Tag Archives: nam pla

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.


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


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


Spicy Cherry Tomato Jam

There have been so many cherry tomatoes that if I didn’t do something with them, they would be lost. We couldn’t eat them fast enough.

So I googled Tomato Jam and lo! Recipes galore from which to choose. I eventually decided to use the base of a recipe from Delicious Magazine.

Delicious Magazine

Delicious Magazine

2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
750g ripe cherry tomatoes halved
2 onions, finely chopped – I used echalion shallots otherwise known as cibouli onions
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 large mild red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
5 cm piece fresh ginger grated
250 ml white wine vinegar
300g soft light brown sugar
2 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)

I whizzed the onion and some of the vinegar together with a couple of teaspoons of bottled chopped chillies that were in the fridge.

Echalion or cibouli onions

Echalion or cibouli onions

I used ground spices instead of whole seeds because I haven’t a mortar or grinder and I did have bottles of spices. I had a tube of garlic paste and a bottle of ginger paste in the fridge and used them rather than having to go out and buy fresh.

I had some distilled malt vinegar and the remains of some white wine vinegar and so I mixed them together. I also tasted this as it was cooking and realised that it needed some salt and lemon juice. So I added that and kept tasting until it tasted less sweet but spicier. I added several drops of Nando’s hot peri-peri sauce to lift the flavour a bit. The fish sauce added at the end is a lovely soupcon of finishing flavour that makes the jam.

Dry toast the cumin and coriander for a minute over low heat until aromatic.
In a largish wide pan put the tomatoes and onions – whizzed if that’s what you do – the garlic and ginger and chillies. Add the spices, vinegar and sugar. Bring it all to the boil and then simmer until reduced to a jam-like consistency. I was stirring this mixture quite a bit and first added some salt, re-taste, lemon juice, re-taste, Nando’s sauce, re-taste. When it is just about right, tasting good and reduced way down, add the nam pla and cook for another couple of minutes.

This quantity made 4 smallish jars of varying sizes. I sterilised the jars in the oven at 130ºC for 30 minutes and boiled the lids for about 10 minutes on the stove. Spoon the jam into hot jars and seal. Let cool, label and store. This is a lovely jam – my neighbours all liked it and since I had scrounged for an empty bottle, I gave back the bottle full of jam. Win win.

Passes the taste test

Passes the taste test

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!

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

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.