Tag Archives: Indian cuisine

Top ten curry

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I have been blogging away for the best part of a year now and have posted around 60 articles most of which have featured a recipe or two. The interesting thing about blogging is that some dishes and articles are more popular than others and as such I have taken those recipes that have been the most popular over that twelve months, this being measured by the “likes” and page views that the back room stats show me…..So I have had a look at these stats and “likes” as voted for by those that have been kind enough to follow my blog!

Interestingly enough there’s something for everyone and that I suppose tells me that people like the veggie dishes as much as the meat ones there’s even a sweet dish making it into the top ten. Being honest about it there are only a couple of recipes of the sweet kind throughout the blog so that must make this dish very special indeed

So please take a look and if you do go to any of the pages please place a “like” if you haven’t been there before and if you feel like being really generous rate  them through the stars rating on the page… otherwise enjoy the list for what it is….

(click here)

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Your Top ten Curries as voted for by you! 

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Cookin wid the Green stuff…..Curry in a hurry!

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SAM_3387 A lot of what goes on in Indian food is quite complex and sometimes more than a little fiddly, meaning that preparing something tasty and fast is a non starter well that’s what you might think but that is simply not true one of the great gems to have in your fridge is a green Masala  a preparation that is exactly what it says on the label and one that that will allows you to create the highly edible very quickly.

I have touched upon the Daag in previous articles being that staple of the restaurant, well this will do the same job for those busy people wanting curry in a hurry this is a similar preparation that is perhaps even quicker as this takes less time to prepare and will keep for several weeks in the fridge. there are a fairly large number of chillies in this and yep it has a kick like a mule if you use too much, you can experiment but remember the mantra less is more and add the paste to the level you like… let me present something to you that you won’t find in the resaraunt but you will find in most hard pressed Indian cooks fridge, and more importantly if kept in an air tight container with the addition of  vinegar the green will keep for several weeks…..

Green Masala paste……SAM_3383

Fresh Coriander leaves: 1 small bunchSAM_3384
Mint leaves: a few
Ginger:.1 inch piece
Garlic: 5 large cloves
Green chillies: 4
Pepper corns: 1tsp
Cumin seeds: 2 tsps
Coriander seeds: 2 tsps
Cinnamon: 2 inch piece
Cloves: 5 nos.
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp


Method:
1. Wash coriander leaves and take off leaves. Dry well on a clean cloth.
2. Clean and mince finely both the  ginger and garlic.
3. Remove stems of green chillies.
4. Grind all the ingredients to a fine paste using a little water. Green masala is ready for use .SAM_3385
5. For a larger quantity (if bottling) multiply all the recipe ingredients ( X5/X10 times) . Prepare as above Steps 1-3. Grind in a diluted solution of vinegar (2 tbsps concentrated vinegar in a cup of water). Use  diluted vinegar as required to make a thick paste)

Having got your green paste together sitting in the fridge and staring at you wondering what its future will be. That moment arrives when there is that knock at the door and friendly forces come into land, and as you must always do in situations such as this; feed the strangers with something hale and hearty.

You don’t have all night , you don’t even have an hour but you do have the Green Masala paste, a little white fish, an onion, and a few prawns, a small tin of coconut milk, and a fish stock cube in 250ml of warm water, and with those few simple ingredients bring on the

Green seafood curry

Chop the onion nice and fine and fry it until its just starting to go towards the brown, stir in two Tablespoons (which is just about what you will have made if you followed the above paste recipe) into the onions, keep stirring for about a minute and add a little fish stock if needed to keep things from sticking, once the paste is mixed through the onions and looks like it belongs add the rest of the stock, and the coconut milk; bring the sauce to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and reduce the sauce for about ten minutes. Then add the fish, turn up the heat bringing it to the boil, throw in the prawns cover and remove from the heat and allow it to stand for a few minutes. Then serve, result very happy guestsSAM_3388

When a Bhaji is a Pakora..or is that a Bhakora

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As your average western white boy, the language of Indian cuisine can only be described as confusing even at the best of times. What is true is that there appear to be very few firm rules, and any rules such as they are exist in a purely regional variation not to be confused with dialect, more about interpretation.

Let me explain, walk into any indian restaurant and you will find the ubiquitous Onion Bhajee on the menu often presented as something that is about the same size as a tennis ball and is usually made from finely grated onion dipped in a  batter, with a few spices, deep fried and simply delicious, usually  served as a starter which sort of begs the question.

So what is an Onion Pakora then?

Well from what I can see they are exactly the same but not formed into a ball shape but certainly onion in batter…..

To try and clarify this I spoke to an indian chef friend of mine and his teaching and wisdom is as follows.

Firstly that a Bhaji is any vegetable cut into small pieces and dipped into Gram (chickpea) flour and then deep-fried, and not forgetting that there is no spicing whatsoever in a bhaji…..Which sorta bears no comparison to the “Onion Bhaji of the restaurant, apart from the fact its onion….

Bhaji’s are also usually eaten with sambar or chutneys depending on what you prefer.

He went on to say that Pakora on the other hand is a much wider description and can include protein rather than just vegetable, meat, fish and shellfish, alongside vegetable, are all acceptable; as a general rule the Pakora also includes spices, chilli, turmeric, salt, pepper etc are all common, added to gram flour and a little water and sometimes an egg to create a thick  batter that is usually refrigeratated before use, and then mixed with the main ingredients, formed into a ball and then fried….. So there you have it an Onion Bhaji is therefore really a Pakora as they contain Turmeric, salt, pepper, chlli, etc

confused…. yeah so am I

Well to clarify a little as I understand it, in England  anything pretty much fried in Gram flour can be called what you want to call it Pakora or Bhaji, neither is incorrect or wrong!

Anyone out there with greater knowledge feel free to correct me…But at the risk of starting something new I am proud to present my attempt at being right I herewith present the  BHAKORA, in that it contains elements of the Pakora and bhaji bought together as one.

I am staying fairly traditional on the batter front using gram flour, but for the filling I have gone sorta fusion so onion and sweet potato as one of the main ingredients, and for the other, the truly delicious cheese Bhakora for which I used the same batter, but rolled them into a nice mouthful sized, just short of a golf ball diameter and fried them in my deep fat fryer at 180 degrees which seemed to do the cooking perfectly, not too fast and not too slow….

So Pakora Bhaji or Bhakora whatever you choose to call them I care not, just enjoy these little bundles of deliciousness

Onion & sweet potato “Bhakora”:)

Onion and sweet potato1 medium white onion

half of one sweet potato

Both grated and mixed roughly together or if you prefer some protein, 250 gms of Mature for that extra cheesy kick I used Canadian Cheddar grated  for

Cheese Bhakora

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The Batter

Whatever filling you choose to use for your Pakora, Bhaji, or Bhakora the batter is the key element get this right and pretty much everything else follows, feel free to adjust the seasoning and spicing on this recipe to suit your own taste just remember to stay loyal to the flour quantities and to mix it to a thick consistency. That is achieved by adding a little water at a time and mixing by hand though the lumpy stage and then the smooth stage that is perhaps just that little thicker that wallpaper paste:)…… now there’s an analogy. Also consider that vegetables like onion contain a lot of water which will further thin your batter so don’t worry if you think the batter is too thick when you add the veg it will thin further still…….so no worries there then

250 gms : Gram Flour

50 gms: Plain Flour

.5 tsp: baking Powder

1 Large green chilli Very Finely Chopped

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Chilli Powder

1 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Garam Masala

1 tsp salt

Enough water to make a thick batter

1tsp Salt

If your going for the cheese  Ball variety wet your hands before you roll them , as it makes it a bit easier…… that said enjoy !

Murgh Kandhari Kofta… in Support of my favourite RANT!

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SAM_3358Ok I admit it I have been a little quiet recently and I haven’t posted much…. Not all my fault as I have been doing other things, you know getting on with the life that is mine and not eating that much Indian food; well no, that’s a lie because I have.

I’ve been getting my fix from the chilled counter at ASDA, a large supermarket chain for those that don’t know. That said their curries are a little better than passable as only a Daag based ubiquitous common curry can be , but that being a given they are also very tasty and full of everything you would expect to see in a good curry.

I have also underpinned that with a number of dishes from my local curry house, and again as Daag based  ubiquitous common  curries go nothing to complain about, other than the usual standard menu that frankly after twenty or more years of eating local indian restaurant food bores the arse off of me.

My problem now is the same as it has always been why oh why do restaurants not actually think beyond that same o’ same o’ menu that is the right of passage for pretty much every Indian restaurants I have ever been in been in?

Conversely…..

Take a trip to a French or Italian eatery and in nine cases out of ten there is a specials board offering a daily something or other that isn’t on the menu.

Someone please tell me why the Indian restaurant can’t do that?

If the French restaurant can grill some fresh  fish and add a sauce why cant the Indian eatery the principles are the same…??….

No come on I really want to know….

As someone who cooks curry I suggest that they just cant be bothered and wish to be just the same as the man who owns the eatery next door. I know there are some eateries that operate at a slightly higher level offering westernised Haute cuisine dressed up as Indian , but I challenge you to point me to any restaurant in my city of Nottingham that offers any regional dishes whatsoever.

So frankly I am bored to death and now cook my own to get that variety.

and say “Restaurateurs you should be ashamed of yourselves”

Tell me there’s no demand if you like, but I reckon that in a country where Indian food is pretty much the national dish, and I will tell you that is not the case “I demand it”.

Tell me that it cant be cooked in a time that the customer is prepared to wait, I say that’s rubbish and I use this dish as an example!

Yes it needs a little preparation, but no more than any other dish and there are many that fit into this category.

All you need to do is just find a chef with a little more imagination than the Korma, Vindaloo, biryani and Pasanda toting cooks that seem to be in the majority; work out a standard menu and a daily special then advertise that fact that you are offering something a little different and sit back and watch the tills ring with joy!

You don’t need to be Atul Kochar but you do need to be able to aspire to seeking to offer something different at a fair price, and by that I mean in England £6 to £8 for a main course do that and the people will come!

This following dish I would suggest could fit easily into this category, being very easy to prepare for both the home and the restaurant chef, simple to cook as the sauce could be varied to using a Daag if you insist, and there are of course plenty of others that could slip into this realm….. so go restaurant owners tickle my taste buds with something different!

Murgh Kandhari Kofta

The Whats IN The Kofta’s

½ kg chicken mince

1 Egg White1 Slice Stale/dry white bread CrumbedSAM_3351

3 small Shallots chopped finely

1 slice bread crumbs

1 tbsp crushed cashew nuts

½ tsp salt,

1 tsp red chili powder,

1 tsp Garam Masala

2 tsp coriander powder½ tsp cinnamon powderSAM_3355

The how to for the koftas

To  ½ kg chicken mince, add the salt, 1tsp red chili powder,  the bread crumbs, shallots, and egg white.

½ tsp Garam Masala, ½ tsp cardamom powder, ½ tsp cinnamon powder and 1 tbsp crushed cashew nuts in it and mix/blend together to a coarse paste then roll into bite sized  balls, place in the refrigerator until required….

Fry the Kofta’s to add a little colour to them before you start making the sauce and set aside until required

,SAM_3356

The Whats in the Sauce

1 Siced  onion

1 small tin tomatoes

2 Tbsp oil/Ghee

1 tsp ginger Paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp  Salt

1 tsp red chili powder

1tsp Turmeric

1 tsp garam Masala

1 tbsp. Tamarind paste

1 inch sqr jaggery

200ml Chicken stock

The how to for the Sauce……

Heat oil/Ghee in a pan ,and fry the onion until dark golden brown adding the garlic and the ginger, and after a further minute or so add 1 tsp chilli powder, ½ tsp salt, Garam Masala, and turmeric powders and cook for a further 5 or ten minutes

Add the tinned tomatoes and tamarind and bring to the boil then add the meatballs, and the 200ml chicken stock or enough to barely cover the meatballs, cover and cook on a low heat until the meatballs are cooked through and the gravy has reduced to a thickish consistency!

Finally just before serving add the Jaggery and  add ½ tsp garam masala and sprinkle with some chopped coriander,

finish off  with a tablespoon of cream or yoghurt. then eat and enjoy……

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.

Temper temper its only a Karahi

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My nice new unseasoned Karahi

Cooking an onion or some chicken or any other of the plethora of ingredients that make up an indian dish  in a western home is probably a lot easier than preparing that same meal in the back streets of Mumbai, and even easier than in the village of a fishing village of Tamil Nadu or the more remote parts of the Indian Kush!

The western kitchen offers many pots and pans that fit nicely onto our state of the art cooking appliances and those pots and pans are designed for ease of use and practicality for the Western dishes and foods that we eat. I am however a believer in tradition and with Indian cooking I would say that one of the vital ingredients required to achieve the level of success you should aspire to is the right cooking pot. In Chinese cookery the Wok, in Africa the Potjie  and in India the Karahi, which may  be quite familiar as nowadays, a smaller version is used to serve Balti dishes in UK restaurants. Typically a heavy based steel pot that has two large ringlets traditionally used for suspending it over an open fire, and surprise surprise it fits just as nicely into the wok burner slot as the wok does…..

It however is not like your average saucepan in that a little work is required to get it fit for purpose, and is a close relative to the Chinese wok in that it is also made traditionally from steel or iron, and like the traditional wok requires some preparation before use.  The kitchen industry is now offering the non stick wok, God help us all can no one be bothered anymore…… the same does not apply to its Indian cousin at the moment, it comes in raw untreated steel, and only in raw untreated steel I hope!

So you get your Karahi home and now you must undertake a process known as seasoning, for it to work at its best. This is not rocket science but a little care and preparation is required to get the best results.

Firstly place the karahi on the heat, and heat to a fairly high temperature, until the entire surface is hot…..

On the first time you do this you will see some of the black surface peel away don’t be worried by this it is perfectly natural, as this is a protective layer added by the manufacturer and is meant to burn off during this tempering process……

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Seasoned well nearly

Now with a clean cloth wipe on a thin layer of oil turn up the heat and allow it to burn off, then allow the pan to cool.

Remember that sometimes less is more and it is important that you do not allow the oil to pool in the bottom of the Karahi, as a thick gel can form in the bottom of the pan, repeat this process about six times until you have built up half a dozen or so thin layers, just remember to burn off each layer before applying the next, so open the windows put the extractor fan on and burn it in!.

This takes time so don’t rush it and the end result will be a seasoned pan that is fit for purpose and ready to cook in with a rustic iron look and if that’s how yours looks you have tempered the pan correctly( See photo)

Now you have put all that effort into getting it like that you do need to take care of that finish especially when you are cleaning it and it should be remembered that soapy water is a big NO, NO here, this will remove your seasoning and mean that you will have a pan that can rust and will need seasoning again, if you do need to remove stuck on food you should scrub with a non metallic scrubber or Wok brush, always dry the karahi with paper towels, and finish off by “Burning” over a high flame which sterilise the pan until the next time you use it…

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Seasoned, rustic and ready to cook with.

A very well seasoned pan can of course build up a layer of carbon in the bottom and this is not something that you need worry about quite the opposite in fact as it shows a well used and cared for piece of cookware, and will also prevent it from going rusty….

finally if you don’t use it everyday a light rubbing over with  cooking oil before returning to the cupboard will keep the rust at bay and should you find some rust then simply scour the whole pan and re-season as above … easy really!

Hopefully all being well you will never have to do that… just follow the guidelines! above and all should be well, and you will have a cook-pot that will give you years of use getting better every time you use it…