Duck Vindaloo

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Sometimes I think it’s good to eat a meal that really makes you feel alive, something that has some real zing to it. I understand though that loving chilli and things hot and spicy really divides opinion and that it is definitely something that you build up a tolerance to over time, similar to swimming in cold water in fact. It’s good to have a gradual build up rather than jumping in at the deep end whether it be cold water or chilli. On this basis I have shown you how to cook a hot vindaloo as well as a more mild version, but one that still has a pleasant kick to it.

I rather like using duck for a change, but should you wish you could also easily cook this with chicken. Pork vindaloo is probably the most well known Goan version – which you can follow the recipe to HERE, however, duck adds an interesting and tasty alternative, which I urge you to try.

I suggest you probably try the more subtle version first and then gradually build up the chilli content should you require more of a kick. I would love to hear how you get on so do leave a message in the comments box below….go on, don’t be shy.

Duck Vindaloo

Serves 4 (or 2 if you are very hungry)

4 duck legs (or 1 duck jointed)

2 sticks of cinnamon

5 cloves

2 green cardamom pods, slightly split open

3 white onions

10 garlic cloves

2 inches of fresh ginger

5 dried red chilli (2 if you prefer it milder) I use the small Thai variety

5 small green chilli (2 if you prefer it milder) I use either serrano or finger chillies. Use Jalapeno if you prefer it less hot

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

5 small/medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 tbsp sugar

1-2 tbsp butter/ghee

300ml water

1. Place the duck in a deep pan filled with cold water so that it covers the duck legs. Prick the duck a few times with a fork so that the spices can penetrate into the meat. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves to the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 1 hour.

2. Using a blender, blend the onions, garlic, green chillies and fresh ginger. In a spice grinder grind the cumin seeds and dried chillies and then transfer them to the blender with the onions, garlic etc.

3. Add the turmeric, sugar and white wine vinegar and give it another final blast in the blender so that a smooth paste is formed.

4. Once the duck has been boiling for one hour, drain the water away and place to one side.

5. Heat a frying pan/karahi/wok and add the butter/ghee and when it has melted brown the duck legs on both sides and place to one side.

6. Using the same pan add the blended curry paste to the pan and gently fry until it becomes dry. You may need to stir it a few times to make sure that none of it burns on the bottom – cook on a relatively low heat!

7. Add the potatoes and duck to the paste along with the water and simmer gently until the water has disappeared and the potatoes have softened. You may need to add a little more water if the potatoes have not cooked through and the water has dried up.

8. Serve with rice or chapati along with a dal (see my recipe library for a list of my dals)


Pistachio and Cardamom Shortbread Biscuits

It’s always good to have a go-to biscuit that is straightforward and not too time consuming to make, but also has an added complexity in taste that makes it stand out from the crowd. This shortbread biscuit ticks all those boxes with flying colours. The flavours of cardamom and pistachio sing to me and the partnership is one to be jubilant about. I find it’s great to make a batch and freeze (before cooking) some of the dough, wrapped in cling film, that you are not needing, until you want to make another batch at a later date. At this stage simply remove from the freezer and let it defrost before making incisions into the dough to make your biscuits.

With the festive season almost upon us, I also find that they are a great offering to give to friends that you are visiting either wrapped in brown baking parchment, tied with some vintage twine or red ribbon, or placed in a sealed jar. Either way, the effort and initiative will definitely bring a smile upon the receiver.

Pistachio and Cardamom Shortbread Biscuits

sourced from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

Makes around 30

8 cardamom pods

200g unsalted butter

25g ground rice

240g plain flour

1/2 tsp of salt

35g icing sugar

60g shelled pistachio nuts

1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

2 tbsp vanilla sugar

1. Crush the cardamom pods, using a pestle and mortar and once the seeds have been released remove the skins and then crush the seeds into a fine powder. The smell is sensational.

2. Place the butter, ground rice, flour, salt , ground cardamom and icing sugar in an electric mixer and whisk until the ingredients have bound together to create a ball shape and immediately transfer the dough onto a cold surface sprinkled with a little flour. (see photo below)

3. Using your hands roll the dough into a log shape. If you want really large round biscuits then keep the the log short in length, however, if you would prefer small or medium sized biscuits then elongate the dough further. There is no hard and fast rule on how large the biscuits need to be. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for over an hour.

4. Meanwhile, place the pistachio nuts into the electric mixer and give them a quick wizz so that they are broken up slightly. If you do it for too long they will become too fine!

5. Place the crushed pistachio nuts on a flat surface and take the cling film off  the dough (and place the cling film to one side) and brush the log with the beaten egg. Now roll the dough over the top of the pistachio nuts; you may need to give a helping hand and place a few pistachio nuts into the side of the dough. Put the same cling film back on the dough log and place back into the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Remove the cling film and using a sharp knife cut the dough log into even slices and place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, placing them 2cm apart. Dust the biscuits with vanilla sugar and place in the oven for around 20 minutes so that they are golden, but not bronzed. Keep a close eye on them.

7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely as they will harden as they cool. If you pick them up before they are cool they may well crumble. Once they have cooled store in a sealed jar or container for up to a week.

Rolled out the dough log on a cold surface sprinkled with flour

Roll out the cold dough log over the pistachio nuts

Place the biscuits slightly further apart (2cm) than I have done above or they will begin to join together.

I was pretty lucky but it got close ;0)

Baked and ready to eat