Cau Lau – Hoi An Special Noodles with Marinated Pork

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This Vietnamese pork and noodle dish is wonderfully fragrant and tasty and very straightforward to put together. It is known as Cau Lau in Vietnam and is a speciality of the world heritage town of Hoi An. Cau Lau is a noodle that is made from rice and water – nothing new there I hear you say – but wait – the water is supposedly from a well in Hoi An. Into the collected well water the locals place the ash of the La Gai Leaf, which they burn. The water and ash are then left over night to rest and then it is this water that is then used to make the noodles, which gives them a light brown hue. As they are tricky to come by in London, I have replaced them with the rice ribbon noodles, but frankly you can use whichever noodle you have to hand.

So this is what you need:

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The only ingredient absent from this photo is ‘sweet basil’, which I managed to source before devouring the meal. It is not a absolutely necessary but definitely adds a delicate fragrant flavour if you are able to get hold of some.

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Place the chilli, turmeric, garlic and lemongrass into a mortar, as above and give it a good grind with your pestle. If you don’t have one simply use a bowl and the end of a rolling pin, works wonders!

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Then add the honey, soy sauce, five spice powder, salt and pepper to taste and you will end up with a marinade to pour over your pork loin.

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Keep the fat on the pork loin and cut into 6 pieces. Using your hands cover and mix the marinade over all the pieces and then leave the meat to marinade in your fridge for ideally a few hours or even overnight if you can.

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In a large, slightly deep, pan pour in some oil and bronze each piece of pork on both sides.

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Then add the marinade along with enough water to just cover the pork. Simmer and cover for around 45 minutes, by which time the pork will be tender and the sauce will have reduced by around half.

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Before serving remove the fat from the pork and discard and finely slice the pork. Follow the instructions for the noodles. For ribbon rice noodles I simmered them for around 5-7 minutes in boiling water and then strained them and ran them under cold water for a second. Whilst the rice noodles are cooking place a little oil in a pan and when it is hot add a handful of uncooked shrimp chips for 10 seconds, by which time they will puff up and curl.

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When serving place a good helping of noodles into a bowl followed by the sliced pork loin on top. Ladle a generous spoonful or two of the remaining marinade/sauce on top followed by a small handful of bean sprouts, coriander and sweet basil on the side. Lastly add the shrimp chips and a slice of lime. Serve hot and enjoy.

Cau Lau- Hoi An Special Noodles with Marinated Pork

Adapted from The Green Bamboo Cooking School recipe in Hoi An

serves 4

800g pork loin, cut into 6 pieces

small handful of bean sprouts per serving

small handful of uncooked prawn chips per serving

small handful of fresh coriander and sweet basil per serving

 1 packet of white rice ribbon noodles (see photo)

1 lime, quartered

Marinade

5 pieces of garlic, finely sliced

1 tsp ground turmeric

 2 lemongrass, finely chopped

2 chillies, finely chopped (remove seeds if you prefer less of a kick!)

2 tbsp of five spice powder

5 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

salt and pepper to taste

1. Using a pestle and mortar, or bowl and end of a rolling pin, crush the lemongrass, chilli, garlic and turmeric for a few minutes. Once the ingredients have broken down add the five spice powder, soy sauce and honey.

2. Place the pieces of pork loin (with fat on) in a bowl and cover with the marinade using your hands. Place cling film over the bowl and place in the fridge for at least an hour – you could leave over night if you have time.

3. Using a fairly deep pan, heat up a little oil and bronze both sides of the pork loin. Then pour in the marinade and add enough water to the pan so that the pork loins are just covered. Simmer for 45 minutes at which point the sauce will have reduced by almost a half and the pork loin will be tender.

4. When the pork is cooking, in a separate pan add some oil and when it is hot place a small handful of uncooked shrimp chips into the oil and cook for 10-15 seconds, by which time the chips will have puffed up and lightened in colour. They burn really quickly so don’t take your eyes off them during this part. Place to one side on some kitchen roll. Repeat until you have enough to put a few on each serving.

5. Heat up some boiling water and add the rice noodles for the time specified on the packet – which is usually around 5-7 minutes. Strain and run under a cold tap briefly and separate into each bowl.

6. Using a spatula take the pork loin out of the sauce, remove the fat and slice thinly. Place the pork slices onto the noodles and add a ladle of the sauce on top of the pork and noodles. Add a small handful of bean sprouts, coriander, sweet basil and shrimp chips to the bowl along with a wedge of fresh lime.


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.


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)


Bengali Khichuri – perfect for convalescing and detoxing

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If you are feeling a little under the weather, have the winter blues or just fancy some good old Indian comfort food, then read on, this post is especially for YOU>>>>>>>

Khichuri is a traditional Ayurvedic Indian dish, consisting of rice and lentils, that is given to those who are convalescing, detoxing  or fasting, it’s also really popular during puja time. Whilst it can be eaten in its pure form of rice and lentils (no onions or garlic), most khichuri that I have eaten consists of a vegetable or two thrown in as well. It’s the perfect dish to prepare if you need to use up any vegetables before they go off.  The Anglo-Indian dish of ‘kedgeree’ was inspired from khichuri and although it tastes very different the consistency is similar.

My eldest daughter (Big A) has been poorly recently and this is what I prepared for her as it is both nourishing and easy to digest.

There is no set rule on which lentil you need to use or vegetable for that matter. I tend to opt for red split lentils as they are the quickest to cook and need no soaking, although mung beans are also good to use (they do need soaking) as they are known for their ability to remove toxins from the body. My version includes carrot, courgette and and peas. Other vegetables would work equally well so if you have squash, marrow, cauliflower, pumpkin, green beans in the fridge (garden) pop one or two of them in and it will taste divine.

I have not included chilli in this dish as I was feeding it to my daughter, however, if you need a chilli buzz yourself just pop it in (whole or chopped) during  number 2 on the steps below.

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Bengali Khichuri

Serves 2-4

100g red split lentils

100g white rice (if using brown it will take twice as long!)

900ml boiling water

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 large handful of fresh/frozen peas

1/2 courgette, partly peeled and diced

1 tsp of fresh ginger, finely grated

1 tsp garlic paste

4 green cardamom pods

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp of garam masala powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

pinch of asafoetida/hing

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp ghee/butter/or a splash of oil

fresh coriander to garnish

1. Rinse the rice and red spilt lentils a couple of times in cold water so as to get rid of any impurities and than place in a large saucepan with 900ml of boiling water and the chopped carrots and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile place the ghee/butter/oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion. After 5-7 minutes add the cumin seeds, ginger and garlic and mix into the onions. Following this add the turmeric, garam masala, asafoetida and stir once again. Take a spoonful of the boiled rice and lentils and mix into the saucepan ingredients and then return it back into the main rice and lentil saucepan.

3. Stir all the ingredients together and add the courgettes and peas (or any other greens you need to finish up). Simmer for a further 5-7 minutes and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. You may find you need to add a little more water, but just enough to make sure that the rice and lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan. It is not meant to be the same consistency as a soupy dal.

4. Serve into bowls with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

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Curried Potatoes and an Award

There has been a whirlwind of activity in my household this week, getting ready for our departure to Hong Kong for the Christmas holidays. Big A and little Z breaking up from school and I have been doing last minute Christmas shopping – all done now, big sigh of relief – on top of that the ‘outlaws’ are spending this week with us, which means there is a lot of feasting and fragrant Indian cooking smells coming from the kitchen. A sprinkling of Christmas drinks with the traditional mulled wine (blog post for christmas 2013 I think) and carol concerts have added to the Christmas spirit and excitement.

Out of the blue this morning I received a ‘Blog of the Year Award’ from the lovely Charu who writes Soul of Spice, and whose blog I enjoy following immensely.

As part of the honour I must bestow the award on others that stand out for me. It’s a tough call as there are many strong contenders out there, but there are two obvious ones for me:

1) The Garum Factory. Written by husband and wife, Ken and Jody who are based on the east coast of the US.  Importantly the recipes are temptingly delicious and ones that I actually want to cook (mainly savouries, which suits my palette) The photographs always inspire me to try and improve mine ;o) and the narrative is always very amusing. I also mentioned The Garum Factory in a past post here

2) The other one I always enjoy reading and perusing over is The Hungry Australian written by Christina. She always seems to have a million things going on at once (running Eat Drink Blog conferences, the food blogger hop, writing articles for magazines, being a good mother, wife etc)  but is consistent at posting interesting blog posts with bright, impressive photos and interesting recipes, many with an Asian twist – which is  a winner in my book.

So I pass on the honour to both of you. Congratulations.

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The rules to accept this award:

1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
5. You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

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Yes – that’s right – there are stars to collect! Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once – this award is different! When you begin you will receive the ‘1 star’ award – and every time you are given the award by another blog – you can add another star! There are a total of 6 stars to collect. Which means that you can check out your favourite blogs – and even if they have already been given the award by someone else – you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

We all love potatoes right? So I thought that a new way to cook them might appeal to you all, hence the curried potatoes recipe below. I am sure I am not alone in saying that potatoes and rice are the two staples that you will always find in households, so if you want to cook an easy, cheap and quick supper making this dish, along side a dal for example, makes a really filling and tasty supper/lunch.

Curried Potatoes

Serves 4

2 tbsp mustard oil (or vegetable oil if you don’t have mustard oil)

500g small potatoes (I use Charlotte, but new would be good too)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 onion, finely chopped

1 green chilli, chopped in half

4 inch piece cinnamon bark, broken into pieces

3 curry leaves

2 cloves

1 tsp turmeric

150 ml water

1 tbsp yoghurt

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt (to taste)

1. Boil the potatoes until they are softened – this will take around 10 minutes. Drain and place to one side.

2. In a pan gently heat up the mustard oil and when it is hot add the mustard seeds and stir for 10 seconds, then add the chilli, cloves, salt, sugar, cinnamon bark and curry leaves and stir once again.

3. Add the onion to the pan and stir into the spices. When they have softened and begin to bronze add the turmeric followed by the potatoes and stir in together so that they are properly coated in the spices.

4. Place the water and yoghurt in the pan and gently simmer  with the lid on until the water has almost completely been absorbed.

Serve immediately with some Indian bread, such as luchi or paratha. It would also go very well with a cinnamon and ginger dal


Indian Sprout and Carrot Curry

Sprouts divide opinion amongst the masses and my guess would be that the pendulum would swing more towards those that don’t like them than do. I think this is largely due to the boiled, overcooked way that we had them in school growing up. Overcooked sprouts are really not that exciting for the palate right?

However, over the years people have begun to be a little more inventive on how to prepare these little winter delicacies, the most ubiquitous being to serve them with chestnuts and pancetta or bacon. Only last week, when I had sprouts on the brain, and was thinking about posting my sprout recipe,  I received this wonderful blog post in my inbox from the food blog ‘Garum Factory‘. If you have not come across this blog before I highly recommend you take a peek and follow them. Run by married US couple Ken (journalist, photographer and home cook ) and Judy (professional chef and restaurant owner) they offer a wonderful array of  recipes, narrative  and eye catching photos that really make you very hungry by the time you have finished reading the post. They had posted a fabulous sprout recipe, with an original new twist that will definitely appeal to a wide audience and one that I will definitely be cooking over the next few months.

To continue with the sprout theme, since it’s the season and all, I wanted to show you an Indian sprout and carrot curry. My mother-in-law cooked it for me years ago and I recall the first time I ate it, I couldn’t identify the vegetable being sprouts initially. Shame on me I know, but you’ll see what I mean when you cook it! I know I sound like a stuck record on this blog but it really is absolutely delicious, takes no time to make and only requires a few ingredients (see photo below). If you cook it alongside a dal it makes a perfect vegetarian meal.  Go on, be bold, and give it a try – you might even surprise yourself and like sprouts by the end of it. I am sure I will be able to convert a few of you at least…..leave a comment below and let me know.

Indian Sprout and Carrot Curry

Serves 4

325g sprouts, finely sliced

300g carrots, grated

1 green chilli, finely sliced (optional)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 level tsp turmeric

1 tsp nigella seeds (kalo jeera)

1 tsp salt

100ml water

1. Finely slice the sprouts, grate the carrots and, if using, finely chop the chilli. I tend to leave the seeds in, but to make it less spicy just remove the seeds.

2. Heat a pan with oil and add the nigella seeds. After 10 seconds add the chilli and turmeric and stir in together for a further 10 seconds.

3. Add the sprouts and carrots and stir well with the other ingredients. Continue to stir continuously on a medium heat so that the carrots and sprouts soften and do not burn. Use a wooden spoon to press down on the ingredients as you gently stir.

4. After a few minutes of stirring add 50ml of water and stir into the curry. You may find that you do not need to use the remaining 50ml of water if the sprouts and carrots are sufficiently softened. Add the salt to taste. Continue stirring for a further 5-7 minutes and the dish will be done.

Nigella seeds (above)

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Mung Bean and Cumin Dal and Durga Puja Festivities

This past weekend has been one of celebration as it was Durga Puja. For Bengali Hindus (my husband’s side of the family) Durga Puja is the biggest religious festival in the Hindu calender. In Kolkata, which is the heart of Bengal, I am told it is taken to another level altogether, when families feast, dance and pray to the goddess Durga – the conquerer of good over evil and the mother of the universe, as well as her children: Ganesh, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kartik. Schools close and everyone takes time off work to celebrate.

The statue of goddess Durga on her lion fighting the demon Mahishasura in the Hounslow Pandal

Tooting Goddess Durga 

The making of the statues is a hugely lucrative business in India and at the end of the six day festival the statues are ceremoniously carried to the Ganges and left to drift away and be reabsorbed into the Ganges. The statutes themselves are made of straw and mud from the Ganges and then glazed with paint to give them that glossy shine; the craftsmanship and detail never ceases to impress me.

There are thousands of Durga Puja pandals, which are basically huge structures housing the goddess and her children, erected all over the different Kolkata neighbourhoods. It’s all hugely competitive and each pandal competes for attention in beauty and innovation. I visited two different ones in London – one in Tooting and the other in Hounslow and both were very spectacular in terms of colour and design, the latter I know had been shipped from Kolkata.

Ganesh – one of Durga’s offspring in the Hounslow Pandal

The banging of the drums, the blowing of the conch shell, the incense, the chanting of the prays and hustle and bustle of people coming and going really transports you to India. It’s all rather frenetic and yet very warm and inviting at the same time. In the Hounslow pandal alone thousands of visitors came and went over the course of a few days. Catering for that number must be rather daunting but I was very impressed by the taste and quality of the food and the fact that it was all hot. It was the longest queue for food I have ever witnessed, but it moved quickly and before long we were given a plate of tasty vegetarian food.

Some vegetarian cuisine given to those who attended the Hounslow puja in London

Back at home I have been cooking an endless amount of Indian dishes from: methi and pomegranate pork curry to amma’s chicken curry, red lentil dal with spinach, yellow dal with courgette, Bengali fish curry and mung bean and cumin dal.

It is the mung bean dal recipe that I wanted to share with you all today. Unlike red split lentil and some yellow dal it does require a little more forward planning as it needs to be soaked, ideally overnight.

It’s delicious, nutritious, cheap to make and other than the soaking of the mung beans, is very straightforward. My mother-in-law makes a completely different tasting mung bean dal, which I will post another time, but to get you started try this one and let me know how you get on. It’s perfect for a week night vegetarian supper.

Mung Bean and Cumin Dal

Serves 4

250g mung beans (also referred to as moong bean), soaked overnight

3 tbsp mustard oil

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

half tsp red chilli powder

half tsp garam masala powder

half tsp cumin powder

1 tsp salt

juice of half a lemon

fresh coriander to serve

1. Place the pre soaked mung beans in a pan and cover with water and gently simmer until softened. This will take around 40 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the oil in a pan and gently fry the cumin seeds for a minute or so until they begin to bronze. Immediately add the onion and mix together with the cumin seeds.

3. When the onions have softened and become translucent add the cumin powder, red chilli powder, turmeric and garam masala and stir together.

4. Drain the mung beans and then transfer them to the pan with the onions and fold in thoroughly. Add the salt and lemon juice and simmer together for a further 5-10 minutes. You may need to add a little more water at this stage.

Whilst it is delicious to eat on its own or with a chapati it is also great to accompany it with a fish, meat or vegetarian curry (see my recipe library) if you wish to make a more substantial Indian feast.

Mung beans soaked overnight

Step 3 above


Lamb Keema Masala – one pot dish

A lot of time has been spent indoors recently due to the unpredictable weather. There is something rather homely and comforting to be inside a warm house as the rain storm causes havoc outside. We’ve had over two weeks of rain, virtually non stop, so I am guessing that the hosepipe ban for the south of England must surely have been lifted or at least close to being lifted. My garden is so lush and green to the extent that it is looking positively tropical.

So when the rain ceased slightly I made a dash for my local ethnic food stores to gather supplies in order to make some tasty dishes for the coming days. Upon returning home laden with exciting vegetables, spices, meats and fish, I decided to prepare Keema Masala for  supper. Keema Masala is in many respects the Asian version of chilli con carne or bolognese, hence it is very straight forward to make. The word ‘keema’ derives from the ancient Turkish word for minced meat and the ‘masala’ is the blend of spices that make up the dish, namely the garam masala.

I tend to eat mine with flat bread or naan and mop it up this way, but eating it with rice is equally pleasurable. I like to compliment the dish with some homemade raita to help balance the spice from the keema masala. It works a treat.

Lamb Keema Masala

Serves 6

1.5kg minced lamb (or beef)

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 and a half red onions, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

3 fresh green chilli, chopped in two

5cm ginger, grated

6 black peppercorns, whole or ground

6 cloves, whole or ground

5 cardamom pods, whole or ground

3 bays leaves

3 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground almonds

2 tbsp tomato puree/or 2 fresh tomatoes chopped

50 ml boiling water

2 tbsp natural yoghurt

handful of fresh coriander to garnish

1. Warm the oil in a pan and then add the onion and garlic. When it begins to darken after 3-5 minutes add the ginger, green chillies black peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves and gently fry all the ingredients for another couple of minutes.

2. Add the remaining spices: ground coriander, turmeric and cumin as well as the garam masala and stir thoroughly and then add the ground almonds and tomato puree/fresh tomatoes along with 50 ml of boiling water.

3. Place the minced lamb into the pan and stir into the fragrant ingredients. When the lamb has become brown add the salt and natural yoghurt. You will need to stir it frequently at this stage so that the mince does not clump together.

4. Leave to simmer for 25 minutes. You can cook it earlier in the day and reheat it when you are ready to eat.

Note: You may find you need to add a very little boiling water when reheating it. 

5. When served garnish with fresh coriander.

Homemade Raita

7 tbsp yoghurt

1/2  cucumber, grated

1/4  tsp salt

3/4  tsp ground cumin

pinch of paprika

pinch of black pepper

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and then place into a small serving bowl.

2. Serve chilled.


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.