Monday 27 February 2012

Pork bhuna – easy weekend Indian food

Long before I moved to Belgium, I loved spicy food, which often meant Indian. Nothing’s changed, except nowadays it’s a lot easier to find Asian/Indian food here. However, finding something sufficiently spicy hot can be a challenge. I have used jars of sauce and added a bit of chilli. Unfortunately, these are usually very high in calories and fat, so I started making my own curries a few years ago.

Pork bhuna with spicy rice
Many people think that making curries from scratch is difficult. In fact, the most difficult part is finding the spices you need. You can find many of these in supermarkets and for the more ‘exotic’ ones, check out the Asian supermarkets at St. Gery in Brussels city centre (near St Catherine and de Bourse) or the many ‘ethnic’ ones dotted around the city (such as the Chaussee d’Ixelles, etc…).
The list of ingredients in the bhuna here can appear daunting, but once you have the basics, you’ll find you can make a lot of other curries. A huge plus is that you can make your curry as weak or as strong as you like. Also, with this curry, you put everything in the pot and leave it to cook, making it low-maintenance.
I served this with spiced rice and homemade naan bread. The recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s 100 essential curries. A * marks the spices I’ve found in supermarkets.
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds*
4 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds (I used black mustard seeds)
2-4 whole chillies* (you can used fresh or dried, the quantity depends on how hot you like it)
2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds*
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
Oil (the recipe says peanut or corn oil, I used olive)
3 large shallots (I used a large onion)
4 cm grated fresh ginger (tip: use the side of a teaspoon to peel it; also, if you’ve no fresh ginger, a good teaspoon of ground ginger is fine)
5-6 garlic cloves
10-15 curry leaves (you’ll get these in an Asian supermarket)
2 medium tomatoes (I used 200ml passata as I had some in the fridge to use up)
900g shoulder of pork (for 4 people – I used 400g filet pork (for 2 people), chopped into bite-sized chunks (you can use chicken, lamb or beef either)
Unorthodox ingredient: about 150g mushrooms (upping the veggie count, cutting the calories of the dish, and they had to be used up)

In a dry, heavy casserole or pot (ie: don’t add any oil) and over a medium-high heat, toast the seeds and chillies for about 2-3 minutes, until they start releasing their smells. Keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn. When they are done, either grind them in a pestle and mortar, a coffee grinder or a small food processor until they are powdery.
In the same pot, heat a teaspoon of oil and cook the chopped shallots, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the curry leaves. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down and are a bit gloopy.
Add the ground spices, 250ml water and the meat. Season, stir and reduce the heat to simmering. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes if you’re using a filet. If you’re using shoulder, the meat will need longer cooking, so around an hour and a half. Check the sauce. If it needs thickening (it should cling to the meat), remove the lid and cook until thicker. If you need to adjust the chilli heat, do it now too. If it’s too hot, add some (low-fat) yogurt to cool if down.

For the spicy rice
100g long grain rice (recommended guidelines state 125g for 2 people, but as I was serving the naan bread too, I didn’t need a whole lot of rice)
One onion
A couple of cardamom seeds
A stick of cinnamon
One teaspoon turmeric (‘curcuma’ in French)

Peel and chop the onion into rings. Fry this on a low heat, in a little oil, for about 10 minutes, until soft and golden. From experience, don’t think that upping the heat will cut the cooking time; it doesn’t and the onions burn. Long n slow is the name of the game here.
Meanwhile, pop the rice and everything else into a pot with some salt and loads of water and cook according to the instructions. The rice will go a lovely radio-active yellow colour.
Once cooked, drain the rice and stir the cooked onions through.

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