Category Archives: indian

slow-cooked vegetable curry with little lamb meatballs

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This one couldn’t be easier (& it helped to slightly reduce our pumpkin supply).

Halve and slice one brown onion & start it cooking gently in a few Tblsp of olive oil. Finely slice & chop a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger & add to the pan along with 4-5 finely sliced cloves of garlic. (We’ve just planted our garlic – 2 & 1/2 of our 2-m long raised beds. Should be a great crop.)  Continue to cook until the onion is softening & turning translucent, then add 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, as much chili as takes your fancy (I used 1/4 tsp) and 1/2 tsp salt). Cook a little longer, stirring, until the mix is fragrant, and then tip it into the bowl of your slow-cooker where you have already placed

1 butternut squash, peeled & de-seeded & cut into 2cm chunks; 3 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks; a couple of red peppers, cut into strips; and a can of drained chickpeas – or, in my case, cannellini beans on account of I didn’t check the label before opening the can. Add 5oo mL of chicken stock, cover, & leave to cook on a low setting for about 5 hours.

At this point I tasted the curry & decided that although it smelled great it needed coconut; with no little cans of coconut milk in the pantry I added a couple of Tblsp of desiccated coconut instead 🙂 Plus 3 Tblsp of tomato paste to thicken the mix. Pretty much anything goes in this recipe! (If we hadn’t eaten a lot of spinach the previous night – spinach galettes with tomato passata – I’d have sliced some thinly & added towards the end of the cooking time.)

Stir everything well and then add your meatballs. I used a cup of nice soft fresh breadcrumbs from yesterday’s loaf of beer bread, & added 1 egg, 2 Tblsp of finely chopped fresh mint, 2 tsp of garam masala, 1 Tblsp dark soy sauce & 300g of lamb mince. Mix this together really, really well & shape into small balls about the size of a walnut. They’ll be quite soft. Place them carefully in the curry & leave everything for another hour or so until the meatballs are cooked through.

You could serve with rice but we ate it on its own, with a little chopped fresh coriander sprinkled on top.

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not yer usual garlic prawns

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Last week the husband & I spent a very pleasant few days down in Napier. The sun shone, the wind didn’t blow, the temperature was balmy, & the food was terrific. One of several memorable dinners (memorable for all the right reasons) was eaten at Indigo, a most excellent Indian restaurant, We started off with a shared dish of vegetarian entrees, which we knew full well we didn’t need to eat but they sounded rather good & turned out to be so. I followed that with Kashmiri gustaba (a delightfully fragrant dish of lamb meatballs in a saffron & yoghurt-based sauce), & the husband indulged in jingha lasooni, which turned out to be garlic prawns & was probably the best dish of the evening (& you’ll have gathered that all of them were pretty darn good).

Anyway, ever since there have been small murmurings that perhaps I might like to make those prawns at home. So today was the day. I’d looked at quite a few recipes but, apart from prawns & garlic, they seemed more different than similar, so as usual I Made Stuff Up.

First, I minced a thumb-sized piece of raw ginger & put that in a large-ish bowl with 6 cloves of garlic, peeled & also minced. I’d have mixed them with a tub of natural yoghurt if we’d had any in the fridge, but we didn’t so I used 1/2 a tub of sour cream instead. For the spices I used 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp ground chili, a pinch of salt, & 1 tsp garam masala. Because I could, & also because I wanted a sauce/marinade somewhat runnier than things were looking right then, I steeped a pinch of saffron in 2 Tblsp boiling water for a few minutes & added that to the bowl, then mixed everything well to combine. I also added a handful of golden raisins, because I sort of remembered something in the jingha lasooni that had that same sweet mouth-feel. The final step at this stage was to add 400g of prawn tails and stir well so that each tail was well coated with the marinade.

Coming up to dinner time, I melted 50g butter in a heavy frying pan with 1 Tblsp oil, then added 2 brown onions (peeled and finely chopped – oh how I love my slice-y dice-y mandoline!) and cooked them, stirring occasionally, till they were softened & golden. Then I tipped in the prawns & their marinade, raised the heat, & simmered it all together until the prawn flesh was white & cooked through. (I cheated with the accompaniments: the rice was ‘Uncle Ben’s & the naan – this time – were some that I’d bought at the market a couple of weeks ago & frozen.)

Served over rice, with chopped coriander leaves on top & with naan on the side, it looked – & smelled – pretty good really, albeit quite a different meal from that Napier dinner 😀

slow-cooked curried lamb neck chops

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The lamb leg steaks in the supermarket were going to cost me an arm & a leg. ‘Blerg!’, I said, & settled for the neck chops: a delicious cut that well repays slow cooking. Which is what I did for a kilogram of them yesterday.

First up, coat the chops in well-seasoned flour, melt some butter with some vegetable oil in a heavy pan, & brown both sides of the chops (do this in batches!) before transferring them to a slow-cooker on low heat.

Lower the heat under the frying pan & add one finely-sliced onion to the fat in the pan. Once it’s started to turn translucent, add as much garlic & ginger as you fancy – in my case it was 6 cloves of minced garlic & rather more than a tablespoon of finely minced raw ginger. Stir to mix & follow with the spices: I used 2 tsp ground coriander, 3 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp hot ground chilli, a cinnamon stick (broken in two), and about a dozen whole cloves.

Next, stir in any flour remaining from the chops, along with 500ml beef stock & then carefully pour the lovely spicy broth over the meat in the slow cooker.

Cover & walk away 😀

After 6 hours of that you should be able to lift out the chops & simply pull the meat off the bones. Remove the cinnamon stick pieces – your dinner guests will have to look out for the cloves themselves! Carefully decant as much of the fat as possible from the broth in the cooker, then return the meat to the cooker bowl & add a couple of Tblsp of plain yoghurt & one tsp of garam masala. If you want a thicker gravy, now’s the time to blend a Tblsp or so of cornflour with some of the broth and stir that through the curry. Leave it on low until you’re ready to serve, & then sprinkle some chopped fresh coriander leaves over the top.

We had it with another curry (of potatoes, cauliflower, & peas cooked with coriander, turmeric and cumin & some chicken stock) and naan bread hot from the oven. And followed with a choc-orange version of a cheesecake – one that I realise I haven’t written about yet. So that will follow shortly 🙂

And then sat around for a while as the food was sooo good & we all ate more than we should have.

butter chicken, raita & naan (nomnomnom)

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It turns out that the furriners we have staying with us at the moment (oh, all right: French niece & her Scottish partner) quite like a curry now & then. So do we, although neither the husband nor the daughter like them particularly hot. So, casting around for something to do with some of our excess cucumbers, I decided upon butter chicken, cucumber raita and – because I could! – naan bread (so that we’d have something to scoop up that lovely mass of sauce-soaked rice that you have towards the end of the meal). Oh yes, & rice; that almost goes without saying.

Now, there’s a huge range of butter chicken recipes on the net & no, I don’t have my own 🙂 You’ll find the one I used last night here, & while it may not be a traditional recipe it’s still rather nice. (I chose it because its ingredients happened to match what I had to hand.) And it was quick to put together, which I did while the bread (see later on) was resting/rising.

The raita was also quick & easy. I grabbed the largest cucumber, topped-&-tailed it, & then cut it in half lengthwise & scooped out most of the seeds. Then I cut each half into 4 longitudinal slices, sliced those crosswise into small almost-dice, & put the lot into a bowl before spooning over a goodly amount of Greek yoghurt and mixing in about 1/2 c of finely chopped mint & then salt to taste.

While I was at it I used some of the tomatoes, a red onion, & one of the lovely avocados I bought at the market on Sunday, to make a salsa, dressing it with a mix of lime & lemon juice & a bit of salt & pepper. (Yes, we have lime trees – they’re growing very well in a couple of tubs in our courtyard.)

The bread – which was lovely – is a recipe that I haven’t made in quite a while (for reasons that escape me, because the recipe is simple & quick to make). It comes from The New Zealand Bread Book which, alas! seems to be out of print at the moment.

  •  In a bowl, mix 1 c flour, 2 tsp sugar, 1 Tbsp Surebake yeast (for Kiwis – the yeast in the red-top jar 🙂 ) & 1/2 tsp salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in 1/2 c plain yoghurt (or buttermilk), followed by 1/2 c boiling water. Beat until smooth & leave to rest for 3 minutes.
  • Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil & a lightly beaten egg, & stir to mix. Sift together ** 2 c flour & 1 tsp baking powder & add this to the yeast mix. Stir to form a soft dough (at this point, I must say that I always have to add a little more liquid to the mix, to get the right softness of dough).  Knead for around 7 minutes, then return to the bowl (I usually give the bowl a wipe & then add a couple of tsp of oil, & turn the dough in it to coat), cover with plastic, & leave somewhere warm for 15 minutes.
  • Knock back the dough & divide evenly into 6 pieces. (I’m thinking of making these for lunch, to fill with salad, in which case I’ll make 12 smaller pockets cos the big ones would be a bit much to handle.) Roll each one out on a floured board to an oval shape, about 25 cm x 12 cm.  Place the naan breads on well-floured boards or trays, & leave uncovered in a warm place for 30-40 minutes. They won’t rise much – if at all – in this time.
  • While the breads are resting, preheat the oven to 250 degrees C – and put metal trays in there to heat as well. Last night I used my ceramic pizza stone & that worked a real treat.
  • When the oven’s hot, carefully pick up a naan, turn it over (that part’s important!) & place it on the very hot tray. Do the same with the next naan – you need to cook them 2-3 at a time, for 5-7 minutes until they are golden brown & puffed up. (And they puff up amazingly – it’s quite fun to watch.) Wrap in a clean tea towel while you cook the remaining naan,  & serve warm.

** I don’t own a sifter; I just stir it all through with a fork.