Roast Ocean Trout with Chilli-Turmeric Paste

Serves: 4

This recipe is awesome.

Think a good lashing of a wonderful, oily paste on a thick piece of ocean trout (or salmon), roasted at a high temperature.

Served hot with a drizzle of coconut cream and a squeeze of lime, this is what you would call vibrant. I mean, ocean trout in any setting is the finest of the fish, though add this wonderful paste and this is just moorish.

It would be just as good with barramundi or even chicken breast.

Just make sure you have a glass of cold, crisp white ready to go!

Ingredients

4 fillets of ocean trout
Coconut cream, for drizzling
Lime wedges and steamed rice, to serve

Spice paste

4 long red chillies, seeds removed
1 lemongrass stalk, white part, finely chopped
10gm piece of turmeric, coarsely chopped
1 small golden shallot
2 tsp dry-roasted, coarsely ground coriander seeds
1/4 c olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 240C. For spice paste, using a hand-blender, blitz ingredients with a pinch of salt until smooth.
  2. Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add spice paste and stir until lightly roasted (1 – 2 minutes), then set aside to cool.
  3. Spread spice paste over fish and bake until just cooked through (8 minutes for medium-rare). To finish, drizzle fish with coconut cream and squeezed lime juice. Serve with rice.

Dan Toombs’ Pakistani Dry Meat Curry

Serves: 4

This is an incredible curry. Hall of fame sort of stuff.

It’s from Dan Toombs’ latest book – The Curry Guy Bible – recommended to me by my mate Rich and what a great book.

There is literally nothing I don’t want to try and based on this dry meat curry cooked by Nat, I am going to cook it all.

I’ve typed up a few dry curries and they are my favourite. Cooking the sauce down until you really don’t have sauce at all.

For many, I appreciate that this defeats the purpose of a curry, though just trust me.

With this particular curry, once the meat is tender and at the point of starting to breakdown, together with the spices, the fried onions and the reduced marinade, my word. Read through the method and get excited.

Add then add this dry meat curry to your cooking shortlist and prepare to be blown away.

Ingredients

900gm lamb leg meat, cut into bite sized pieces
3/4 c ghee (we used 2 tbsp to be healthy)
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder*
1 tbsp fenugreek leaves**
Salt, to taste
4 tbsp chopped coriander to garnish
3 limes, quartered, to serve

For the marinade

1/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp (chickpea) flour
2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste***
8 (green) bird’s eye chillies, blended to a paste with a drop of water
2 tbsp mustard oil****

Method

  1. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until creamy smooth. Add the meat and mix well with your hands to ensure it is nicely coated and marinate for 3 hours or overnight – the longer the better.
  2. When ready to start cooking, bring 1 litre of water to the boil and add the lamb chunks with all the marinade and stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour until the lamb is tender. You want to be left with a cup of cooking stock at the end of the step. Tip the cooked meat and remaining liquid into a bowl.
  3. Now, using the same pan, melt the ghee over a high heat and add the onions. Fry for about 15 minutes or until the onions are a deep brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the onions to a separate bowl.
  4. Reduce the meat to medium high and stir in the garam masala and chilli powder and return the set aside onions to the pan. Now add the meat and remaining broth to the pan and cook until the broth has almost evaporated. Turn up the heat to high and flash fry the meat until it is crispy and the ghee is starting to separate from the other ingredients.
  5. Add the fenugreek leaves by rubbing the leaves between your fingers into the pan and season with salt. When you are testing the meat for seasoning, it is very easy to continue snacking, so try not to do that too much! Garnish with coriander and serve with lime wedges.

* Much more subtle than chilli powder so hunt it out.
** Order from Herbies.
*** Blend equal parts garlic and chilli with a little water.
**** Worth the investment.

Dan Toombs’ Keema Pau Samosa

Serves: 4 as part of a meal

Dan Toombs doesn’t specifically make a Keema Pau Samosa.

Though he does make samosas. And he does make the Keema Pau.

And so I chose to bring them together and I am giving him pretty much all of the credit.

I made these as part of a bigger lunch and the boys – 13 and 10 – literally wolfed them down and asked for more to be made.

They’re not revolutionary. Keema never is.

Though they are as good as I have had.

Note, I skipped making the samosa pastry and went for store-bought shortcrust.

I also baked these samosas rather than (shallow) frying them. Hundreds of videos on how to fold samosas and so I’ll leave that for you.

Ingredients

500gm minced lamb
5 tbsp canola oil
2.5cm cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods, bruised
500gm onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste*
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 very generous tbsp garam masala**
Generous handful of coriander
4 birds eye chillies
1/4 c frozen baby peas
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves***
Salt, to taste
Shortcrust pastry
1 egg
Mint yoghurt to serve

Method

  1. Mix the minced lamb with 2 cups of water and break it up with your hands until the mixture is about the same consistency as porridge. (This will help achieve a smooth keema without any lumps.) Set aside.
  2. In a large pan or wok, heat the oil over a medium-high heat and when visibly hot, stir in the cinnamon and cardamom pods and let the flavours of the spices infuse in the oil for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns light brown. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for an additional 30 seconds and then tip in the meat/water mixture. Cook until the water is evaporated.
  3. Add the turmeric and garam masala and stir well to combine and simmer.
  4. In the meantime, blend the coriander and chillies with 1/4 cup of water until smooth and add to the pan; continue to cook, remembering that this needs to be a dry mixture. Add the peas and cook for a few minutes more.
  5. Finally, add the dried fenugreek leaves, breaking them up as you go. Continue to cook until the oil separates from the meat. Season with salt.
  6. Make an egg wash, heap a tablespoon of the mixture into the pastry and fold the samosas one by one, using the egg wash to seal. (I didn’t egg wash all over though will next time.)
  7. Bake until golden brown.

* Mince equal parts garlic and ginger with a small amount of water.

** I ended up adding at least two tbsp. Taste and go from there.

*** Order from Herbies.

Christine Manfield’s Cauliflower & Potato Curry

Serves: 4

I have definitely subscribed to the view that vegetarian Indian is the best Indian.

This particular curry tells you why.

Just so, so good.

The mustard oil (don’t cut this corner). The fried cauliflower. The curd.

Served along a brilliant Christine Manfield Mughlai Chicken, this absolutely took the night over the line.

(And for breakfast with some rice the next morning: stop it!)

Ingredients

4 tbsp mustard oil
200gm cauliflower florets
2 cloves
3 green cardamom pods, cracked
250gm, diced and parboiled
8 curry leaves
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 small ripe tomatoes, finely diced
150gm curd (drained yoghurt)
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chopped mint leaves
3 tsp chopped coriander leaves

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the cauliflower for 2 minutes until just starting to colour. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  2. In the same pan, fry the cloves, cardamom, ginger and curry leaves for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the potato, tossing to combine and coat with the spices. Return the cauliflower to the pan and toss to combine. Stir through the ground spices, salt and sugar.
  3. Add 2 cups of water and bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the tomato and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the potato is soft.
  4. Add the curd and simmer gently for another 3 minutes. Season with garam masala and garnish with mint and coriander.

Christine Manfield’s Mughlai Chicken

Serves: 4

Christine Manfield‘s Mughlai Chicken is just another brilliant curry from her wonderful book, Tasting India.

It was just luscious, so unique and perfectly executed by Nat. Local Indian restaurant this is not.

Served alongside another wonderful cauliflower and potato curry, we had an old friend over for dinner, decanted a cracking red and had a memorable Saturday night in.

Doesn’t get much better than this.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
50gm finely sliced white onion
2 tsp minced ginger
2tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
500gm chicken thigh, cut into 2cm cubes
100gm thick plain yoghurt, whisked
300ml white chicken stock
3 tsp mint chutney
50gm finely chopped spinach leaves
100gm spinach puree
2 tsp salt
20 fried curry leaves, slightly crushed
1 tsp ghee, melted

Mint Chutney

100gm mint leaves
75gm coriander leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 small green chilli, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
5 tbsp thick plain yoghurt
2 red shallots, finely diced
2 tsp chat masala
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of chilli powder

Method

Mint chutney

Blend the mint, coriander, lemon juice, chilli and ginger to make a smooth paste. Stir in the yoghurt, shallot, chat masala, salt and chilli powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spinach puree

Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and chop then puree in a food processor.

Fried curry leaves

Heat some vegetable oil to 170c and fry fresh curry leaves in small batches for 20 seconds

The Curry

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli over a high heat until softened. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Fry for a minute and then add the yoghurt.
  2. When the mixture starts to simmer, add the stock. Bring back to the simmer and then stir through the chutney and spinach leaves. Cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is tender and the gravy reduced.
  3. Add the spinach puree and salt and stir until combined and heated through. Stir in the curry leaves and ghee and serve with steamed rice.

Burmese Chicken Curry

Serves: 6

This is down the line a wonderful, aromatic and quite light curry.

It’s also moorish.

And it is simple to make.

Process the marinade, cook with the chicken, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stock and reduce.

Simple.

To keep it healthy, substitute some cauliflower rice and you have a cracking weekday dinner.

And what a treat on a Monday night. Something to really look forward to on a cold, rainy Covid Monday which at the time of writing this up, we have plenty more of to go.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1kg chopped chicken thigh
3 tbsp light soy
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
600ml chicken stock

Method

  1. Process together the soy, turmeric, some salt and pepper, one of the onions, 3 cloves of the garlic, the ginger and the chilli powder. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Heat the oil, fry the remaining onion and garlic until transparent and then add the chicken and dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stir in the stock.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and then cover and simmer for an hour or until tender.
  5. Thicken the sauce by boiling, uncovered, at the end of the meal.
  6. Cauliflower rice – or the real deal if it’s that sort of night – and a glass of Pinot and you’re in business!

Lamb Curry Kofte with Ginger Pilaf and Curry-leaf oil

Serves: 4

Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t a great, great curry and rice.

Because it is.

So much so that even with recent meals at Sydney’s excellent Indu restaurant; Malabah and Dhakshin at Crows Nest, both institutions… you really just can’t beat an amazing home-cooked curry.

Indeed, following the Covid Crisis in Sydney, we really have changed our take on the restaurants that are worth it.

Cheap and cheerful pizza and Thai, yes, though anything in the mid-range that we can equal and beat, why do it?

Because this curry is so warm, so aromatic, you simply could not imagine a world where you had it served at any Indian restaurant in Sydney.

They could do it, though they don’t.

The curry leaves flash-fried in the ghee are just amazing.

So is the pilaf.

One of the very best I have ever had. Not exaggerating.

We have always loved a home-cooked long-lunch or a cracking dinner: three months locked up have accelerated this.

Paired with a beautifully, sublime curry like this Ajoy Joshi Chicken Curry or this Christine Mansfield 100 Almond Curry, people’s head’s will explode.

Restaurants have buzz, so pour your wine freely, turn up the music and make that same buzz.

Dining out just got a lot more homely.

P.S. Fresh turmeric can be found at any good fruit and veg shop.

Ingredients

Curry

2 tbsp ghee
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup each (firmly packed) coriander and mint
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tsp finely grated fresh turmeric
3 long green chillies, chopped
2 long green chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250hm thick plain Greek yoghurt
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground garam masala
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 c chicken stock
600gm minced lamb
Juice 1/2 lemon (to taste)

Ginger Pilaf

1 tbsp ghee
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely grated fresh turmeric
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 c chicken stock
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

Curry-leaf oil

2 tbsp ghee
1 long green chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
2-3 fresh curry leaf sprigs

Method

Curry

  1. Heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and sauté until soft.. Add the fennel seeds for a minute. (10 minutes.)
  2. Process the whole coriander, mint, turmeric, the chopped chillies, half the ginger and half the garlic in a food processor to a paste. Add the yoghurt and sautéed onion and process until smooth. Return to the pan with half the spices and stir until fragrant (3 mins). Add stock, bring to a simmer and cook for the flavours to infuse (8 mins).
  3. Combine the lamb mince, finely chopped coriander and finely chopped chilli, remaining ginger, garlic and spices and season. Roll into golf ball-sized balls and add to the curry mixture. Simmer, turning the meatballs, until the sauce thickens. (You want a reasonably thick sauce.) Add the lemon juice and season to taste.

Pilaf

  1. For the pilaf, heat ghee in a saucepan over a medium heat; add the onion, ginger, turmeric and garlic and sauté until tender. Add rice, stir to coat, add the stock, season to taste and bring to the boil stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook without 9for 15 minutes.

  1. Remove from the heat, remove lid, place a clean tea towel over pan a replace lid. Stand for 10 minutes, then add lemon rind and juice and fluff with a fork.

Curry-leaf oil

  1. Heat ghee in a small saucepan over a medium heat; add the chilli and cook until starting to become crisp (1 – 2 minutes). Add the curry leaves and remove from the heat.

  1. Serve the meatballs with the ginger pilaf and drizzled with curry-leaf oil.

Southern Indian Lobster Curry

Serves: 4

This Christmas has been a decidedly Lobster affair.

Lobster Thermidor. Lobster with a basil mayonnaise.

And this wonderful curry from – Gourmet Traveller – where the lobster does all the talking.

It’s a classic, light, seafood curry with the genius of fried mustard seeds and a just a hint of heat.

Add a beer or a cold glass of wine and this is an amazing, post-Christmas dinner where the ham and turkey is a thing of the past.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
3 dried long red chillies
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 onion thinly sliced
2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
3 garlic gloves, finely chopped
36 fresh curry leaves
3 tsp ground turmeric
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
375ml coconut cream
50gm tamarind
750gm lobster meat cut into 5cm pieces
Basmati rice, coriander leaves and lime wedges to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a low heat, add the mustard seeds and sauté until they pop (20 – 30 seconds). Add the chillies and fenugreek seeds and sauté until the chillies turn brown (20 – 30 seconds).
  2. Increase the heat to medium, add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute or two until aromatic. Add the curry leaves and turmeric and cook for a further 30 seconds and then add the tomato and cook until soft. Stir in the coconut cream and tamarind and warm, season with salt.
  3. Add the lobster meat and slowly simmer for 15 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Serve with basmati rice, coriander leaves and lime wedges.

Curried Lobster Sandwich with Mango Chutney and Potato Chips

Serves: 4

It’s three days after Christmas.

We have lobsters in the fridge.

We are staying in a wonderful AirBNB in Newcastle, sleeping in, swimming at the beach and opening Champagne by 1pm.

And we have a new cookbook: Chefs Eat Toasties Too by Darren Purchase.

All of which means we have nothing to do, no diet to follow, plenty of lobster to get through and a recipe.

A couple of years ago, Nat and I stayed at The Sanderson, one of the hippest hotels in London. And on our first day, we sat at the bar – surrounded by hip people – and had a lobster sandwich and Champagne.

We’ve been chasing the moment for years.

And now… here it is with this sandwich.

Lobster. Kewpie. Curry Powder. Mint, Celery and Cucumber. Mango Chutney. Potato Chips. Toasted Brioche Bun.

(And Champagne.)

Incredible. Just incredibly good.

(I have adapted the recipe.)

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
4 seeded brioche buns (we used a brioche loaf)
500gm cooked lobster meat cut into chunks
Salt flakes
Freshly ground pepper
120gm Kewpie mayonnaise
2 tsp curry powder
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into a 1cm dice
1 tbsp finely shredded fresh mint leaves
8 cos lettuce leaves, shredded
4 tbsp mango chutney
Potato chips, to serve

Method

  1. Combine the mayonnaise with the curry powder, celery, cucumber, shredded mint and salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the lobster chunks with a good pinch of salt and pepper until warmed through.
  3. Combine the warmed lobster with the mayonnaise mixture and mix well.
  4. Toast the brioche buns. Stuff with the shredded lettuce and then a dollop (1 tbsp) of mango chutney on each bun. Spoon the lobster filling evenly into the buns and push it in well. Finally, stuff potato chips into the buns and serve.
  5. With Champagne.

Ajoy Joshi’s Chicken Dhaniwal

Serves: 4

Ajoy Joshi is the genius behind Nilgiris, a bit of an Indian institution on the Lower North Shore of Sydney.

He also runs a smaller, quite intimate restaurant – Tellicherry – which serves wonderfully contemporary Indian cuisine. Small plate after small plate and even more wonderfully, completely BYO.

It is one of our favourite restaurants and a real treat on the few nights a week it is open.

Anyway, I recently hit the big 40 and Nat organised the best present of all: a long lunch (my favourite), Indian (my favourite) and 30 of my best friends (my favourites):

And she convinced Tellicherry to open especially for it!

As we left – after a cracking meal with cracking service – Mr Joshi gave me a copy of his cookbook (Regional Indian Cooking) – and the next night we did our first curry.

Hands down, it was one of the best curries we have cooked. (It reminded us of the amazing Christine Mansfield 100 Almond Curry.)

In the boy, Ajoy says: “I first tried this dish at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. I knew instantly that if I ever wrote a book, this recipe would definitely be in it.”

No question.

Enjoy!

(And here is to being 40. The new 30, right?)

Ingredients

1kg chicken thighs, cut into pieces
2 brown cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
3 whole cloves
5 green cardamom pods, crushed
2.5cm piece cinnamon stick
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Steamed Basmati Rice to serve

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine chicken, brown cardamom, turmeric and water. Place over a low heat, bring to simmer and cook until the chicken is almost tender, almost 20 minutes. Remove chicken from stock and set aside. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve.
  1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over a medium-low heat. Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Reheat oil remaining in pan over medium heat. Add cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, yogurt and garlic. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens: 10 – 15 minutes. Sauce may appear curdled at this stage, but will be fine after further cooking.
  3. Add chicken to sauce in pan and cook, stirring, until sauce coats chicken. Add 1/4 cup reserved stock and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through and tender: about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in fried onions, coriander and pepper. Serve immediately.