Posts Tagged ‘Indian cooking’

Rice and Spice by Anna Kochan

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Every now and again you meet someone who inspires you. Anna Kochan is one of those people. I met her at Food Festival in Leeds and was asking about her story and why she had written and published – Rice and Spice by Anna Kochan, a Bengali Food Adventure.

It turns out that Anna was listening to the Radio one morning where they were talking about a charity in Kolkata, India which supports the street children, called Future Hope Charity. (This was before the plight was highlighted even further by the amazing book and film – Lion by Saroo Brierley , and he was one of the lucky ones).

Everyday Indian recipes captured by Anna Kochan into this delightful recipe book and sold in aid of Future Hope Charity

  Everyday Indian recipes captured by Anna Kochan into this delightful recipe book and sold in aid of Future Hope Charity

Inspired by the report she contacted the charity and volunteered in Kolkata for 6 months. Whilst she was there she collected “everyday” traditional Begali recipes, including breads, dals, curries and vegetable dishes. The majority of the recipes are vegetarian, but there are a few classic chicken and fish recipes. I can vouch for their tastiness as I was being allowed to taste gorgeous aubergine pakoras and chick pea dal.

These are Anna's cookery teachers where she learnt how to create traditional everyday Bengali food to feed the children

These are Anna’s cookery teachers where she learnt how to create traditional everyday Bengali food to feed the children

A classic Thali that Anna has recreated in her recipe book.

A classic Thali that Anna has recreated in her recipe book.

All the money raised from the sale of the books (I do mean ALL as all the costs have been taken care of ) are going to this amazing charity – Future Hope.

Some of the children being helped by the Future Hope Charity in Kolkata, India.

Some of the children being helped by the Future Hope Charity in Kolkata, India.

Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Future Hope gives the most needy children in Kolkata a secure stable home and a great education. Every day, more than 250 boys and girls attend Future Hope’s school and enjoy a nutritious Bengali home-cooked lunch. bout half of the live in one of Future Hope’s seven homes.

Some 80,000 children go missing in India every year. Future Hope works to change the lives of destitute children and help them to become independent, self-supporting members of society. Former students have gone on to develop successful careers in the hospitality industry, IT and financial sectors and sports management.

It is always amazing to meet people who have not only been moved by hearing news stories but have actually decided to do something about it.

I hope you enjoy the recipe book as much as we do. Every penny from the book sold via Steenbergs.co.uk is going to the charity.

Spicy cookery with Sharmini at York Food & Drink Festival

Monday, September 26th, 2016

On Saturday 24th September, we savoured our first experience of York’s excellent Food & Drink Festival. Now in its 20th year, it hosts numerous tastings, workshops & events alongside a market full of delicious street food stalls and artisan producers.

sharmini thomasThis year Steenbergs linked up with Sharmini Thomas, a well known local Indian cookery school tutor who runs her own workshops. Sharmini comes originally from Kerala in Southern India so when we asked her to do a chicken korma recipe for us, she same back with this delicious alternative which uses coconut, rather than the better know Northern Indian version of Korma which uses cream. For the full recipe, please visit our recipe page: Sharmini’s Chicken Kuruma.Sharmini Chicken Kuruma

Sharmini showed the enthusiastic audience how to create delicious curries using a full range of spices, including turmeric, coriander, fennel, pepper, cloves, cassia & bay. She also demonstrated how, when pushed for time or ingredients, using a handmade blend such as Steenbergs organic Korma Masala can be equally delicious. To round it all off everyone enjoyed Sharmini’s Bombay Potatoes which were flavoured with curry leaves, cumin & mustard seeds, with fresh chilli, ginger & garlic. A delicious dish and a great accompaniment to any Indian meal.

Congratulations also to Anne Everett Grant and Stephanie Fellows who won a Steenbergs spice bag and Sharmini recipe book respectively.

The Food & Drink Festival runs through until Sunday 2nd October with plenty more inspiration still to come. For full details of the programme, visit their website:www.yorkfoodfestival.com

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Go Fresh with Meera Sodha’s new cookbook

Monday, July 25th, 2016

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707What strikes you first about Meera Sodha’s new cookbook FRESH INDIA, is the vibrant colour: orange and green for the cover and a bright pink inlay, intertwined with bold Indian prints and photos of mouth-watering cuisine.

Following her successful debut book MADE IN INDIA, Meera’s second book, published by Fig Tree London (£20), is a collection of 130 ‘quick, easy and delicious vegetarian recipes for every day’. It includes sections on everything from Starters & Snacks; Rice; Pulses; Squashes and Pickles & Chutneys to a great chapter dedicated to the humble Aubergine.  Interspersed within the food groupings are handy chapters on Menu Ideas and Presentation Skills – invaluable for making your homemade curry look appetising for Instagram!

RAINBOW.CHARD.SAAGALOO0030

Rainbow Chard Saag Aloo

Meera talks candidly about her life growing up as a Gujarati in Lincolnshire, of family recipes and traditions and above all a life filled with delicious fresh vegetables.  Her recipes use herbs and spices to enhance the flavours in a huge variety of vegetables. Using different blends of traditional Indian spices such as black mustard seeds, chilli, cumin, coriander and turmeric in her Rainbow Chard Saag Aloo and Baked Onion Bhajis, and adding in the ‘subtle jabs’ of star anise, lemon and curry leaves in her nostalgic Gujarati Dal.

GUJURATI DAL eps

Gujarati Dal

BAKED ONION BHAJIS

Baked Onion Bhajis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the recipes looked really inviting but the baking ones are always the most appealing, especially now the children are off for the school holidays.  We decided to try the Banana & Cardamom Buns for a weekend brunch and they did not disappoint.

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Not overly sweet, but with a lovely subtle hint of cardamom, these were loved by adults and children alike. They were delicious eaten fresh from the oven with a cup of coffee, but also in a more English way halved and buttered like a scone or with, dare I say it…Nutella!

IMG_1027We were a little free with the quantities, having added 2 whole bananas, but some extra flour and a little extra yeast made for a sticky but manageable dough which rose well during the proving stage. You could have ground your own cardamom pods but we used the handy Steenbergs organic ground cardamom.

Our buns definitely didn’t look as round and pretty as the picture in the book but the egg wash gave them a lovely crust and the soft bready texture was delicious.

Definitely one to add to the repertoire!

 

Win a Signed Copy of Meera Sodha’s new Cookbook Fresh India

Monday, July 11th, 2016
Click here to view this promotion.

Dosas – Southern Indian Pancakes

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

My parents have recently come back from a wedding in Southern India and they have been to one of my favourite regions, Kerala.  They were blown away by the delicious food and already miss the flavours of their staple, the dosa.  At about the same time, Sophie has been chatting with The Curry Guy and liked his Masala Mashed Potatoes.  So using some recipes from The Curry Guy, some recipes my parents brought back and Das Sreedharan, I made dosas at the weekend.

The dosas were pretty good, especially after I overruled the recipe I had come up with and added more water – I later realised from Das Sreedharan’s book that there is a mysterious and innocuous line that I had missed which basically said “add more water until you are happy with the mixture”.  I added to this some Masala Mashed Potatoes and a fresh Coconut Chutney.

The only other key thing is a really good pan for making the dosas, ideally the best pancake pan you have, which if you are like me has been lovingly nurtured and cured with oil for years and years and has excellent heat transfer properties.

Keralan Style Dosa With Curried Mashed Potato Filling

Keralan Style Dosa With Curried Mashed Potato Filling

Curried Mashed Potatoes

Dosa Masala

Curried Mashed Potato


Ingredients

700g / 1lb 8oz floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
¼ cup full fat milk
100g / 3½oz peas
3tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato, cut into eighths
1cm / 1 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
1tsp black mustard seeds
Pinch of sea salt

How to make

Boil the potatoes until soft, then drain and mash roughly with the full fat milk.

Boil the peas until soft, then drain.  If cooking from frozen, simply bring to the boil, then drain.

While the potatoes are cooking away, prepare the masala.  Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onions over a medium heat for 4 -5 minutes until they start to brown at the edges, then add the chopped garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and fresh ginger, spices and salt and cook over a low heat for 3 – 5 minutes, making sure it does not burn or stick to the pan.

Add the mashed potatoes and peas, and stir these into the onion masala.  Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes until thoroughly infused with flavours.

These curried potatoes can be eaten with nearly anything and are a great way to jazz up excess mashed potato that has been made.  They can also be used to make great curried flavoured potato patties for eating with breakfast.  I love this recipe as it is easily tweaked to whatever ingredients you have kicking about, just like bubble & squeak or colcannon.

A Basic Dosa Recipe

It is quite a long process, but actually does not take a huge amount of actual working time, i.e. it is just a matter of thinking ahead.

Ingredients

295g / 10½oz long grain rice
75g / 3oz urad dal – dark brown lentils (I used yellow split peas, so any lentil or pea within reason works)
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
Pinch of sea salt
Water
Sunflower oil (for frying)

How to make

Put the rice in one bowl and the urad dal and fenugreek in another bowl.  Cover them in water with around 3cm (1 inch water above the grains).  Leave for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain separately.  Believe me it is key to keep them separate as the grinding process just will not work if done together, even if it seems more efficient.  Place the rice into a blender and grind for 3 minutes, slowly adding 125ml / 4 fl oz water, giving the rice a smooth paste texture.  Put the rice paste into a large bowl.

Rinse the blender.  Add the lentils and fenugreek seeds to the blender and grind for 5 minutes, slowly adding 5 tablespoons of water.  Add the dal paste to the rice paste and mix together.  Add a pinch of salt and stir in.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 12 hours, allowing it to ferment.

When ready to cook, add some more water to get the pouring consistency correct.

Dosa Mix At Pouring Consistency

Dosa Mix At Pouring Consistency

Get your best pancake pan and heat until very hot.  Having a good pancake pan is vital for this, as it is in making good pancakes or omelette; weirdly the most highly promoted are not the best as you want one that has good heat transfer properties like an old steel pan that has been well oiled and greased over the years.  When you have the right pan, you will know and keep it lovingly forever.

Lightly grease the pan, then pour over a ladle of batter, then using the bottom of the ladle spread over the pan; I use a jug and spiral it from the centre of the pan outwards then using the tip of a spatula spread the batter over the gaps to give a smooth surface.  This bit is probably the hardest part as it often gloops up and becomes a disaster, but a little practise and trial & error and you will work out the best way.   The Curry Guy suggests cutting an onion in half then using this to spread out the oil, which he says will help to stop the dosa from sticking plus giving some extra flavour – I have not tried this but I like the idea of the discrete onion flavour.

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until crisp and golden, then flip.

Most books suggest that if you are making a filling put this onto the uncooked top surface, fold and serve, but I cook both sides of the dosa then filling and serving.

To fill the dosa, add some curried mashed potato to the centre of the dosa in a line, then drizzle over some Fresh Coconut Chutney, fold, serve and enjoy.

Prepare Your Dosa With Curried Mash And Coconut Chutney

Prepare Your Dosa With Curried Mash And Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney

Fresh Coconut Chutney

Fresh Coconut Chutney

Ingredients

100g / 3½ oz creamed coconut block
¾ fresh green chilli (or more for extra heat)
2½cm / 1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3tbsp plain yoghurt
Smallish handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (should really be fresh curry leaves, but they are not easily available here in the sticks)
Pinch of sea salt
1stp black mustard seeds (ideally Indian ones for authenticity)

How to make

I began by preparing the green chilli.  As we were cooking for kids as well, I topped and tailed the chillis, then removed the seeds and removed the veins inside the chilli pod.  Next, I sliced it into medium sized slices.

I dry roasted the black mustard seeds in a pan, without any oil.  When the seeds begin to pop and hop about the pan, I took it off the heat and tipped them into a small serving bowl.

I added all the other ingredients – coconut, chilli, ginger, yoghurt, parsley and the sea salt – into a blender.  I whizzed all the ingredients up for 3 – 4 minutes, then tasted the flavours.  You may need to up the chilli content or add a tad of sea salt.

This is the scooped out into the serving bowl and mixed in with the toasted black mustard seeds.  This is lovely kit that adds a delightful freshness to your dosa and would go with most Indian curries.

Recipe For A Thoroughly Modern Vegetarian Balti

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Once in a while, I really need to go without meat of any form and I am going through one of those patches at the moment.  So I have tweaked my Chicken Balti Recipe from earlier this year to be more tofu friendly and so usable as a vegetarian dish. At the same time, I have simplified the spices in the recipe to make the whole thing a bit quicker; if you want to mix the spice blend from scratch, I have put the spices as a note to the whole recipe. Now it is something that you can whizz up quickly at the end of the day and keep the whole family happy – for a short while as well.

Vegetarian Tofu Balti

Vegetarian Tofu Balti

Stage 1: the smooth Balti tomato sauce

3tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion (125g / 4½oz), roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2cm fresh ginger, grated finely
2tsp Steenbergs Balti curry powder
150g / 4½oz chopped tomatoes

Firstly, we need to make the base balti sauce. Add the sunflower oil to a heavy bottomed pan and heat to sizzling hot. Add, then stir fry the onion and garlic until translucent which will take about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the fresh ginger and stir once. Add the Steenbergs Balti Curry Powder and stir in, turning for about half a minute, making sure it does not stick to the pan. Finally add the chopped tomatoes and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.

Blitz the sauce either with a hand held blender or take out and pulse in a Magimix until smooth. Set aside until later.

Stage 2: the Balti stir fry

3tbsp sunflower oil
500g / 1lb 2oz Quorn or tofu, cut into 2cm x 2cm cubes
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
150g / 5oz onion, finely chopped
150g / 5oz button mushrooms, chopped in half or quarters
3tsp Steenbergs vegetable curry powder
2tbsp chopped tomatoes
1tsp Steenbergs garam masala
100ml / 3½ fl oz / ½ cup water
Handful chopped fresh coriander leaves

Heat the oven to 100C / 212F. Add half of the sunflower oil to a wok and heat until smoking hot. Stir fry the Quorn or tofu in batches until lightly browned. Put the cooked Quorn and tofu into the warmed oven. When complete, clean the wok.

Add the remainder of the sunflower oil to the wok and heat until hot and smoking. Add the green peppers, chilli and button mushrooms and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, making sure it does not burn and is fried well. Tip in the vegetable curry powder and stir through twice, then add the smooth balti tomato sauce and mix in plus the 2 tablespoons of chopped tomatoes. Heat until simmering, then add the water and reheat to a simmer, mixing all together. Cook on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked Quorn or tofu pieces and mix together. Add the garam masala. Cook for a further 10 minutes. About 2 minutes before the end add the chopped fresh coriander and stir through.

Serve hot with naan, plus we like dhal with it.

Spice blends for those doing the spices from scratch:

Spice mix for Balti sauce (1)

½tsp cumin seeds
½tsp coriander seeds
¼tsp fennel seeds
½tsp chilli powder
½tsp Fairtrade turmeric

For these, mix together then either grind iun an electric coffee grinder or break up in mortar and pastle.  Alternatively you could use powders rather than whole seeds.

Spice mix for Balti stir fry (2), instead of vegetable curry powder

½tsp cumin powder
1tsp paprika
¼tsp fenugreek powder
1tsp turmeric
¼tsp cinnamon powder
¼tsp cardamom powder

I Needed A Fix Of Vegetable Curries

Sunday, September 25th, 2011
A Glut Of Vegetables From Riverford Farm

A Glut Of Vegetables From Riverford Farm

I’ve been remarkably uninspired recently, cooking for fuel and nothing special.  However, this weekend saw a bit of space in the hurried ferrying around of kids, allowing some time to think rather than simply cook to feed the gannets – usually, a rushed matter of speed and practical cooking.  It coincided with a glut of vegetables courtesy of Riverfood Organic from our weekly box scheme.  I fancied vegetarian food and something spicy.

The first thing I came up with was a Tofu & Tomato Curry and then secondly a Keralan Style Vegetable Curry.   These were eaten with a classic dhal and saffron rice.  All were packed full of a broad range of classic Indian spices – earthy flavours from coriander, cumin and turmeric, then rich sweetness via the cardamom and cloves.  In the Keralan Curry I used a bit of asafoetida to give the curry a curious onion-like spiciness.  Then in the Tofu & Tomato Curry, I added some extra texture through black mustard and black onion seeds (often called nigella or black seed) and some fruitiness through lemon and orange juice.

Starting with the Tofu & Tomato Curry, I started with the curry spiced tomato sauce, while preparing the tofu.  Then made the Keralan Style Vegetable Curry while preparing the dhal.  These recipes are given below.

Tofu & Tomato Curry

Tofu And Tomato Curry

Tofu And Tomato Curry

250g / 9oz Tofu (when wet)
1tbsp Sunflower oil
80g / 2¾oz Onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g / 14oz Tinned tomatoes
2tsp Turmeric
2tsp Coriander seed powder
1tsp Cumin powder
¼tsp Chilli powder (optional or more if you can take the heat)
1tsp Black onion seeds
1tsp Black mustard seeds
Juice of ½ lemon
Juice of ½ orange
1tsp Garam masala
1tbsp Chopped fresh coriander leaves

Prepare the tofu by putting the tofu in a bowl, then place a plate on top of it together with some weights.  This will squeeze most of the water out of the tofu, giving a better texture to the tofu.  As the tofu dries out, pour off the water.  When dried through, chop the tofu into chunky 5cm pieces.

Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy based pot.  When heated up, put the onion and garlic into the pan and cook until translucent.  This will take around 4 – 5 minutes.  As they turn clearer, add the ground spices and stir into the onion-garlic mix.  Cook for around 1 minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes.  Cook the tomato mixture for 5 minutes.  At this stage, your need to blitz the tomato sauce either using a hand held blender or transferring the sauce to a food blender and whizzing it up.  When smooth, transfer the sauce back to the pot.

At this stage, add the black onion seeds, black mustard seeds and fruit juices to the sauce and cook for 2 minutes.   Add the tofu chunks and simmer for 10 minutes.  Around 2 minutes before the end, add the garam masala and the chopped coriander leaves.

Keralan Style Vegetable Curry

Keralan Vegetable Curry

Keralan Vegetable Curry

2tbsp Sunflower oil
½ Onion, chopped finely
125g / 4½oz Cauliflower florets
125g / 4½oz Green beans (I used a mix of fine and chunkier beans)
125g / 4½oz Carrots
250g / 9oz Potatoes
1tsp Coriander powder
1tsp Turmeric
400ml / 14 fl oz / 1¾ cups Coconut milk
Juice of ½ lemon
2tbsp Chopped freshly cut coriander leaves
Sauce:
3 Tomatoes, chopped roughly
2 Cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
1tsp Cardamom powder
½tsp Cloves powder
1tsp Turmeric
1tsp Coriander powder
¼tsp Chilli powder (optional or more if you can take the heat)
¼tsp Asafoetida (optional)
1tsp Garam masala
Pinch of sea salt
2tbsp water

Prepare the vegetables as follows: break small florets from the main head of the cauliflower; chop the green beans to about 3cm long pieces; chop the carrots to 3cm chunks; cut the potatoes into 5cm chunks and keep fresh under some cold water in a bowl.

Start by preparing the sauce.  Put the tomatoes, garlic, spices and the water into a food blender or bowl, then using a hand blender or the Magimix, blitz it all up to a smooth sauce.  Set aside for a bit.

Add the sunflower oil to a heavy bottomed casserole pot.  When hot turn down the heat, add the onion and cook gently for 3 – 4 minutes until translucent.  Add the spices and stir into the onion, then put in the carrot pieces and the tomato sauce.  Put the top onto the pot and cook at a gentle simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then add the potato chunks.  Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the green beans and cauliflower and stir in.  Pour in the coconut milk and heat the curry to a boil, then put on the lid and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.  About 2 minutes from the end, add the lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves, stirring in.

South Indian Vegetable Curry

South Indian Vegetable Curry

My Take On The Modern British Balti – A Recipe For Balti Masala

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

On Thursday, I was at home sorting out some domestic chores with some builders and my mind wandered to food and more specifically curry.  I craved a great balti, so I whipped one up, together with some dhal.

The balti is now a modern classic curry that came out of traditional curries from Northern Pakistan and was nurtured and loved within the Birmingham restaurant scene.  It is an inexpensive and simple way of making a curry once you know how.  Also, it fits well into the stir-fry & wok scene, so while not strictly fusion food it does cross-over nicely between the Chinese cooking styles and curry culture up here in the North. 

I love it because of its sheer flexibility – effectively you make up a sauce that is chocka with vegetables and add your meat to this. 

And of course while here we have made the masala mixes from scratch you can buy a balti masala curry mix or make your own and store it and seriously cut back the amount of thinking time to create a balanced meal.  We tend to eat ours with dhal – in fact we are always eating dhal and pureed pulses with everything – and mop it all up with naan bread. 

Stage 1: the smooth Balti tomato sauce

2tbsp butter, or ghee
1 medium onion (125g / 4½oz), roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2tsp freshly grated ginger
½tsp cumin seeds
½tsp coriander seeds
¼tsp fennel seeds
½ – 1tsp chilli powder (you could replace this for a fresh green chilli, deseeded)
½tsp Fairtrade turmeric
125g / 4½oz chopped tomatoes

The first stage is to make the balti tomato sauce.  In a heavy bottomed pan, dry roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds for about 2 minutes, then take out of the pan and put on a cool plate.

Smooth Balti Tomato Sauce

Smooth Balti Tomato Sauce

Now add the butter (or ghee for a richer balti) to a heavy bottomed pan and heat to sizzling hot.  Add then stir fry the onion and garlic until translucent which will take about 4 – 5 minutes.  Add the fresh ginger and stir once.  Add the toasted spices and the spice powder and stir these in, turning for about half a minute, making sure it does not stick to the pan.  Finally add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Blitz the sauce either with a hand held blender or take out and pulse in a Magimix until smooth.  Return to the pan and keep on a very low heat with the lid on.

Stage 2: the Balti stir fry

3tbsp sunflower oil
500g / 1lb 2oz chicken breast, cut into 2cm x 2cm cubes
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
1 – 2 green chillis, deseeded, halved and thinly sliced (we have 1 chilli to keep heat lower)
100g / 4oz spring onions (or 150g / 5oz normal onions)
200g / 7oz button mushrooms, chopped in half
½tsp cumin powder
1tsp paprika
¼tsp fenugreek powder
1tsp turmeric
¼tsp cinnamon powder
¼tsp cardamom powder
2tbsp chopped tomatoes
1tsp Steenbergs garam masala
100ml / 3½ fl oz / ½ cup water
Handful chopped fresh coriander leaves

Heat the oven to 100C / 212F.  Add half of the sunflower oil to a wok and heat until smoking hot.  Stir fry the chicken cubes in batches until sealed.  Put the cooked chicken pieces into the warmed oven.  When complete, clean the wok.  While frying the chicken, measure out and mix the ground spices together. 

Stir Fry The Chopped Vegetables

Stir Fry The Chopped Vegetables

Add the remainder of the sunflower oil to the wok and heat until hot and smoking.  Add the red and green peppers, green chilli and button mushrooms and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, making sure it does not burn and is fried well.  Tip in the mixed spices and stir through twice, then add the smooth Balti tomato sauce and mix in, plus the tablespoons of chopped tomatoes.  Heat until simmering, then add the water and reheat to a simmer, mixing all together.  Cook on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken pieces and mix together.  Add the garam masala.  Cook for a further 10 minutes.  About 2 minutes before the end add the chopped fresh coriander and stir through.

Axel's Balti Served Outside

Axel's Balti Served Outside

Serve hot with naan, plus we like dhal with it.

Recipe For Vegan Tofu And Coconut Curry

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Continuing with our vegetarian fest after a successful week during National Vegetarian Week, I was craving a spicy curry that the kids would enjoy but would also be vegetarian – they are beginning to want some meat, but are just about hanging in there.  I came up with this quick and simple recipe for Tofu & Coconut Milk Curry, which we ate with plain boiled rice and red lentil dhal, plus poppadoms.  It is versatile so you can change the tofu for other vegetarian ingredients like Quorn or, if you are a pescatarian, white fish like cod or coley.

Axel’s Vegan Tofu & Coconut Curry

1 medium onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1cm / ½ inch cube of fresh ginger, grated finely
1 mild green chilli, sliced lengthways (optional)
2 tbsp organic sunflower oil
1tsp organic  vegetable curry powder, or other mild/medium curry powder
¼tsp organic Fairtrade turmeric powder
10 curry leaves, or bay leaf
400ml coconut milk
4 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
1tbsp organic white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1tbsp organic lemon juice
1tsp organic garam masala
1tbsp organic sunflower oil
300g tofu, drained then chopped into 1cm / ½ inch cubes
1tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Firstly, we prepare the tofu, by draining it, then placing it between two plates or wooden boards with a weight placed on top to remove the excess water.  This is worth doing as it removes extra water and gives a firmer texture for later.  After 1 hour, pour off excess water and chop into 1cm (½ inch) cubes.

Chop The Tofu Into 1cm Cubes

Chop The Tofu Into 1cm Cubes

Next, we make the coconut milk curry sauce.  Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed pan.  Add the onion, garlic and grated ginger and sauté on a low heat until translucent – this should take about 5 minutes, but make sure they do not crisp and brown at the edges.

Add the green chilli (if you are after some extra heat, but this is not necessary), curry powder, turmeric and curry leaves and stir in.  Fry gently for 1 minute.  Add the coconut milk and stir in.  Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer.  Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar, lemon juice and garam masala, stir and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. then take off the heat.

Add the sunflower oil to a wok, or frying pan.  Heat until really hot, then add the tofu pieces and turn down the heat.  Fry until golden brown, turning over as they fry to make sure all edges get a nice crispy texture.

Stir Fry The Tofu Cubes

Stir Fry The Tofu Cubes

Until The Tofu Is A Golden Brown Colour

Until The Tofu Is A Golden Brown Colour

Add to the curry sauce and reheat to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes until thoroughly cooked through.  Add the chopped coriander leaves about 1 minute before the end.  Serve with plain boiled rice and dhal.

Vegan Tofu And Coconut Milk Curry

Vegan Tofu And Coconut Milk Curry

Recipe For Traditional Style Rogan Josh

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

As part of my ongoing attempts to create Indian recipes that have some bearing on genuineness, I have been fiddling around with rogan josh ideas.  Rogan josh is a signature dish for British curry houses, but was originally a North Indian meat dish that harks back to the exotic meals of the Moghul Courts when luxury was about food that was lavish, plentiful and took time.  Time still remains one of the key ingredients of cooking, especially as we rush around trying to whip something up fast and furious to feed the kids quickly, rustling up whatever we can from a paucity of ingredients in the cupboard and fridge, that always means you are missing something, whether the saffron or the yoghurt.

In this version, I have not ended up with a recipe that is particularly red in colour as I have not used tomatoes or any colouring, save for some token beetroot powder which does not really keep its colour under the heat of your cooking.  If you want to redden the sauce, you can change the water for chopped tomatoes, but I feel that tinned tomatoes are used a little too readily and I have had enough of them at the moment.  Also, the original rogan joshes of the Moghul Era would not have had tomatoes available to them, even though by later times they  could have done.

So here you have it, my version of a traditional rogan josh from India to North Yorkshire and the web.  It tastes better if you give it a day to infuse, so prepare the day before and then leave overnight before reheating.  Another key feature is to get some lamb bones into the sauce as they impart extra depth of character to the curry.

Axel’s Rogan Josh

Thinking About Rogan Josh

Thinking About Rogan Josh

For the meat:

750g / 1¾ lb lamb (I mixed 500g of lamb chopped into 2-3cm dices with 250g lamb breast with bones)
2tbsp sunflower oil
1 pinch asafoetida
200g / ½lb yoghurt
3cm fresh ginger, peeled then grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½tbsp sunflower oil

For the masala:

½tsp chilli (for extra heat you could double or triple this to your heat requirement)
½tsp paprika
1tsp coriander seeds/powder
½tsp black peppercorns, or ground black pepper
¼tsp cloves/ cloves powder
½tsp cardamom powder
2tsp beetroot powder
1tsp sea salt
6½cm cinnamon quill
2 black cardamom pods
1 bay leaf

For the stock:

1 pinch saffron, soaked in 4tbsp cold water for 30 minutes
500ml / 1 pint water

Heat the first amount of sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan then add the lamb and pinch of asafoetida, then cook until lightly browned and sealed all over.  Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add next amount of sunflower oil and fry the onions, garlic and ginger until translucent.

While the onions-garlic-ginger are frying, we need to prepare the spices for the rogan josh masala.  Heat a small frying pan to dry fry some of the spices.  When hot, add the coriander seeds, black peppercorns and cloves and dry roast for about 2 minutes; however, watch over them and ensure that they do not burn.  Remove them from the heat and grind in a mortar with a pestle or a coffee grinder.  Add the other ground spices, the black cardamom pods, cinnamon quills and bay leaf.  You can simplify the mix by using ground spices and just mix them all together.

Masala For Rogan Josh

Spices For Rogan Josh

When the onion-garlic-ginger is translucent, turn down the heat and add the spice masala and throughly mix through, cooking gently for 1 minute.  Stir throughout as it can stick to the pot and then start to burn.

Add the yoghurt and mix thoroughly.  Place the top on the pan and heat up until just steaming, then remove lid.  Add the meat, then cover with just enough water to go over all the meat.  Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, place the lid on the pot and simmer for at least 1 hour.

Remove the lid, then add the saffron infused water and cook through thoroughly.

Axel's Rogan Josh Curry

Axel's Rogan Josh

Ready to serve with rice and dhal, however I like to cook this on the night before then reheat the next day  – this gives a much richer, deeper flavour and lets all the spices really meld together.

Tips: you can replace the water with chopped tomatoes to give a redder colour, but sometimes I have just had too much tomato and quite enjoy giving it a miss in this version of rogan josh.  For posh nosh, remove the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and black cardamom pods so no-one complains about chewing on one, but I quite like leaving them in for some extra authenticity and show everyone that you made this from scratch and not out of a jar.