Category Archives: Curries

Chicken Masala Curry Risotto

I have always been one for making my own spice and herb mixes and using a hit and miss approach to overall flavour. There are some tried and true combinations, of course, which we were either taught or have picked up along the way. In the last few years the old herb and spice companies have found a market in our fast and furious world and have come up trumps – some better than others. When I was young, there was Oxo stock cubes and that was about it. Oh – I know there was Bisto and other gravy makers but that was here and I wasn’t – I don’t remember Bisto in Australia.
Oxo has reinvented itself as has Knorr and Schwartz and the innovative improvements are welcome. There are some terrific commercial combinations available at the supermarket as these companies compete for this market. This makes for good news for us the consumers. I still find that I cannot help myself fiddling with the flavours as I cook. I have a vast array of spices in my spice cupboard and a great deal many herbs chopped in season (this is Scotland after all) and frozen in individual containers (thanks again, dear companies, for marketing your wares in individual containers that I can re-use when freezing my herbs).

They have done well!

They have done well!

This recipe is sort of home-grown using a base of the spice mix made by Schwartz. Added spice values are flexible. You have to continually test the dish as it is cooking and adjust the seasonings and spices to suit your particular taste. I do this all the time and wouldn’t make a good wee chef because I don’t replicate exactly from one offering to the next.

I realise that some of you will throw your hands up in horror and scream ‘Not cream and sour cream and oil and finishing butter’. However I have always eaten these foods and have been on the go enough to not have had any problem with weight or cholesterol (when checked at the chemists). So I say go for it and then go for a run, a dig in the garden, a swim or push those biceps.

Ingredients

125gr diced chestnut mushrooms
450gr thickly slivered chicken breast
1 Indian Mild Masala Curry Flavour Shot by Schwartz
1 tbsp hot curry powder – if you like it hot as I do
1½teasp ground paprika
150gr tomato and basil pasta sauce or 400gr chopped tomatoes – a mix of what you have in the pantry
2teasp double tomato concentrate
2 cloves squeezed garlic
1½teasp ground garam masala
½pint or so of milk
¾ cup Aborio or parboiled rice. Basmati isn’t any good for this but other long grains are okay.
Some double cream and some crème fraiche
2teasp chopped parsley
Pepper and salt to season and some butter to finish

Method

Fry the Masala spice first

Fry the Masala spice first

Stir the Flavour Pot and pour into a large (preferably) non-stick frypan. At this point, if you like (love!) onion, use a red onion thinly sliced and cook until softened. Otherwise add the diced mushrooms and cook for 2-3mins. Add the garlic. You may need some more oil. I am using groundnut oil at the moment.

Add the tomato type mixture you have decided on and the milk. Stir and bring to a simmer. Stir in the chicken and cook on high for 3mins then lower heat and

1 lb of sliced chicken breast

1 lb of sliced chicken breast

simmer for 10mins or so. This is a good time to start tasting and adding. Add some tomato concentrate, paprika, garam masala. Start adding pepper and salt to your taste.

Start adding the rice – you will need some water to hand. Here the intensity starts. Stir the rice throughout the dish and add water when it looks as though the rice has soaked up all the liquid. Don’t let it burn. Repeat, adding water, cream and soured cream but don’t let the dish become thin. It should take about 20 mins for the rice to absorb the liquid. If aborio, it will take a bit longer.

At the end add 1teasp butter to finish, ½doz. drops of nam pla (fish sauce) – I am like Nigel Slater and believe that virtually any dish benefits for the addition of nam pla. Add the parsley and enjoy. I serve myself some leeks and either beans or peas in side dishes – for effect and texture variety and I love vegetables anyway!

The Risotto with side dishes

Brinjal pickle or curry

This is such a terrific pickle. I found this recipe by Charmaine Solomon in the 1970s when my boys and I lived on our wee farm and grew all our vegetables. I must have planted a lot of eggplant seeds because when it became apparent that we would have dozens of the big, purple fruits, I had to work out what to do with them. Hence the brinjal pickle.
These days, in order to experience the gorgeous flavours and texture of this pickle, I have to buy the aubergines. Sob. It doesn’t matter what brand of Brinjal pickle I buy in jars in Asian supermarkets, it doesn’t taste anywhere near as delicious as the homemade variety. I guess, because to be commercially viable, some things are left out, some stuff added and blah. Anyway, it doesn’t have the same flavour I like. My boys used this as a spread on their cheese sandwiches. You can also use it on rice for a quick curry. It is truly lovely stuff. As a curry it is called Brinjal pahi and I am sure there are as many versions as there are cooks – 1,490 entries in Wikipedia alone! This one is now mine.

Here we go.

3 medium purple aubergines or 2 large ones – sliced about ¾cm thick.
Lay out as many slices as fit on a paper kitchen towel. Sprinkle salt over the slices and then sprinkle turmeric powder. Rub the slices, turn them over and repeat for the other side.
Use a big, non-reactive bowl and place the prepared slices in layers. Cover with a plastic sheet and leave to sweat the moisture for a minimum of two hours. I often left the aubergine overnight and poured the liquid off in the morning. Blot the slices dry on paper before frying. This doesn’t take as long as you think it will. Have a cuppa.

Sliced aubergine exsanguinating

Sliced aubergine exsanguinating

Cover the base of a large frying pan with about 2cm oil and heat. Fry the slices slowly until brown on both sides. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Reserve the frying oil. I have to say that an Aga would be good. I had a slow combustion stove on the farm and the ability to control heat is an advantage. I have made it on a gas stove but never on an electric stove. Today I had to use the induction hob. Not good, not good at all. I mean the cooking worked but fires are a much better way to go.

Sweated, dried off & ready to fry

Sweated, dried off & ready to fry – this is the tedious part of the process

 

Wet Spice Mix
1tbsp black mustard seed
½cup brown vinegar. I used a malt vinegar once – t’weren’t the same
1 brown onion finely chopped
3 – 4 cloves garlic sliced finely
1tbsp fresh, finely chopped ginger
Blend mustard seed and vinegar until mustard is ground down. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until it becomes a smooth paste.

Dry Spice Mix – or an equivalent amount of curry powder and curry leaves.
1tbsp ground coriander
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground fennel
Using a small dry pan, heat the ingredients gently – shake the pan constantly, don’t let the mixture burn. It should be a medium brown colour and fragrant.

½cup tamarind pulp steeped in ¾cup hot water. Strain, discard seeds, reserve liquid.
3 fresh chillies, seeded and sliced
Small cinnamon stick
1tsp chilli powder if desired

Heat ½cup reserved oil, fry blended wet mixture for 5mins. Add dry mixture and other ingredients. Add the aubergine slices (I use a sharp knife at this stage to roughly cut through the aubergine thus breaking the skin up) and oil from the bowl they were in, stir well, cover and simmer for 15mins. You may need to add some more salt.

Keep your wee spoon out of this - we are bottling it.

Keep your wee spoon out of this – we are bottling it.

Let cool thoroughly before bottling in clean, dry bottles. I kept a bottle for 4 years and it was absolutely gorgeous. It just doesn’t ever go ‘off’.

Green Chicken Curry & Vegetables

Sounds like a plain Jane name of a recipe but this was gorgeous! I thought that I wouldn’t bother with photographs because I was making a known recipe. But, as everyone knows, kitchens provide sometimes the same and sometimes similar ingredients and that is what happened to this recipe. So I should have taken photos. Anyway I claim it as mine based on a red curry recipe from The Practical Encyclopaedia of Asian Cooking.

The finished dish - go my tastebuds

The finished dish – go my taste buds!

Ingredients:
Boned, un-skinned chicken thighs medium sliced – enough for however many you intend to feed. I used 3 thighs to feed one and had some left over for tomorrow (yum, flavours develop)
1 leek cut into ½cm rounds, green part included
¼pkt of frozen mixed vegetable stir-fry (mine was from Asda and included sprouts). I mean you can construct your own from whatever Asian veg you have in your crisper. I didn’t have any
Coconut cream or reconstituted coconut powder – about 1 cup
Nam pla (fish sauce) – I used about ½tsp – maybe a bit more
Dill – I have dried but fresh would be better. Just sprinkle whatever amount looks good

Green Curry paste
1 tsp coriander powder
½tsp cumin powder
(you can use seeds for these two ingredients and grind them if preferred)
1 green chilli – as hot as you prefer, deseeded and chopped finely
1 garlic clove chopped or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chopped galangal or 1 tsp ginger powder
1 lemon grass stalk sliced then chopped finely – not the green stem
2 kaffir lime leaves chopped finely – I had dried ones
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch ground cinnamon
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp salt – I use a mix of potassium and sodium chlorides

Method:
Mix all curry ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle some oil – 2tsp olive oil into the mix. You could process the mix before adding the oil but I quite enjoy crunchy.

Use a good (I have a favourite) wok and heat some oil. Add the chicken and fry gently until coloured. Add the leek and stir more. Cover and let simmer for 5 mins.

Add the curry mix, coconut and nam pla. Stir well. More heat? – I used some bottled green chillies – I had to wash the vinegar out first. I think I used a tsp.

Continue cooking for a further 5mins then add the stir-fry veg. Cook a further 5mins. Sprinkle the dill and stir. I had to thicken the sauce with some cornflour. You may not need to.

Serve with plain steamed basmati rice and/or Peshwari Naan bread. My fella bought me an electric rice cooker – we bought a house with an induction hob – not very good for my style of cooking.

It’s a Crockpot rice cooker and is brilliant.

 

Lovely Onion Sauce for Curries

This recipe is mainly for my cousin whose husband reacts quite badly to any onions or leeks. So it means that food can be a problem for them when they go out as it can be for my husband and me. Not that WW gets ill but he doesn’t like even a whiff of onion.

This little recipe can be made and used as a side dish for onionless curries with any excess being frozen in ice-cube trays for future use. You can also use it as a base for onionated curries if you like.

I used Cibouli onions (less strong, more spring onion tasting) and tinned chopped tomatoes because that was all I had. I did have the fresh garlic but had to use a sliced and bottled ginger because I didn’t have any. I am not very purist about these things these days anyway.

The other thing I am no longer purist about is spices. I know that I could use whole spices, grind them and garner the full flavour of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and cumin. I do have cumin seeds and tend to throw them into the oil first off.

The other thing I do is buy green and red chillies fresh and chop them up very finely and put each variety into ice-cube trays. I find it preferable to having fresh herbs around that don’t get all used up and become stale and wrinkled. It is bad enough that I am getting that way without my food ingredients emulating it!

Enough preamble. This recipe is taken from Asha’s contribution to Indian cooking.

Get the ingredients ready first.

Chopped ingredients ar the ready

Chopped ingredients ar the ready

2 Cibouli onions chopped quite finely
2 cloves garlic also chopped finely
1” or equivalent of chopped ginger
3 med. skinned and chopped tomatoes or equivalent – I used about 300g tinned chopped variety
3 tbsp oil
1 teasp each of powered cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and a bay leaf. Use fresh crushed equivalents if preferred
1 green chilli (deseeded if less heat is required)
Salt to taste

In a skillet (I used my wee wok – I really love this little baby) heat the oil and put in the spices, stirring so they don’t burn. Turn heat down to simmer and add the onions. Cover and simmer for 6 mins. You may need to add a little more oil. Stir a couple of times during cooking.

Onions added.

Onions added.

Now add the ginger and garlic and simmer for 2 mins.

Add salt and green chillies. Stir and simmer until oils separate from the mixture.

Add the tomatoes and stir. Cover and simmer until sauce thickens.

Tomato added and cooked to a thick wet consistency

Tomato added and cooked to a thick wet consistency

Add some turmeric and red chilli powder for flavour. Add more salt if necessary.

When the mixture is cool enough, blend it into a wet paste. I have this nifty little Kenwood blender that I saw on a YouTube cooking video with Simon Hopkinson. It is absolutely perfect for this sort of use.

All blended ready to use

All blended ready to use

Use some and freeze the rest. Easy as.

 

V’s Excellent Fish Curry – #1

Sometimes, I rummage through the freezer and find food that seems to gaze at me saying ‘Don’t you remember me – you put me in here intending to make me into the perfect dish’.

I squirm and scrunch my eyes up. This time it was fish. In my defence  it is one of those chest freezers so everything gets piled on top of whatever is in there to start with. Rummaging quickly in the cold becomes an art! But I was up for it!! Until I buy myself an upright freezer with shelves so I can organise the frozen food I buy and the sauces and condiments that I make and freeze.

I found these frozen haddock fillets that I had bought on a whim thinking that I might make a fish curry. Now, my sister used to make the best fish curry and I didn’t ever learn from her how to do it as well. So I gave up and branched out into other fare that I can do quite well. Like Thai beef salads and broad bean salads – this is supposed to be summer after all!

Anyway, I brought this frozen packet out and looked at it quizzically. I had no idea what I was going to put with it so I left it to thaw and went through the crisper in the fridge. Leeks, green capsicum and I knew I still had some frozen cubes of green chilli.

Not bad – the basis for a dish here. Larders are a good food source as well. Last month I had replenished my supply of stock cubes and came across a new variety offered by OXO. This curry cube caught my fancy and I thought I would use a couple of cubes in my dish. I already had some fish stock cubes and some vegetable ones made by Knorr. I really like stock cubes – they add an intensity of flavour that is wonderful.

Yummy Vietnamese Mint leaves. Essential fare!

My Vietnamese mint was growing happily away and, by the way, all the cuttings struck beautifully and I am pleased as punch. I plucked 6 nice big leaves from the mother plant – fish and laksa leaf are companionable after all. I sought out and found the ground cumin, fish sauce (nam pla) and double cream.

Yes, now we have the makings of a dish.

First off, mix a teasp white wine vinegar with ½ teasp monosodium glutamate and a pinch of garlic powder. Add a few drops of sesame oil and enough sunflower oil to end up with about 3tbsp frying oil.

I have an induction hob and apart from having to have steel to allow electrical induction for the cooking, the pans are heavy based which is ideal for frying. Heat a frying pan and add the oil. Then add the leek.

The veges plus the wooden vessels created by the Hunter Gatherer

I know that I can start with the other ingredients when the aroma starts to lift from the pan and fill my nostrils. Add the capsicum and stir for maybe 2mins. Add the cumin then the fish. Stir to coat the fish and add the chilli.

Cover all three stock cubes with 120mls boiling water and let steep.  Then add the liquid slowly to the pan and add the nam pla. Cover and simmer gently for 12 to 15mins. Add cream and the shredded mint, adjust seasoning and serve over steamed basmati rice.

This is a gorgeously flavoured fish curry. Add a side dish of buttered peas or wilted baby spinach together with toasted sesame seeds. Just yummy.

150 to 250gr haddock steaks cut into 2cm pieces
½ to 1 Leek sliced lengthways and cut into 1cm slices
½ green capsicum cut into 1½cm squares
1 small green chilli deseeded and finely chopped
½teasp (or more) ground cumin
2 x Oxo curry recipe cubes
1 x Knorr vegetable stock cube or fish stock cube
2tbsp (or more) double thick cream
6 shredded Vietnamese Mint leaves
1½teasp nam pla
Pepper & Salt

Very nice and I do say so myself!

I am constantly amazed at what ingredients can be put together to create a dish that tempts the appetite and fills the belly. Long live the kitchen!!

Thai Green Pork Curry tonight

Larders are great – they hold all the ingredients that you don’t use all the time and sit there winking at you every time you look inside the cupboard door. And you can add bottles, cans and jars of ingredients that you think you might like to try sometime! I doubt I could live without a stocked larder.

Problem – I haven’t any proper Green Curry Sauce that I have made (that story will turn up soon on another entry).

However, I did find a bottle of Thai Green Curry Sauce that I must have bought on the spur of a moment to give it a try. Well, it got its try tonight. I dipped a spoon in and tasted it and decided to add some Jalapeño hot sauce, some chopped up Jalapeños from a bottle I had in the fridge, some mashed coriander and some mashed Lemon grass.

Two cubes of frozen green chilli

Because I am the one who likes chilli, I tend to buy them in the sort of quantities that supermarkets will sell them in. Then I slice the chillies (leave the seeds in) and mix them in water, put them in an ice cube tray and freeze them. Then I can use however many frozen chilli cubes as I wish. And they keep forever. So I added in two cubes of frozen green chilli – the long green variety. Under other circumstances, I would use Scotch Bonnet chillies. But that’s another story.

White pepper and salt in some vegetable oil in the pan and in went the curry mixture. By this time I had decided one cannot have too much crushed garlic and ginger so that went in as well.

Sliced pork steaks

While it was all getting hot, I thinly sliced two pork steaks and added them to gently marinate in the ever increasing hot sauce.

The only onion I had was my last ciboule so I diced it thickly and added it. Once everything started to bubble away, I turned the heat down to a simmer and put a lid on the pot.

After about 15mins I added the coconut. Here’s my rave about the use of coconut. I have some gorgeous memories of coconut palms in our backyard at College Road in Singapore and our syce’s son climbing the palms and dropping the coconuts to the ground. His father then de-husked them and bored a hole in one end so we kids could drink the juice. Exquisite!! He did the same with the papayas as well. Good breakfasts in Singapore!!

Coconut is a wonderful ingredient. Never bother using coconut milk. It has been watered down and is so thin as to be pointless. Coconut cream on the other hand is worth using. You have to search it out during the shopping run. It is the pulverised coconut flesh including the juice that escapes during the mashing. There is no (or very little) added water.

When you want double cream, you have to pick the container up and shake so you know whether that advertising is true or false. It is the same with coconut cream. The thickness also depends on the temperature. The colder it is, the more solid the ground coconut flesh is. So give the tin a good shake to make sure that it is thick, then buy several tins and stash them – in the larder!

There are other coconut products on the market. A block of compressed mashed coconut is one such product that is storable for ages. All you have to do is  cut off however much you want and dissolve it in hot water. Then there’s desiccated coconut that can be transformed into coconut milk, but, unfortunately, not into a thick cream.

Anyway, I added some thick coconut cream to make the sauce and let it simmer for another 20mins. If the sauce is too thick, add some crème fraiche and/or some cream. A little water will help to thin it so that everything pours over the basmati rice that you serve it with and makes a gorgeous, rich and wettish, thickish soup. Sometimes I add some chopped capsicum, some green peas or some broccoli. It depends what you have in that larder, fridge or freezer. Tonight I added half a red capsicum because I didn’t have a green one. Added some peas.

Thai Green Curry with Pork and tumeric rice

While there are traditional ways to make Thai Green Curry dishes, most people tend to use what is on hand and I really do think that it makes for individual dishes that tempt the palette differently every time that dish is made. Oh, and don’t forget to add some fish sauce at the end of cooking. Fish sauce is one ingredient that will enhance any dish – and Nigel Slater agrees with me!! Yay!

Maybe I should have called this blog – the eclectic cook!!!