Tag Archives: Indian cuisine

Puri with potato curry.

1 Mar

Today I was privileged to be invited for breakfast at our friends house. Monica had promised me a special Asian breakfast and a one to one lesson on how to cook puris. Puri is my favourite starter when I go to an Indian Restaurant, usually topped with either prawn or chicken curry. In India, I’m told, puri is a favourite breakfast food, usually served on special occasions or for a treat maybe at the weekend. The whole experience was amazing!

One of the puri ingredients was a spice called Ajwain. I have so many herbs and spices but I had never heard of this.

Ajwain, also known as ajowan caraway, thymol seeds, bishop’s weed, or carom, is an herb in the family Apiaceae. Both the leaves and the seedlike fruit (often mistakenly called seeds) of the plant can be used.

Ajwain’s small, oval-shaped, seed-like fruits are pale brown schizocarps, which resemble the seeds of other plants in the family Apiaceae such as caraway, cumin and fennel. They have a bitter and pungent taste, with a flavor similar to anise and oregano. They smell almost exactly like thyme because they also contain thymol, but they are more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as being somewhat bitter and pungent. Even a small number of fruits tends to dominate the flavor of a dish so need to be used sparingly. Only a small amount was used in this recipe but the subtle flavour still came through and really enhanced the end product. If you can’t get these seeds Monica says you can substitute with a small quantity of fenugreek leaves, crushed between your hands.

Here is the recipe. (Monica used intuition rather than measurements but hopefully I’ve judged correctly).

  • Puri ingredients
  • 500g Chapati flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds or fenugreek leaves
  • A drizzle of oil
  • Water
  • Put flour and salt into a large bowl.
  • Rub the Ajwain or fenugreek between your hands and add to flour.
  • Drizzle with the oil
  • Loosely mix together.
  • Start adding the water, scrunching everything together with one hand, until it forms a dough. The dough needs to be hard not soft or wet.
  • Break of pieces of dough and make into balls.
  • Lightly oil each ball on both sides to prevent sticking and roll out into round discs about 3 inches in diameter and the thickness of a pound coin.
  • Heat up some oil in a pan. When hot enough to deep fry carefully drop in one puri at a time. Allow it to rise to the top of the oil and puff up. Turn over. When lightly coloured remove and drain on kitchen paper. Continue until all are cooked, keeping them covered to keep warm. Serve with the Aloo bhaji and chutneys of your choice.
  • Aloo Bhaji ingredients
  • 2tbsp oil
  • 3 large potatoes, diced about 1/2 pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, puréed and sieved to remove seeds
  • 1 fresh green chilli roughly chopped
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Heat the oil and cook cumin seeds until they start to splutter. Be careful not to let them burn.
  • Add the sieved tomato purée and all the powdered spices.
  • Simmer until the oil separates and the tomatoes are cooked well.
  • Add the potatoes and coat well in tomato mix and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add enough water to just cover the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are soft and mushy. Add a little more water if it looks as though it’s getting too dry.
  • Add the chopped coriander, simmer for a couple of minutes. Check seasoning(to taste) and it’s ready to serve.

Cardamom butter chicken – absolutely delicious.

23 Mar

This is a fantastic curry, fragrant and creamy and not too hot.  It suited my palate perfectly.  A large number of cardamoms are used in the recipe so here is a little information on this aromatic spice.

  • Cardamom is the dried, unripened fruit of the perennial Elettaria cardamomum. Enclosed in the fruit pods are tiny, brown, aromatic seeds which are slightly pungent to taste.
  • Throughout the Arab world, Cardamom is one of the most popular spices, with Cardamom coffee being a symbol of hospitality and prestige.
  • The spice is also very popular in the Scandinavian countries where it is used more extensively than cinnamon.
  • Cardamom is one of the oldest spices in the world, and the most popular spice in ancient Rome was probably cardamom. It is the world’s second most expensive spice, saffron being the most expensive.
  • In the Canterbury Tales, cardamom is “the spice of paradise.”
  • A member of the ginger family, cardamom can be traced as far back as the 4th century.
  • It makes appearances in famous written tomes like The Bible and The Arabian Nights.
  • The spice has been used as a form of bartered currency in India for centuries, and now is cultivated in roughly half a dozen exotic locations across the globe.
  • Most closely associated with Indian, Middle Eastern, and Scandinavian cuisine, cardamom has had many uses throughout its long life. Its enticing aroma was said to have been used as perfume by the Greeks and Romans, while the Egyptians used it to freshen breath. The spice is more commonly used in the complex curry and masala dishes of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Scandinavian cookery uses it in baked goods such as pastries and breads, while Turkish and Arabic cuisines throw it in with pilafs and other flavorful rice dishes. The spice adds dimension to pickles, and to a surprising array of beverages including Russian liqueurs, various mulled wines and punches, Indian and Moroccan sweet drinks, and Arabic coffee.
  • Cardamom blends very well with other spices and is therefore found in numerous spice blends, including Moroccan ras el hanout (cardamom, cassia, mace, clove, cumin, rose petals, etc.), Middle Eastern zhug (cumin, cardamom, garlic, chilli), and Indian garam masala (cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, clove, mace, cinnamon, etc.). (Courtesy of Foodreference and Professor’s House websites)

The recipe was in the June edition of Good Food.  Here is a link to it on their website

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http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2220652/cardamom-butter-chicken

Lamb and Plum curry – fit for a queen!

23 Nov

My husband says this is his favourite curry.  I reminded him of how many times I had heard him say this but he stuck to his guns.  Just to prove a point, however, there are a couple of links below to previous curries he has said this about! 

When I first saw the recipe for this curry I was intrigued.  I had never heard of a similar curry before and have yet to see anything like it in an Indian Restaurant.  It is a dish from Hyderabadi and is, apparently, a speciality of the Veeraswamy restaurant in London, the owner of which had a grandmother who was a Hyderabadi princess. Veeraswamy is the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the U.K, and possibly the world. Established in 1926, it is one of London’s oldest surviving restaurants and a global restaurant institution.   I found this recipe in a little book called ’50 great curries of India’ by Camellia Panjabi.  It is one of the best curry books I have ever had and I am slowly, but surely working through the recipes.  So far there is only one that I was disappointed in but that was vegetarian so no great loss to us confirmed carnivores!  I have copied the recipe exactly from the book as I can’t think of anyway I would want to change it.  Be careful with the chillies though.  Check out how hot your fresh chillies are and maybe use just 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, unless you like your curries really hot.

Lamb and Plum Curry                                                         Serves 4

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 x 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless stewing lamb
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plums with skin (half finely chopped and half cut into wedges)
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 8 fl. oz. stock of lamb bones if possible (use plain water if not)
  1. In a deep skillet, heat the oil and fry the onions until they are golden and starting to brown at the edges (this should take about 10-15 minutes).  Add the garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, and green chilies.  After 1 minute, add the turmeric, coriander, and chili powders.  Stir well.
  2. Add the lamb and salt and stir fry in the spice mixture for 5 minutes.  Then cover and cook the lamb in its own moisture with the onions on a medium heat for about 10 minutes.  When the lamb is semi-dry, stir continuously until it is coated with the spices and the mixture is golden brown.
  3. Now add the finely chopped plums and cook with the lamb, stirring a few times.  Add 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro leaves and the lamb stock or plain water, bring to a boil and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.  Now add the plum wedges and cook until the lamb is done.  Put in a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of fresh leaves.

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