Curry curry curry. If you would have asked me a year ago what my favourite food was, I would have said pizza. I know what you’re thinking – everyone else used to think it to. And although I still love the humble crispy tomato and cheesy feast, curry has since fast taken over the top spot.
I live in a predominantly Indian area of London and because of this, the high street is rich with Indian supermarkets, fashion stores and cutlery shops. Rather than take our usual Sunday trip to Waitrose last weekend, we decided to head to Ealing Road and indluge in some Indian cooking.
I bought the India Cook Book when it came out and it has been sitting on the shelf for quite a while so I decided it was time to put it to use. There are 1000 recipes in the book but we whittled it down to 4. We chose Tamatar Chaaman (Paneer in Thick Tomato Sauce), Methi Murg (Chicken with Fenugreek Leaves), Masoor Dal (Split Red Dal) and Chapaati.
Unfortunately we couldn’t get all of the spices, Asefotida being one of them but with a little research when we got home, I saw that Matthew Fort has listed a couple of places to buy it from on The Guardian website. I’ll have to place an online order for next time. Asefotida crops up in a lot of the recipes in The India Cook Book so it is definitely worth purchasing it. I think it’s a rather pungent spice as apparently you need to keep it in an airtight container – but when it’s cooked, the flavour mellows.
We were cooking for a few hours and we served the food in the brand new Indian dishes that we had bought – I think that it looked fantastic but the taste didn’t live up to expectations. I was half expecing the dishes to be similar to my favourite Indian restaurant Karahi King but really, who was I kidding?! It was my first time cooking a curry and that restaurant has been in business for YEARS! I’m not giving up though and next week I’ll be trying some other recipes.
Chapaati – we adapted this recipe and used Spelt Flour instead of Wholemeal Flour
400g Spelt Flour
Pinch of salt
Melted Ghee (or butter) for brushing
1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl
2. Add 250ml water and start mixing until a soft dough is formed
3. Divide the dough into pieces and roll into balls. Flatten into balls
4. Roll each ball out on a floured surface
5. Heat a pan and fry each bread separately, turning over half way through. The dough is cooked when brown patches form on the surface
Masoor Dal – We didn’t have coriander so this recipe has been adapted
250g red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ghee or vegetable oil
4 dried red chillies
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds, ground
4 green chillies
pinch of salt
1. Put 1.2 litres water in a pan and add the dal and turmeric
2. Bring the water to the boil and remove scum from the surface with a slotted spoon
3. Reduce the heat, season with salt and simmer for20 minutes, or until the dal is soft
4. Heat the ghee or oil in a grying pan
5. Add the dried red chillies and ground ajwain seeds and stir fry for about 2 minutes
6. Pour over the dal and simmer for about 2 minutes
7. Add the green chillies before serving
Methi Murg – We adapted this recipe quite a lot – we roasted the chicken before hand and we didn’t have a few of the spices. Funnily though, this dish turned out to be the tastiest!
1/4 roasted chicken
2 large cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
3 green chillies
50ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp greek yoghurt
1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds
125g fenugreek leaves
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt
1. Roast the chicken and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing what you need for the dish. We used 1/4 of the chicken
2. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and add all of the dry spices. Fry for 2 minutes
3. Add the fenugreek leaves and fry for 3-4 minutes
4. Add the chicken and simmer until the leaves are fragrent
5. Add the yoghurt and then squeeze the lime juice into the pan
Tamatar Chaaman – I had to adapt this recipe as I didn’t have a few of the ingredients. I found that I needed to decant a lot of the oil before serving
250ml vegetable oil
5 green cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
750g pureed tomatoes
2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
pinch of salt
1. Heat the oil in a pan
2. Add the paneer and fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown
3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel
4. Add the whole spices to the pan and stir fry for a minute, or until they change colour
5. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, or until all of the liquid has evaporated
Pour in 250ml of hot water along with the ground spices and season with salt
7. Bring to the boil and add the paneer
8. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes
It was a proper feast and the dishes were tasty. I was surprised that the Dal didn’t contain any ginger or garlic and I will change this next time. I think I’ll also take away one of the Cinnamon Sticks in the Paneer too as the Cinnamon taste was just a tad overpowering.
We served all of the dishes with the Chapati and Brown Rice.