Sausage Muttar

Don’t you just love it when something comes together with no planning, almost by chance? I was feeling hungry but lazy the other day and, somehow, it was one of those days that I didn’t fancy a big plate of pasta for dinner. It doesn’t happen very often, so I’ve got to embrace it when it does. In an effort to be healthy, I thought peas. And, you know, spices are good for your metabolism. And sausages…well, I can’t justify the sausages. But I don’t have to. They taste good.

Sausage Muttar

Ingredients (serves 5 as a side)

5 sausages
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil, for frying
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
2 tsp garam masala
500 gr frozen peas
2 tbsp tomato puree
salt, to taste

First, place the sausages in a tray and cook in the oven – how long for will depend on the type of sausages used.

Fry the onions in some oil until soft. Add the garlic and the spices and fry for a couple more minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the frozen peas, cook until defrosted and then mix in the tomato paste and some water and bring to the boil. Cook until the peas are soft.

Keep checking on the sausages – when they are ready, cut them into inch-thick pieces and add to the peas. Let everything simmer for 10 minutes, season with salt and serve with some naan bread.

This was unexpectedly good. I loved the contrast between the sweet peas and meaty sausages, and the Indian spices made this perfectly fragrant and slightly hot. Sausage might not be hugely traditional but I can see this becoming a favourite either by itself or as part of a curry feast.

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

Red Onion and Pomegranate Salad (Indian #6)

I have no idea if this is actually Indian but if it isn’t, it probably should be. It worked brilliantly as side to that Lamb and Spinach Curry together with some naan and rice and, according to Lizzie, it’s also great at barbecues. It’s not hard to imagine the sharpness and sweetness of this salad matching some smoky grilled lamb perfectly.

Red Onion and Pomegranate Salad (recipe from Hollow Legs)

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a side)

2 red onions
juice of 2 limes
1 pomegranate
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
A handful of coriander
Salt & pepper

Slice the onions as thinly as possible and set aside. Cut the pomegranate in quarters and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Add the lime juice and the onions and let them marinate for 30 minutes. This will take away the onion harshness and save you from a unsociably stinky breath.

While onions are marinating, toast the cumin seeds and break them up in a pestle and mortar, or wrap them in a tea towel and bash them with a rolling pin. Pick the seeds out of the pomegranate, drain the onions and mix everything together. Add the chopped coriander leaves and season to taste.

Serve alongside a curry or in some pita bread together with some grilled meat.

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
Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: I finally managed to make good naan bread! Now I just need to get some acceptable pictures of it…

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!  

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!

Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits (Indian #2)

In my search for different Indian dishes to try, the BBC website has been a big help. Have you ever watched the Indian Food Made Easy show? Although names like that normally put me off (possibly because it sounds like you’re cheating!) I have enjoyed the few shows I have watched and the food always looked really yummy. All the recipes are available online, and quite a few of them are accompanied by a video clip of the particular dish in the show, so it’s very useful and makes it easy to follow.

I saw this recipe for Fennel Seed Biscuits and I thought I’d give them a go. For some reason, I had imagined them to be shortbread-style, but after reading the recipe I realised they were nothing like it. For starters, they needed frying rather than baking. As mentioned in the recipe, they go nicely with creamy desserts, so I decided to make this Saffron Yogurt to go with them. I love using saffron, just because it looks awesome, and it seems like an extravagant thing to do. Pity I don’t have a clue where to use it! This recipe was starting to sound perfect for me.

Sweet Saffron Yoghurt (Shrikand) (recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients

500 ml greek-style yoghurt
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp saffron
icing sugar (to taste)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds

Heat the milk in a cup in the microwave and crumble the saffron strands in it. Let the saffron infuse for 5-10 minutes. Every now and then, use the back of a teaspoon to crush the saffron into the milk.
Mix the icing sugar with yoghurt until it’s sweet enough for you. I don’t like it too sweet actually, especially with the biscuits, so I think I must have used 3 tbsp. 
Add the saffron milk (I discarded the saffron but, thinking about it, I probably should have kept it) and the ground cardamom seeds. Leave it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Note that the recipe calls for you to drain excess water from the yoghurt by draining it for a few hours in the fridge, using a tea towel and a sieve. I skipped that step as I used a tub of Total Greek yoghurt, which is already quite thick. If you use thinner yoghurt, you probably want to follow that step and also use more than 500 ml as it will lose water and reduce in volume.

Fennel Seed Biscuits (adapted from here)

Ingredients

80g plain flour, sifted
70g caster sugar
140ml milk
1½ tsp fennel seeds, ground to a powder in a pestle and mortar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp ground almonds
2 tbsp butter, melted
4 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil, for frying

Mix all the ingredients (apart from the oil/ghee) in a bowl and let them rest for 10 minutes. Heat the oil or ghee in a small frying pan and drop tablespoons of the mix in it. Fry for a couple of minutes, turning once. You want to have the oil hot enough so that they don’t absorb too much oil, but not too hot because the edges will brown too much. When cooked, place them on some kitchen towel to get rid of excess oil.  

I’m not sure whether these two are served together traditionally but I think the biscuits went very well with the sweet and fragrant yogurt. I’m sure you could have them separately or use them in different combinations. We actually had some of the yogurt by itself the next day, but it would also be very good with a sprinking of nuts.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 

Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: Trying to use up all those prawns. They turn out great.

King Prawn Puri (Indian #1)

Do you know how the famous Chicken Tikka Massala was invented? Apparently no Indian chef has been able to claim it. Instead, it was first made in London, when a Bangladeshi chef added tomato sauce and spices to a Chicken Tikka to satisfy a diner who asked “Where is my gravy?”. Not sure if that makes it English or Indian and I’m undecided on whether that Londoner should go down in history as an ignorant diner or, in a sense, the father of the most popular Anglo-Indian dish. Possibly both.

So where does one learn about Indian food? If the story about Chicken Tikka Massala is anything to go by, visiting a curry house is probably far from an authentic Indian experience. I’ve been trying to do a little bit of research on the internet but it’s not always easy to distinguish between traditional Indian food and a spiced up English stew.

Having said all that, the first thing I’m making is a curry house favourite: King Prawn Puri. I’ve combined a few recipes off the internet, picking the best (i.e. easiest) bits from each one of them.

King Prawn Puri

For the puri

250g wholemeal flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
Lukewarm water
Oil for frying

Mix the oil, flour and salt, and slowly add water to make a dough. Knead until smooth, place in a bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise for about an hour. I find that it’s better to roll each one out as you go, rather than preparing them all first and then frying, as the dough gets quite sticky. 

 

Heat some oil (or ghee) in a wok or some other deep pan and drop a puri in. It should puff up, either a little or possibly fully (the one in the picture is my most successful one, but they all tasted good!). They only need a few seconds on each side, do not let them brown or they’ll turn crispy. You want them cooked but still soft. Put each one on kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oiliness and prepare the next one.

For the prawns

500g raw king prawns
2 tbsps tomato puree
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsps of mustard seeds
2 tsps of turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
Salt to season
A little oil or ghee (clarified butter) for frying
Some chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Move away from the pan and let them fry until they pop! Add onions and garlic and fry until soft. Add the rest of the spices, the prawns and when they are looking cooked (i.e. pink), add the tomato puree and some water to make it saucy. You don’t want too much liquid, but it shouldn’t be completely dry either. Cook for a few more minutes until the prawns are cooked through and the flavours are combined.

Serve each puri with some of the prawns and the sauce. I forgot the coriander leaves, as I was quite panicky with all the frying (big containers of hot oil scare me a little) but it was still very good. The puri is soft and chewy and perfect when combined with the juices of the sauce.

I haven’t got any onion in mine as I had run out so I think it looks a bit drier than it should, but the flavours were brilliant. Serve with a squeeze of lemon: I love the acidity of it as it cuts through any oiliness that you get from the fried bread. Prawns and lemon are best mates anyway!

I’ll therefore declare my first Indian dish a success, and move on to the next one with a lot more confidence! If you have any suggestions or tips or just some more knowledge on authentic Indian food, please leave a comment!

Next time on Round the World in 100 recipes: My first Indian dessert!