Lamb and Spinach Curry (Indian #5)

I am failing pretty miserably at making this blog even slightly seasonal. For the last few days the sun has been shining and I have been getting more and more silly tan marks and yet here I am writing about curry, again. Knowing British weather though, I am pretty convinced that soon enough it’s going to turn cold again and therefore perfectly suitable to warm, spicy, meaty stews. When it does, make this curry.

Lamb and Spinach Curry (slightly adapted from Hollow Legs)

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 onions
2 tbsp oil (I used olive oil but maybe something else would be more traditional)
5 medium tomatoes, peeled*
25 gr ginger
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp red chilli powder

800 gr lamb shoulder, cut in chunks, most fat removed

200 ml creamed tomatoes (approximately, depending on how red and beefy the fresh ones are)
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
2 green chillies, sliced in half (without seeds if you prefer)

1 bunch of spinach (~100 gr)
100 ml water
1/2 tsp garam masala
chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

Slice the onions and cook them in the oil slowly, for about 20 minutes, until soft. In the meantime, mix the fresh tomatoes with the garlic, ginger and chilli powder and blend until smooth. Add the soft onions and blend again. Return into the (large) saucepan and add the chunks of meat.

Cook for a few minutes until the meat starts to brown, stirring occasionally and then add the creamed tomatoes, the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and the sliced chillies. Add enough water to simmer and let it cook for at least 2 hours, although more will make it better.

Towards the end of the cooking time, pour boiling water over the spinach until it’s just soft, drain and then blend it with the 100 ml water. Add the spinach puree and garam masala to the curry, let it simmer for a further 5-10 minutes and serve with some chopped fresh coriander.

* To easily peel the tomatoes, pour boiling water over them and leave them in it for a few minutes. Get rid of the water and peel.

So, this looks green. Maybe a bit too green to excite you enough to give it a go. But it tastes absolutely brilliant, with soft, meaty pieces of lamb falling apart and a very thick sauce, perfect for scooping up with some naan bread (which, by the way, I finally succeeded in making- recipe coming soon!). I also served it with some cucumber raita and an onion and pomegranate salad that I got off Hollow Legs and it’s an adapted Nigella recipe.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 
Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits 
Aubergine in Yoghurt 
Heston’s Chicken Tikka Masala
Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: Probably that (very pretty) onion and pomegranate salad.

Hey, that’s me!

Very excitingly I am being profiled on one of my favourite blogs today, Londonelicious.

Although I live in Cambridge and cook more than I eat out, I do love reading about Krista’s London eating adventures. Her style is unique and entertaining and her blog a very useful guide when it comes to eating in London. I just have to stop myself from reading her posts sometimes as I get too jealous about all that great food and restaurants!

If you got to my blog through Krista’s, you might want to know what kind of posts you will find here. At the moment, most of it is cooking and baking, and I am trying to work my way through 100 new recipes from around the world, from 10 different countries. It’s slow, but it’s fun! If you want to know more about me, you can have a look at my profile page.

The next few posts will include a few more curry recipes, a second attempt at a dessert that, before I burned it, looked like it could become my new favourite dessert, and a (very exciting!) London food adventure!

If you have any suggestions for me, or just want to say hi, please do leave a comment!

Heston’s Chicken Tikka Masala (almost) (Indian #4)

I don’t know how I decided to make this for my Indian “month”. In a way, I’m not quite sure that Chicken Tikka Masala qualifies as Indian, as there different stories about where it was first created; most of them agree it was in the UK. Recently though, chefs in India have starting endorsing it and making their own versions; its appeal to the rest of the world hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Having lived in the UK for 7 years now, it’s a bit strange that I had never had a Chicken Tikka Masala before I made this version. I think I have made up for it though, since this isn’t any version: it is Heston Blumenthal’s recipe from his In Search of Perfection series. In the book, which is quite a good read even if you never cook from it, he describes how he built his own Tandoori oven and came to Cambridge to use an MRI scanner on some chicken breasts.

As you can probably guess, I didn’t follow all of the instructions.

Chicken Tikka Masala (adapted* from Heston’s In Search of Perfection)

For the rub:

4 bulbs of garlic
50 gr olive oil
50 gr ginger
5 gr salt
8 chicken thighs/legs, bones and skins removed and meat sliced into bite-sized pieces

Pop the garlic and ginger in the food processor and add the olive oil and salt to make a paste. Rub the chicken with it and place in the fridge for 3-5 hours.

For the yoghurt marinade

20 gr ghee
20 gr chickpea flour (or normal flour, or a mix with cornflour)
40 gr olive oil
8 gr chilli powder
350 gr Greek-style yoghurt
10 gr garam masala

First, make a roux by melting the ghee in a pan, adding the flour and frying for a bit until the flour is cooked. Put in a plate and let cool.
Then, fry the olive oil with the chilli powder for 2-3 minutes. Move to a bowl and mix together with the roux, the yoghurt and the garam masala (basically everything together!).

Brush most of the rub off the chicken and cover it in the marinade. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, up to 10 if possible.

Remove any extra yoghurt, place on a grill or baking tray and grill under a medium heat until cooked through with a few charred spots on the outside. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce:

For the Masala sauce

5 gr coriander seeds
5 gr cumin seeds
1 kg fresh tomatoes (or good quality canned)
40 gr tomato puree
100 gr water
50 gr ghee
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 onions, sliced
25 gr ginger, chopped finely
salt to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric

Toast the coriander and cumin seeds, add the tomatoes and water and cook until reduced. Strain everything through a sieve.

In a frying pan, melt the ghee, add the chilli powder and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the onions, ginger and salt and cook until soft. Add the tomato puree, the sieved tomatoes and the turmeric and garam masala and simmer until the sauce thickens.

To assemble

the cooked chicken
the masala sauce
50 gr yoghurt
50 gr coconut milk
diced chilli (optional)
fresh coriander (optional)

Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the yoghurt and coconut milk. Sprinkle with the chopped chilli and some fresh coriander.

The meat was moist and soft, with caramelised spots all over. Before I added it to the sauce I was thinking that you could easily serve it dry, with some cucumber raitha and naan bread. As it is normal with stews, the sauce was even better when we had the leftovers the next day.

I served it with this Aubergine in Yoghurt side dish, some rice and homemade pita bread.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 
Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits 
Aubergine in Yoghurt
Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: More curry. Actually, the best curry I’ve ever had.

*I normally avoid publishing recipes taken from books, but a search online reveals that different versions of Heston’s CTM exist on other websites. This isn’t the original recipe (as it appears in the book) as I have simplified it to make it more home-cook friendly, so hopefully no one will get angry with me for putting it up here!  

Monaco Martini

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a tiny little obsession with Formula 1. Fast cars, cutting-edge technology, glamourous lifestyle and, erm, the drivers aren’t bad either. What’s not to like?

I had a half-chance to go to the Monaco Grand Prix this year, pretty cheaply too, but I couldn’t be away because I was graduating; although somehow I’m still a student. The only way to feel a bit of the Monaco glamour was to brave the post-graduation-party hangover on Sunday noon and make myself a Martini while watching the race.

I had this cocktail in Minneapolis, where Hendrick’s Gin seemed to be surprisingly popular, but I had already had a few g&ts by then and I can’t remember what it was called. I’m just going to call it My Monaco Martini and hope no one gets angry with me with some copyright issues. But if you do know the real name, or have a more exciting suggestion to make, please let me know in the comments.

My Monaco Martini

Ingredients

45 ml Hendrick’s Gin
25 ml Chambord
a squeeze of half a lemon

Shaken, not stirred, with some ice. Strain into a martini glass. Enjoy (responsibly).

A couple of notes:

  • If you haven’t got Hendrick’s use another gin, but make sure it’s a high-quality smooth one, since there will be no tonic to mask any harshness. I had run out of Hendrick’s so used Tanqueray 10 instead, but I still think it’s better with Hendrick’s.
  • If you haven’t got Chambord, use some other raspberry liqueur, but keep in mind that the end result might be different as this is made from black raspberries and it has a slight bitter aftertaste after the initial sweetness.

It’s surprisingly easy to drink given the amount of alcohol in it. You’ve been warned.

Aubergine in Yoghurt (Indian #3)

If this was a politics blog, I would have been busy all this time talking about all the big changes happening in the two countries I consider my home. It isn’t, and that’s why I’ve been silent. In real life, I mourned the loss of three lives, got angry at the violence of the police and worried about the future of a country that is “on the brink of the abyss”. In the meantime, the UK got a new government and I spent more than a few days complaining about not being able to vote. Not that it would have made much of difference anyway.

And after all that, I thought it was about time I put a recipe up here. If anyone still remembers, I do this thing where I pick a country and cook 10 different things from that country- provided I’ve never cooked them before. Last time I posted about this, I was doing India, and I promised some prawns. Well, guess what, I’ve gone back on my promise. But it’s ok, because this is better. Actually, it’s so good that I’ve already made it 3 or 4 times, and I thought it was about time I shared it with the world (well, actually, the BBC did that for me a while ago).

This is a very simple Indian dish, and apparently there exist other versions of it which use sour cream rather than yoghurt, but I thought I might as well keep it healthy. It’s a great side dish to any curry, or simply served with some Indian bread and/or rice.

Aubergine in Yoghurt (adapted from here)

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side)

2 large aubergines, thinly sliced into rounds
pinch of turmeric
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp olive oil

200 ml Greek-style plain yoghurt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin

a handful of fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

To prepare the aubergines, mix the oil with the turmeric, salt and 1/2 tsp of chilli powder in a bowl, brush each side of the aubergines and grill until soft, turning half way.

At this point, you can slice them in half to make it easier to mix with the yoghurt later.

In a bowl, beat 150ml of yoghurt with the sugar and the other 1/2 tsp of chilli powder. Roast the ground cumin in a non-stick pan over low heat until the smell starts filling the kitchen. Add the yoghurt and continue to heat gently until it’s warm. Add the aubergine slices and the remaining yoghurt and stir to combine. Serve with some chopped coriander leaves.

Have it as a side to a curry, with some naan bread and rice. It works well cold too, wrapped in pita bread for a quick leftover lunch. You can adjust the amount and type (I use hot) of chilli powder to make it as spicy as you like. I like it with a bit of a kick, as the cooling yoghurt makes sure you don’t burn yourself too much.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 
Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits
Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: No, Heston, I haven’t got an MRI scanner!