Monthly Archives: September 2012

Daag It…thats Curry in a Hurry!

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A night out a the local Indian restaurant is a treat that is prety similar in whetever town or city you choose to eat in. The restaurants and take-aways all, to some extent or another follow a very similar format from the flock wallpaper through to the deep pile carpet and piped raga music to keep you entertained through your culinary exploration of their menu’s.

However there is the problem, most if not all menu’s are representative of a very select group of dishes, generally prepared in very quick time and bought to your table when sitting down in the restaurant, by the waiter in the white shirt black tie and black waistcoat, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying the dishes aren’t nicely cooked or well prepared what I am saying is that the great majority of Indian eateries are very similar. There are of course exceptions on every menu but the great majority offer the same dishes as the competition 200 metres up the road.

The first question is why do they do that?

Well lets face it Indian cusine  is fast food on the high street.

It shouldn’t be but it is, we expect our Indian meal on the table or ready to carry out in 15-30 minutes, and that can only be achieved with the use of ………Daag

This is the real secret that 95% of all the curries produced in the curry house use Daag as a base and as such is essential to all of the Madras, Kormas Dhansaks, Dopiaza, Bhuna Rogan Josh and an infinite number of other curries too numerous to mention. Daag is versatile and lends itself to whatever level of chilli is required , and can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, and longer in the freezer, all you need to do is heat a few spoonfuls of it with some oil add some meat, chicken, fish, Prawn,or vegetables and saute for a few minutes and voila curry you have…..

It really is that simple, quick curry in a hurry! ….what follows is a recipe for Daag to my taste you can vary the amount of chilli you add, bearing in mind that the restaurant /take-away  will add the required level of chilli for each dish as it is prepared.

Ingredients

1kg onions

1.5 inc sqr fresh Ginger

6 Cloves Garlic

4 Green Chilli

6 Medium Tomato’s

100ml(3.5fl oz) oil

.5 tsp Coriander powder

.5 Tsp Cumin

.5 tsp Turmeric

.5 tsp Garam Masala

Good handfull chopped Coriander

1 tsp Salt

Method

First thing you guessed it, chop the onions,ginger & garlic nice and fine, and puree the tomato’s

Now heat a nice big pot with the oil in and fry the onions until they are dark brown, thats going to take you about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the Garlic Ginger and chillies and continue frying for a further 3 minutes, add the Coriander powder and saute for a further 5 minutes, not forgetting to stir continuosly, if the mixtuure is being naughts and sticking add a couple of tablespoons of water, then add the Turmeric Cumin, and garan masala, after about 30 seconds add the Tomato and Coriander, give a good stir and then add 400ml(24 fl oz)of water, add the  Salt too and cook over a low heat for abouit 15 minutes

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool completely then it is ready to store in an air tight jar in the fridge or freezer.

There is enough here for about 12 portions based on allowing meat at 8oz portions……

From the cheffy point of view it could be argued that all the curries taste the same with the exception of the chilli level, but the good Restaurant take-away will ensure that the addin ingredients to the dish seperate one dish from another, only you can be the judge of that. What I do know is that any recipe for any traditional dish should stand up in its own right and for me that is not based on the curry sauce for all of its advantages…. feel free to comment I would love to hear your views…..

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Khageena…..Scrambled egg by any other name

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Interesting Breakfast/Supper for those with the will to open their minds and hearts to the most delicious alternative to the humble Scrambled egg.

Really delicious with  a little fish or Smoked Salmon on the side…or come to that anything else that takes your fancy!

I really love this dish and cook it often its simplicity and its flavours make it a great dish for getting the palate to dance for a while and after a Saturday night out on the lager it is just the ticket to settle the stomach and make the world seem that little less fuzzy?

AQlternatively a great dish if you really can’t be arsed to cook and want something tasty and fast!

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil

2 Small onions sliced

2 small tomatoes  finely chopped

3 Green Chillies deseeded and chopped

.5 tsp Ground Turmeric

.5 tsp Chilli Powder

.25 tsp Ginger Paste

.25 tsp Garlic Paste

6 Eggs well beaten

1 tbsp Ghee or Butter

.5 bunch Coriander

Method

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat , add the onions and fry for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown.

Reduce the heat , add the tomatoes, chillies, ground spices and the ginger and garlic pastes, and stir together over a low heat.

cook this mixture out until the toms have softened and the liquid has evaporated…..

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add them to the melted butter or ghee in another pan over a low heat, chuck in the coriander leaves, season with salt and reduce the heat to low……

Cook the eggs until they begin to reach a nearly solid state , or as near scrambled as you like them, but they should still be moist .

Add the onion and tomato mixture and finish off the eggs to the scrambled consistency you enjoy.

Serve with some hot buttered toast, a naan, or anything else that you enjoy with your scrambled egg!

Fillin The Dabba

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masala daba

So many spices to choose from

Whats a Dabba Masala I hear you ask… well a vital piece of kit of the storage kind, air tight and designed to keep your spices dry and Fresh. Expect to Pay no more than Twenty Quid for the often round tin that contains Seven 100g pots. The ideal size as the refills for spices come in 100g bags as a rule , these seven pots being for your favourite and oft used spices

If your starting out on the journey that is Indian Cookery it will be good to take a moment to understand what does what and why.

There are firstly three elements to any Indian style dish you cook or create, well not just Indian but all food taste,is the first element, well that’s obvious it needs to taste good . Smell oh yeah, curry must smell like a curry with an aroma that will take you away to the places and times you remember, be that after a night at the pub and on top of the fourteen pints of lager,  or on a tropical beach in downtown Baga or Arpora Goa,  it matters not; Indian food should evoke memories. Get these spicy elements right in the dishes you create and you have it cracked, learning how to balance these spices is the real secret to Indian cookery…..So what should you stick in you nice new Dabba, here’s my top seven, they may not be yours but they are a good place to start!.

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Number 1 on your Dabba Trail I suggest is Garam Masala, this is firstly a blend of spices and chefs of repute make their own and guard their  list and percentage make-up very carefully, but if you do not wish to be that brave yet you can buy the commercial blend in any supermarket, and it is as good as you will need to get the job done, so fear not!

Masala blends of which there are many are used throughout Indian cuisine and some of the most popular ones can be found in my article on Masala mixes

If you want a recipe and some tips on how to make your own let me know!

However for the sake of understanding Garam Masala is a principally an aroma spice although it is sometimes very difficult to seperate as spices by the pure nature of the beast will affect both aroma and taste

Garam means heating in this context, and Masala means spices, so Garam Masala creates  heat in the body and is made up in most cases by grinding together  Cinnamon, Cloves, Black Pepper, and Black Cardamon, these being the essentials to any Garam Masala although these days it is not unknown for some cooks to also add Green Cardamom to the mix, as a  cooling spice. In reality the mix to some extent is down to you, and I have many recipes for spice mixes and as time goes on I will begin to share them all with you!

Next in your Dabba because your cooking curry is Chilli powder and lets face it most curries although not all rely on chilli in one form or another.

For the moment choose a rich coloured red curry powder and hot, as this adds the fire and colour to your curry. Powders should always be added during the second part of the frying sequence there’s a whole article coming up on Chilli of all kinds in the not too distant future so watch out for that one, but for now a good quality hot chilli powder blazing red will do the job.

Next is that most Yellow of the powdered spices and an absolute must that is used in “almost” every curry

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – Bright yellow in color, turmeric is known for its many medicinal properties and gives a yellow tinge to dishes, found inalmost all and is very good for the digestive system as it also has antiseptic qualities

Coriander Powder (Dhaniya) – coriander, also referred to as cilantro, can be purchased as whole seeds or a powder and is used in both South and North Indian cooking. In a pinch, you can substitute coriander seeds for the powder and vice versa.

Cumin Powder (Jeera) – cumin can also be purchased as whole seeds or a powder, which are also interchangeable, and is used in both South and North Indian cooking

Mustard Seeds – these little black balls  Rai are commonly used in South Indian cooking as part of the tadka and are known for their digestive properties.  They release their full flavor when popped, almost always added as the first ingredient to be fried for a few seconds in cooking oil before popping,the reddish-brown ones sarson are more commonly used in the north and east of the country.

Curry Leaves – these are leaves of the Kari Plant and the fragrance and flavor that these leaves add to the South Indian tadka is spicy, fresh and comforting. You can purchase these fresh at an Indian grocery and, although not ideal, you can freeze them or dry them. I broke down and bought a curry leaf plant, which I’ve been cultivating in a pot indoors.

There are of course hundreds of herbs and spices, and what follows is a list of the few that I hold and have had reason to use for one reason or another. I guess I got a bit obsessed in that I went out and bought a box full of plastic air tight bottles, which I have labelled accordingly,I have still only scratched the surface as there are many more available and as I said I will continue to collect them as I come across a reason to buy them!

Some of them I have in the whole and the ground types, and some I have never used the list is my favourites and as such is not representative by any stretch of the imagination of all that you can own or buy , but the principle I work on is if I have it in store I don’t need to go out and find it firstly to buy it.

I have linked as many of the following  to Wiki pages for those of you that wish to know the facts behind the name , so go on get stuck in its a world of spices.

The following list is nowhere near complete and I will as time develops continue to edit and update this page with information text and “Indian” or recognisable names, My guess is this could end up being a lifetimes work , so dip in here when you want a quick explanation of whats what in the whacky world of spices!

Asafoetida, kn0wn as the Devils dung  a pungent little substance that gives curries that curry smell, in reality it is a resin from a tree Ferula Asafoetida, and is used in minute quantities a pinch at most as a general rule, and is used primarily as an anti Flatulent.

Cardamon Black

Cardomon Green

Cloves

Cinnamon

Fennel

Fenugreek

Klowunji seeds(Nigella)

Mace

Mustard Seeds

Poppy Seeds

Saffron

Star Anis

Phool Makhani Curry

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This is a fantastic little veggie curry that again takes very little time to prepare and cook, Phool Makhani are Puffed Lotus Seeds, which you can buy from your nearest Indian supermarket cooked in a spiced and creamy Coconut gravy, to make something that is both different and tasty.

Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking Time: 20 mins Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
2-3 cups Phool Makhani/Puffed Lotus Seeds
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 large Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Garam Masala
1-2 tbsp Sugar (Adjust acc to taste)
Small bunch of Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp Oil + Oil for Deep Frying
Salt to taste
Ground to Smooth Paste: ½-¾ cup Coconut
1 tbsp Cashews
1 tbsp Poppy Seeds/Khus-Khus, dry roasted till light golden
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Cloves
3 Green Cardamoms
1 inch Ginger, peeled
Method:
The first step here is to deep fry the phool Makhani until they turn a light golden brown in colour, if you dont want to deep fry them you can shallow fry in a frying pan with a little oil, adding a little salt and chilli powder at the end. When golden brown place them on some kitchen roll to drain and cool.
Grind the cashews,roasted poppy seeds, cardamom, cloves, ginger and coconut to a smooth paste using and adding a little water to moisten the paste. this does take some time but is well worth the effort for the end Result.
Heat some oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, once they start  to sizzle and pop, add the finely chopped onion, and saute til they turn a rich golden brown.
Now mix in the the ground paste and stir, stir, stir, until the masala paste turns light brown and becomes dry!
Now add the finely chopped tomatoes, garam malasa, sugar and give it all a good stir until tomatoes turn pulpy, that takes about 2-3 minutes.  Now add around 1½-2 cups of water and a little salt to taste.  This is your base gravy and you should continue to cook this on medium-low heat for about 10 mins, stirring every minute or so, until the sauce thickens to a consistency of a thick gravy.
Now you can  add fried phool makhani and mix well,  adding little more water if needed depending on required consistency, continue to cook on low heat for another 3-5 minutes. Mix in finely chopped coriander leaves and serve this delicious Phool Makhani Curry with roti, chapatis or rice of your choice.
Afterthought
I like my curries to have a chilli belt,a smack that lets you know that it is exactly what it says on the label Curry!
 Just add in .5 teaspoon of your hottest red chilli powder into the final mix at the point you add the phool mekhani, gives you that curry heat and rounds off the colour nicely!
And for those of you that like a bit of meat with your food cook yourself some Tandoori chicken  to go with it , a perfect companion

Tamatar Bhatkalikura

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Sometimes I just get home from the office and I want a dish that’s only going to take me a few moments to prepare and one that will explode the old taste buds, fill the stomach, and remind me just why I love curry…Its just about as vegetarian as it gets, and will make you wonder if you ever need to eat meat again.

Try this fantastic little dish easy to prepare tasty and easy to eat soft to medium Chilli heat, and something that can be prepared and left to stand for up to 12 hours,  maturing like a fine wine when reheated, alternatively can be made in no time, and eaten when ready!

Tomato (Tamatar)

Tomato (Tamatar) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tamatar Bhatkalikura (that’s Tomato curry with Coconut and Spinach)

300ml Vegetable Stock

8 Medium Tomatoes  rough chopped

2 Green Chillies deseeded and chopped

6 Curry Leaves

1 Medium Onion rough chopped

Salt to taste

2 Tsp Tomato Puree

2 cloves Garlic Finely chopped

2.5 cm sq Ginger, finely chopped

1tsp Ground Cumin

1tsp Turmeric

3 tablespoons desiccated or fresh Coconut

45gm Baby Spinach, chopped

 

For the TEMPER

1tsp Mustard Seeds

1 Medium Onion chopped

0.5 tsp Chilli Powder

1tbsp (approx) Ghee or Veg oil

 

Method

Bring the Veg stock (and yes you can use an oxo cube) to the boil, add the tomatoes, chillies, curry leaves, and onion, season with salt.  Add the Tomato Puree after 10 minutes, then reduce the heat slightly.

Continue to boil and reduce the liquid for about another 15-20 minutes.

Add the garlic, chopped ginger, ground cumin, turmeric and coconut, and finally the spinach, then continue to simmer until the moisture has evaporated…

That’s it, how difficult is that all you need now is the tempering…….

Tempering

Heat the ghee or the oil in a large frying pan, I prefer Ghee as this brings a richer taste to the dish but for those on a health kick then Veg oil is fine, throw in the mustard seeds and when the seeds start to pop, add the chopped onion and the chilli powder.  Fry for about 5-7 minutes or until the onions are golden brown……Pour over the tomatoes and cover until served, to hold in that awesome aroma…..

On those days I am really tired I will serve this on a Peshwari Naan in the style of tomatoes on toast and the sweet element of that particular Naan compliments the curry –  wonderfully delicious.

Alternative with plain white rice is just as good….

Chicken In Cashew Nut Sauce

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Chicken In Cashew Nut Sauce

This is a fantastic Clasical recipe beware it takes a lot of time to prepare but is worth every second, producing a true fantastic nutty smooth rich sauce, adored by the Maharajas and worth every second it takes to prepare…..

Ingredients

250g Cashew Nuts

100g Veg Oil

2 Onions Chopped + 0.5 of an Onion Finely sliced

12 Garlic Cloves Whole

2.5cm Root Ginger Chopped

2.5 tsp Coriander Seeds

1.5 tsp  Cumin Seeds

4 Dried red Chillies

6 cloves

8cm Cinnamon stick

100g Coconut

Salt

2 Green Chillies finely chopped

1kg Chicken highs

3 tbsp Yogurt

The first thing you need to do here is put  100g of the cashew nuts into a bowl and cover with just enough water for them to soak up. Leave em alone for two hours, Drain and chuck em in a blender or food processor, add a little warm water and blitz em til they are smooth paste….Set Aside

Place a further 25g of the Cashews in a small pan and dry roast them til they are golden brown…. Set aside

With a small amount of oil in a frying Pan take the .5 of the onion and fry until it is crispy and golden brown, set aside and use as a garnish just before you serve!

In a large Frying pan/ or cooking pot, dry roast the Garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dried chillies, cloves, and cinnamon over a low heat for five minutes stirring all the time, Add the coconut, 75g more of the nuts and the chopped onion and roast for a further 10 minutes stirring continuously taking care not to allow the mixture to burn, but allowing the coconut to gently brown….remove from the heat and allow to cool

Grind the mixture in a food processor  adding 125 to 250ml of water to a very smooth consistency this takes time , and is vital so be aware that if it is not done well the sauce will taste gritty so blend for at least ten minutes maybe longer!

Heat The remaining oil in a large pot add the blended spice mixture and fry for 10 minutes over a low heat.

Add the ground Cashew Paste and fry for a further two minutes, add some salt to taste, and the green Chillies

Increase the heat to medium high and add the chicken pieces Fry for a further Five minutes until the chicken is sealed and looking white rather than pink, then add the remaining untoasted cashews, and stir fry for a minute or two longer, then add about 600ml of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Top it off with a dollop of yogurt and the crispy onion you prepared earlier serve and enjoy …..

This recipe should serve 4 easily with a generous portion each……

Namasti, Salaam, or just plain Hello

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It you want to cook curry from the Indian subcontinent pay attention you are going to need one or two things a karahi a few spices and a love of Indian food is good for openers,  trust me it will be worth it in the end, enroll for my curry making blog and get free recipes tips and hints for the beginner and experienced cook alike.

I’m not saying that I am the greatest curry cook on the planet, but the curries that you will find here will all be made from scratch and will not feature any tinned or bottled concoctions that are common and assist those that can’t be bothered or don’t have the time. These recipes I hope will all come from the heart

So loads to keep you interested

If you are an absolute beginner and don’t know the herbs the spices you need to get started , my “fillin the Dabba” article may well be a good place to start.

Ever wondered how the Indian Restaurant can produce any curry out of the 100 that appear on the menu in about 15 minutes, well I will let you into that secret too; check out my Daag it….. Curry in a hurry…..Tells you exactly how that’s done

This Blog future, past, and present will take you through all the things you need to cook, enjoy, and understand the food of the curry wide world that brings the best of  India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to the table.

Page by page line by line all of the things you may want to know or learn, from the most basic ingredients, through to the equipment and the complexities of all that is Indian food.

I will write of the ethos of the cookery and the food and help you in the understanding of the what, and the why, for information on the backroom details to curry have a look at “Curry the Mystery Unfolds” from some of the health issues through to the spiritual and Ayervedic leanings of this great food.

The meanderings that you read here really fall into two camps the traditional recipes where I have tasted and tested those recipes that you will find on the table of everyday India, and with that experience the recipes I have created that are  Demonology, where the tradition meets my ideas and the result is  hopefully something new!

You won’t need to encompass all that I say word for word; cookery and especially curry cookery is not like that, a lot of the time passion and enthusiasm make up for a lot, so drop your email address into the” follow me” section for the blog that will offer you regular recipes and updates on the food that has something for all!

I can’t Guarantee that there will be a recipe a day coming your way, but there will be lots to keep you interested and your taste buds a quiver, In fact a recipe a week may be too much but |I will certainly try!

Feel free to contact me and request any indian, or curry recipes that you feel you might want to try I literally have thousands of recipes and all can be delivered  by currydemonology:)