Archive for November, 2010

Recipe For Lamb Biryani (Based On Madhur Jaffrey Recipe)

Monday, November 29th, 2010

It has been snowing since last Thursday and the long range forecast indicates that the weather will not get any better for the rest of the week; a gritter has just gone past our house in the snow.  Everywhere looks pretty and white, with that eery muffled peace from the snow and the fact that fewer cars and lorries are out braving the conditions.  Yorkshire had its coldest weekend since records began hitting -14C / 7 F just down the road on Saturday night (lucky I was in Northumberland where it was a balmy -9C / 16F near Corbridge).  It is not really what we need at this time of year as we have lots of orders to complete at work and the transport system goes to pot.  So my mind turns to food and meat biryani.

Biryanis are a delicate, lightly spiced dish that originated from Persia via the Moghul era in India, perhaps in this case (according to Madhur Jaffrey) from the 18th century courts.  I have based my biryani on the amazing recipe Kucchey Gosht Ki Biryani or Moghlai “Raw” Meat Biryani from Madhur Jaffrey’s bible of real curries “Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible” with a little help from Digvijaya Singh’s “Cooking Delights Of The Maharajas“.

Homemade Lamb Biryani

Homemade Lamb Biryani

This biryani is light, delicate and rich.  It reminds me of warm days travelling around India, with fountains playing merry music in the background and peacocks walking and squawking around decadent, decaying gardens.  It is perfectly accompanied by some chutneys and pickles and a light green salad.

For the meat:

600g / generous 1¼ lb lamb steaks
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
6 green cardamom pods
3 organic Fairtrade cloves
3cm / 1 inch cinnamon quill (roughly half a normal stick with the other half used later; also do not use cassia as that gives wrong flavour profile)
¼ tsp sea salt
1cm /½ inch fresh ginger, finely grated
500g / 1½ cup natural yoghurt (use Greek style as that seems to work the best)

For the biryani:

1tsp saffron threads, soaked in 4tbsp cold water
400 ml / 1¾ cups basmati rice
½ medium onion, finely chopped
3tbsp ghee or sunflower oil
8 dried apricots, chopped into quarters
3cm / 1 inch cinnamon quill
whole green cardamom pods, opened by crushing or with fingers
2 cloves
250ml / ½ pint / 1 cup full fat milk

Slice the meat into thin pasanda strips, i.e. 1cm x 3cm squares (½ inch x 1½ inch).  Grind the cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon in a pestle and mortar or a clean coffee grinder to as fine a powder as possible.  Put the yoghurt into a large bowl, to which you should add the dry spices and salt.  Next add the freshly grated ginger and garlic and mix well.  To this marinade, add the lamb pasandas and leave to marinade in a fridge for at least 3 hours, or ideally overnight.  It is a good thing to do on a Friday or Saturday night so you can enjoy a really delicate biryani on the next day.

Lamb Cut Into Pasandas

Lamb Cut Into Pasandas

Marinade The Lamb Pasandas

Marinade The Lamb Pasandas

Crush the saffron in a price of foil – fold foil over some saffron and then crush it with a rolling pin.  Place the crushed saffron in a cup and steep in cold water for about 4 hours.  Strain out the saffron threads with a tea strainer before using.

Let The Saffron Steep In Cold Water

Let The Saffron Steep In Cold Water

Wash the rice in several changes of water, drain and then leave to soak in water that covers it for 2 – 3 hours.  Drain before cooking.

In a frying pan, heat the ghee and fry the onions until golden brown.  When complete, lift out with slotted spoon and set aside on a plate to cool; leave ghee to cool for a few minutes before using in next step.  In a separate pan, add onion flavoured ghee and line the base of the pan with the meat and its marinade and sprinkle the fried onions and chopped apricots over this.

Fry The Onions In Ghee

Fry The Onions In Ghee

Put The Marinaded Lamb In A Casserole Pot And Sprinkle Over With Fried Onions And Chopped Apricot

Put The Marinaded Lamb In A Casserole Pot And Sprinkle Over With Fried Onions And Chopped Apricots

Put the oven on to 160C / 320F.

Cinnamon And Spice For Rice

Cinnamon And Spice For Rice

Pour 3 litres / 5¼ pints of water into a large pan.  Add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, then bring to the boil.  Add the drained rice and bring back to the boil.  Boil for 3 minutes, then drain.  Quickly spread half the rice over the meat, then sprinkle the saffron water over the rice.  Spread the remaining rice over the rice already in the dish.  Pour over the milk.

Now the key is to seal the casserole dish completely as all the liquid is now in the pot.  Cover the pan with a layer of foil and gently bring to the boil over a medium heat.  Immediately steam comes out the sides of the foil, take the pot off the heat, fold the foil over the edges and then put the pan lid on top of that.

Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 2 hours.  Just before serving, stir the rice and meat together but gently as it is all very soft by now.

Moghlai Lamb Biryani

Moghlai Lamb Biryani

Rich Hot Chocolate Recipe

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I have been trying to create a hot chocolate product at Steenbergs and as part of my research I came up with this really rich hot chocolate recipe.  This Hot Chocolate Recipe is something to relax with and enjoy at home, since Sophie calls it “a hug in a mug”.  It is, however, probably impossible to commercialise as any attempt to dumb it down will make the whole experience cheap and less luxurious.

Homemade Rich Hot Chocolate

Homemade Rich Hot Chocolate

Recipe For Rich Hot Chocolate Drink

575ml /1 pint / 2½ cups full fat milk
60ml / ¼ cup water
60g / 2 oz / ¾ cup good quality Fairtrade caster sugar (not your plain white stuff)
100g / 3½ oz dark Fairtrade chocolate (I use one bar of Divine chocolate)

In a bowl over boiling water, melt the chocolate bar, then switch off the heat but leave over the hot water.

Put the milk and water into a pan and bring to the boil.  Just as the first bubbles appear at the edges, take the pan off the heat.  Add the caster sugar and stir in until dissolved.

Add the chocolate and stir in; reheat the mixture until it just starts to bubble again. 

Take it off the heat, then whisk quickly with a hand whisk for about 1 minute.  Pour into 2 or 3 mugs, sit back and enjoy.

Recipe For German Stollen

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

My mother is German, our family coming originally from Eastern Germany; in fact, my maternal great great grandfather’s family were from even further east in modern Poland, being a headmaster for a school in Gdansk

Slices Of Homemade Stollen

Slices Of Homemade Stollen

As a result, one of my favourite treats has always been stollen and lebkuchen which my grandmother used to send us from Lebkuchen Schmidt in Nurnburg.  Everything came in gorgeous decorated tins or beautifully covered in pretty wrapping. It really was one of those magical things about my Christmases when I was young, but the mystery has gone a bit now that you can buy versions from Marks & Spencer through to Lidl, even if the quality just is not there; in the same way, Niederegger marzipan was a special treat, yet is now ubiquitous, and we used to get a 10 inch bar covered in chocolate, from which we used to cut off small slices to eat like manna.  As I said earlier, ours used to come from Lebkuchen Schmidt and I have treated myself to a pack this year, so fingers crossed that will arrive by Christmas (the wonders of the world wide web and its power to connect).

But I really felt that I could/ should have a crack at making homemade stollen as, unlike the lebkuchen, this is something (a) I ought to be able to make; (b) the treat factor in stollen is less great.   For reference, I used three books: Delia Smith’s “Christmas”, Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter’s “Bread” and my other favourite Elisabeth Luard’s “European Peasant Cookery”, with ”Bread” used as the key recipe.  Interestingly, modern stollen (or shop bought stollen) has morphed into a relatively dry, sweet fruit cake with some marzipan in it and smothered in icing sugar (nor is it a rich fruit cake like Christmas cake or Yorkshire brack, but quite plain), which is not the real thing which should be an enriched bread; the best locally made stollen cake comes from Bettys & Taylors, which is worth treating yourself to. 

Recipe For German Stollen
 
75g / 3oz / ½ cup organic sultanas
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup organic currants
3tbsp strong black tea or Steenbergs Christmas chai
375g / 13oz / 3¼ cup strong bread flour
Pinch sea salt
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup Fairtrade caster sugar
1tsp Steenbergs stollen spice (or ¼ tsp ground cardamom, ¼ tsp allspice powder and ½ tsp cinnamon powder)
40g / 1½ oz fresh yeast (or half the amount of dried yeast)
120ml / 4fl oz / ½ cup lukewarm full milk
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
55g / 2oz / ⅔ cup organic mixed peel
50g / 2oz / ⅓ cup blanched whole almonds, chopped roughly
Melted butter, for dusting
Icing sugar for dusting

For the marzipan: 

115g / 4oz / 1 cup organic ground almonds
50g / 2 oz / ¼ cup organic Fairtrade caster sugar
50g / 2oz / ¼ cup organic icing sugar
½ tsp natural almond extract
½ tsp lemon juice
½ medium egg, lightly beaten

Weigh out the organic sultanas and currants, then sprinkle the tea over these and leave to soak up the liquid until you need them later.  Sift the bread flour and salt together into a large bowl, then add the sugar and stollen spices and mix thoroughly together.

Tip In The Stollen Spice Mix

Tip In The Stollen Spice Mix

Put the yeast into a small bowl and pour over the lukewarm milk, breaking up the yeast with a fork and mixing to a creamy emulsion.  Make a well in the flour and pour the yeast mix into this and cover the liquid over with a bit of flour.  Cover the bowl with some cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.  This stage gets the yeast active and growing.

Leave The Yeast To Start Dividing

Leave The Yeast To Get Active

Next, we make the rich bread batter.  Add the melted butter and whisked egg and mix together to a soft dough.  Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough has a smooth, elastic texture.  Put the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise.  This will take 2 – 3 hours and you are after it doubling in size; I left mine close to a warm fire and it doubled in about 1 hour, but be careful about the warmth as the ideal temperature is about 37C, i.e. human body temperature – too low and it will expand slowly, but if it gets too hot, you will kill off the yeast (that is also why the milk should be tepid or touch tepid).

Add The Melted Butter And Whisked Egg To The Bread Batter

Add The Melted Butter And Whisked Egg To The Bread Batter

Knead The Enriched Dough

Knead The Enriched Dough

While the dough is rising, you should make the marzipan.  This is one of those mega-simple recipes where you simply mix all the ingredients together and knead to a soft, smooth paste.  When made, put in the fridge until you need it. 

When the dough has risen sufficiently, take the marzipan out of the fridge, then tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch (knock back) the risen flour.  Flatten and roll the dough to 1 inch thick;. pour over the sultanas, currants, mixed peel and chopped almonds.  Fold over the dough and press and gently knead the dough until all the fruits have become incorporated.  Now roll out the dough to an oval shape about a foot long (30 x 23cm / 12 x 9 inches), then slightly depress the centre with the rolling pin to make it thinner like a crease on a card.  Roll the marzipan to a long thin sausage shape and place it into the slight depression on the dough, leaving a short space at either end.  Fold over the dough, so that it covers the marzipan and gently seal the edges. 
 
Place The Marzipan Roll On The Dough

Place The Marzipan Roll On The Dough

Place the loaf on a prepared baking tin that has been lightly oiled and cover with some oiled clingfilm.  Leave in a warm place to rise to double the volume again, which should take about 60 minutes.
Prepared Loaf Ready For Second Rising

Prepared Loaf Ready For Second Rising

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F.  Bake the stollen loaf for about 30 minutes until it is brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.  While warm, brush the surface with some melted butter and leave to cool.  When cool, dust it with icing sugar. 

Sprinkle Icing Sugar Over The Baked Stollen

Sprinkle Icing Sugar Over The Baked Stollen

 

Two Mugs Given As Presents

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

It was my birthday recently and  I had cheesecake for my birthday cake, which was a great idea.  I was, also, given two mugs by my children: on the first was written “My train of thought was 15 minutes late” and on the second “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes…I’m thinking of making a few more”.

Both of these seem to sum up two of the underlying themes of my thoughts and ideas over the last 10 or so years.  However, my riposte would be that at least my trains of thought do come in and I am still thinking about things, while mistakes only arise because I keep trying out new things and ways of looking at the world.  Who knows, one of these days the train of thought might be correct and come in on time or even early!

Traditional Mincemeat Recipe

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

I am winning with Christmas food preparations this year, which seems unbelievable considering how little time I seem to have to do anything at the moment;. I am running about one week behind last year.  However, as a man who cooks, I do actually find baking strangely therapeutic and calming at the weekend.  I think it gives me some peace and quiet, allowing my thoughts to settle themselves down after a hectic week at Steenbergs, and this week has been one of those business nightmare weeks.

So Christmas cake was baked 2 weekends ago, Christmas pudding last weekend and this weekend I have made a new batch of mincemeat.  I always make a mammoth sized Christmas cake and extra Christmas puds, giving one to my parents and another to some great friends of ours, both of whom deserve just a little something for their help during the year.  As for the mincemeat, I have usually made one that does not include any sugar as I feel the dried fruit, apple and juices are usually sweet enough, however after some gentle prompting last year, I thought I would try a more traditional version and add some sugar, which is what I did this morning. 

Basically, it is my normal mincemeat recipe with the addition of 250g / 8oz dark molasses sugar from Billingtons crumbled into it and a reduced amount of apple as it seems to ferment a little over time.  Still simple and easy, so my old recipe is now called the “No Added Sugar Mincemeat Recipe” and this will become our “Traditional Mincemeat” recipe.  It really is worth the effort making this as it is really just a case of chucking some ingredients together and leaving to develop flavour over the short time to Christmas.

Ingredients 

175g/ 6oz raisins (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
175g/ 6oz sultanas (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
250g/ 8oz currants (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
85g/ 3oz chopped mixed peel
85g/ 3oz flaked almonds, toasted
125g/ 4oz eating apples (Cox’s are good), cored and chopped but not peeled
125g/ 4oz shredded suet (I  use Community Wholefood’s vegetarian suet, but Atora also do one)
250g / 8oz dark muscovado sugar  (Organic and/or Fairtrade if possible)
1tsp organic Fairtrade nutmeg powder
½ tsp allspice powder
½ rounded tsp organic Fairtrade cinnamon powder
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange (or 50:50 orange and lemon)
75ml/ 1/8 pint “good” whisky or brandy (I use Bruichladdich from Islay)

1.  If possible, use organic ingredients and/or Fairtrade ingredients, as they are good for the environment and the communities that grow the crops.

2.  Simply mix all the ingredients together and seal in a large tub, or ideally a bucket with a lid.

Ingredients For Mincemeat Weighed Out

Ingredients For Mincemeat Weighed Out

Mix The Dark Muscovado Sugar Into The Fruit And Nuts

Mix The Dark Muscovado Sugar Into The Fruit And Nuts

Traditional Mincemeat All Mixed Up

Traditional Mincemeat All Mixed Up

3.  Stir it once or twice in the maturation period – at the end of November and maybe mid December.  Pot it up into a couple of good sized Kilner-style jars on or about the 20th December.

4.  It lasts for a good 2 – 3 years, so don’t worry if you haven’t used it all in one Christmas period.  It is good to use in baked apples or to make a quick mincemeat tart for pudding anytime in the year.

Two Simple Recipes For Chocolate Puds – Chocolate Mousse (Part 2)

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Even better than Chocolate Rice Pudding in terms of return on effort is a quick and simple chocolate mousse, which always seems to get a big thumbs up from whoever tastes it, even though it is perhaps one of the simplest things to make.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Basically, it is a bit of melted chocolate, some cream and eggs and there you have it; you actually do not really need the gelatine, but I once had a disaster making this when it did not set very quickly, so I add the gelatine more as a safety measure than a necessity.  It is, also, really flexible as a recipe, so you can play around with the flavours to the base recipe used, such as you could change orange blossom to rose water, orange oil, vanilla extract or brandy or just leave it out altogether, then you can decorate the top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or homemade caramel pieces.

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse

Some Ingredients For Easy Peasy Chocolate Pud

Some Ingredients For Easy Peasy Chocolate Pud

2 x 100g bars of chocolate – 1 dark and 1 milk chocolate
2 level tablespoons caster sugar
6 tbsp double cream
4 eggs, at room temperature seperated between yolks and whites
3 tsp orange flower water (or rose water or just water)
1 tsp gelatine

Firstly separate the egg yolks and whites.  Lightly whisk the egg yolks together and leave the egg whites until later.

Put the orange flower water or water into a small ramekin and sprinkle the gelatine over this.  Leave to be fully absorbed.

Break all of the dark chocolate bar (that is the whole 100g) into a heat proof glass mixing bowl and all but the last row of segments on the milk chocolate bar (that is 80g of milk chocolate).  Melt these over a pan of boiling water, mixing the two flavours together.  Leave to cool until just warm to touch.

Break Up The Chocolate Into Pieces

Break Up The Chocolate Into Pieces

Melt The Two Chocolates Over Boiling Water

Melt The Two Chocolates Over Boiling Water

When cool, add the double cream to the double chocolate and mix in thoroughly.  Place the ramekin of gelatine into a small pan of water to half way up the side of the ramekin, then bring the water gently to a boil watching for the gelatine to be fully melted, or as I do simply place ramekin in the hot water used to melt the chocolate and it will melt in that even as it cools down.  Add the gelatine to the chocolate mix and gently whisk through so fully mixed in.

Stir In Some Double Cream

Stir In Some Double Cream

Stir In Egg Yolks

Stir In Egg Yolks

Now, whisk the egg whites until a soft peak, then fold into the chocolate.  Put the mousse into ramekins or wine glasses to look pretty.  Leave to set and cool for at least 30 minutes.

Whisk the Egg Whites

Whisk the Egg Whites

Fold The Whisked Egg Whites Into The Chocolate Mixture

Fold The Whisked Egg Whites Into The Chocolate Mixture

Pour The Chocolate Mousse Mixture Into Glass Ramekins Or Bowls

Pour The Chocolate Mousse Mixture Into Glass Ramekins Or Bowls

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse

Easy Peasy Chocolate Mousse

Serve with whipped cream and grate over the remaining milk chocolate over this.

Two Recipes For Simple Chocolate Puds – Chocolate Rice Pudding (Part 1)

Monday, November 8th, 2010

This recipe for Chocolate Rice Pudding was inspired by reading a blog by Helen Best-Shaw of Fuss Free Flavours fame, who wrote a recipe for Chocolate Risotto with Peaches.  I was intrigued by the concept, especially having just made the Indian Tea Infused Rice Pudding for Diwali.  So here is my version, which is slightly different from Helen’s version although hers still sounds better than mine.  Neither recipe is done any favours by the photography as this is not a photogenic pudding, even though it tastes fabulous.

As a recipe, it calls like many things for some patience and care in the making, as the milk can boil over, the rice can stick to the pan and the sweetness will be variable depending on the chocolate used.  Also, you can eat it hot or cold; I am not a fan of cold rice pudding, but lots of people are, so why not make extra and take it to work for sneaky packed lunch treats.  Chocolate Rice Pudding is fairly versatile – you can serve it as showy dinner party food by putting it neatly into glass bowls, then topping off with some whipped cream and shavings of chocolate, or serve warm as a homely winter warming treat.

All in all it is rich and delicious, so thanks Helen for the inspiration.  It reminds me of one of mainstays for a quick and easy pudding, East Peasy Chocolate Mousse.

Recipe For Chocolate Rice Pudding

200g / 7oz dark chocolate
600ml / 1 pint full fat milk
100g / ½ cup pudding rice (Arborio rice)
2½ heaped tablespoons light muscovado sugar
30g  / 1oz / 2 tbsp butter (ideally use unsalted butter, but you should then add a pinch of salt to the milk)
42½g / 1½ oz / 2tbsp raisins

Break the chocolate into a bowl and melt over a pan of boiling water.  Leave to cool down on top of the still warm water, but obviously off the hob.

Break Up The Chocolate And Put Into Bowl

Break Up The Chocolate And Put Into Bowl

Melt The Chocolate Over A Pan Of Boiling Water

Melt The Chocolate Over A Pan Of Boiling Water

Add the milk to a heavy bottomed pan, together with the pudding rice and sugar (and a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter).  Heat up to a gentle simmer, stirring all the time.  Then let simmer for 25 – 30 minutes, but check it and stir it regularly as the milk can boil over, the rice can stick to the base and different rice will cook at differing rates.  It should cook through to a nice al dente texture with this amount of milk, but if needed, simply top it up.

When cooked, take it off the hob, add the butter and stir this through.  Now add the melted chocolate and raisins and mix these through.  Check the sweetness and if you feel it needs it, add some more sugar; there is a lot of variation in the sweetness of bars of chocolate that you might want to use, as well as peoples’ taste buds.

Stir In the Butter To The Cooked Pudding Rice

Stir In the Butter To The Cooked Pudding Rice

Mix In The Melted Chocolate And Raisins

Mix In The Melted Chocolate And Raisins

Leave to cool and serve cold, or reheat and have it warm.  If serving cold, serve in glass bowls topped with whipped cream and some shavings of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Rice Pudding

Chocolate Rice Pudding

Recipe For Tea Infused Indian Rice Pudding

Saturday, November 6th, 2010
Indian Rice Pudding

Indian Rice Pudding

For pudding with my Imperial Korma, I made Indian Rice Pudding.  I love rice pudding and I love the Indian versions, especially Pal Payasam which is the traditional Keralan recipe; these use basmati rice which has a firmer mouth-feel than arborio rice, which is used for a typical English rice puds. 

In Kerala, you would flavour it with cashews as they are grown all over Kerala, including by my friends at Elements Homestead; however, the other day I did not have any cashews to hand so I used flaked almonds which worked really well (cashews are rarely in our storecupboard, but almonds always are).

As it is an Indian rice pudding, I wanted to add an extra flavour element to the rice pudding and decided to infuse the milk with tea and I actually used one of our chai teas, which I make using a Keralan black tea from the POABS Estates near Nelliyampathy together with Fairtrade spices that are indigenous to the region.  You do not need to use a chai tea (or tea at all for that matter), but I suggest you should use light and flowery teas rather than strong ones, so a Nilgiri Black Tea or a Fine Darjeeling would work well, but I do not think a malty Assam or Kenyan tea would be right as those flavours will come through too strongly.

Axel’s Tea Infused Indian Rice Pudding

½tsp green cardamom powder
2tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
2tbsp flaked almonds
2tbsp raisins
100g / 3½ oz basmati rice
600ml / 1 pint full fat milk
1tsp Indian tea (optional)
100g / 3½ oz light muscovado sugar

Heat the ghee/butter in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the almonds and raisins until the raisins have swollen up.  Remove from the hot oil and drain almonds and raisins on kitchen paper and keep to the side; keep the oil in the pan but off the heat.

In a milk pan, warm the milk to just below boiling point; you will see bubbles just appear at the edge of the milk just by the pan edge.  Take off the heat and add the tea to the milk, stir in and leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then strain out the tea leaves by pouring the milk through a sieve. 

Wash and drain the rice twice.  In the saucepan, reheat the ghee/butter and lightly fry the basmati rice for about 1 minute being careful not to let it stick or burn.  Add the tea-infused milk and stir into the rice; heat to just below boiling point, stirring all the time to stop it sticking on the base of the pan and so burning.

When the rice is nearly cooked with an al dente bite, add the sugar and stir it in until it has dissolved and the rice is throughly cooked.  Add the fried almonds, raisins and cardamom powder, stir right through and gently cook for about 2 minutes longer.

Serve hot, with cream or milk if you want.

A Journey Back To True Korma Recipes (Part 2) – Banquet Style Korma

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Since my blog the other week, I have looked further into the concept and style of traditional korma recipes and have found them a fascinating social history and felt that a korma would be ideal for Diwali.  They seem to be a fusion recipe in the first place, so when Islam swept through Northern India and the Mughal Emperors became rulers of much of India with many smaller Princely States also being Islamic, they turned Westwards to Shiraz and the Royal Courts of Persia for inspiration in the arts and cuisine.  So korma morphed from a Persian style of food into an Indian cuisine, influenced by the nuances, tastes and flavours of the local culture and palates.

It is a showy style of food, which includes the more exclusive and so expensive spices and dried fruits and nuts.  We may not think of these as rich foods, but (at this time of year) think of Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mincemeat - they are heavily spiced and full of dried fruits and nuts, all of which were expensive and exclusive ingredients for a feast day.  So it felt just ideal to make this korma for Diwali, Axel’s Diwali Korma, followed by a party-style Tea Infused Indian Rice Pudding, which will follow in a later blog.

So I took two recipes that read well and gave me the feeling that they would be good, then I adjusted the seasonings from grams to teaspoons and lowered the salt level, coming up with my own version of a true Imperial korma recipe.  My version is very light on chilli heat as I cook for our family, but you can tweak and adjust the level of heat to whatever you wish, but remember this is not a hot curry but a spiced and rich meal, so better to have a small bowl with fresh chillis in it for everyone to increase the heat themselves to suit their tastes rather than change the balance of the spice blend.  The key is adding saffron water at the end to add more liquid to the largely dried out yoghurt as well as to give my korma a rich intensity.

Adapted from Korma Asafjahi from Nizam of Hyderabad and Korma Shirazi from”Cooking delights Of The Maharajas” by Digvijaya Singh.

500g /1 lb lamb, chopped into 2cm / ½ inch dice
70g / 2½ oz ghee, sunflower or vegetable oil
25g / 1 oz flaked almonds
25g / 1 oz dried apricots, chopped into raisin sized pieces
12g / ½ oz raisins, soaked in water
5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ medium onion, chopped finely
2cm/ ½ inch  fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
1½ tsp paprika
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp ground green cardamom
1½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1 green chilli, finely chopped and without seeds (optional, plus more if you want more heat)
Pinch of saffron, diluted in water*
300g / ½ lb thick yoghurt
4 eggs, hard boiled then cut into halves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.  Meaures out the spices and mix them together.

Korma Spices Measured Out

Korma Spices Measured Out

Onions, Ginger And Garlic

Onions, Ginger And Garlic

In a frying pan, heat half the ghee until hot, add the lamb pieces and fry quickly on a high heat until fully sealed.  Take off the heat and keep to the side.

Seal The Lamb By Frying In Ghee

Seal The Lamb By Frying In Ghee

In a separate casserole pot, heat the remaining ghee.  Fry the almonds and raisins separately to a golden colour and then set aside.  In the same ghee, fry the chopped onions, garlic and fresh ginger until golden brown, then add the spices and sugar and fry for 1 minute; add 2 tablespoons of water and cook until the water has dried up. 

Lightly Fried Almonds, Apricots and Raisins

Lightly Fried Almonds, Apricots and Raisins

Fry The Onions, Then Add The Spices And Fry Together

Fry The Onions, Then Add The Spices And Fry Together

Add the lamb to the onion-spice mix and stir.  Now add the yoghurt, stir well and cook until simmering, then place into oven for 1 hour, or (if cooking on hob) reduce the heat and cook for 1 hour, stirring occassionally to ensure the mix does not stick on the base of the pan.

Cook The Lamb In The Korma Sauce

Cook The Lamb In The Korma Sauce

When the meat is tender, add the almonds, apricots and raisins and stir quickly and cook for 1 minute at medium heat.  Finally, add the saffron infused water and coriander leaves, stir and cook for another 4 minutes on a low heat.

Lamb Korma

Lamb Korma

Imperial Style Korma Curry

Imperial Style Korma Curry

Serve immediately, decorated with the sliced eggs.  We ate ours with chana masala and homemade naan bread, which I am still experimenting with – this version was a bit heavy and thick, but was a much better recipe than the last which was way too yeasty.

* For an Imperial and more Arabian style flavour, infuse the saffron in 30ml of rose water.  Our kids do not like the flavour of rose water in their meat so we skip that added flavour.

Review Of Food Blogs For October 2010 (continued)

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Continuing from the first part of my review of blogs, at Not Without Salt Ashley has been making Homemade Honey Roasted Peanut Butter, which sounds so easy and is something I would never have thought of making, like making Homemade Nutella, which seem to be just timeless purchasing items.  How terrible and consumerist we have all become.  And her Pumpkin Rice Pudding recipe is perfect and will solve the pumpkin problem next autumn, plus also (as you will find out over next week) I have been going through a rice pudding phase myself and need to write up my efforts.

While at Orangette, Molly Wizenberg made a gorgeous sounding Rustic Plum Tart with a so simple pastry; I like plum tarts and cakes but only ever seem to buy them and never get round to making them myself, which seems strange, perhaps one day soon, perhaps?  And Gazpacho is another thing I have never made, so you never just never know.  The use of heirloom tomatoes and the bite of the sherry vinegar sound like a lovely combination – sweet and sour.

Ree at The Pioneer Woman Cooks has come up with an amazing twist on sweet potatoes, which I like to add into mash to give an extra dimension, but she has made a soulful pudding with them by making the sweet potato into a custard style filling and then covering them with a full on pecan crumble crust.  Now that’s different and I am truly intrigued by it.  I love the rich umami depth of Beef With Snow Peas which is a classic stir fried beef recipe that anyone can make at home; I like this sort of dish with some soy sauce infused with Birds Eye Chillis close to hand to dip the beef into.  Then there is Creamy Cheese Grits With Chili which are a real American piece of cuisine and are a great alternative to potatoes, like pap in South Africa or polenta in Italy, and what better to finish off with that Ree’s classic Skillet Cornbread recipe.  Well, there is one thing, she provides a link to an older recipe called Tres Leches Cake, which sounds a must – rich, moist and sweet…what more do you need in a home made cake.

While Luisa Weiss at The Wednesday Chef makes an intriguing sounding Soft Zucchini, Harissa, Feta and Olive recipe.  At Wild Yeast, Susan has been making soudough recipes with two catching my eye – Bread Crumb Sourdough and Soft Semolina Sourdough.