Archive for the ‘Indian’ Category

I love spicy food with a dollop of something cooling on it, like chilli with guacamole or curry with raita, almost to the point where the cooling element takes precedence. It’s the kind of food I want when I’m on my own of an evening and am going to sit down in front of the TV for dinner.

This curry, not as hot as the name vindaloo suggests, is made so much more delicious with thick, cold yoghurt and mint and coriander leaves. The recipe is for 4 but it’s even better eaten the next day or reheated from frozen so do make more than you need. I found myself searching my freezer hoping for one last bag of this the other day which seemed the sign of a good recipe.

Don’t be put off by the length of the ingredients list, it’s a cinch to make and most of this lot are just spices you quickly tip into the pot. Another from the wonderful Mr Ottolenghi, this time from his new cook book ‘Plenty’, which will be the first of many recipes I’ll try. Not sure the husband was convinced with the lack of meat in this recipe but even he had to admit it was pretty good – once he was pursuaded to try it.

Two-potato vindaloo

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 Cooking time: 2 hours

8 cardamom pods

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp vegetable oil

12 shallots (300g in total), chopped [I didn’t bother with shallots, just used the onions I already had in the fridge]

1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

25 curry leaves

2 tbsp chopped fresh root ginger

1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped

3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped [I used tinned]

50ml cider vinegar

400ml water

1 tbsp caster sugar

400g peeled waxy potatoes, cut into 2.5 cm dice

2 small red peppers, cut into 2cm dice

400g peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 2.5 cm dice


mint or coriander leaves to serve

Start by making a spice mix. Dry-roast the cardamom pods and cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan until they begin to pop. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and add the cloves. Work to a fine powder [i found this quite hard work, not sure how ‘fine’ you’d call what I ended up with], removing and discarding the cardamom pods once the seeds are released. Add the turmeric, paprika and cinnamon and set aside.

Heat up the oil in a large heavy-based pot. Add the shallots with the mustard and fenugreek seeds, and saute on a medium-low heat for 8 minutes, or until the shallots brown. Stir in the spice mix, curry leaves, ginger and chilli and cook for a further 3 minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, vinegar, water, sugar and some salt. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Add the potatoes and red peppers and simmer for another 20 minutes. For the last stage, add the sweet potatoes. Make sure all the vegetables are just immersed in the sauce (add more water if needed) and continue cooking, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the lid and leave to bubble away for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce. Serve hot, with plain rice and garnished with the herbs and yoghurt.




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The original recipe for the one below comes from Skye Gyngell’s ‘A Year in my Kitchen’ and calls for lobster but this was just for a TV dinner (with Mad Men DVD) so I went for monkfish. Plus I don’t like the idea of freezing the critters and plunging them in boiling water, I’d rather someone else did that. I’ve taken a few liberties with other ingredients which I simply didn’t have, couldn’t be bothered to do (eg the roasted coconut, sorry) or tweaked them slightly to suit me. I’ll leave in the bit about how to deal with the lobster, just in case. I’ve never been to India so can’t vouch for this but apparently it’s a southwest coast style curry – what I can tell you is that this means the flavours are fresh, citrussy and coconutty.

It feels like I’m just getting back my cooking mojo after a few months of not being able to think ahead as far as the next hour let alone the next meal. As I bathe and feed my little girl at around 6.30 – 7.30pm this means any cooking has to be prepared in advance, made by someone else or it has to be a super-quick recipe, all good for the purposes of this blog. This recipe does fall into the latter category, surprisingly for a curry, and the list of ingredients isn’t nearly as long and arduous as most curry recipes so often are.

If you have an anniversary, birthday, other good reason or it’s simply a gorgeously sunny day, I highly recommend a trip to Skye Gyngell’s, particularly for Sunday lunch. As well as serving beautiful and taste bud inspiring food it is hidden away within a garden centre – hence it’s name Petersham Nurseries – so feels like you’re eating in a secret garden, surrounded by terracotta pots, vintage wicker furniture and things like cloches and linen gardening aprons you never knew you needed. It’s down by the river near Richmond and when I took my husband there for a birthday lunch a couple of years ago we were barely speaking by the time we arrived as it took us ages in terrible traffic and the sat nav directed us to the wrong place. Luckily the sheer loveliness of the place immediately dispelled the monosyllabic mood that was threatening to ruin everything. Well worth the effort.

Fish curry with tamarind, roasted coconut, ginger and coriander

Serves 4  [I did it for 2 and halved the ingredients except, perhaps foolishly, the chillies…]

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins

4 very fresh, live lobsters, about 500g each [or equivalent of any firm, white fleshed fish, eg monkfish]

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely diced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2 red chillies, chopped

1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted [don’t miss these out they really make the dish]

5 ripe tomatoes, chopped [I used a tin of them, cut them up and drained away some of the liquid through a seive]

1 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp tamarind water [She makes one up with tamarind pods, I didn’t but used tamarind paste which worked fine. I don’t think it would matter if you didn’t use any but perhaps add some lime juice instead as tamarind adds a tart sort of flavour]

1 1/2  x 400ml cans coconut milk

75g unsweetened dried coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Bring a large pan of salty water to a fast boil, then drop in the lobsters [cringe] and cook for 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and leave until cool enough to handle, then extract the meat. Take a sharp knife and make an incision all the way down the middle of the body. Remove the flesh and cut into medallions, discarding the stomach sac and the dark intestinal thread, which runs the length of the body. Crack the large claws with the back of a heavy knife and gently remove the meat. Save the legs for garnish.

[If you’re not using lobster the recipe starts here] Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, lower the heat a little and cook gently, stirring every now and then, until they are translucent.

Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, chillies, toasted coriander seeds and tomatoes in a blender and whiz to a paste. Scrape out the mixture and add it to the onions in the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water [or a couple of teaspoons of the paste] and stir well, then pour in the coconut milk. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cooked lobster [or whatever fish you’re using] and heat gently for 2-3 minutes until it is just warmed through [for my monkfish I cooked the pieces for about 4 minutes]. Check the seasoning.

Ladle the curry into warm bowls or soup plates and garnish with the reserved lobster legs [if using] and toasted coconut flakes to serve [I used some coriander instead].

Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Petersham, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AG – 020 8605 3627  www.petershamnurseries.com


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