Monthly Archives: July 2013

Sali Murgi….Chicken & Apricot!

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 SAM_3289I am reliably informed that this is a traditional Parsi dish, and is a recipe for those special occasions that make life a pleasure. I do also have to admit that it had me when I saw the ingredients list there was never a single moment that was going to pass without me having a go. Sorry but I am like that with any  curry dish that contains fruit, that chilli juicy sweetness that fruit brings is for me very special indeed; and is a feature of many Arab influenced dishes with this particular example featuring Apricots!

It’s my mums fault dating from the 60’s when I was growing up, my mum used to make what she called curry, using a curry powder, God bless her. At the time the curry powder that was available commercially was the product of post war colonialism mixed with the idea that real indian flavours were far too much for the soft British Palate. The truth was that curry powders of that time were not very good, but they were just good enough over the years for us Brits to fall in love with, and completely adopt the cuisine of India.  My mums recipe  included some raisins or currants which up until the time I first tasted them in curry I believed belonged in cake. Her curry was in reality a stew with some madras mild curry powder with some raisins or currants thrown in to add that extra Indianess, and the reality of the day was probably that even if she had wanted to use turmeric and coriander she would not have been able to get it, even if she could have worked out what it was.

I am now a little older, and not much wiser but from that moment I was hooked on curries which included the sweet and sometimes the sour of fruits, see my recipe for Pineapple & Vegetable Curry(click) which I love with the saltiness of Gammon.

Fruit is not a rare thing in curry and there are many recipes that feature a few lumps of banana or even pomegranet although one does have to say they are usually the product of someone’s imagination, this dish however has a fine pedigree and is one that you can trust as a genuine dish and worthy of the name and traditions it carries.

The whats in IT bit

For the chicken

200gm dried apricots

2 large fresh tomatoes

4 tbsp. Ghee/ Oil

2x2cm Cinamon sticks

2 onions finely sliced

6 garlic cloves crushed

2inch Ginger

0.5kg chicken breast

juice of 1 lime or lemon

3tbsp Chopped Coriander

For the Masala

4 Dried Red Chillies

1.5 tsp whole cumin seeds

1tsp whole coriander seeds

1inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces

For the potato straws

2 large potatoes peeled and cut into fine juliennes

salt

.25 tsp turmeric

vegetable oil to fry

.25 tsp chilli powder

1tsp finely chopped coriander

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The how to!

First things first, soak the apricots in 250ml of warm water. After about three hours blitz half of them in a processor or blender with about 15oml of the soaking water to a a fine puree……/

set the remainder aside for later use….

Also soak the juliennes potatoes with two tsp of salt to leech out the starch this will help them become nice and crispy when you get round to frying them.

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Next take all the masala ingredients and grind them together in a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder if the pestle and mortar is too much work for you

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Add the ghee or the oil to your karahi or heavy based pan and heat until hot add the cinnamon sticks and allow to sizzle for a few minutes.

Add the onions, the garlic and ginger and cook until the onions turn that lovely golden brown, then add the masala and sauté until the oil begins to separate out

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Be aware though that the mixture can stick and as always all you need yo do is add a dash of water and stir stir stir using your wooden soon to scrape the sticky bits off…..

continue to cook for a few minutes more then add the tomatoes

Now you can add the chicken cut into nice bite sized chunks and also add  the pureed apricot and sauté for about five minutes

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 Add the remaining apricots and the water they are soaking in bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender  and cooked through.

stir in the coriander and adjust the seasoning…….

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Drain the potatoes and put on some kitchen roll and pat as dry as you can get them, cut them into very thin strips, remember you want to deep fry these to a crispy finish so thin is good.

mix them with the turmeric.

Heat the oil for deep frying to the point where the potato straws will fry to crispy golden brown in a matter of moments,  fry them off in small batches sprinkle with the chilli powder and the chopped coriander

serve the Sali murgi and sprinkle the fries over the top…….. serve with some lime and mango chutneySAM_3288

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Murg Pyaz Dopiaza… Onion double cooked with chicken

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SAM_3114If you going to draw any parallels here it is Dopiaza, as that essentially means twice or double cooked and that is exactly what you are doing to the onions, that said I have also dipped into Vindaloo  with the addition of some vinegar, and also added a tablespoon of Tamarind paste for that final edge.

As in some of my previous recipes I again am using shallots and tinned tomatoes to bring some texture, but no nuts in this one. The chilli content is fresh green de-seeded of course, rather than the dried red Kashmiri variety, as I feel this gives a fresher less peppery taste to the end result.

I am currently experimenting with the onion that basic for a great many of the dishes of India, insomuch as how they affect texture flavour and of course colour, so expect to see a few recipes heavily influenced by the onion boiled fried and raw….with this particular dish relying on a double cooked onion paste resulting in a fantastic recipe that will not disappoint!

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2 medium Red Onions Rough Chopped

4 tbsp. yoghurt

1 tbsp ghee/oil

The first step here is a fried onion paste, this is no big thing just rough chop your nice red onions and fry them in the Ghee or oil, until they ar golden brown; then tip em’ out on to some nice absorbant kitchen paper  leave to cool, then finally  blitz em in a blender  with the 3 tbsps. of yoghurt to a smooth paste … job done, pat yourself on the back you have made some  Tala Pisa Pyaz. cover and set aside in a cool place until required

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All good curry is about preparation and that’s not something that is achieved without a little time so get everything together before you light the stove, doing that makes it a certainty that what arrives at the table hits the spot and lights the soul. I also recommend that you mix the powders together with a little water to make a paste as this stops the  spices from sticking

The What you need from here for two or Three Persons

6 shallots rough chopped

1 tbsp. Ghee/Oil

1tsp whole coriander seeds

1tsp whole Mustard seeds brown

3 green Cardamom

8 curry leaves

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4 cloves Garlic choppedSAM_3113

1.5 ” Ginger finely chopped

3 green chilli’s de-seeded and chopped

1 tsp garam masala

Half tsp Asaefotida

1 tsp chilli powder

1tsp ground cumin

1 tsp coriander

Tala Pisa Pyaz (onion Paste Prepared earlier)

250 ml chicken stock

.5KG  chicken breast

Small tin tomatoes

2 tbsp. Vinegar

Salt to taste

1 tbsp jiggery(brown Sugar)

1 tbsp Tamarind Paste

The  how and the when!

Melt the ghee/oil in a heavy based pan or karahi and add the whole spices Cardamom Mustard and coriander seeds and cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop

 Then add the curry leaves and cook for a minute or two to allow the flavours out into the ghee.

Add the shallots and cook until they become opaque

 Add the garlic Chilli and Ginger and fry for a couple more minutes.

This is a good point to add the powder spices;( as I said before it’s always a good idea to mix the powder spices with a little water before adding to the pan, this will assist in keeping them from sticking).

That said remember to stir stir stir and stir like you mean it, this will stop those spices from sticking and burning, and if it looks like they are add another tablespoon of water.

After a minute or two you can now add the fried onion paste(Tala Pisa Pyaz) and continue to cook this for a couple of minutes…….

Add the meat and continue to cook the chicken until it loses all of its pink qualities and is white.

Add the tinned tomatoes, and tamarind paste, and cook on for a few minutes longer before adding as much of the chicken stock as you need to just cover the chicken and now add the Vinegar.

Cook for ten minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the gravy has reduced to the consistency that you enjoy or add more stock for a thinner consistency if required

Taste and season with salt and the Jaggery, and finally serve adding a nice drizzle of yoghurt just to finish off.

Improvisational Demonology

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Sometimes as you sleep and the ingredients of life float through your psyche, you know, that time in your dream world where all the colours odours and people’s collide, where nothing is quite real although it is vivid and believable at that moment, where reality matters not in that you do business with the French onion seller on his bicycle who sells you onions and garlic whilst you are naked as the day you were born, and taking your gorilla for a walk. Through to the giant chickens that speak Latin and discuss philosophy and applied physics, whilst laying your giant eggs for that special breakfast of Khageena(click), and that latterly you know them to be the chickens you must despatch with a huge razor sharp axe to the great curry pot that bubbles away in the corner.

you do kill your own meat don’t you.?… Breath_Gaia_Wallpaper_va4m7

oh sorry that’s another blog!

Any dream interpretations are of course welcome but moving swiftly on……

Sometimes you may also dream of the traditions of the Wazwaan and the intricacies of how to cook the haute cuisine of Indian fine dining, and sometimes you traverse the slums of Dharavi where the dish of the day is the scraps from the throw away fast food chicken shops, re-cooked with spices and a few extra simple ingredients to produce a dish for the many with little or nothing; through to the Chole (click) and of course the homage that must be paid  to the mashed potato explosion of flavours that is Pao Bhaji (click) for those that have the wealth of the few extra rupees that this level of street food demands.

Wherever you travel  along the great curry road there is always a new recipe or a new dish to taste and experience and I suppose if a recipe gets its own impetus it becomes a standard that we all want to eat!

Where does that start?

How is that recipe created?

How many people have to share in the deliciousness for it to become a dish that can stand in its own right?

Recipe creation must therefore start somewhere, and for all cooks is a thought process that is about flavours, textures and experimentation, and in western culture has reached a point that is called fine dining with dishes costing more than they should and are rarely about feeding the person and more about craft and technique.

On the converse side there are the cooks like you and I who try to create dishes and plates of food that will be enjoyed by the many because they taste good, fill the stomach and satisfy the soul; and for me the beginning of that journey is the dopey dream world of the deep recesses of my much fractured mind.

Assuming that you can put a recipe together that tastes good and adheres to those basic principles of Indian cuisine should you give it an Indian name , a decision made that bit more difficult if you have no understanding of even the basics of Hindi, or come to that any of the many other mother tongues of the indian continent…

So what do you call a dish you create that you feel is faithful to the ethos of the cuisine .??..

A tricky one to answer is that.

Just calling it Curry doesn’t really cut it as there are already hundreds of those and you believe yours to be that bit better than just Curry

Therein lies the problem here the following recipes I believe exists nowhere else other than here, as they are mine, and are genuinely a product of what little imagination I possess…

They are improvisational in so much as the ingredients are pretty much those that fall out of the cupboard of my mind, and the technique’s used are common to many dishes that have come before and are faithful to al that is Indian Cuisine…..

In support of that idea I am starting a new “Category ” on my blog of Demonology for those recipes of which there are now a few that fit into that category.

Of course I am always open to correction and if anyone out there feels that any particular dish languishing in the Demonology category is known to them by a “traditional” name then please contact me I would be delighted to know that I am thinking the thoughts of those that  make Indian cuisine so great.