Posts Tagged ‘curry’

My Take On The Modern British Balti – A Recipe For Balti Masala

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

On Thursday, I was at home sorting out some domestic chores with some builders and my mind wandered to food and more specifically curry.  I craved a great balti, so I whipped one up, together with some dhal.

The balti is now a modern classic curry that came out of traditional curries from Northern Pakistan and was nurtured and loved within the Birmingham restaurant scene.  It is an inexpensive and simple way of making a curry once you know how.  Also, it fits well into the stir-fry & wok scene, so while not strictly fusion food it does cross-over nicely between the Chinese cooking styles and curry culture up here in the North. 

I love it because of its sheer flexibility – effectively you make up a sauce that is chocka with vegetables and add your meat to this. 

And of course while here we have made the masala mixes from scratch you can buy a balti masala curry mix or make your own and store it and seriously cut back the amount of thinking time to create a balanced meal.  We tend to eat ours with dhal – in fact we are always eating dhal and pureed pulses with everything – and mop it all up with naan bread. 

Stage 1: the smooth Balti tomato sauce

2tbsp butter, or ghee
1 medium onion (125g / 4½oz), roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2tsp freshly grated ginger
½tsp cumin seeds
½tsp coriander seeds
¼tsp fennel seeds
½ – 1tsp chilli powder (you could replace this for a fresh green chilli, deseeded)
½tsp Fairtrade turmeric
125g / 4½oz chopped tomatoes

The first stage is to make the balti tomato sauce.  In a heavy bottomed pan, dry roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds for about 2 minutes, then take out of the pan and put on a cool plate.

Smooth Balti Tomato Sauce

Smooth Balti Tomato Sauce

Now add the butter (or ghee for a richer balti) to a heavy bottomed pan and heat to sizzling hot.  Add then stir fry the onion and garlic until translucent which will take about 4 – 5 minutes.  Add the fresh ginger and stir once.  Add the toasted spices and the spice powder and stir these in, turning for about half a minute, making sure it does not stick to the pan.  Finally add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Blitz the sauce either with a hand held blender or take out and pulse in a Magimix until smooth.  Return to the pan and keep on a very low heat with the lid on.

Stage 2: the Balti stir fry

3tbsp sunflower oil
500g / 1lb 2oz chicken breast, cut into 2cm x 2cm cubes
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
1 – 2 green chillis, deseeded, halved and thinly sliced (we have 1 chilli to keep heat lower)
100g / 4oz spring onions (or 150g / 5oz normal onions)
200g / 7oz button mushrooms, chopped in half
½tsp cumin powder
1tsp paprika
¼tsp fenugreek powder
1tsp turmeric
¼tsp cinnamon powder
¼tsp cardamom powder
2tbsp chopped tomatoes
1tsp Steenbergs garam masala
100ml / 3½ fl oz / ½ cup water
Handful chopped fresh coriander leaves

Heat the oven to 100C / 212F.  Add half of the sunflower oil to a wok and heat until smoking hot.  Stir fry the chicken cubes in batches until sealed.  Put the cooked chicken pieces into the warmed oven.  When complete, clean the wok.  While frying the chicken, measure out and mix the ground spices together. 

Stir Fry The Chopped Vegetables

Stir Fry The Chopped Vegetables

Add the remainder of the sunflower oil to the wok and heat until hot and smoking.  Add the red and green peppers, green chilli and button mushrooms and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, making sure it does not burn and is fried well.  Tip in the mixed spices and stir through twice, then add the smooth Balti tomato sauce and mix in, plus the tablespoons of chopped tomatoes.  Heat until simmering, then add the water and reheat to a simmer, mixing all together.  Cook on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken pieces and mix together.  Add the garam masala.  Cook for a further 10 minutes.  About 2 minutes before the end add the chopped fresh coriander and stir through.

Axel's Balti Served Outside

Axel's Balti Served Outside

Serve hot with naan, plus we like dhal with it.

Recipe For Vegan Tofu And Coconut Curry

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Continuing with our vegetarian fest after a successful week during National Vegetarian Week, I was craving a spicy curry that the kids would enjoy but would also be vegetarian – they are beginning to want some meat, but are just about hanging in there.  I came up with this quick and simple recipe for Tofu & Coconut Milk Curry, which we ate with plain boiled rice and red lentil dhal, plus poppadoms.  It is versatile so you can change the tofu for other vegetarian ingredients like Quorn or, if you are a pescatarian, white fish like cod or coley.

Axel’s Vegan Tofu & Coconut Curry

1 medium onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1cm / ½ inch cube of fresh ginger, grated finely
1 mild green chilli, sliced lengthways (optional)
2 tbsp organic sunflower oil
1tsp organic  vegetable curry powder, or other mild/medium curry powder
¼tsp organic Fairtrade turmeric powder
10 curry leaves, or bay leaf
400ml coconut milk
4 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
1tbsp organic white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1tbsp organic lemon juice
1tsp organic garam masala
1tbsp organic sunflower oil
300g tofu, drained then chopped into 1cm / ½ inch cubes
1tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Firstly, we prepare the tofu, by draining it, then placing it between two plates or wooden boards with a weight placed on top to remove the excess water.  This is worth doing as it removes extra water and gives a firmer texture for later.  After 1 hour, pour off excess water and chop into 1cm (½ inch) cubes.

Chop The Tofu Into 1cm Cubes

Chop The Tofu Into 1cm Cubes

Next, we make the coconut milk curry sauce.  Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed pan.  Add the onion, garlic and grated ginger and sauté on a low heat until translucent – this should take about 5 minutes, but make sure they do not crisp and brown at the edges.

Add the green chilli (if you are after some extra heat, but this is not necessary), curry powder, turmeric and curry leaves and stir in.  Fry gently for 1 minute.  Add the coconut milk and stir in.  Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer.  Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar, lemon juice and garam masala, stir and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. then take off the heat.

Add the sunflower oil to a wok, or frying pan.  Heat until really hot, then add the tofu pieces and turn down the heat.  Fry until golden brown, turning over as they fry to make sure all edges get a nice crispy texture.

Stir Fry The Tofu Cubes

Stir Fry The Tofu Cubes

Until The Tofu Is A Golden Brown Colour

Until The Tofu Is A Golden Brown Colour

Add to the curry sauce and reheat to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes until thoroughly cooked through.  Add the chopped coriander leaves about 1 minute before the end.  Serve with plain boiled rice and dhal.

Vegan Tofu And Coconut Milk Curry

Vegan Tofu And Coconut Milk Curry

Recipe For Traditional Style Rogan Josh

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

As part of my ongoing attempts to create Indian recipes that have some bearing on genuineness, I have been fiddling around with rogan josh ideas.  Rogan josh is a signature dish for British curry houses, but was originally a North Indian meat dish that harks back to the exotic meals of the Moghul Courts when luxury was about food that was lavish, plentiful and took time.  Time still remains one of the key ingredients of cooking, especially as we rush around trying to whip something up fast and furious to feed the kids quickly, rustling up whatever we can from a paucity of ingredients in the cupboard and fridge, that always means you are missing something, whether the saffron or the yoghurt.

In this version, I have not ended up with a recipe that is particularly red in colour as I have not used tomatoes or any colouring, save for some token beetroot powder which does not really keep its colour under the heat of your cooking.  If you want to redden the sauce, you can change the water for chopped tomatoes, but I feel that tinned tomatoes are used a little too readily and I have had enough of them at the moment.  Also, the original rogan joshes of the Moghul Era would not have had tomatoes available to them, even though by later times they  could have done.

So here you have it, my version of a traditional rogan josh from India to North Yorkshire and the web.  It tastes better if you give it a day to infuse, so prepare the day before and then leave overnight before reheating.  Another key feature is to get some lamb bones into the sauce as they impart extra depth of character to the curry.

Axel’s Rogan Josh

Thinking About Rogan Josh

Thinking About Rogan Josh

For the meat:

750g / 1¾ lb lamb (I mixed 500g of lamb chopped into 2-3cm dices with 250g lamb breast with bones)
2tbsp sunflower oil
1 pinch asafoetida
200g / ½lb yoghurt
3cm fresh ginger, peeled then grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½tbsp sunflower oil

For the masala:

½tsp chilli (for extra heat you could double or triple this to your heat requirement)
½tsp paprika
1tsp coriander seeds/powder
½tsp black peppercorns, or ground black pepper
¼tsp cloves/ cloves powder
½tsp cardamom powder
2tsp beetroot powder
1tsp sea salt
6½cm cinnamon quill
2 black cardamom pods
1 bay leaf

For the stock:

1 pinch saffron, soaked in 4tbsp cold water for 30 minutes
500ml / 1 pint water

Heat the first amount of sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan then add the lamb and pinch of asafoetida, then cook until lightly browned and sealed all over.  Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add next amount of sunflower oil and fry the onions, garlic and ginger until translucent.

While the onions-garlic-ginger are frying, we need to prepare the spices for the rogan josh masala.  Heat a small frying pan to dry fry some of the spices.  When hot, add the coriander seeds, black peppercorns and cloves and dry roast for about 2 minutes; however, watch over them and ensure that they do not burn.  Remove them from the heat and grind in a mortar with a pestle or a coffee grinder.  Add the other ground spices, the black cardamom pods, cinnamon quills and bay leaf.  You can simplify the mix by using ground spices and just mix them all together.

Masala For Rogan Josh

Spices For Rogan Josh

When the onion-garlic-ginger is translucent, turn down the heat and add the spice masala and throughly mix through, cooking gently for 1 minute.  Stir throughout as it can stick to the pot and then start to burn.

Add the yoghurt and mix thoroughly.  Place the top on the pan and heat up until just steaming, then remove lid.  Add the meat, then cover with just enough water to go over all the meat.  Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, place the lid on the pot and simmer for at least 1 hour.

Remove the lid, then add the saffron infused water and cook through thoroughly.

Axel's Rogan Josh Curry

Axel's Rogan Josh

Ready to serve with rice and dhal, however I like to cook this on the night before then reheat the next day  – this gives a much richer, deeper flavour and lets all the spices really meld together.

Tips: you can replace the water with chopped tomatoes to give a redder colour, but sometimes I have just had too much tomato and quite enjoy giving it a miss in this version of rogan josh.  For posh nosh, remove the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and black cardamom pods so no-one complains about chewing on one, but I quite like leaving them in for some extra authenticity and show everyone that you made this from scratch and not out of a jar.

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

Recipe For Chicken Tikka Masala

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

We had to rearrange our weekend as our daughter got chicken pox mid week, which meant her birthday party needed to be rearranged, childcare and cover at work needed to be sorted.  So with no baking to do for the weekend, I felt like making some of the Anglo-Indian curry classics  We start with the quintessential of fusion meals, Chicken Tikka Masala, which has become one of the icons of modern British food.

I like it in part because it tastes good, but also because it really is one of those evil meals that makes use of ingredients that I would never normally touch – Heinz tomato ketchup and Heinz tomato soup.  I know you can make a more authentic Indian sauce without these ingredients, but that misses the point about Chicken Tikka Masala, i.e. that it is tandoori chicken with a lightly spiced tomato-curry sauce using quick-to-hand ingredients; you can feel the panic of the chef who invented it – what do I do to make a tomato curry sauce? Oh I know tomato soup, tomato ketchup, tomato, cream and some spices with a dash of sourness from vinegar and see what happens.

So here is my version, which can be made hotter but this is designed to be child-friendly rather than adult-authentic, so if you want some heat added just add 2 – 4 green chillis to the tikka masala sauce and you should be okay.  Also, you could circumvent all the spices by using a tandoori masala for the chicken-yoghurt marinade and a tikka or Madras curry powder in the tikka sauce.

We also made lamb korma which I will write about soon.

Axel’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Stage 1: To marinade and roast the spiced chicken

1tsp organic paprika
½ tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted then ground in pestle & mortar
½ tsp nutmeg powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp yellow mustard powder
1tsp garam masala
4 green cardamom pods, opened so the flavour from the seeds comes out
1 green chilli (medium heat), deseeded and chopped
2tbsp lime juice
3tbsp plain yoghurt
500g / 1lb chicken breast, chopped into 2cm / 1 inch cubes

Spices For Tikka Marinade

Spices For Tikka Marinade

Firstly prepare the spices, dry roasting the cumin and deseeding the green chilli.  Add all these to a metal or glass mixing bowl.  Stir in the lime juice until you have a paste, then add the yoghurt and mix through all the flavours. 

Finally, with the best chicken you can find or are happy buying, chop this into cubes and then add to the spicy marinade and stir through throughly.  Cover with clingfilm and leave in fridge to infuse with the flavours.  I try and leave it overnight but a minimum of 3 hours is fine. 

Chicken Pieces Infusing With Spices In Yoghurt Marinade

Chicken Pieces Infusing With Spices In Yoghurt Marinade

As for chilli, you can increase or decrease those quantities to suit your desire for heat; as we have two children, they are not too enamoured of over hot food so I tend to keep the heat quotient down for them.

On the next day, while you are making the tikka masala sauce, roast these curry flavoured chicken pieces by placing them evenly on a baking tray and cooking in a 180C / 350F oven for 20 – 25 minutes until nicely browned.

Roasted Tikka Chicken Pieces

Roasted Tikka Chicken Pieces

Stage 2: Making the tikka masala sauce

2tbsp ghee or sunflower/vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 large onion (1½ medium onions), chopped finely
½ sweet pepper (red or green), chopped into small dices
1cm / ½ inch fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp medium curry powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp chilli powder (or more to taste)
1tbsp white wine vinegar
4tbsp chopped tomatoes from a tin
1tbsp tomato ketchup, ideally Heinz as it should be slightly sweet
175ml  / ¾ cup tomato soup, once again ideally Heinz as the colour and sweetness is right
100ml / ½ cup single cream
½ tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
½ tsp sea salt, or chaat masala

Spice Mix For Tikka Sauce

Spice Mix For Tikka Sauce

Start by preparing the spice mix that is needed for the sauce, i.e. the fresh ginger to coriander powder in the list.  When done, heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan.  Add the onions and garlic cloves and fry gently for 3 minutes until starting to get translucent, then add the chopped bell pepper and fry for another 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the spice mix to the onion-garlic-pepper and mix throughly and fry for about 1 minute. 

Gently Fry Onions, Garlic And Ginger In Ghee

Gently Fry Onions, Garlic And Ginger In Ghee

Now add all the liquid ingredients to the onion mix and stir completely - that is the white wine vinegar, chopped tinned tomatoes, tomato ketchup, Heinz tomato soup and single cream.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.  Then add in the garam masala, fresh coriander leaves and chaat masala/ salt.

Stage 3: Fusion Time – bringing it all together

As a final stage, add the roasted spicy chicken pieces to the tikka sauce.  Stir it together and let cook together for about 15 minutes.

Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala

Homemade Chicken Tikka Masala

Serve with rice and naan bread.

June 2010 Food Blog Round Up

Monday, July 5th, 2010

At Chocolate & Zucchini, there is a delicious sounding recipe for sablés from Yves Camdeborde’s book Dimanche et Famille.  Clotilde Dusolier’s blog then sent me around various links on her site to several other biscuit recipes that sound fantastical, with amazing flavour combinations like Matcha Shortbread Cookies (which remind me I must do something about launching my green tea salt blend) and sablés croquants poivre et noisette (crisp hazelnut and pepper sablés), which has a wondrous flavour combination of pepper, rose water and hazelnuts that must be skirting fairly close to flavour and textural overload for the senses.  Finally, catching the end of the them of my update from last month, there is a recipe for a Rhubarb Tart With Lemon Verbena, combining another intriguing version of sweet pastry dough, plus my favourite early fruit - rhubarb – and then lemon verbena, which sounds great as a variant on lemon peel which is what I would usually use as the tart flavour for stewing the rhubarb.

At Cook Sister, there is a variation on the standard summer veg tarts that I have always cooked, called a Zucchini, Tomato Pesto Tart, which fits neatly alongside the French Tomato Tart that I found at David Lebovitz’s blog last month.  I will have a go and see if it will fit into my repertoire, even though I am not a fan of pesto, which I find tends to add an unnecessary hint of bitterness to food.  She also played with pesto for an Asparagus Salad With Pesto, which sounds an intriguing variation on the simple way we normally eat asparagus, sprinkled with a bit of salt and some butter.

At David Lebovitz’s blog, who seems to be suffering from the heat in Paris (my body temperature gauge falls apart when the temperature gets above 10oC, which is one of the reasons I failed to like living in London), he has a delicious and easy sounding Almond Cake recipe.  We like the words “easy” and phrase “hard to mess up”, but I’ll give that statement a run for its money.

Helen at Fuss Free Flavours is a women with my style of cooking, with a different way of preparing asparagus that I will definitely try next asparagus season.  A year, however, sounds a long wait for it, so I will try and rootle out some asparagus that’s still just about in season here in the north.  I think the mix of the slightly charred taste will go well with the bitter-sweet flavour of asparagus.  And she serves plain and simple with salt and butter; perfection.  And I love the idea of making your Elderflower Cordial on Midsummer Night like some sort of new age pagan ritual, plus it is basically free food that earths you to the soil.  And while never a fan of tofu, I am a fan of Ottolenghi so I will try the Black Pepper Tofu recipe although I might reduce the chile and increase the black pepper a bit as our kids will never survive that intensity of heat.

At just the food blog, there is a great and wholesome Cold Multigrain Salad that will make you a lifetime of food for lunches during the week.  And it has  next to no calories to boot.  It mixes three grains – pearl barley, wild rice and quinoa – and in the dressing melds together the umami kick of soy, with the uber sweetness of agave and cider with the heat from some chile flakes.  I reckon you could do a neat variation switching pearl barley for bulgur wheat.

Mahanandi’s recipe for Bean Sprout and Peppers makes great use of the bean sprouts that we have been growing over the last few weeks, and does something more exciting than chomping on them raw or in a salad.  I reckon that I would put a few different types of bean sprout into the mix, for example sprouted fenugreek seeds and chickpea seeds to give it more variation in texture.  And I love the colours and taste of aubergine (a.k.a. eggplant or brinjal) and the recipe for Brinjal Cilantro will get on the list for our next full on Indian meal as we are always struggling with inspiration for new flavours, rather than being unadventurous and sticking to the familiar.  When our tomatoes come out, I will have a crack at the simple Green Tomato Chutney recipe.

At Not Without Salt, there is a great Perfect Pizza At Home recipe, which is great fun family food.  I usually start by making the pizza dough and tomato base, then let the kids finish it off, so you get a random flavour, but one also that the children cannot complain about as it was their creation in first place!  I would be tempted to use a 50:50 mix of durum and bread flour rather than 100% all-purpose flour (plain flour in UK).  At Dana Treat, there’s a perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that’s worth noting as it was created with Ashley of Not Without Salt.

The theme for summer seems to be coming through as galettes and tarts, so at Smitten Kitchen there’s a gorgeous sounding Zucchini and Ricotta Galette plus some great links through to earlier galettes with the Wild Mushroom And Blue Silton one from 2006 winning a place in my dream for a new take on my classic summer tart recipes.  Her Lamb Chops With Pistachio Tapenade caught my hungry eyes and is tempting me to cook some up next weekend, yet I might be tempted to try a version with toasted pine nuts – maybe 50:50.

At The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I love the sound of Spinach With Garlic Chips as a variant on our stock in trades of Spinach With Nutmeg or Spinach With Toasted Cumin.  And The Best Coffee Cake Ever reminds me that I started trying to find the best coffee cake ever and stopped after one average attempt…laziness crept in and I must get back to it, although I was looking for a coffee flavoured cake not a cake for afternoon tea or coffee time, although the Mystery Mocha pud gets closer to the flavours I am after for my dream coffee cake.

Another great recipe from Ottolenghi was posted at The Wednesday Chef of a variation on potato salad – Potato Salad With Yoghurt And Horseradish.  Yotam Ottolenghi is certainly on message for recipes with everyone at the moment, and I love the idea of adding some tartness to potato salad which can get a bit samey.  We often use a mayonnaise-yoghurt-horseradish mix for smoked fish and crab salads and this sort of fits into that vein. 

As I wonder through [sic - I spelled this incorrectly first time round and I like the metaphor] the food blogosphere I am constantly surprised at the new ways of tweaking some of my old favourites in our kitchen, reinspiring me to recreate and revisit things like the summer vegetable tarts that I have make for years now, as well as to try and improve on the trusty old pastry recipes that I have made since my mum taught me how to bake oh-too-long-ago. 

But I am in awe at how beautiful everyone else’s creations look and how great their photography is, while my food looks like a dog’s dinner and the photos like some amateur hack from a one horse dorp (which I suppose I am).  We’ll get better at it, but I can never expect to reach the dizzy heights of the wonderful photos on blogs like Cannelle et Vanille, Mahanandi,  or The Pioneer Woman Cooks and The Wednesday Chef.

Steenbergs Launches New Design For Spice Tins

Friday, February 5th, 2010

At Steenbergs, we have been doing a lot of work trying to refresh parts of our organic spices and seasonings range.  Now we have relaunched our spice tins into a bright new label and an elegant rolled tin.

Steenbergs new spice tins

Steenbergs new spice tins

Part of what we have been seeking to do is to pull out parts of our long list of spices and seasonings that can either sit as a standalone range, such as our Home Bakery products (which we relaunched in August 2009), or added value blends that differentiate Steenbergs in the spices and seasonings world. 

We have a range of over 200 blends that we make in small batches by hand which is way more than industrial spice blenders and packers can hope to do – they just don’t have the ability to work on small batch runs nor the inclination.

So during 2009 we redesigned the spice tin, which was originally a spice dabbah made for us in Mumbai in India, to a rolled tin that is now being made for us in China.  This new tin was launched in mid 2009 and looks much smarter and more elegant than the old tin that we felt was a bit shiny and the shapes of the actual dabbahs were inconsistent.

In the latter part of 2009 and through to early 2010, we have created a new look label for a few of our most popular blends – Steenbergs Signature Blends.  These labels are brightly coloured, individual for each seasoning and now include a recipe idea.

The labels were printed last week and are now launched on the web site and will be officially launched at the forthcoming Organic & Natural Products Show at Olympia in April 2010. 

They have great shelf presence and we expect to add maybe another 5 – 10 more over the next 2 years.  The blends that are currently available are:

Organic Fairtrade 4 colour pepper
Organic Fairtrade curry powder
(a new blend!)
Organic Fairtrade garam masala
Organic Harissa with Rose Petals
Organic Herbes de Provence
Organic Italian Herbs

Organic Mixed Herbs
Ras al hanut
Zaatar

Tell us what you think, and what other Steenbergs products we should add to this range of Signature Blends – I am thinking China 5 Spice, Dukkah, Jamaican Jerk and Mexican Chile Powder.

Recipe for Lamb Curry for a Diwali Feast

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

We are in the middle of the diwali festival, the Festival of Lights.  This is a 5 day festival with the main celebration being on the 17 October this year.  I love diwaali, even though we are not Hindus here.

I love what it stands for, its legends and the idea of having a fun festival rather than the sobre festivals of British christianity (even if we all go home after church and indulge a bit).  I love the practicality of being able to pray for wealth and making puja to Lakshmi, rather than the embarassed about wanting to pray and hope for profit.

We always celebrate diwaali with friends – none of us are Hindu – but we like the smells and the food and the music of India.  We have got some traditional Indian decorations including icons of my favourite Ganesha with his large tummy and his delight in the finer things of life.  My granny gave me an old ivory Ganesha from colonial India as well as a buxom Lakshmi, both of which I treasure.  My maternal grandmother, Gromi as I called her, was German and the Lakshmi was the only item that she retrieved from her bombed house after the war; the Russian troops had used it as a candle stick and it was covered all over in wax, so the looters had thought it of no worth.

Then we have the wall hangings, door hangings and bells and lights and candles and lamps and so on.  And there is the food.

I have been cooking every evening this week.  We will be having Keralan fish and prawn curry, homemade chicken tikka, Punjabi lamb curry, dhal, saag aloo, Gujerati green beans, as well as breads, samosas, bhajis and sweets galore.

But the best part is friends.  They are the flowers in the garden of life.  We are celebrating with our dearest friends in our village, and we can all let the light, food and light shine in and home the gold will glister our futures.  It is a time to forget the hassles of life, throw off the stresses and strains of the daily grind and overindulge and believe that love conquers all.

Thank you and praise to Rama and Sita, and Hanuman, Ganesha and Lakshmi.

Here’s how I made the lamb curry:

20g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
8 garlic cloves (peeled and chopped finely)
3tbsp organic vegetable oil
2 whole organic green cardamoms
2 whole black cardamoms (optional as a bit harder to get, but see http://www.steenbergs.co.uk/)
5 curry leaves (or 1 bay leaf)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped finely
750-800g diced lamb
½tsp organic Fairtrade turmeric powder
1tbsp organic coriander powder
1tsp Fairtrade organic garam masala
½ tsp sea salt
4 medium tomatoes, pureed, or a tin of chopped tomatoes
500ml water
Handful of fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped finely

Put the ginger and garlic in a pestle, with a teaspoon of water and mash to  a paste with a mortar.  Alternatively, you can use a small coffee grinder.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add the cardamoms, curry leaves (or bay leaf) and stir fry for 15 seconds, then add in the onion.  Turn the heat down a bit and fry the onions until translucent and just turning brown at the edges; this will take about 7 minutes.

Now add the lamb cubes and stir fry for 3 or so minutes, then add the ginger-garlic paste, spices and salt.  Cook until the mixture is dry; this takes about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the water, bring to the boil, then lower the heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally to ensure it does not stick, and add any water if you need to.

Just before serving, add the chopped coriander leaves and stir in.

Recipe: Coronation Chicken

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

In Saturday’s The Daily Telegraph (6 June 2009), one of our great fans, Rose Prince, explains how to make a real Coronation Chicken.  I must admit that I hadn’t realised that it was invented by Constance Spry for our Queen’s Coronation in 1953 to feed 300 Royal invitees.  Rose Prince explains how to make Coronation chicken that doesn’t look (and taste) like gloop and links Steenbergs Madras curry powder as the curry powder of choice – perhaps we should rename it Coronation curry powder.

Follow the link to: 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/5428598/The-real…-Coronation-Chicken.html.

and for the Steenbergs organic Madras curry powder…

http://www.steenbergs.co.uk/product/169/madras-curry-powder-organic

Recipes – An Indian Feast of Food

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

This is an Indian feast that I first put together as a demonstration for Yorkshire Ladies.  It requires a bit of preparation but is surprisingly quick to finish off.  The key is to make the Masala Gravy beforehand, divide it into smaller amounts and then to freeze it, and to marinade and pre-cook the Tandoori chicken bites the day before or in the morning.  We make a quick version of the Meen Papas regularly which I will explain in a subsequent post.

Masala gravy

 

110g ghee (sunflower oil, if cannot get this)

 150g garlic cloves, finely chopped

110g ginger, finely chopped

1kg strong onions, chopped

600ml water

250g masala paste, using Steenbergs organic Madras Curry Powder 

 

1.       Add 50ml water to 200g of Steenbergs curry powder and stir to thick paste.  Add a little more water if you want to.

2.       Heat ghee in a wok and stir fry the garlic and ginger for 2 minutes.  Lower the heat and add onions.  Don’t add all onions at once as they will reduce down in size as they cook.  Continue stir-frying until the onions become caramelized.

3.       Add the water, then using a hand blender or in a blender mash up the mixture to a smooth puree.

4.       Add the curry paste to the gravy and stir in.  Boil for about 10 minutes on a gentle simmer. 

5.       Take off the heat and put into 3 pots of equal size and freeze.

 

Red marinade

 

150g natural yoghurt

2tbsp vegetable oil

2tbsp lime juice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 fresh red chillies (or fewer if you’re feeling nervous)

2tbsp fresh coriander leaves

1tsp organic cumin seeds, roasted

1tsp organic garam masala, roasted

2tbsp organic tandoori powder

½tsp organic chaat masala 

 

1.       Add a little water to the Steenbergs garam masala and tandoori powder and mix to paste.

2.       Put the paste and all ingredients into a blender and puree

 

Marinaded chicken

 

20 4cm cubes of skinned chicken breast

200g red marinade (½ the mixture above) 

 

1.       Put the chicken breasts into a non-metallic bowl and pour over the red marinade.  Mix well and leave in fridge for 24 hours.

2.       Preheat grill to medium (or ideally use a barbecue).  Skewer the chicken cubes and put on grill pan.  Grill for 5 minutes on each side.  Check that the meat has cooked through.  If it hasn’t grill for a little longer.

 

Chicken tikka masala

 

20 cooked chicken tikka pieces

2tbsp ghee

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

225g onions, very finely chopped

2 ladles curry masala gravy

1½tbsp organic tandoori masala paste

6 canned tomatoes

1tbsp white vinegar

1tbsp tomato ketchup

175ml canned tomato soup

½ green bell pepper

4 green chillies, chopped

100ml single cream

1tbsp garam masala

1tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

½ tsp chaat masala

 

1.       Heat oil in wok and stir fry garlic and onions until golden brown.

2.       Add pastes and gravy and cook for 2 minutes.  Add all other ingredients and cook for 5 minutes.  Add chicken pieces and cook for a further 5 minutes.

 

Meen pappas

 

400g white fish

2 tomatoes, quartered

1 onion, sliced

20 curry leaves

2 green chillis

2.5cm ginger sliced

½ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp chilli powder

400ml coconut milk

1tbsp lemon juice

1tbsp vinegar

½ tsp salt

 

1.       Cut fish into cubes 

2.       Heat oil in frying pan.  Add tomatoes, onion, curry leaves, green chillis and ginger.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add turmeric and chilli powder.  Add coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

3.       Add fish and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

4.       Add lemon juice and vinegar.

 

French beans with cumin and tomatoes

 

2tbsp oil

3 – 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1tsp cumin seeds, lightly roasted and crushed

¼ tsp chilli powder

250g slender French beans, trimmed

2 tomatoes, chopped

1tbsp fresh coriander leaves

1tsp chaat masala

 

1.       Heat oil in a wok.  Add garlic, onion and cumin and cook for 2 minutes.  Add chilli powder.  Cook until onions start going opaque.  Add beans and stir fry.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add some salt and the tomatoes.  Checked if cooked.  Sprinkle over with Steenbergs chaat masala.

2.       Beans should be crunchy but you can add some water and make softer.