Dan Toombs’ Chicken Xacuti

Serves: 4

This famous Goan curry is a hit.

Like so many I have typed – all I hope – it is just so unique, so special, so different to your usual local Indian. Indeed, we couldn’t see a world where we would get this served up outside of your really top Indian nosheries.

It is of course, a completely unique curry base.

I quartered the stock and then cooked it down far more than Dan suggests, though I cannot see how this wasn’t necessary to achieve the sort of gravy you would expect.

Substituted thyme for the ajwain seeds – which seemed fine – though ironically picked up some ajwain seeds the next day at an Indian grocer. Next time.

This is a special Saturday-night in curry.

Unique as I said. Special. Just special and oh wow wonderful.

Ingredients

Xacuti Masala

6 Kashmiri red dried chillies, chopped
1 c dried coconut flakes
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black poppy seeds (substitute black sesame seeds)
7 cloves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5cm piece of cinnamon stick
4 star anise
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

For the curry

8 skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp rapeseed oil (canola)*
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
2 c chicken stock (I suggest 1/2c)
1 1/2 tamarind paste or concentrate
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 c coriander, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Start by making the Xacuti masala: in a dry frypan, toast the Kashmiri chillies for about a minute, turning regularly until fragrant. Place in a bowl of warm water to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Toast the coconut flakes until lightly browned and set aside.
  3. Toast the cumin, coriander, ajwain seeds, fennel and poppy seeds, the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and star anise over a medium-heat until fragrant and warm to the touch. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  4. When the chillies are soft, drain them reserving the soaking water, then blend them with the coconut flakes and the rest of the masala ingredients along with a little of the chilli soaking water to make a paste. (If the soaking water is too bitter, use fresh water instead.)
  5. Pour the paste over the chicken in a large bowl and mix to coat. Marinate for as long as you can: overnight if possible.
  6. Heat the oil in a large frypan over a high-heat and when bubbling, adding the mustard seeds, stirring until they pop. Reduce the heat and add the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes until soft, lightly browned and translucent. Stir in the chillies, then the chicken and all the marinade.
  7. Stir well to cover the chicken in the marinade and onion mixture; add the stock and cook down to a gravy.
  8. Stir in the tamarind and nutmeg and season. Stir in the coriander, season with salt and serve.

* We have doubled down on our oils this year and it makes a difference. Of course. Coconut oil, especially mustard oil. Canola will make the cut here, though do yourself the favour and invest in some Grapeseed oil. Doesn’t burn, no flavour, great for this sort of thing.

David Tanis’ Braised Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Serves: 4 – 6

I love a simple recipe that comes good and this one simply delivers.

It’s a bake (✅), it’s reasonably healthy (✅) and it’s easy (✅).

Though it’s the richness of wonderful Mediterranean flavour that truly gets it over the line. (✅).

It is better than the seeming sum of its parts and bravo for it.

The richness of the reserved stock, the break apart chicken… and those olives.

This is a mid-week meal that will set the clock forward to Friday when the cooking can commence. It’s just that good, that fun and that successful.

Paired with a salad of greens, red onion, tomato, maybe some cucumber and plenty of oregano and a good vinaigrette: I reckon only a bottle of chilled red along-side could better it.

Lock next Wednesday evening in and the road to the weekend just got much easier.

And chill that red.

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs (ideally skin-on and bone in)
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
2 lemons, cut into 8 wedges each
1 c olives, black and green pitted
1 c chicken stock
3 tbsp chopped parsley to serve

Method

  1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish one layer, (skin) side up. Sprinkle with red pepper, garlic, fennel and rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. Rub seasoning on all sides. Tuck lemon wedges here and there, marinating for 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 190c.
  2. Put the baking dish in the oven for 20 minutes uncovered (or until the skin, if you have it, starts to brown). Scatter olives over evenly and then pour over the stock. Cover tightly and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Remove thighs and lemon wedges and arrange on a platter and keep warm. Pour pan juices into a saucepan and quickly skim fat from the surface. Over high heat, simmer rapidly until reduced by half. Spoon juices over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Baked Huevos Rancheros

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Far enough. We garnished with red chilli rather than green though the point is to garnish and dial it up as much as you can.

Serves: 4

You can’t beat a special weekend breakfast and our favourite is anything with a little spice, tomato and hopefully some chorizo.

This recipe is consistent with a few others I have typed up – beans, chilli, tomato and baked eggs – though that is simply consistent with how much we love this sort of start to a Sunday morning.

With a good coffee or ideally, a good Champagne, this fairly straightforward number will hopefully inspire you to kick-off next Sunday with a bang.

Ingredients

4 flour tortillas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
200gm dried chorizo, chopped
400gm can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, chopped plus extra to serve
1 yellow capsicum, chopped
400gm can chopped tomatoes
4 eggs
Sour cream and coriander leaves to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Great 4 ramekins and carefully line with the tortillas.
  2. Heat the oil in a frypan over a low heat and add the onion. Cook for 10 minutes until soft and add the chorizo. Turn up the heat a bit and cook for 5 minutes until starting to crisp. Add the beans, chilli and capsicum and season. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid has reduced and the consistency is thick.
  4. Divide among the tortilla cups, making small wells in the center of each.
  5. Break eggs into the wells. Bake for 20 minutes or until the eggs are just set.
  6. Serve with extra chilli, sour cream, coffee and Champagne.

Pad ka prao (minced pork, fried egg and rice)

Serves: 2

Read the ingredients and don’t over think it.

This is Monday done: street-style Thai.

Ingredients

1 tbsp sunflower oil
500gm pork mince
3 cloves garlic
3 birds eye chillies
1 small brown onion
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp oyster sauce
5 sprigs Thai basil leaves
2 eggs
Jasmine rice to serve

Method

  1. Cook the rice and set aside.
  2. De-seed the chillies and finely chop with the garlic and onion.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium-hot wok and fry the garlic, chillies and onion for 2 minutes. Add the pork and break up, working through until almost cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, fry the eggs until they have a slightly crispy base.
  5. Back to the pork, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, kecap manis and oyster sauce and stir through; reduce the sauces slightly and add the basil leaves. Stir and remove from the heat.
  6. Serve on rice with the fried egg on top.

Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 6

Wow, this is a gorgeous stew and on every level.

It tastes amazing, it is simple to prep and it’s healthy enough. Mopped up with some crusty bread, we loved every bit of it.

I’d go as far as to say this could become one of your favourites.

There is literally nothing not to like. Just make sure you season well.

Surprise yourself with this 10/10.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 large ripe, truss tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt (plus extra to season at the end)
Freshly cracked pepper
1 cup dry white wine
250gm potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 kg firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces (we used Pink Ling)
12 basil leaves, torn
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp harissa paste (or hot sauce)
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft though not brown. Add the fennel and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the chilli flakes and then add the tomatoes and salt and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and 2 ½ cups boiling water, bring to the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check the seasoning and add the lemon juice.
  3. Add the fish pieces and simmer on low until the fish is just cooked through; another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise with the harissa paste (or hot sauce).
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it.
  6. Serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise and some crusty bread. And a good glass of cold vino of course.

Nat’s Keema (Lamb (or beef) mince with peas)

Serves: 4

So we have a new rule in the house.

If we find a recipe though it needs a solid change in method or ingredients, we are calling it our own. So introducing Nat’s Keema: a beef (or lamb) mince masala with peas.

We originally had this dish at a fabulous local Indian restaurant a fortnight ago and promised to reproduce it if only because it was a mince recipe; mince falling only slightly behind brisket and pork shoulder/belly in the genius stakes in our opinion.

Though there is a surprising lack of such recipes online for Keema, including on P-interest (Pinterest) which has become a bit of a destination where we swap recipes whilst at work.

The ingredients in the original recipe we finally sourced were fairly right though the method was shot.

We regrouped, changed tact, quadrupled the peas (because they are amazing) and here you have it.

It won’t change the world though it is a damn comfortable mince, low calorie and pretty special for a Monday dinner and lunch the next day. And the mushrooms are a hit.

Enjoy! (And thank Nat later…)

Ingredients

1kg extra lean beef mince (or lamb mince as per the original)
4 green chilies, diced
2 handfuls of fresh coriander
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
20 small mushrooms, diced
2 onions, sliced
500gm frozen peas
400gm fresh tomatoes, diced (a few tomatoes)
4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Method

  1. Heat the oil in the pan and add the onion and the garlic; cook until the onions are soft and starting to become golden.
  2. Add the mince and cook down until the liquid has evaporated and the meat can start to brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes, ginger, salt, turmeric and chilli. Mash the tomatoes and other ingredients to add a shine to the meat.
  4. Add the mushrooms, lower the heat, add a cup of water and cook down for 45 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and cooked through. Add more water if necessary and stir regularly until the liquid evaporates.
  5. Add the garam masala, coriander and peas. Cook for a few minutes more, stirring until the peas are cooked through.
  6. Season, spice it up if you want and serve.