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Cover: Some like it hot

March, 2012

30Mar 12

Shrimp curry with sambal oelek and cream

Shrimp CurryI often get asked if cooking Indian food  takes a lot of time, and I get the impression that people assume they need hours and hours to prepare an Indian dish. It also seems to me that most people think that you always need lots of ingredients and different herbs in order to cook up a good recipe.

 

To those of you who think that Indian food necessarily has to be elaborate and very time-consuming, here is a dish of Shrimp curry with sambal oelek and cream to show that this is not true.

These curries are not any more elaborate than a normal pasta dish. Perfect for a weekday dinner for the family, you can make it as spicy or mild as you want. Just add the ingredients to taste as you go along, and I’m sure you will end up with one scrumptious curry!

Seafood helps lighten a dish, and the flavours go well with the curry. You can also try a prawn and kale Madras curry, which uses kale to replace spinach.

Ingredients:
• 700g of shrimp in their shells
• 1 large red pepper
• 1 large green pepper
• 1 leek
• 1 red onion
• 2 teaspoons of curry
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 3 large garlic cloves
• 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
• 2dl of whipped cream or full-fat cooking yoghurt
• 400g of tinned chopped tomatoes
• 2 teaspoons of sambal oelek
• 1 pinch of ground pepper
• 1 pinch of salt
• Fresh coriander leaves (optional)

Preparation method:
1. Wash and peel the shrimp.
2. Wash the peppers and remove the pips. Chop into squares.
3. Wash the leek and cut into thin slices.
4. Cut the onion into thin slices.
5. Fry the curry in the olive oil in a large frying pan.
6. Add all the vegetables and let them sizzle for a few minutes but without getting any colour.
7. Press the garlic into the frying pan and add the tomato purée and chopped tinned tomatoes.
8. Let it all boil slowly for 5 minutes.
9. Add the whipped cream. Add the salt, pepper and sambal oelek.
10. Add the shrimp.
11. Add the coriander leaves. Reheat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
12. Serve with Basmati rice or Indian naan bread and a glass or white wine.

Takes: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 portions

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29Mar 12

Mild Vegetable Curry

Mild Vegetable CurryThis is a very simple vegetable curry dish that makes a good substitute for the usual casserole. It’s very mild so those of you who are not used to strong Indian spices can start here with a nice, gentle dish and perhaps build your way up to a hotter recipe in the future.

 

Many people like to serve this on top of white rice. That makes it even more filling. However, vegetable curry is quite substantial and can be eaten on its own as well. I suggest a cauliflower and mushroom curry as it is also quite a mild and creative way to eat your veggies.

The good thing about this mild vegetable curry recipe is that it can be prepared very quickly, and it’s not very expensive. Since it’s so hearty and nutritious, it makes a great meal for young children, especially in the winter. That means you can feed your whole family on a budget. And, it’s a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 1 cm pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 tablespoons mild curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 100ml water

Preparation Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Put the potato, aubergine and carrots into an oven-proof bowl with a lid (or a pot with a lid). Then, add 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Stir the ingredients gently so that all the vegetables are lightly coated with oil and curry paste. Put the oven-proof bowl with these vegetables into the oven and leave to roast for 25 minutes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until it is very hot. Next add the garlic. Fry the diced garlic for 2 minutes at medium heat. Then add the diced onion and fry for another minute. Add 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Stir it gently so that it is evenly distributed in the frying pan. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Next, slowly stir in the coconut milk and the water. Lower stove to low heat and let simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add them to the sauce. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes: 6 servings

Takes: 35 minutes

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26Mar 12

Tangy Red Daal

Tangy Red DaalWhen I was younger, my friends would complain that their mums always cooked the same things. One schoolmate ate a roast sandwich for lunch every day. Another girlfriend of mine confided in me that in her house, each day had an assigned dish: Mondays were for fish and chips, Tuesdays were bangers and mash, etc.

 

In my family, we ate a lot of Daal, the Indian word for lentils, but I never complained! There are four different types of lentils, and each can be prepared in many ways with a variety of flavours. This was useful for my Mum who tried to vary our menu.

I like my Daal spicy, but I tend to tone it down a bit when cooking for friends. Out of the many lentil recipes that I enjoy, I want to share this Tangy Red Daal with you. It isn’t quite as soupy as this hearty lentil and herb soup, but it is nice served with a bit of rice. I call it tangy because it has a bit of a kick, but it doesn’t sting your tastebuds, as other recipes might.

Ingredients:

  • 200g red lentils
  • 10g ginger
  • 5g mustard seeds
  • 10g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 onions
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 5g ground cumin
  • 5g cayenne pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 250ml water
  • salt and pepper
Preparation Method:
  1. Sort the red lentils on a white counter or table cloth to pick out any rocks or small pieces of dirt mixed in.
  2. When finished, rinse in cold water. Bring water to the boil and add lentils. Semi-cover and let cook for 35 minutes or so until the lentils are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the onions, jalapeño pepper, garlic, ginger, bell pepper and tomatoes.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, ginger and peppers. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until onions are translucent and garlic is soft.
  5. Add the cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir.
  6. Add the tomatoes and keep stirring for another 6 minutes or so until the tomatoes are fairly well-cooked.
  7. Transfer the vegetables into a big pot and add just enough hot water to cover the contents of the pot. Let boil for 6 minutes and then add the cooked lentils, stirring well.
  8. Add salt and coriander to taste.
  9. Pour into a bowl and garnish with coriander. Serve warm.

Serves: 6

Time: 75 minutes

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26Mar 12

Spicy Chickpeas with Masala

Spicy chickpeas with masalaPulses are a regular part of my diet. I am especially fond of chickpeas; they are used for many different types of foods such as stews, curries or salads (try this Carrot and Chickpea Salad). They can also be mashed up to make hummus or falafel. In this Spicy Chickpeas with Masala recipe, I take this otherwise bland pulse, mix it with red pepper and spinach, and create a feisty plate for all Indian-food lovers to enjoy! Although it might be a tad spicy, serving it with rice provides a nice balance.

Chickpeas are very high in protein and fibre. However, they are much easier to digest than other pulses. I appreciate that fact, and I keep it in mind to avoid any embarrassing situations regarding my digestive system.

These tiny seeds are an important part of Indian industry as India is the top producer of chickpeas in the world. Did you know there are actually two types of chickpeas? The common English variety is actually called kabuli. It is lighter and larger than the Indian chickpea, desi. The native desi is smaller, darker, and a bit healthier than the Kabuli. Regardless, either one will work perfectly in my spicy chickpea recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas, about 800 grams.
  • 200g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small tomato, diced into cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5g fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat up a few teaspoons of olive oil.
  2. When hot, sauté the onion, pepper, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and soft.
  3. Clean the chickpeas by rinsing them in a colander and draining. Pick out any empty shells.
  4. Add the chickpeas to the frying pan, then the vegetables, and mix well.
  5. Add all the spices and the tomato to the mix, stirring well.
  6. Next place just enough hot water in the pan so as to cover the vegetables. This is to create a sauce-like texture when finished.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat and add spinach. Cover again and allow the spinach to simmer for 2 more minutes with the rest of the vegetables.
  9. Take off the stove and serve on top of rice.

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 45 minutes

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21Mar 12

Vegetable Samosas

Vegetable SamosasVegetable Samosas make a delicious snack at a party. They also work well as an accompaniment to a curry dish such as this Mussel Rassam recipe or as a starter. Eat them hot just after you’ve cooked them, or keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days and eat them cold. I like them with a big dollop of mango chutney, but if you don’t want the fuss of spoons and forks, just enjoy them as a finger food.

Ingredients

To make the pastry
• 380g plain white flour
• 155g white self-raising flour
• 130g butter

To make the samosa filling
• 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 pinch of panch phoron (Bengali five-spice)
• 2 onions, chopped finely
• 3 large potatoes, cut into small cubes
• 100g peas
• 1 green chilli, chopped finely (add another if you like your samosas hot!)
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• Salt
• Vegetable oil in which to deep fry

Preparation Method

To make the pastry:
1. Put the 2 types of flour along with the butter into a mixing bowl and work the contents together. Drop in a dash of warm water and knead the mixture into a dough that should be elastic in consistency.
2. Make 12 dough balls and with a rolling pin, roll each ball into a circle. Then cut each circle in half.

To make the samosa filling:
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan; add the panch phoron and the onions; and fry until the onions turn a lovely golden brown. Add the chillies, turmeric, potatoes and peas; then season with salt. Cook the vegetables on a low heat until they are soft, stirring the contents of the pan frequently.

4. Make little islands with the filling on the half-circles of dough, using a teaspoon. 1 teaspoon on each piece of dough should be enough. Fold the dough into triangle shapes.

5. Take a heavy-based pan, fill it halfway with vegetable oil, and heat on high. You’ll know when the oil is ready to use if you drop a tiny piece of onion or other small piece of leftover veg into the oil and it sizzles immediately. Lower a few of the dough parcels into the hot oil and deep fry for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-looking and golden brown in colour.

6. Using a slotted spoon to drain the oil, carefully scoop the samosas out onto a plate covered with a piece of kitchen roll which will remove some of the excess oil. Repeat the process with the remaining parcels, cooking a few at a time. When all of the samosas are cooked and drained, they are ready to serve.

Note: Hot oil can be dangerous and should never be left unattended.

Takes: 65 minutes

Makes: 24 Vegetable Samosas

 

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