Monday, 29 October 2012

Cold-busting curries

I had a busy week – after a busy few weeks. Between a lot of travel, late nights, early mornings, gallivanting, eating too much, eating too little and general running, I could feel a dose of the sniffles coming on.
My favourite cure for feeling run down, which doubles up as my first-sign-of-a-cold dish, is curry. A good, spicy, hot curry seems to purge the cold virus from your system.
It’s worth making curries from scratch. I find they are more satisfying, more comforting, and as you’re in charge of adding the spice, you can make them as hot or mild as you like.
On my travels, I picked up a copy of Jamie Oliver’s magazine. I’m not really a fan of his, although I cannot fault his simplicity and his drive to make meals healthier. The Sept/Oct 2012 edition is dedicated to curry. Yay!
I made two curries from it, adapting the recipes for two people each (so I’d feed four people). The original recipes are below, with my modifications in brackets. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – once you have these in your spice cupboard, you will use them time and again. You can buy some of them in your local large supermarket, but for the rest, head to your local Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi-owned shop where you will get them for half nothing.

Das’s chickpea curry
Olive oil (one tablespoon)
½ a cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods (½ a teaspoon of ground cardamom)
2 cloves
A pinch of fennel seeds
4 crushed garlic cloves
A thumb sized piece of ginger, grated (½ a thumb)
2 fresh green chillis (one dried red chilli)
3 onions (one onion)
½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 headed teaspoon of ground coriander (½ a teaspoon)
1 teaspoon of ground chilli
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 heaped teaspoon of tomato puree (a good handful of cherry tomatoes)
4 ripe tomatoes (another two good handfuls of cherry tomatoes)
2xtins of chickpeas (one tin)
200ml of coconut milk (I only had coconut cream, so about 80ml)
100g of baby spinach (I was adding spinach to the other curry I made, so I left this out)
Coriander (I’d none)

Heat a pot. Once hot, add the oil, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, garlic, ginger and the whole chilli. Stir and cook them for a few minutes, then add the chopped onion and cook all of this for about 15-20 minutes over a medium heat. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want it to burn.
Stir in the turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander and a bit of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and about 450ml (200ml) water. Bring all of this to the boil and add the chickpeas and simmer for around 15 minutes.
Reduce the heat and stir in the coconut milk and simmer. If you boil it again at this point, you risk splitting the coconut milk. If you are using spinach, stir this in just before the end of the cooking so that it wilts. Check for seasoning and serve with a bit of fresh coriander sprinkled on top if you have some.

Das's chickpea curry

While I was making this vegetarian curry, I also made a fish curry.

Keralan seafood curry
Again, I’m putting the whole recipe here with my modifications on brackets next to it.

Vegetable oil (a tablespoon of olive oil)
2 teaspoons of mustard seeds (1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
I fresh, green chilli (one dried, red chilli)
A handful of fresh or dried curry leaves (a good tablespoonful)
2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, grated (1 thumb sized piece)
3 onions (one onion)
12 large prawns (I had none, so I didn’t use any!)
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 handful of ripe, yellow cherry tomatoes (a good dose of red cherry tomatoes)
400ml light coconut milk (the rest of the 165ml tin of coconut cream from the chickpea curry, above)
400g monkfish fillets (I had 270g ‘cabillaud’ or cod in the freezer, and I wasn’t leaving the house)
1 heaped teaspoon of tamarind paste (I’d none)
75g baby spinach (I only had frozen, so a few blocks of that)
coriander and lime to serve (I'd none)

Fish curry
Heat the oil in a pot and add the mustard seeds until they pop. This will take a few minutes. Once they start popping, add the fenugreek, chilli, curry leaves and ginger. Cook all of this for a few minutes and add the chopped onion.
Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft. At this stage you should add the prawns if you have them. Add the chilli powder, turmeric and tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and add 200ml (100ml) of water and the coconut milk/cream.  Simmer for a few minutes until it thickens a bit, and add the fish. I added the frozen spinach at this stage but if you’re using fresh, wait for a couple of minutes. Your fish should only take about 5 minutes to cook. Once it is, your curry is done – check for seasoning and add a little salt and pepper if you need it. Serve with coriander and lime wedges.

We ate these two curries with 150g white rice and a few naan breads I took from the freezer. 

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