One Hundred Almond Curry

One Hundred Almond Curry

Serves: 8

This is an absolute pearler of a curry.

Just wonderful.

Unique, hot, creamy, moorish and all at the same time. That we had it with an indulgent medium-grain rice made it all the better.

From Christine Manfield’s Tasting India, it is one of those curries we have been lucky enough to cook that you will never have at a takeaway or your local Indian restaurant. It is far too good and sophisticated for that.

Not that you would get that from the ingredients at first glance.

It is the almonds that make it so special – something I have written about in the past – and it is their slight crunch, the flavour, the colour and again, the creaminess that makes it work just so damn well.

This recipe from the Himalayas is unquestionably worth doing. Another example of a curry you’d never know existed until you tried it and one you will absolutely love.

Ingredients

2kg lamb leg on bone, cut into pieces
1 tbsp black peppercorns
6 slices ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
3 litres chicken stock
1 ½ cups (240gm) blanched almonds, skins removed
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (essentially, half/half ginger and garlic)
12 dried Kashmiri chillies, broken into small pieces
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp white poppy seeds (we substituted white sesame seeds)
3 tbsp ghee (we substituted canola oil)
300ml coconut milk
70ml Tamarind Liquid
3 tomatoes, quartered, seeled and sliced lengthways

Method

  1. Put the lamb, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves and salt in a large, heavy saucepan and pour in the stock. Bring to boiling point over a medium heat, reduce the heat and simmer for at least an hour until the meat is very tender. This could take up to an extra hour so be prepared.
  2. Remove the lamb from the stock and set aside. Strain the stock, discarding the solids.
  3. Blend the almonds with the onion, ginger garlic paste, chilli and cumin, coriander and poppy seeds to make a fine paste.
  4. Heat the ghee in a large pan and fry the almond paste over a low heat for a few minutes until it starts to colour. Add the coconut milk, tamarind liquid and 2 cups of the strained stock, stirring to combine. Simme for 15 minutes until it has reduced and thickened slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Add the lamb and the tomato to the gravy and stir well to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomato breaks down.
  6. Serve with rice.

Black Pepper Chicken Fry

Serves: 4

This recipe is from Christine Manfield’s gorgeous book, Tasting India.

If you ever needed convincing to visit India, leaf through her book and you have it; an afternoon with this wonderful book was enough to seal it for us and in 2017, we’re heading there!

This dish is from the Chettinad region and is as unusual as it is tasty. It isn’t spicy, though the pepper gives it a lovely peppery taste. Really unique.

It’s also pretty easy to prepare, something we did for an Indian-dinner at Nat’s sister’s place.

If you love curry like we do, this is definitely one to try.

Ingredients

5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3cm piece cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods, cracked
2 white onion, finely sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 tsp salt
1kg chicken thigh fillets, chopped into 3 cm pieces

Pepper Masala

3 tsp fennel seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
4 small dried red chillis

Method

  1. To make the pepper masala, dry roast the spices over a gentle heat. Cool, then grind to fine powder.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and ginger to a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the cinnamon and cardamom over a moderate heat for 30-seconds until fragrant. Add the onion and stir for a few minutes until golden. Add half the pepper masala and stir until fragrant. Add the ginger garlic paste and the tomato and fry for a few minutes, then season with the salt and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and stir until they are coated. Fry for 3 – 4 minutes until the chicken is beginning to colour. Add 2 cups (500ml) water, then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the chicken is cooked and tender; remove the lid, and cook down any remaining liquid until you have a thick gravy. Serve.

Dahl with spinach

Serves: 6

This is a really tasty, really healthy, down the line dahl.

A Valli Little recipe, it has a nice hint of spice and is packing flavour. Perfect for a quick Saturday lunch or lunch at work.

As with any lentil number, you know it will be good.

So just do it.

Ingredients

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 long green chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
400g yellow split peas, rinsed, soaked in water for 1 hour, drained
800g can chopped tomatoes
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
1 tsp caster sugar
100g baby spinach leaves

Method

  1. Heat oil in the pan over a medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add ginger, chilli and garlic and cook for a further minute. Stir in the spices and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  2. Add peas, stock, tomatoes, sugar and 1 ½ (375ml) water. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low and cook for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally until peas are tender and dahl is thick and rich.
  3. Stir through the spinach and serve.

Healthy Quinoa Chicken Curry Bowls

Serves: 6

This is a great recipe.

Apart from the obvious – being healthy (315 calories a serve!) – they’re a complete finger to winter. With the accouterments, you’re serving a rich, spicy, fun, colourful bowl of goodness.

You just want to keep eating and eating.

We served with toasted slivered almonds, sliced spring onions and coriander and the recipe made plenty to be served the next night.

Easy to prep, awesome to eat, do it!

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
500gm boneless skinless chicken thighs (we used breasts which were just fine)
2 tbsp curry paste (we used rogan josh)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 cups tomato puree
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups diced eggplant (peel removed)
3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
Toasted almonds, coriander and spring onions

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the chicken, curry paste, garam masala, ginger, and garlic. Stir fry for another 3-5 minutes to get the chicken pieces browned.
  2. Add the tomato puree, broth, eggplant, tomatoes, and quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked; we continued to reduce to give it a thicker, saucy texture.
  3. Serve in big bowls topped with the toasted almonds, coriander and spring onions.

Spinach (Palak) Chicken Curry

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Nat is a genius! 
Serves: 4

Yes, yes, yes!

Another curry win. Not just an incremental win as if you’ve found a bit more fire in a Rogan Josh, but a win like we’ve found a whole new door.

Great yet subtle heat, the spinach, the whole thing.

Cooked by Nat, if you love your Indian, this authentic curry is a no-brainer.

It is like unlocking some whole new level on a game.

And as if you needed anything more to compel you… it’s healthy!

Move! (And double it like we did, though this recipe is for one serve.)

So, this traditional recipe asks for Ginger Garlic Paste. I have kept this true in the recipe, though it is half minced garlic, half grated ginger and some seasoning. Don’t get too excited.

And we have adjusted the ingredients and method to make sense!

Ingredients

200gm spinach
1kg chicken thigh (we used breast which was just fine: healthy), cut into 3cm pieces
¼ cup fat free yogurt
1 ½ tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
¼ turmeric
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp cayenne
3 tbsp ginger garlic paste (half for the marinade, half for the cooking)
2  tbsp canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp cumin seed
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 cardamom pod, bruised
1 bay leaf (or 2 dry)

Method

  1. Marinate the chicken with the yogurt, salt, turmeric, cayenne, 1 ½ ginger garlic paste, garam masala and coriander for 30 minutes.
  2. In a pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and bay leaf and saute until aromatic; we used a muslin cloth to tie the cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom and would suggest you do the same.
  3. Add the onions and cook until soft.
  4. Add the remaining (1 ½) ginger garlic paste and cook for a further minute.
  5. Add tomatoes and cooked until it soft and mushy.
  6. Add marinated chicken, half a cup of water and cook, covered, until cooked. Stir frequently.
  7. Remove the cover and reduce to a gravy.
  8. Meanwhile, blanch the spinach and chop finely.
  9. When when the chicken is ready, add the spinach for a minute or two.
  10. Serve with basmati rice.
  11. Genius!

Chicken Balti Pies

Serves: 4

An interesting story behind these pies.

They were invented by an English food company, Shire Foods in 1997. Sold at football games, sales of the pies exploded; according to Wikipedia, the pies have a cult status and clubs including Manchester have Shire Foods as their exclusive pie supplier.

Any why not?!

Anyone who brings together a spicy chicken curry and puff pastry is a genius. Genius, just like these pies.

Which of course begs the question, why aren’t all curries covered in pastry?

Start with this pie and you’ll ask the same question.

(The original recipe asked to make individual pies. We made one large pie. Obviously, up to you so have kept the pastry/pie step pretty loose…)

Ingredients

4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp garam masala
4 cardamom pods
1kg chicken thigh cut into 3 cm pieces
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 long green chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
10 curry leaves
375ml (1 ½ cups) chicken stock
1 tbsp plain flour
6 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp nigella seeds
Buttered peas and ketchup to serve

Method

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add spices and stir for 1 minute, then add the chicken, tomato paste and chilli and cook, stirring to coat in spices for 6 minutes or until the chicken is browned all over.
  2. Add curry leaves and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the stock has almost completely reduced; you are ultimately after a thick pie gravy. Add flour and stir for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line your pie trays or casserole dish with puff pastry; fill with the pie mixture. Complete your pie by covering and sealing with the remaining puff pastry. Brush with the egg wash and scatter with nigella seeds.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  5. BOOM!

Prawn Molee

 

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a beautiful curry.

Beautifully delicate and mild, so much so, you could be eating a contemporary French starter.

The lightness of it of course allows the prawns to sing rather than smothering them as merely a protein as so many curries do.

It is a Rick Stein number and the recipe from Kerala.

With some boiled basmati rice – and coriander – this will make your night.

Wow.

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp ground black pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly bruised with a rolling pin
6 cloves
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5cm ginger, finely shredded
2 green chillis, slit lengthways, deseeded
1 tsp salt
Small handful fresh curry leaves
Small pinch turmeric
400ml coconut milk
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
500gm large tail-on raw prawns
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced for garnish
Boiled basmati rice to serve
Coriander leaves to serve (us, not Rick)

Method

  1. Heat coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pepper, cardamoms and cloves and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chillies, salt and curry leaves and fry for 1 minute.
  2. Add the turmeric, coconut milk and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes until reduced slightly. Add the prawns and simmer for a further 4 minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Scatter the tomatoes on top, turn off the heat, cover the pan and set aside for 4 minutes.

Rick Stein’s White Lamb Curry

Serves: 6 – 8

Otherwise known as Safed Maas – ‘safed’ meaning white in most North Indian languages – this curry is literally the opposite of rogan josh.

Aromatic, mild and off-white. Fragrant and luxurious.

Historically, this recipe is a royal dish from the region of Rajasthan, a region famous for its upper-class cooking.

So background aside, why would you consider this.

It’s hard to know where to start!

It is a brand new curry! After a billion rogan joshes and so forth, this is like finding out you have a tail!

It tastes extraordinary. With some rice and chapitas, it is so moorish and – second time I have used this word – luxurious, you will pause to take it all in. Heaven.

And it is from Rick Stein, a man who gets it right almost every time.

If you like curry and you like Indian, I present to you your new tail.

Start wagging. It looks great!

Ingredients

For the spice blend

2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp green cardamom pods, seeds only
1 black cardamom pod, seeds only
1 tsp cloves
4cm cinnamon stick
1 Indian bay leaf

For the lamb

100gm cashew nuts
1 tbsp boiling water
1gk boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 4cm cubes
4cm fresh ginger, finely grated
5 cloves garlic, finely crushed
100gm Greek-style yogurt
150gm ghee (or oil)
1 small onion, sliced
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (seeds from 30 green pods)
40ml double cream

To serve

Pilau rice
Chapatis


Method

  1. Fry the spices in a frying pan over a medium-heat for 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted and aromatic and then blend to a powder using a grinder or a mortar and pestle.
  2. For the lamb, tip the cashew nuts and water into a mini food processor and blend to a paste. Set aside. Put the lamb in a large bowl and mix well with the spice blend, ginger, garlic and yogurt. Set aside and marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the ghee in a large pan over a low-medium heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the meat and its marinade and pour in enough water to just cover the meat. Add the salt, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour or until the lamb is tender and the sauce is thickened.
  4. Stir in the cashew nut paste, ground cardamom and a splash of water if needed to give the sauce the consistency of double cream. Heat through and the stir in the cream and serve.
  5. Close your eyes.

Mr Singh’s slow-cooked Lamb Curry with Cloves and Cardamom

Serves: 4 – 6

From India by Rick Stein really is a beautiful cookbook. It feels as bright and colourful as Rick himself and the stories behind each recipe are inspiring and wonderful to read.

You really appreciate the origin of what you are about to cook and it really does take appreciation of the dish to the next level.

And appreciate you will this excellent curry from Rick – or Mr Singh – a talented and well-kept cook he met in India.

The pureeing of the base ingredients changes the texture and makes the whole thing simply feel as one. There is a nice lingering heat and of course after all that time cooking, the lamb is starting to fall apart.

As far as solid, homemade winter curries go, you could do a whole lot worse than this one.

Win.

(I have changed the ordering and wording of the method versus Rick’s recipe. With an hour and a half of cooking time up your sleeve before you need the powdered spices, you would be mad – or with plenty of time on your hands – to do the recipe in reverse as per its original writing.)

Ingredients

½ tsp cardamom seeds (for about 8 green pods)
4 – 6 cloves
3 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
10 garlic cloves roughly chopped
4 cm ginger, roughly chopped
75ml vegetable oil (or ghee)
100ml Greek-style yogurt
1kg lamb shoulder (or leg), deboned, trimmed of excess fat, 3cm pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tbsp cream

Method

  1. In stages, using a mini food processor and rinsing out in-between, blend the onions to a puree with a little water; puree the tomatoes; blend the garlic and ginger with a tablespoon of water to a slack paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion paste for 15 minutes until golden; add the ginger and garlic and fry for an additional 3 minutes. Stir in the yogurt, meat and salt and cover over a low-medium heat stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until browned.
  3. Stir in the garam masala and chilli powder and then pour in just enough water to cover the meat. Simmer, covered for 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, grind the cardamom seeds and cloves to a fine powder. (This, in my experience, needs a glass of wine.)
  5. Stir in the cream and pureed tomatoes followed by the cardamom and clove mix. Seal the pan by first covering in foil and then the lid. Cook over the lowest heat for 40 minutes until the lamb is tender.
  6. Remove the seal and quickly cook off any remaining liquid until you have a good gravy.
  7. Enjoy with rice and more wine!

Dry Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

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One of the best curries we have cooked.

Serves: 6 – 8

When you stumble onto a curry as good as this, it is like hitting a home run.

Because whilst I type of plenty of really good and often fantastic recipes, outstanding recipes are much rarer. And this is one of them.

It didn’t start life as a dry curry – and of course by dry, it simply means without lots of gravy – though that is pretty much the genius of the whole thing.

Whereas the original recipe asked for 40 minutes of slow simmering, we had it on for at least three hours.  Closer to four I think.

And whereas the original asked for coconut cream and two slices of lemon rind right at the end, we skipped this. And thank god we did.

After such a long cooking time, the chicken is literally falling apart. The texture, the flavor is so warm and deep, it is impossible not to grin. You realise you have struck gold.

But the next morning on some soy-linseed toast?

You really will thank me later on this one.

Ingredients

1.5kg skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2cm pieces
10 curry leaves
2 onions
2 tsp garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tomatoes, diced
6 cardamom pods, bruised and cracked open
1 cinnamon stick
2 slices lemon rind
½ c coconut milk

Method

  1. Make a sachet d’épices (a cheesecloth tied with cooking string) holding the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick; you don’t have to do this step of course, though the joy of this dish is only enhanced by the smooth sailing eating it without removing cardamom pieces as you go.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, medium heat and fry the curry leaves until they start to turn colour. Add onions, ginger and garlic and cook until soft. Add all the spices (though not the sachet d’épices (whole spices), salt, and vinegar and stir well.
  3. Add the chicken and stir to coat meat. Add the sachet d’épices (whole spices) and the tomatoes, stir and cover.
  4. Simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Do not be tempted to add any water as the juices will make more than enough. Cook for two to four hours or under the sauce has really reduced and the chicken is falling apart, ensuring that the curry does not become too dry and burn.
  5. Serve with rice and then toast the next morning.