Tag Archives: curry

Naan

The following quantities make four naan.

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 2.5g salt
  • 1tsp dried yeast
  • 200mL warm water
  • optionally, 3tbsp plain yoghurt and/or a knob of melted butter and/or some vegetable oil; up to you

Mix dough as usual. It is much harder to measure 3tbsp of yoghurt than it sounds, so don’t worry too much about exact quantities, and the dough may need more/less water depending on the flour. Knead for 5 minutes, rise for 90 minutes, knock down, divide into four balls, roll out and cook in hot heavy pan (no oil) for a couple of minutes a side.


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Saag Paneer

For four as a side.

  • 300g paneer, cubed – the shop bought stuff is best
  • 300g tin of spinach, and by this I mean a tin that yields 300g drained
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 25g butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly diced
  • as much as chilli you fancy, 1tsp cumin seeds, 1 clove, 1 cardamom pod, salt, black pepper
  • as much grated ginger as you dare (fine to use the stuff in jars, in which case at least one tablespoon)

Not much to say. Bash up the spices in a mortar. Melt the butter in the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the spices and fry for a minute. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the paneer, and fry until lightly golden, stirring gently. Add the ginger and fry for another minute. Tip in the spinach, turn down the heat and stir until combined and the spinach is hot.

Don’t try and make your own paneer; too much pain. You could also brown a sliced up onion to the point of collapse before adding the paneer.  Tinned spinach won’t hurt, and will be more reminiscent of an English curry house, but you could obviously wilt down some fresh spinach on top of the fried paneer instead.


Saag Aloo

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A useful side dish, or weeknight main. The following quantities will produce sides for four people or mains for two.

  • 800g potato
  • one small onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • one tin spinach (yes! a tin!)
  • spices, namely
    • ½ tsp cumin seeds
    • ½ tsp mustard seeds
    • ½ tsp chilli flakes
    • 2 cloves, bashed
    • ½ tsp turmeric

Finely slice the onion and pop in a large heavy pan with a smear of vegetable oil, and a generous pinch of salt, on a low heat to colour. Don’t let it burn.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the potato, keeping an eye on the onion. Don’t let it burn. Peel and chop the garlic. Boil the kettle.

When you’ve finished the potato, the onion will be done, if not, be patient. Push the onion to one side, and fry the garlic, adding more oil as necessary. When it’s slightly translucent, shove it to one side, and add the spices, except for the turmeric. Toast them for a minute or so, and then add the potato and the turmeric, mixing everything up.

Finally, arrange the potato in a single layer, and pour over enough boiled water to almost cover. Bring the whole lot to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

The potatoes will cook in their own darned time, which will be around 25 minutes, and as they cook they will exude starch, thickening the liquid, which is also reducing. So. Don’t forget to stir occasionally and, if it starts to stick to the bottom, add a splash more water from the kettle.

Finally, when the spuds are done, add the tinned spinach (casually, but not exhaustively drained) and stir well, to combine. Another minute or so, and it’s ready to serve, although may need more salt.


Weeknight Dhal

Supper for two, or starter for four.

Wash 200g of split red lentils, and pop into a small saucepan with 500mL water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice a small onion, and place in another slightly larger saucepan with 10mL vegetable oil, on a medium heat. Stir regularly until the onion has gone translucent and soft, and then reduce the heat as low as you can, so it’s barely sizzling. The onion needs to be browned, but not burnt, which will take about half an hour.

Coincidentally, after half an hour, the lentils will have gone a pleasing shade of yellow, and all but collapsed. You may need to add a splash of water from time to time if they threaten to solidify. The cooking liquid will become creamy as the starch oozes out.

Into the other saucepan, add a pinch of chilli flakes, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, and two whole cloves, roughly crushed. Stir these as they fry for a minute, and then add the entire contents of the other saucepan, stirring to combine.  Add a teaspoon of turmeric, and allow the whole lot to simmer for a few more minutes before dishing up.


Slow Lamb 2

Let’s take slow lamb over to the other side of the Mediterranean. This isn’t quite perfected, but it’s jolly good nonetheless. Line a roasting tin with a piece of foil large enough to wrap up over and seal, and into it place the following:

  • 1kg lamb neck fillet, chopped up into one inch lengths, try and get this into a single layer
  • the juice of 2 lemons
  • a whole head of garlic, peeled and bashed up a bit, but no need to separate
  • 1 tbsp of dried chilli flakes
  • 6 whole dried chillies
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp of sea salt (sea salt crystals are quite large, so much less if you’re using table salt)
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • a cinnamon stick broken into 2 or 3 pieces

Pack the head of garlic in with the lamb, tuck in the cinnamon sticks, and just sprinkle everything else over the top evenly. Wrap up foil, and crimp, so it’s properly sealed.

Three hours in the oven at 150°C should do. Serve with couscous.

Despite the relatively heavy use of spices, it’s mild and aromatic, rather than viciously hot, as the whole spices seem to preserve more aroma. If you need to use ground spices, then halve the quantities. You could also add a pinch of ground spices if you want to add kick. Don’t bully your guests with too much chilli, instead, just serve with harissa on the side.

(Serves six.)


Cucumber Raita

There are zillions of variations – this particular one is what I serve alongside a vigorous curry.

  • a small cucumber, or half a large one – about 200g
  • 150g of plain (a.k.a. “Greek”) yoghurt
  • a pinch of dried mint
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of mustard seeds – not essential

Cut the cucumber lengthways into four, and trim off the inner section with the seeds, as this will exude too much water. No need to peel the cucumber. Dice this flesh finely, and add to the yoghurt, mint and salt.

If you have some mustard seeds on the premises, lightly crush a pinch of these and add.

Serves four.

Korma Chameleon

A quintessentially English dish, which comes from some hastily scribbled notes made in the mid nineties. Make this with skinless chicken breasts, or pork fillets. You could also use some diced lamb leg. If you’re doing a vegetable version, some hacked up butternut squash and broccoli would be good.

This isn’t a quick fix meal, as you need to make the marinade, do the marinating, and then bake the results, but, with a bit of planning this can be really handy, as you can make the marinade in advance, marinate during the day when you’re at work, and then simply bung it in the oven in the evening.

I liquidise the marinade by shoving the hand blender into the saucepan, which is a lot less washing up than transferring everything to the food processor. If that doesn’t appeal, then just make sure you chop everything finely.

You’ll need:

  • 25g butter (or ghee, or vegetable oil, but not olive oil as it would taste really, really wrong here)
  • 200mL natural (“Greek”) yoghurt – the important thing here is that it needs to be live
  • 150mL cream, either cow or coconut (vary the ratio of yoghurt to cream depending on your tastes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, more if you fancy
  • enough chilli to add excitement (maybe a level teaspoon chilli flakes, one small vicious chilli, or a couple of larger mild ones)
  • 1 large onion
  • 50g ground almonds (or cashews or both)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
  • a bunch of coriander (both leaves and stalks)
    …oh, and…
  • 500g meat with the fat removed, and chopped up into 1 inch pieces, or about 500g of vegetables

Using a small saucepan, fry the (peeled, chopped) onion in the butter for about 10 minutes. You’re looking for a deep golden colour, so don’t be timid. Don’t be so bold you burn them.

Add the (peeled, sliced) garlic and chilli, frying until the garlic is translucent. Add the turmeric, ginger and cardamom. Fry for another half a minute, then add the coriander stalks, and almonds. Turn off the heat and add the cream and yoghurt. It will smell quite disgusting, but don’t lose heart, it just needs to cook.

You could refrigerate or freeze this mixture. Or even make it in bulk.

Place meat/veg and the sauce in an oven proof dish, and cover with enough marinade to coat everything, but not drown it. Any leftover marinade can go in the freezer for another time. Marinate for one, preferably two, hours at room temperature or all day in the fridge.

Assuming you’re using chicken, about 30 minutes in the oven at 180ºC should do. Veg might need a little longer to soften up, and I think lamb would benefit from longer at a lower temperature. Anyway, check periodically after 20 minutes just to make sure.

Once it’s done, stir in as much of the chopped up coriander leaves as you feel necessary, and maybe garnish with some toasted almonds, and a squirt of lemon juice. Rice or naan.

And cold, cold beer, of course.


You could also thread the pieces of meat onto skewers and barbecue them instead.


As I said, quite an English dish. For some proper kormas, and many other wonderful things, take a look at 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi, which is an intelligent and accessible overview of Indian cuisine. (The second edition apparently corrects some of the woeful typos in the first.)


Lamb Curry

There was some rather good lamb in the supermarket today, so it had to be Curry.

I used

  • 400g lamb leg, trimmed and chopped into cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp minced chilli from the jar (wasn’t quite enough for my tastes)
  • 50mL Greek yoghurt (and another 50mL for later)
  • a 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a large onion
  • a fistful of coriander leaves
  • and a supporting cast of cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, and cloves

I do it like this:

  1. Put the cubed lamb in a bowl with the chilli, crushed garlic, a grind of pepper and salt, and the yoghurt. Mix well, and let this sit for at least an hour, or maybe an afternoon. If you’re doing it overnight, maybe in the fridge.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion into wedges – no need to get fancy – and gently fry it in a large pan, with a couple of tablespoons of oil, six cloves, and half a cinnamon stick, broken into two.

    Around about twenty minutes ought to do the trick, which is just enough time to have a beer.
  3. In a mortar and pestle, grind up about a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and the seeds from six cardamom pods until vaguely powdery. Yes, you can get fancy and use some kind of mechanical grinder, but the effort you spend cleaning that bit of machinery afterwards will put your labours with the mortar and pestle to shame.
  4. Back at the pan, fish out the cloves and cinnamon – doesn’t matter if a few bits get left behind – and then turn the heat up high. Add the cumin and cardamom, and stir madly for about half a minute.
  5. Just before the spices start to burn, add the lamb. (You may want to have your extractor fan going at this juncture, or have a window open.) Keep stirring furiously, for about a minute, until the lamb is cooked on the outside.
  6. Turn the heat right down, and hurl in the tomatoes.

    If you hurl them in with the unnecessary esprit and élan with which I hurled them tonight, you will get tomato on your jeans. Consider this possibility.
  7. Now, just let the whole thing simmer, very gently, for about an hour.
  8. Five minutes before the end, stir in the rest of the yoghurt, and the coriander leaves.
  9. Serve with basmati rice. You could reserve some of the coriander, plus a lemon wedge or two, for a garnish, if you’re that way inclined.

Vegetable Curry

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A staple from the student days.

You will need chopped onions and similar volumes of chopped up carrots, sliced courgettes, and maybe some mangetout, baby corn, etc.

In a large pot, fry the veg in a small amount of oil, with a sprinking of salt, until the onions are soft and translucent, and the courgettes and carrots are showing a bit of colour. Whilst that’s happening, get some hot stock ready: enough liquid to cover the veg. Decant the fried veg into a large bowl, and reduce the heat, so you can build up the spice paste without burning it.

Into the pot in this order…

  1. some more oil; not too much
  2. put as much chilli as you dare and some cloves, fry for about a minute
  3. add as much chopped up garlic as you like, fry for another minute, stirring
  4. ground cumin, turmeric, ground cinnamon, stirring – the powdered spices will soak up the oil, and everything will form into a sticky paste – make sure this doesn’t burn, so only fry for about thirty seconds
  5. then add the stock, and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan

Now, some drained tinned chickpeas, and some tinned chopped tomatoes, with about half the juices strained off. Return the veg to the pot as well.

Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat immediately to a minimum and allow to simmer quietly for about half an hour.

Serve with couscous.

Ratios

I didn’t mention any quantities above, as it will vary according to personal taste. Today’s effort, however, was produced with:

  • two medium onions
  • one large carrot
  • four tiny courgettes
  • a pint of vegetable stock (Marigold Boullion)
  • a teaspoon of chilli
  • six cloves
  • four fat cloves of garlic
  • a teaspoon of cumin
  • half a teaspoon of turmeric
  • half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • a 450g tin of chickpeas
  • a 450g tin of chopped toms

Essential Ingredients

You can vary this to taste, but the essential ingredients are the spice paste and the chickpeas.

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Variations

  • make up the spice paste in advance, and marinate some chopped up lamb in it overnight, taking care that the meat gets vigorously fried on the outside, but then gently simmered
  • similar thing with roughly cubed aubergine (no need for overnight marination, just a couple of hours)
  • use double the amount of stock, and then blitz the whole lot darned lot with a hand-held blender to make soup