Lentil and Aubergine Curry (Indian #7)

While I love meat and I could never be vegetarian, there is really no need to make vegetarian dishes bland and boring. Lentils are full of flavour (and iron, so no need for that steak) and aubergines are the meatiest vegetable out there. Both make a healthy alternative to meaty dishes and, combined with some Indian spices, you have the perfect winter warmer.

This started as a lentil and carrot soup, until I realised I had no carrots and had to improvise. So please don’t judge me on the authenticity of the dish. It’s yummy.

Lentil and Aubergine Curry

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely or grated
2 dried birds eye chillies, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
olive oil

1 aubergine
200gr lentils (I used green, but red perhaps will be more authentic)
2 tbsp tomato paste, diluted in some water
1 tsp garam masala
salt, to taste

200gr Total Greek Yoghurt, to serve

Fry the onions and the garlic in the olive oil together with the spices (chillies, turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, chilli powder) over low-medium heat, until soft. Add the aubergines and fry them a little longer, until they start to soften.

Add the lentils and the tomato paste and let it simmer over low heat. You might need to add more water as this is cooking since the lentils will absorb quite a bit. When the lentils are soft (about 40 minutes later), add the garam masala and season with salt.

Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and some warm pita bread.

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
Lamb and Spinach Curry
Red Onion and Pomegranate Salad

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.

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!