Archive for August, 2010

Goan Beef Vindaloo

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 5/8

Curry & Rice

Vindaloo has a pretty bad rep, being the lager louts favourite, but it’s actually a very traditional dish and a great example of early fusion cookery. It originated in Portugal – the Portuguese spice traders brought their traditional pork dish “vin des alhos” to the sub-continent, where the meat is braised in wine and garlic. The Indians substituted wine for wine vinegar and added lots of chilli and a little spice. This traditional recipe has a fantastic flavour.

It might look a little strange to see beef  in a curry as it’s not often seen in Indian restaurants here. But many Indians, such as Parsees, Muslims and Christians regularly eat beef and many traditional recipes exist for beef. Even some Hindus will eat “bull” beef or buffalo, only omitting the cow from their diet for religious reasons. Vindaloo is more commonly prepared with diced pork so you can easily substitute the beef.

Vindaloo should taste sour and pungent from the chillies and red wine vinegar. It’s for serious curry aficionados only, but you could try reducing the amount of chilli if you want a milder dish.

I love that this dish is so vastly different from the Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh and South Indian Lamb Curry that I cook. I think the important thing for us Westerners cooking Indian food is to embrace the differences between all of these dishes. It’s all too easy to expect every curry to taste the same, as it does in a bog-standard curry house.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg stewing beef
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 tbsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, poppy seeds, garam masala
  • 20 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 5 cloves
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tbsp each of the following: paprika, turmeric
  • 1½ tbsp red wine/cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp light muscovado sugar
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (chilli flakes, garam masala, paprika, turmeric) and one with the whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, curry leaves, poppy seeds). Set aside.
  3. Place a deep cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced beef and the ground spice masala. Add the chicken stock, salt, vinegar, sugar and tomato pureé, then stir to combine. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. This is great with a pilau or plain basmati rice.

Serves 6.

Notes

  • Lamb curries are best, in my opinion, because the meat gives a deep flavour to the gravy. Chicken gravies can be good too, but need a little extra help. If you want to make this into a chicken curry, make the sauce as normal and cook in a low oven for 1 hour and turn the oven off. Leave the casserole to cool in the oven overnight. This will really develop the flavour of the gravy. When ready to cook, add cubed chicken or bone-in chicken breasts and cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is well cooked through.
  • Restaurant vindaloo invariably contains potato, seemingly caused by some confusion over the fact that potatoes are called “aloo” in Hindi. Potatoes are not found in a traditional vindaloo, but it is not uncommon to find potatoes in other meat curries. If you wish to add some potato to this dish, pre-boil some peeled potatoes in salted water and allow to cool. Fry the potatoes in hot oil with a little salt and a pinch of ground cumin until light golden. Add the potatoes to the curry a few minutes before serving to warm through.
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Spuds “á la Robuchon”

Purée de pomme de terre

Every renowned chef has their signature dish. Gordon Ramsay has his “Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon” and Heston Bulmenthal his “Bacon & Egg ice-cream with snail porridge”. Funnily, despite Joël Robuchon’s legendary status (he once ran two 3 Michelin star restaurants in Paris; beat that, Gordo…), the dish a lot of people associate him with is his mashed potatoes. This is no ordinary mash – it’s sinfully rich and made with equal parts potato and butter. It sounds very heavy, but served in small quantities is actually quite light because of the way it’s whipped.

I’ve read so much  about this mash on blogs and foodies mags and I finally got to try it last year at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas.  It was wicked.  Coincidentally, I came across a recipe for the mash in one of the books I was reading at the time, “Doing without Delia” by Michael Booth (a very funny read, by the way). I think I’d feel too guilty about preparing food like this in my own kitchen, so in a strange (and somewhat lazy) move, I’m passing on this recipe to you without having tried it myself. I’ll get around to it one day and let you all know… 😉

For this recipe, it’s important to use a potato ricer, a utensil similar to a large garlic press. Only a ricer will give you the smooth result you’re looking for. If you attempt this with a food processor or a regular potato masher, you will overwork the potato and end up with sticky, gluey mash.

Here’s Michael Booth’s recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 1kg butter (chilled & unsalted)
  • salt
  • 100ml whole milk

Method

  1. Wash the potatoes and cut into large chunks. Simmer gently in water until potatoes are tender. Add a generous amount of salt half way through cooking.
  2. Allow the potatoes to cool a little, then peel. Push the potatoes through a ricer, then through a fine sieve to get a very smooth result.
  3. Cut the chilled butter into large chunks. Heat the milk in a large saucepan add the riced potatoes. Stir vigorously to prevent burning. Add each piece of butter separately and wait until the butter has melted before adding another. When all of the butter has been incorporated into the potato, whip the potatoes vigorously with a whisk.
  4. You can add a little more butter or milk if the mash dries out slightly before serving.

Further Reading

  • Gordon Ramsay’s “Truffle oil pomme purée” – roughly the same idea, but lent some luxury with the addition of a litle truffle oil.
  • Cooking For My Wife “Joël Robuchon’s pommes purée” – another food blogger who tasted the famous mash in L’Atelier and was sufficiently impressed to re-create the dish using tips gleaned from eGullet.

The Best Guacamole

Guacamole 1

I love visiting restaurants when I’m on holiday as they provide great inspiration for kitchen adventures. I was so impressed with the guacamole served at Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas that I was determined to re-create it when I got home. Handily, they supplied us with the recipe on some souvenir fridge magnets they gave us. However, I’ve toyed with the recipe slightly to include more tomato and fresh coriander.

Unsurprisingly for such a simple dish, the reason this guacamole works is because everything is in correct proportion. Just make sure every ingredient you use is extremely fresh and your guacamole will really sing…

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and stoned
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 red jalapeno/serrano chillies, finely chopped
  • large handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • sea salt & pepper

Mash the ripe avocados with a fork and gently combine with the rest of the ingredients. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. You will need plenty of salt to bring out the flavour of the buttery avocados. Serve with some good-quality, plain corn chips. (For goodness sake, don’t allow a “Dorito” to go anywhere near something as good as this…)

Guacamole 2

How to make Buttermilk

griddle_bread_1

If you want to make Soda Bread or Griddle Bread and find yourself short on buttermilk, use this handy recipe. Simply mix 1 tbsp of lemon juice into 290ml of full-fat milk. Mix and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Hey presto, you’ve just made your own buttermilk.

Brown Soda Bread

Brown Bread 1

Right, time to take a break from the Indian recipes – this blog is turning more “peshwari naan” than “toasted special”…

Subscribers will know that I’m a rather reluctant baker. I can’t stand shaping sticky dough or pastry so I tend to gravitate towards simple breads and cakes that I can mix and throw into a tin before baking. I like this recipe because there’s no shaping necessary – just mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, combine and pour into a greased loaf tin.

I’ve been making my own brown soda bread for years and have tried countless recipes. This originally started off as a Darina Allen recipe (taken from a GoodFood magazine) but I’ve taken on board Richard Corrigan’s suggestion of adding porridge oats and treacle to give a richer flavour and colour. (Do try Corrigan’s soda bread recipe also, it’s very rich and delicious. Probably more suited to dinner than breakfast as it’s so heavy on the salt and sugar. Great with a creamy potato and leek soup.)

You could also add wheatgerm, extra bran or sunflower seeds to this for a change.

Ingredients

  • 225g coarse wholemeal flour
  • 225g plain white flour
  • 100g porridge oats
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 450ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil (or 25g butter)
  • 1 tbsp treacle

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Sift the white flour into a large mixing bowl along with the salt and bicarbonate of soda. Add the wholemeal flour and use your hands to give the flour a good mixing.
  3. Add the egg, sunflower oil (or butter) and treacle to the buttermilk in a measuring jug. Mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix gently and quickly. The dough will be quite wet.
  5. Transfer to a greased 2lb loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Wrap in a tea-towel (prevents the loaf from drying out) and leave to cool a little before cutting. Coat with butter and serve with a few rashers. 😉

For more (yeast-free) Irish bread recipes, check out my Soda Bread and Griddle Bread posts.

South Indian Lamb Curry

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 4/8

Curry

This has become my “default” curry recipe and with good reason. It’s best made with lamb, but also good with chicken (see notes below). It’s essentially a “copy-cat” recipe of Bombay Pantry‘s excellent curry, of which  I’m a big fan. I think it’s pretty close to the original, in both flavour and texture. I call this “South Indian” curry because it includes many ingredients indicative of the region: curry leaves, mustard seeds and coconut.

Incidentally, I recently bought a bag of fresh curry leaves to see if they made a difference to this dish (I normally use the dried variety). I was very pleased with the result. They cost me about a euro in the Asia Market (on Drury Street) for a large bag of leaves. I just rinsed them well, let them dry completely, and froze in a ziplock bag.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg diced lamb (shoulder or leg is good)
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 10 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 tbsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, black/brown mustard seeds
  • 15 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli flakes, ground coriander, garam masala
  • ½ tbsp each of the following: paprika, turmeric, dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tsp light muscovado sugar
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (chilli flakes, ground coriander, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, fenugreek) and one with the whole spices (cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves). Set aside.
  3. Place a deep cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger and tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Add a little water to loosen if necessary. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced lamb and the ground spice masala. Add the chicken stock, coconut, salt, sugar and tomato pureé, then stir to combine. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. This is good with plain basmati rice or lemon rice.

Serves 6.

Notes

  • Lamb curries are best, in my opinion, because the meat gives a deep flavour to the gravy. Chicken gravies can be good too, but need a little extra help. If you want to make this into a chicken curry, make the sauce as normal and cook in a low oven for 1 hour and turn the oven off. Leave the casserole to cool in the oven overnight. This will really develop the flavour of the gravy. When ready to cook, add cubed chicken breast and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is well cooked through.

Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 3/8

Curry & Rice

Rogan Josh, when done well, is one of my favourite Indian dishes. Traditional Rogan Josh is miles apart from the restaurant version you may be familiar with. According to Camellia Panjabi, “rogan” is Hindi for “red”, referring to the deep red colour imparted by the use of mild Kashmiri chillies. “Josh” means “fat”, referring to the fat which melts out of the meat during braising. This recipe uses my standard base curry recipe and traditional Rogan Josh spices such as cardamom, fennel and saffron. The result is a dark, highly aromatic gravy – my trick is to lightly crush some of the green cardamoms to release lots of flavour.

A word on the spicing. Most traditional recipes specify fennel powder instead of fennel seeds – if you can’t find it and don’t have an electric spice grinder, just add the whole fennel seeds. The saffron can be optional as a lot of people don’t like it, but for me it’s indispensable in this dish. Use just a small pinch of saffron threads so that you don’t overpower the rest of the spices. Leave to infuse a little warm water before adding to the gravy. Finally, if you can source dried Kashmiri chillies mentioned above, use those instead of the chilli powder specified below. I add a tablespoon of sweet paprika to boost the red colour instead.

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg diced lamb (shoulder or leg is good)
  • 3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 8 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli powder, sweet paprika, ground coriander
  • 1 tsp each of the following: turmeric, fennel powder
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 large black cardamom
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron threads, soaked in warm water for a few minutes

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. First off, prepare all the ingredients above. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (cayenne, paprika, ground coriander, salt) and one with the whole spices (bay, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, pepper corns). Crack the black cardamom and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. The green cardamoms should be crushed a little more vigorously, making sure at least some of the black seeds within are crushed to a powder. Set the masalas aside.
  3. Place a cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook the onions gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. Blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced lamb and the ground spice masala. Pour in the chicken stock, yoghurt and saffron mixture, then stir to combine. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. Garnish with some julienned fresh ginger. Best served with plain basmati rice.

Serves 4-6.

Notes

  • This recipe also works fantastically well with lamb shanks. Brown 4 shanks on all sides in a separate frying pan before adding to the gravy at Stage 5, in place of the stewing lamb. The shanks will take a little longer to cook, at least 3 hours. This is called “Nalli Rogan Josh” and would make an impressive dinner party dish for fans of Indian food.