Home-made naan breads

I am always trying to make a better naan-type bread at home, but it really isn’t easy because you cannot generate the heat that comes from a proper tandoor.

It is important to use yeast as a raising agent. I’ve tried recipes that use baking powder, but they just aren’t right.

This recipe used dried yeast. Continue reading

Jamaican curry lamb

Jamaican curry lamb

I suppose it really should be curry goat (note: NOT goat curry), however I didn’t have any goat meat but I did have lamb neck fillet.

Curry arrived in the West Indies with the indentured workers from the Indian sub-continent in the 19th century who replaced slaves, after slavery was abolished within the British Empire.

The main difference between Indian curries and Jamaican ones is the blend of spices used. Jamaican curry powder typically contains allspice, which is not used in India and tends to avoid spices like cardamom, which are commonly used in Indian masala blends. You can make your own Jamaican curry powder but there are several good commercial blends available. I like Tex’s, which is widely available in many West Indian shops.

The actual curry is pretty easy to make.

I used cubed lamb neck fillet, but shoulder or leg works well too. The dish also contains cubed potatoes, onions, garlic and tomatoes, along with scotch bonnet chillies.

I fried the chopped onions and garlic in sunflower oil until softened and then added in two tablespoons of curry powder and a tablespoon of flour, stirring this in well. They I added the meat, potatoes and tomatoes, together with some salt (the curry powder contains some too), black pepper and the finely-chopped scotch bonnet chilli, stirring well so that everything in mixed together and coated in the spices.

Then, I added sufficient boiled water to allow the meat to cook and make a nice sauce (the flour helps thicken this.

The curry cooked on a low gas for around an hour and a half, so that the meat was tender and the sauce thickened. I added in a small carton of coconut cream towards the end of the cooking time. It helped the texture of the sauce and gave a nice flavour too.

As with an Indian curry, you serve it with rice, or maybe you could do Jamaican Rice and Peas.

My take on Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala is supposed to be the nation’s favourite curry, but I think it is a pretty insipid and bland sort of thing. However, the idea of curries made with meat previously cooked in a tandoor is quite appealing. A lot of restaurants do such things and they are pretty tasty. I wonder if it is a good way of using up chicken and lamb tikka that has been prepped but not used?

Anyway, I marinated some skinned but bone-in chicken thighs in a marinade of yoghurt, Kashmiri chilli powder and garlic paste, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander and dried methi leaves for about 24 hours in the fridge.

I part roasted the chicken in a 220 C oven for about 15 minutes and set it aside. While this was cooking I made a sauce with onion, garlic and ginger paste fried in rapeseed oil with ground cumin and coriander until the oil began to separate out, to which I added chopped tinned tomatoes, tomato purée and the marinade with some water.

This was cooked until all nicely thickened and when the oil was beginning to separate out on top.

To the sauce I added the chicken and left it until it was time for dinner.

I gently reheated the chicken in the sauce while some basmati rice was cooking.

I also made a spinach side dish. I heated some oil in a wok and added mustard and kalonji seeds until they began to sizzle and pop. Then I fried sliced onion and chopped garlic and ginger until coloured. Then I added a teaspoon each of turmeric and garam masala, some chopped fresh tomatoes and a washed bag of spinach leaves. This was stir-fried until the spinach was very wilted.

A garnish of chopped coriander completed the dishes.

I also made some flatbreads to accompany the meal. These were made with a basic white bread dough, enriched with yoghurt and flavoured with kalonji seeds, which were cooked on a flat griddle on the hob.

You would probably drink lager with this in a restaurant, but we had a bottle of chilled Languedoc rosé wine, from Sainsbury’s Winemakers Selection. Not outstanding, but a pleasant easy-drinking Summer wine.

Chicken vindaloo

This recipe came from The Guardian “Weekend” magazine yesterday.

It was from the article about food cooked by grandmothers.

The original recipe called for a whole skinned, boned and cut up chicken, but I was cooking for two and used breast meat only.

I also adjusted the ingredients for the sauce a bit and cooked it for long enough for the sauce to reduce.

Anyway, this is my version.

2 cubed chicken breasts
salt
sunflower oil
lime juice
1 diced onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 soaked dried Kashmiri chillies and their soaking water
6 black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of dried ginger (the recipe called for fresh, but I didn’t have any)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of concentrated tamarind extract dissolved in hot water

I mixed the lime juice and salt with the chicken and set it aside.

While the onion was frying in the oil I made a smooth masala paste with all the other ingredients.

When the onions were softened and taking on colour, I added the paste and cooked it until it began to separate from the oil. Then I added in the chicken with some hot water and cooked the whole thing for about 20 minutes, by which time the sauce was reduced.

While this was cooking, I steamed some Basmati rice.

The curry was served with chopped coriander, parathas and mango chutney.

Delicious.

Next time, I will use fresh ginger in the masala paste and add in a chopped green chilli, something the original recipe asked for but which I also didn’t have in the house.

I think that both of those will add some additional punch and freshness.

A pretty useful curry masala paste though.

Lamb and methi curry

I love lamb curries because you can give them a long, slow cook and the flavours amalgamate and become rich and deep.

I used cubes of leg of lamb, which I dry marinated with a mixture of ground cumin, coriander, fennel, chilli powder, salt, pepper, turmeric and paprika.

I fried off some bay leaves, green cardamoms and cassia bark in rapeseed oil and added sliced onions and chopped green chillies and cooked this until the onions were starting to brown.

Then I added a tablesppon of garlic and ginger paste and the meat and stir-fried it until the meat was coloured. To this I added a few tablespoons of a thick reduced tomato paste I’d made at the weekend with some squashy tomatoes, green chilli and red onions and about a pint of coconut milk, together with a tablespoon of dried methi leaves.

I brought this to the boil, reduced the heat and simmered it for over two hours until the meat was really tender, almost falling apart. About 10 minutes before the end I added a large tomato, cut into eigths and a green pepper, sliced into strips.

I served the curry with plain Basmati rice, garnished with chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Chicken katsu curry and rice

This is a Japanese way of doing curry. To get the right flavour you really need Japanese curry sauce cubes, such as S&B Golden Curry or Vermont by House Foods.

I prefer the hot versions myself, but they really aren’t particularly hot to my way of thinking.

Curry was only introduced to Japan in the 1870s, during the Meiji period and was seen as a “Western” dish, along with deep-fried breaded pork (Ton Katsu), served with a bottled piquant brown sauce, rather like HP or Daddie’s sauce. The Japanese didn’t really eat meat until this period, it being seen as barbarian food and was unacceptable to Buddhists.

Japanese curry spice blends were developed in the 20th century to appeal to the Japanese palate and are really very different from classic Indian curry blends. They contain all kinds of ingredients and tend to be quite sweet and fruity.

You make a curry sauce as follows;

Soften some diced onion in sunflower oil and add in some diced peppers (green or red), a diced apples and a diced carrot (I didn’t use carrot this time) and cook them for about five minutes.

Then add in a dollop of tomato purée, a tablespoon of Japanese soy sauce, chicken stock (from a cube is fine) and the chopped up curry sauce cube and simmer until the vegetables are done and the sauce has thickened. It will thicken easily because the curry sauce cubes contain cornflour.

Some recipes call for honey to be included, but I personally find this too sweet.

In the meanwhile, cook some plain rice (sushi rice or Thai jasmine rice are best) and keep it warm.

You need chicken breast fillets that you have floured, egged and bread-crumbed (panko crumbs are best, but unfortunately I’d run out and used some wholemeal crumbs I’d made a while ago and frozen instead) and fried in sunflower oil until crisp. Alternately, you can use pork chops, fat removed and beaten out.

When the chicken is cooked, you cut it into thickish slices and serve with the rice and with the curry sauce spooned over.