Indian Cabbage with Fennel Seeds

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Oh the humble white (or green for that matter) cabbage. It’s one of those ingredients that cooked with no herbs or spices tastes, to put it simply, bland. It’s kind of like sprouts. Boiling the hell out of the vegetable just does not do it justice. I have a fantastic sprout curry – have you tried making it yet? If not I absolutely urge you to give it a go. I know I am biased but it’s seriously good and will convert even the non sprout lover. Here is the recipe – click here. Go on give it a try. It’s an alternative way to cook sprouts.

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In the meantime may I encourage you to try picking up a regular white cabbage from the market/supermarket/garden (delete as appropriate) and make this ‘Indian Cabbage with Fennel Seed Curry’. Fennel and sultanas gives it a sweetness but combined with the spices, salt and chilli it becomes a very satisfying savoury dish. I often accompany it with a dal and if I am cooking for others I will often do a meat or fish curry as well.

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Indian Cabbage with Fennel Seeds

Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable/olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 small potatoes, cut roughly into 3cm pieces

2 bay leaves

1tsp heaped fennel seeds

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp of chilli powder

1/2 tsp sugar

half a large white or green cabbage, shredded finely

1 handful of sultanas

1. In a large pan add the oil and a pinch of salt and when it is hot add the potatoes and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes so that the potatoes begin to bronze. Remove from the pan and place on some kitchen paper.

2. Wash the cabbage thoroughly under the tap and then drain using a colander. Set to one side.

3.Using the same pan as you cooked the potatoes, add the bay leaves, fennel seeds, turmeric, chilli powder and sugar. Move them around the pan for 30 seconds before adding the finely shredded cabbage and sultanas. Turn the cabbage and sultanas over in the pan so that they are coated in all the spices. Add the fried potatoes, which will begin to soften whilst cooking with the cabbage. Place on a medium to low heat and simmer.

4. As you have washed the cabbage before adding to the pan you probably will not need additional water, however, if it becomes too dry simply add 2/3 tbsp of water to the pan.

5. Simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the cabbage and potatoes have softened.

Easy hey! So what are you waiting for give it a go and let me know how you get on.

 

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Fried Indian Spiced Aubergines

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After the excessive eating around Easter time, which always happens when my family gets together for a few days, it was time to detox a little and by that I mean eat vegetable-only lunch and suppers. If you are a vegetarian, eating and cooking Indian food holds so many delicious possibilities, in fact it would be really easy to be a vegetarian in India as all the vegetable dishes taste so good and in many cases better than their meat and fish counterparts. Anyway after a few days of worthiness we did cook one dish, or perhaps I should call it a snack, that was perhaps a little less healthy – as they are fried – but are very addictive.

 

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They are incredibly moorish and the perfect accompaniment when eating rice/chapati and dal. The trick is to eat them within a couple of minutes of being cooked as they are not as tasty once they become cold. When eating Indian food with my family at home I tend to eat with my right hand – why? – well I find the food actually tastes better, although be careful not to over eat as it is easy to eat more this way ;o). Eating a thicker dal (not the overly soupy kind) and chapati with these fried spiced aubergines is one of lives pleasures. Have a go and you’ll know what I mean. They may not be pretty but they do taste rather good.

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To cook these little beauties follow these simple instructions:

 

Fried Indian Spiced Aubergines

4-6 people depending on the size of your aubergine

1 aubergine

100g chickpea/gram flour

100ml water

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp poppy seeds/sesame seeds

2 tbsp vegetable oil

 

1. To make the batter mix the flour and water together. You want to get the right consistency – not too watery and not too thick so add a little more water/flour as you see fit.

2. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, poppy seeds/sesame seeds and salt and mix into the batter.

3. Slice the aubergine into thin circles – approximately 1cm in diameter. If they are too thick they will not cook through properly.

4. Place the aubergine slices into the batter, a few at a time.

5. Add the vegetable oil to the frying pan on a medium heat. When it is hot add a few of the aubergine slices. Fry on both sides for around 3 minutes per side.

6. Once bronzed place carefully on some kitchen roll and serve immediately with more salt as required.

 

 

 

 


Pork and Onion Curry – Dopiaza

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I haven’t posted an Indian recipe for quite some time so thought it would be refreshing to post one for you. With all this deliciously hot weather we have been blessed with recently in the UK, cooking a pork curry is probably the last thing on your mind, instead opting for fish/salad type foods right? When the weather cools slightly then come back to this one as it is guaranteed to become a firm family favourite.

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If you’re a bit of a curry novice in the kitchen then this curry is a perfect one to start your life long love affair with cooking Indian food.   It require a lot of onions – that’s the Dopiaza bit (it actually means twice cooked onions) – and all the other ingredients are always in my store cupboard. If you are not very keen on things hot and spicy this also works well as it is very mild requiring only one teaspoon of chilli powder.

Enjoy the sun and hope this curry finds it’s way into your belly very soon!

Pork and Onion Curry (Dopiaza)

4-6 people

900g onions (slice half thinly and chop the other half)

butter/ghee/vegetable oil 2 tbsp

2 tbsp lemon juice

 roughly 1.1kg/2.8lb boneless pork, cubed

2 tsp turmeric

2tsp ground coriander

1 tsp fenugreek

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt

 handful of fresh coriander – to serve

1. Heat the butter/ghee in a deep pan and add the chopped onions (remember to keep back the sliced onions) and the lemon juice and cook gently for 15 minutes on a low heat until golden, stirring frequently. Remove from the pan and place to one side.

2. Using the same pan add the pork and increase the heat slightly so that the pork is browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and place to one side.

3. Continuing with the same pan (you may want to add a little more butter/ghee/oil) add the sliced onions, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, chilli powder and salt and fry for around 10 minutes. Re add the browned pork and add a little cold water and gently cook covered on a low heat for 50 minutes. You may need to add a little more water if it begins to look to dry.

4. Re add the fried onion and cook for another 15 minutes continuing to stir.

5. Serve with rice or chapati and some fresh coriander.


Bengali Prawn Curry

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This Bengali prawn curry is one that was passed on to me by my mother-in-law and is, without doubt, my favourite of all prawn curries. The sweet undertones from the desiccated coconut and prawns blends superbly with the black mustard seeds and chilli powder, giving it a gently kick. I love to cook it using the king of all prawns, but it tastes equally good if you cook it using the smaller varieties as well. I do prefer to keep the tails mind you, both for appearance and because it holds the prawns together well, so if you can find prawns with shells and tails on I would always opt for those as opposed to buying the ones that have already been shelled and deveined.

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The prawns will be a greyish colour when you buy them. I bought frozen prawns and then let them defrost slowly over night in the fridge before peeling and deveining them in the morning. They remind me of the giant grilled prawns I would eat most evenings when I was staying on the shores of Lake Malawi for my honeymoon, many moons ago.

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Within seconds of being gently cooked the prawns will turn a fabulous pink and begin to curl into themselves. They only need a minute or so cooking on each side to seal them.

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The sealed prawns waiting to go into the curry sauce. The meatiness of them makes them a very satisfying and filling meal.

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Once the prawns have been added to the curry sauce let them simmer gently for a few minutes, making sure you coat the prawns sufficiently in the delicious sauce. Sprinkle ground garam masala over the prawns and give a little stir, before serving with basmati rice.

Bengali Prawn Curry

Serves 3-4

600g prawns, peeled, deveined but tails left on (I used 9 frozen super king prawns)

1 medium sized white onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, skin removed and grated

vegetable oil

2/3 bay leaves

1 tsp black mustard seeds

25g (or 4/5 tbsp) desiccated coconut

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp chilli powder (less if you prefer it less hot)

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp salt (you may wish to add one more – taste first)

2tbsp chopped tin tomatoes

200ml boiling water

1 tsp ground garam masala

1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a fairly deep frying pan or karahi. On a low heat add the prawns, in stages if your pan is on the small side, so as to seal them. They will curl up slightly and take on a vibrant pinkish hue. After a minute or so turn them over so that both sides are sealed. Then turn them on to their backs so as the top side is also cooked. Remove from the pan and place on a plate to one side, whilst you finish cooking the remaining prawns.

2. Add a little more vegetable oil if it is running dry and keeping the oil at a low heat add the black mustard seeds. They will burst open and sizzle so make sure the oil is not too hot as they will spit! Add the bay leaves and stir with the black mustard seeds.

3. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook gently for around 5/6 minutes until they begin to bronze in colour.

4. Add all the spices apart from the garam masala, as well as the salt and sugar.  Stir together and add the tinned chopped tomatoes.

5. Add 200ml of boiling water and add the desiccated coconut. Bring to the boil gently stiring and add the prawns. Gently cover the prawns in the sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

6. Add the ground garam masala over the prawns, give a quick stir and serve immediately.

Serve with basmati rice.


Baba Ganoush – it definitely has a ring to it!

I have to admit that it was initially the name of this wonderfully smokey aubergine (eggplant) dip/appetizer that caught my attention. I know you probably think I’m mad and just another one of those English eccentrics, but seriously saying ‘Baba Ganoush’ out loud has a wonderful ring to it – give it a try and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll want to keep saying it again and again, I promise you it’s rather addictive sounding. Coupled with the smokey undertones of this pureed roasted aubergine with tahini (sesame paste), lemon, garlic and olive oil and you have a perfect little dish. The name itself means ‘father pampered or spoiled’ in other words, it’s a dish that will please and delight and give great joy to those who feast upon it. It will bring smiles, rest assured!

It is common place in Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, all the Arab countries and North Africa, with each region taking their own spin on the  added extra ingredients. For example, in Palestine, yoghurt is often added to the mix, whilst in Lebanon pomegranate juice is sometimes added instead of the tahini and in Iran tomatoes, onion and turmeric is added. Some people like it to add cumin but I find that the perfect dish is one that is not too over complicated with different ingredients. The simplicity of it adds to it’s appeal.

We ate it on a number of occasions this summer in Turkey, cooked outside on an open fire. It tasted delicious and I made a note to myself there and then to share this recipe with you all. My recipe is very similar tasting to the one that I used to buy in those Middle Eastern supper markets around the Edgware Road in London. I acquired a taste for that style of Baba Ganoush, so when I started making my own homemade version the one I wanted to replicate was the one I used to eat in my youth – or perhaps I ought to say  early 20’s!

There is no hard and fast rule to making Baba Ganoush, so experiment and get creative and see which type really works for you. What I will say however, is that if you like it smokey – which is kind of the point of the dish – it is important to really burn the outside of the aubergine. Using tongs I roast them initially over a gas flame on my hob before putting them in the oven for 25 mins to soften them completely. If you don’t have a gas flame, placing them under a high grill so that the skins blacken and burn slightly, will have a similar smokey effect, but don’t forget to turn them regularly if you do this!

Baba Ganoush

Serves 4

3 large aubergine/eggplant

3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)

juice of one and a half lemons

1 large tsp rock salt (or to taste)

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp olive oil

1 pinch chilli powder

1 pinch sweet paprika

1 small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees. Using tongs hold the aubergine over a gas flame so as to burn and blacken the skin. The more the skin burns the more smokey your Baba Ganoush will be. The skin should be sufficiently burned from between 6-10 minutes.

2. Place the aubergines on a baking tray and place in the oven for 25 minutes or until the aubergine is completely soft.

3. Leave to cool and then peal off the aubergine skin and discard the skin.

4. In a blender add the smoked aubergine flesh, tahini, lemon juice, chilli powder, salt and  half the olive oil and blend to a pulp. Taste and add more lemon juice/tahini/salt if required.

5. Place in a dish and add a pinch of sweet paprika, flat leaf parsley and the remaining olive oil and serve with toasted pitta bread, chapati or middle eastern bread.

It stores well in the fridge for a few days so great to cook in advance.

As you gently singe the skin of the aubergine the lovely smokey smells will come through.

After 25 minutes in the oven the aubergines will be very soft. Leave to cool before peeling off the skin, which should come away really easily. If they are at all hard in places, leave to cook for a further 5 minutes before checking again with a sharp knife. If the knife easily pierces the skin and goes through the aubergine then it is ready.

Into the blender goes the smoked and oven baked flesh of the aubergine, tahini, garlic, pinch of chilli powder, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.

I couldn’t resist a photo of my recent antique find – a c.1860 French steel and rosewood handle herb chopper, with the chopped flat leaf parsley ready to go on the top of the baba ganoush.


Goat Curry….I’m not kidding!

I have had a frozen goat, well part of one, sitting at the bottom of our freezer for quite some time, so I thought it was high time I dug it out. As my mother-in-law was returning from her two month vacation in Kolkata I thought goat curry might be the perfect dish to welcome her back to the UK. I adore goat, but I realise that perhaps it is not as easy to come by as lamb. If you live near a Middle Eastern or Asian butcher you will be able to purchase it without too much trouble. If however this is tricky for you, lamb works equally well for this curry.

As with all the Indian recipes, there is a certain amount of artistic license involved with creating them, so whilst I list a teaspoon of this and a teaspoon of that, if you put a little extra or less it will alter the dynamics slightly but still taste really good;  just remember it is not an exact science as baking is. Scales are not commonly used in Indian kitchens, instead the cook relies more on sight, smell and taste to get the right balance in a dish. After you have cooked the dish a number of times, you too will improvise more with the quantities, but until then it is best to follow my amounts listed below.

Goat Curry

Serves 4-6


1,600 kg goat, diced into mouth sized portions

1 yellow onion, grated

2 inch fresh ginger, grated

1 whole garlic, grated

2 tbsp malt vinegar

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

2 tbsp yoghurt

3 tbsp mustard oil

3 bay leaves

4 tbsp tinned tomatoes

2 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp ghee (optional)

1. Dice the goat (or lamb) into bite sized morsels and remove excess fat.

2. Grate the onion, ginger and garlic and add to the meat. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, sugar, salt, yoghurt, malt vinegar, coriander and cumin  powder. Some cooks like to add a little mustard oil at this stage, however, I felt that it was unnecessary.

3. Really mix the ingredients into the goat meat thoroughly and if you have time leave to marinate in the fridge between 4-6 hours.

4. Heat the oil in a pan and add the bay leaves a few seconds before adding the marinated goat meat. Let it simmer gently, stirring from time to time.

5. After about 10 minutes of cooking add the tinned tomatoes and continue to simmer. You will probably need to add a little water, so gradually put in a little at a time so that there is some sauce and is not too dry.

6. The curry should take just under 1 hour to cook. 10 minutes before you turn off the heat add the garam masala and stir in well to the curry.

7. To enhance the flavour further you can also add a little ghee, but this is not essential and if you are watching your waste line then you might want to ignore this ingredient.

Serve with rice, paratha, luchi, roti.

Please note: it is great to cook in advance and then reheat before serving hot. I find curries taste better if they have had time to rest for sometime before eating. If there is leftovers you can keep in the fridge and eat the next day. 


Fine Green Bean and Potato Curry

After every few days if I have not had Indian food (basically my chilli fix) of some capacity I start craving dal, vegetable curry or some succulent fish or meat curry. They are always fun to make and really do not take long to prepare once you know how and best of all they are always guaranteed to bring a smile to Mr B’s face after the stresses of commuting in London town. I am a total believer that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – although the same could be said for me come to think of it.

As delicious as steamed or boiled fine green beans are in their own right, this Bengali dish just takes them to a new level and gives them their own identity. It’s definitely one of those dishes that you can rustle up in a short space of time and enjoy with dal (or a meat/fish curry) and some Indian bread or rice, to create a really delicious, healthy (let’s just ignore the cooking oil this once!) and low cost meal.

The ingredient list is short and I always have them in my store cupboard. The only spice that maybe unknown to some of you is kalo jeera – which is also known more widely as nigella seeds. They are really easy to come by and are pretty mainstream even in the supermarkets. I have used mustard oil, but if you do not have this to hand a simple vegetable oil will be equally suitable.

 Fine Green Bean and Potato Curry

Serves 2-3 (accompanied by a dal)

350g fine green beans

1 large potato, peeled and cut into small cubes

2 tbsp mustard oil (or vegetable oil)

1 tsp nigella seeds

1 tsp turmeric

150ml boiling water

2 tbsp of chopped tinned tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 chilli powder (optional)

1. Heat the mustard or vegetable oil in a pan and when it is piping hot add the nigella seeds. After 10 seconds add the potato and green beans and stir to coat the vegetables in the nigella seeds.

2. Add the turmeric, salt, chilli powder (optional) and chopped tomatoes and stir once again. After a few minutes add 50 ml of boiling water, stir and place a lid on the pan. Keep on a low heat and simmer gently.

3. Once the water has completely dried up add a further 50 ml of  boiling water, which will help soften the potato and green beans. You will probably need to add a further 50ml of boiling water during cooking as you want the beans and potato to be soft and not crunchy. The dish should be ready between 20-25 minutes. It can be stored easily in the fridge for a couple of days should you not finish it all in one sitting – although if you are like me, you will.

Happy eating.