Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Lamb Pulao and Vegetable Makhanawala

Really loving this new cookbook! I won't copy out the recipes here since I did nothing to change them. If you're interested in really fantastic authentic Indian food then I suggest you purchase a copy of the book! The pulao was fluffy, with gorgeously reduced lamb curry underneath, and the vegetable makhanawala was creamy, cashew-y and filling. On Stein's recommendation I bought some Kashmiri chilli powder, and it was an excellent purchase, giving a lovely red colour and a subtle and tangy heat. A couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt and this pairing made a feast -- and in the quantities I made, enough for a whole week of dinners for us! Will definitely cook these again.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Seafood Chowder

I got back from Boston with a craving for MORE CHOWDER. I really should have a go at making a cob loaf to serve this in, but homemade breadmaker sourdough will have to suffice until the weather is cool enough to switch the oven on. This is also not as heart-attack-inducing as a proper Boston seafood chowder and can be eaten as lunch or dinner without pre-charging the defibrillator. If you want to up the ante, double the flour, reduce the stock to the absolute minimum that covers the vegetables, and top up with double the listed amount of the thickest cream you can find, just before serving. I can never make just enough for two so this (with bread) will do for four people.


  • 1 onion or leek
  • 100g lardons OR smoked fish
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 potatoes
  • a bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 750ml litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 corn cobs, or a tin of sweet corn
  • 500g marinara mix (a mix of white fish, salmon, squid, peeled prawns, and mussels)
  • 200ml thickened or double cream
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • a bunch of fresh parsley

Peel or clean and finely chop the onion or leek. Fry in a deep pan in a little butter or olive oil until translucent and soft. If using the lardons, add at the same time as the onions, so they cook and turn golden. (Don't add smoked fish at this stage!) Meanwhile, dice the carrot, celery and potatoes (no need to peel them). Add the vegetables and the bay leaf to the cooked onions, stir in the flour, then pour over the stock; bring up to a simmer and then allow the vegetables to cook to just past al dente -- about 10-12 minutes. If you like your potato to be falling apart, cook a little longer. Slice the corn off the cob (or drain the tin) and add, along with the marinara mix, and the smoked fish if using. Bring back up to temperature and allow to cook through, a matter of minutes for the fish and the corn. (Be particularly careful not to boil any squid in the marinara mix for more than 30 seconds, or it will go tough!) Once the fish is cooked through, stir in the cream and bring back up to temperature, but do not allow the chowder to boil. Serve in a cob or in bowls, scattered over with finely chopped parsley.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Quick-friend Coconut Beans and Carrots

Nom, at last a vegetable-based Indian side dish that I can make in just under 10 minutes! Stein suggests using fresh or frozen grated coconut, but I find that adding dried shredded coconut just a minute before the cooking time is up soaks up the remaining water, and is a lot less hassle to keep in the cupboard. You could easily vary the vegetables based on whatever you have to hand, and the spices to complement whatever else you're cooking.


  • vegetable oil
  • 2 small chillies, finely chopped (keep the seeds if you like the spice)
  • handful of curry leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • large handful of green beans, topped, tailed and diced
  • one medium to large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75 ml water
  • a large handful of dried shredded coconut

Bruise the spices in at mortar and pestle then fry with the curry leaves and chillies in a frying pan for a minute. Tip in the vegetables and salt, stir to coat, then add the water and immediately cover, turning the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables are just done, then add the coconut, stir, and re-cover, turning off the heat so the coconut can absorb the cooking water.

Perfect Pilaf Rice

Not so much my own recipe, as the first time I tried out the summary recipe from this excellent Guardian article on the perfect pilaf. I followed the instructions exactly, despite having misgivings about boiling the rice in so much water, and leaving a tea towel near an open flame. The rice came out fragrant, fluffy, perfectly-cooked, and where the butter had fried it, just a little decadent. I think next time I will ever-so-slightly increase the heat, so as to get more of a seared base, but such adjustments will be vary individually depending on your own hob. I could also see topping this with some sultanas and almonds, but as it stands the flavours are subtle yet fantastic.

  • 300g white basmati rice
  • Salt
  • Generous knob of butter
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 strips of lemon zest
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)

Rinse the rice thoroughly and tip into a large saucepan of boiling, salted water. Stir, bring back to the boil, and cook for 7 minutes. Drain well and season to taste. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a clean pan over a medium heat then add the spices and lemon zest. Cook for a minute, then add 2 tbsp water and a layer of rice. Heap the rest on top in layers, making sure not to push it down. Make 5 air holes in the surface with the handle of a wooden spoon, wrap a lid of the pan in a clean tea towel and cover. Cook over a very low heat for 30 minutes.

Sali Murghi (Chicken and Apricot Curry with Matchstick Potatoes)

Happy New Year!

I have no good excuses for not posting. I was lazy at the end of November, in the US for most of December, and then ate nothing but BBQ and leftover Christmas ham during the holiday break. Yesterday saw the seventh-hottest day ever recorded in Perth, so all I could face was the usual Thai beef salad, thrown together from whatever salad vegetables I had, plus half a bag of fresh beansprouts and a big bunch of mint, for extra cooling effect. Nice to use a post-BBQ extra T-bone steak as well; never have I had such deliciously chilled and soft beef.

Anyway! Last year, just before I left for the States, a surprise present arrived from a friend in the UK: Rick Stein's India, a really fantastic compilation of Indian recipes from all over the subcontinent. On Sunday I decided to try out one of the more challenging looking recipes, sali murghi, or chicken and apricot curry with potato straws. The ingredients list is moderately long, but of course the spices are essential. We found that they combined beautifully with the apricots and other vegetables to form a thick and sweet-sour sauce that complemented the chicken and potatoes perfectly. From a single chicken, there was easily enough for six people, or for us, two dinners and two lunches. (We had the second dinner with perfect pilaf rice and quick-friend coconut vegetables.)

For the matchstick potatoes (sali):

  • 250g of Chat (or other chipping/new) potatoes, julienned and soaked in cold water for at least 15 minutes
  • a deep fryer or heavy-based pan full of vegetable oil for deep frying
  • salt

For the curry:

  • vegetable oil
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised with a rolling pin
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 4cm piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 100g tomatoes (about 1 large, or 2 small), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a thumb of ginger, finely grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 chicken, jointed into 8 pieces (get the butcher to do it!)
  • 2 tsp jaggery, palm sugar, or brown sugar
  • 150g dred apricots
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • handful of fresh coriander, leaves torn off

Bruise the whole spices in a mortar and pestle and fry in a large casserole / Le Creuset for a minute until fragrant. Add the onion, turn the heat down, and fry for 10 min until softened and golden. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and turn in the spce mixture, then add the sugar, apricots and vinegar.

(At this point, Stein suggests adding enough water to cover; if you do this, you will likely need to remove the cooked chicken and then vigorously boil down/reduce the sauce for ~10 minutes at the end, unless perhaps you remove the lid, but then the chicken may cook unevenly. I suggest instead adding 200ml of water, covering, and turning over the chicken pieces a few times until they are cooked, and leaving the lid off for the last 15 minutes of cook time.)

Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is reduced. Meanwhile, drain the potatoes, dry in a colander, and deep-fry at 180C for 2-3 minutes per batch until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and season with salt, then use to top to the finished curry, along with the coriander leaves.