't ever buy it again.

To make a small ball of paneer around 250 grams in weight (to feed 4-6 in a curry), you will need:

3 litres of full cream milk

1/3 a cup of vinegar (apple cider or white vinegar is fine, you can even use lemon juice)

1 teaspoon of salt

Heat the milk in a large pan on the stove until it boils, stirring well.  To flavour the paneer, we added a teaspoon of red chilli flakes and a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  When the milk is bubbling and rises, pour in the vinegar and keep stirring. The milk will start to curdle really quickly.  Stir and stir until the whey has fully separated and is almost clear.  Turn off the heat.

Place a piece of muslin or cheesecloth into a large strainer in the sink and quickly pour in the curdled milk.  Drain away all the liquid, and squeeze the solids in the muslin into a small ball.  Keeping it wrapped in the cloth, place it on a plate or in a bowl with another plate on top of it and a heavy weight to weigh it down.  Keep it pressed for half an hour or so, then unwrap - you should be delighted to find a solid ball of cheese. 

To make paneer and spinach curry for 3-4 people, you will need:

One portion of homemade paneer, cubed

2 tablespoons of ghee or oil

1 heaped teaspoon of my vindaloo masala (or any good curry powder)

1 large tomato, blended or finely chopped

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 large bag of washed spinach leaves

salt and a bit of sugar to taste

To make your curry, heat the oil in a heavy pan.  Add the vindaloo masala powder, tomato and tomato paste and stir well until you have a glossy and shiny curry paste.  Throw in the spinach leaves and stir for a minute or so, then gently add the paneer.  From here on stir gently so as not to break up the paneer.  Add salt to taste, and a bit of sugar if you need it. Add a bit more water to form as much gravy as you prefer - we eat it as quite a dry dish.

Chick pea vindaloo

 

I am so gloriously happy to see the last day of winter finally come round, albeit a wet, cold and windy one.  Spring is nearly here!  I have made myself the hottest possible vindaloo for lunch and am going to dream about the sun while I'm eating it.  This recipe uses my hand roasted, small batch vindaloo masala, an all natural mix of dried chillies, turmeric, cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper.  If you haven't got your hands on some, try and use another good quality vindaloo masala. 

For 4 people you will need:

2-3 tablespoons of oil

2-3 big tomatoes, blended or grated into a pulp

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

1 green chilli, sliced down the middle

2 heaped teaspoons of vindaloo masala powder

2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or substitute kidney beans, black eyed beans or cannelini beans, alternatively you can also use vegetables)

A cup of stock

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of tamarind paste

To make the curry, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and gently fry the garlic and green chilli for a minute or so until it starts to smell cooked, then add the pulpy tomatoes and stir, followed by the vindaloo powder.  Stir-fry on medium heat until the tomato starts to reduce and the mixture becomes thick and glossy.  At this point add the drained chickpeas, half to a cup of stock, the salt and sugar and the tamarind paste.  Gently cook for 15-20 minutes until the curry reduces nicely, adding a bit more stock to top up the gravy as you go and at the end to achieve the consistency of gravy you like.  Taste for salt, sugar and the right balance of flavours at the end and serve with some baby spinach leaves tossed through, and or some fresh coriander.

Roasted pumpkin, ginger and coconut curry

 
IMG_8085.jpg

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. 

Vegetable vindaloo

 

This spicy vindaloo delivers all the flavour you need to feel like you've treated yourself, but is full of healthy vegetables and spices and is just the perfect way to start a meatless Monday.  I tend to always make my vindaloo with meat, and this was a surprisingly nice change that will stay on my weekly menu. 

For 3-4 people you will need:

4 tablespoons of oil

2 large tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic

1-2 green chillies

2 heaped teaspoons of vindaloo masala

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of sugar

500 grams or about 5 medium potatoes, 150-200 grams of green beans (you can use any combination of veggies)

A cup of stock

1-2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar

Get started by blending the chilli and tomatoes to a paste, or chopping/grating them very finely.  Set aside, and heat the oil in a large pot, then add the crushed garlic and fry for a minute or so until it starts to smell cooked (but doesn't burn).  Add the tomato and chilli mixture, the vindaloo masala and the sugar and salt.  On medium heat fry for a few minutes, you want the tomato to reduce and the oil to separate to the point the mixture looks like a glossy thick paste.  

At this point add your chopped up vegetables, a cup of stock, turn the heat down and cover and cook until the veggies are done, stirring occasionally.  When everything is cooked, taste the curry and add salt/and or sugar, plus 1-2 teaspoons of white vinegar to taste - you want the flavour of salt, sugar and vinegar to balance nicely.

Serve with hot white rice and roti. 

 

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. 

 

 

Coconut vegetable stew

 
coconut stew.png

This coconut vegetable stew reminds me of my childhood.  Pure comfort food, and very healthy.  It can also be easily adapted with different ingredients - next time I'm going to throw in some chicken as well. 

For four people, you will need:

1 tablespoon of coconut oil 

1 stalk of curry leaves (optional)

1-3 green chillies, slit vertically down the middle (depending on how hot you want it)

1 teaspoon of peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 small stick of cinnamon

2 cardamom pods

2 cloves 

3 potatoes, cubed

2 carrots, cubed

1 large handful of green beans

half a cup of green peas

2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock

A tin of coconut milk (you can add more to taste) (I use Ayam brand)

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based frying pan and add the curry leaves, green chillies and whole spices.  Fry for a minute or two until the mixture smells fragrant, then add the potatoes, carrots and beans. 

Add 2 cups of stock, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  After this, add half a cup of fresh or frozen peas, stir in the coconut milk and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  At the end, taste for salt and add if necessary (depending on how salty the stock was), with lots more freshly ground black pepper.

Tomato rice pilau

 

It's comfort food time of the year and this tomato rice is as close to comfort food as you can get. I made this to eat with my coconut vegetable stew, according to an old recipe that my Nana used to make, I remember the flavours from when I was very young.

To make rice for four people you will need:

1 cup of good quality basmati rice (it's all about the quality of the rice)

1 tablespoon of oil

1 large tomato, grated or blended till pulpy

1 small stick of cinnamon

1 bay leaf

2-3 cloves

1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

1-2 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and when hot, add all the whole spices.  When they start to smell nice, add the tomato and stir fry for a couple of minutes until the mixture is mushy. 

Rinse the rice well and add to the pan.  Top up with a little less than 2 cups of cold water (the normal ratio of rice to water is 1:2 but with tomato adds to the quantity of liquid).  The water should sit an inch above the level of the rice.  Add a teaspoon of salt, and bring the rice to boil, uncovered. 

As soon as it boils, turn the heat down to low, cover the pan at an angle so a little steam still gets out, and cook for 10-12 minutes until the water is fully absorbed.  At this stage place the cover on tightly, and leave on the stove for another 10 minutes or so until the rice is fully steamed.  Fluff up with a fork and serve.