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.

300 calorie: Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie

Serves: 4 

By Nat Beerworth

Not only did we cook this dish twice we cooked it thrice! Its super healthy and super delicious. Good to chuck in the freezer for a rainy day. Takes about 15 mins to prep and 50 mins to cook.

Ingredients

500g pack lean minced lamb
1 onion chopped
2 carrots diced
2 tbsp garam masala
200ml hot stock (beef or chicken)
200g frozen peas
1 can tomatoes
800g potatoes diced
1 tsp turmeric
small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
juice half lemon, plus wedges to serve

Method

  1. In a large non-stick frying pan, cook the lamb, onion and carrots, until the lamb is browned and veg is starting to soften, about 8 mins.
  2. Add the the garam masala and some seasoning and cook for a further 2 mins until fragrant. Pour in the stock, tomatos, bring to the boil, add in the peas and cook for a further 2 mins until the peas are cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a large pan of salted water until just tender, about 8 mins. Drain well, return to the pan and gently stir in turmeric and coriander – try not to break up the potatoes too much.
  4. Heat oven to 180 degrees. Transfer the mince to a baking dish and top with the turmeric potatoes. Squeeze over the lemon juice, then bake for 30-35 mins until potatoes are golden. Serve immediately with extra lemon wedges on the side.

Calories: 317

Rick Stein’s Everyday Pilau Rice

Serves: 4

I did a cooking class 15 years ago with David Thompson, inarguably the world’s best Thai chef (and ironically, an Australian).

He covered a lot of ground on the day including 15 seconds on rice where he said the only technique anyone needed was the trick where you measured the water above the rice – however much rice, whatever the cooking dish – to be the distance between the top of your thumb and the first joint.

If you did this, this was all you needed to know.

I’ve lived by this rule since and I’ve cooked plenty of successful rice since.

Though jeez I love it when I find a different technique. A technique that works too!

Thanks Rick Stein. Loved it!

Ingredients

315gm basmati rice
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cloves
3cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 green cardamom pod, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
350ml water

Method

  1. Wash the rice and then soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the spices for 30 seconds until they smell aromatic.
  3. Drain the rice and add it with the salt; stir a little.
  4. Add the water and bring to the boil, then cook on a very low heat with the lid on for 10 – 12 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

Rick Stein’s Pickled Onion and Pineapple Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really simple, colourful, Rick Stein Indian salad that perfectly cuts through fatty Indian dishes such as pork curries.

Ingredients

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sugar
300gm pineapple, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
A few fresh coriander leaves

Method

  1. Toss the onions together with the vinegar, sugar and salt and leave to marinate for an hour.
  2. Strain off any excess liquid, then toss the onions with the pineapple chunks, scatter with coriander and serve.

Rick Stein’s “Amma’s” Pork Curry with Green Chillies and Tamarind

Serves: 6

It’s getting cold at night.

Which means we light a huge outdoor fire. Decant a cracker red:

And dial up the curries, braises and stews.

Last night we cooked this wonderful Rick Stein curry. Pork shoulder cooked down for a few hours, a salad of pineapple and red onion to cut through the richness and a pilau rice at the side.

Perfect.

Honestly, sitting by the fire with Nat on an autumn Saturday night with a bowl of this and a glass of red, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Ingredients

For the curry

6 large banana shallots (eschallots) sliced
20 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
6cm ginger, finely chopped
6 green chillies, roughly chopped with the seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
4cm piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1kg boneless pork shoulder cut into 4cm chunks
1 tsp salt

To finish

2 tsp coriander seeds
75ml tamarind liquid
3 green chillies, thinly sliced lengthways, without seeds
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Flash pickled onion and pineapple salad to serve
Pilau rice to serve

Method

  1. Put the eschallots, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor with a splash of water and blend to a rough paste.
  2. Fry the mustard seeds, cumin, cloves, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute until toasted and aromatic. Add the turmeric and fry for another 20 seconds. Cool, then grind to a coarse powder.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Add the pork, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned. With all the pork in the pan, add the eschallot, garlic, ginger and chilli paste, the ground spices and salt, and fry for a further 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if the paste starts to stick.
  4. Pour over enough water to just cover, turn the heat down to low and put on a lid and simmer for 2 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the lid, turn up the heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens to a gravy.
  5. To finish, fry the coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute until toasted, then grind to a powder. Add the tamarind liquid, green chillies and garlic to the pork and cook for a further minute, then stir in the ground coriander.
  6. Serve with pilau rice and salad at the side.

Slow-cooked Karnataka Pork Curry

Serves: 4

This great curry is from the I Love India cookbook by Anjum Anand.

I’ve written up a few of her recipes and nothing I have cooked hasn’t been a success. It is also a beautiful cookbook.

This particular curry has a really nice depth of favour and warmth about it. It is incredibly likeable and if you had to pick a curry to fill a baguette the next day for lunch, this is definitely it.

Certainly feel free to dial up the spice and we add an additional 300gm of pork shoulder.

Otherwise, this is perfect for a lazy Sunday evening with a big bowl of rice and a bottle of red.

Ingredients

For the curry

1 tbsp roughly chopped ginger
7 large garlic cloves
1 tomato, quartered
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
15 curry leaves
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 – 3 green chillies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
500 gm pork shoulder, cut into 3cm cubes
4 tsp white wine vinegar
Handful of coriander, leaves and stalks to serve
Rice and Indian breads to serve

For the spice mix

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
3 small cloves
5mm cinnamon stick
1 tsp fennel seeds
10 black peppercorns
Pinch of brown mustard seeds

Method

  1. Blend the ginger, garlic and tomato until fine, adding a little water to help the blades turn. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and, once the popping calms down, add the curry leaves, onions and 1 – 3 green chillies (depending on how many you are using; I recommend 3). Cook until really well browned, ensuring the mixture doesn’t burn.
  3. Add the blended paste, the turmeric, salt, cumin and chilli powder and cook well until all the liquid has reduced and the remaining masala releases oil, around 10 – 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, dry-roast the spices for the spice blend for a minute: immediately grind to fine powder.
  5. Add the pork to the masala in the pan and brown a little in the paste. Add 3 tsp of the spice blend and the vinegar as well as a few splashes of water. Bring to the boil, then cover add simmer really slowly, stirring often and checking to see if you need to add any water.
  6. Cook for 1 – 2 hours or until the pork is really tender. Taste, adjust the seasoning adding more of the spice mix if you like, stir in the coriander and serve on rice with Indian breads.

Big veal, pork and prosciutto meatballs with Parmesan polenta

Serves: 6

These are the best meatballs either Nat or I have ever had.

Not only that, there is an agreeable distance between these meatballs and whatever is in second place.

I am not kidding.

These made us so happy and I think there are a few things that contributed to the success.

The original recipe was from Gourmet Traveller though we made a number of tactical (and genius in my opinion!) changes, both to method and ingredients.

If you served these at a dinner party, everyone – everyone – would pin you down al la Paul Newman when his friends locked him in his garage and made him make a barrel of his famous salad dressing.

If you served this at your restaurant, people would say, “Oh, you have to go to Lucio’s and try his big meatballs. They are incredible. They are equal in genius to Paul Newman’s salad dressing and I think it’s because Lucio uses 75/25% veal and pork mince.”

Get started today, let your mince combine in the fridge for 48 hours and open your own Lucio’s for the night!

Ingredients

Sauce

800gm diced, canned tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped mixed sage and oregano plus extra to serve
150ml red wine (leaving 600ml for you)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Torn mozzarella plus extra to serve

Polenta

1 cup milk plus extra as you go
1 cup chicken stock
2/3 cup polenta
50gm Parmesan, finely grated plus extra to serve
50gm butter, cubed and room temperature
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Meatballs

750gm veal mince
250gm pork mince
160gm Parmesan, finely grated
120gm coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 eggs
3 tbsp finely chopped mixed sage and oregano
8 thin prosciutto slices
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. 24 – 48 hours before cooking, combine the meatball mixture except the prosciutto slices and olive oil. Mix well and refrigerate.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions for 8 minutes or until soft and starting to golden. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 minutes, ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the chopped herbs and cook for 30 seconds and then add the diced tomatoes and red wine. Simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, commence the polenta: in a saucepan, bring the milk and stock to the point of scalding though not boiling. Slowly whisk in the polenta and keep whisking for 45 – 60 minutes, adding small amounts of milk as need be, until the polenta is no grainy and you have a thick polenta mixture.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and butter, checking for seasoning. Set aside.
  5. While the polenta is cooking, divide the mince into eight and roll into large meatballs. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each.
  6. Heat olive oil over a medium-high heat and cook the meatballs on each side, making an effort to cook and caramelise the prosciutto: around 10 minutes. Transfer to the pan with the tomato mixture, turning occasionally until cooked through. 5 minutes before serving, drop some of the torn mozzarella into the sauce to melt.
  7. To serve, dollop some polenta onto your plates. Ladle a meatball on top with sauce. Sprinkle chopped herbs, grated Parmesan and torn mozzarella on top and serve.