Archive for the 'Mid-Week Meals' Category

Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a cheats version of the classic Anglo-Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s cheaty because it doesn’t involve the separate preparation of chicken tikka. Nor is the chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices, it’s simply added to the finished sauce. This version is highly spiced and quite intense, almost veering into “Murgh Makhani” territory.

Essential to the success of this dish is the preparation of fresh garam masala. My own garam masala recipe leans heavily on the clove and green cardamom and the intense fragrance is ideal for this recipe. You’ll also need to source dried fenugreek leaves, often sold under the name “kasoori methi”. They have a very distinctive flavour and are an essential component to this sauce.

Fresh green chillies, whether whizzed up in the sauce or cooked whole in the sauce add a really vibrant flavour to the sauce, as does the inclusion of fresh coriander at the end of cooking. Health food it ain’t, with all that butter and cream, but it’s great as an occasional treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 5 free-range chicken breast fillets, cubed
  • 400ml water
  • 80g butter
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves, ground into powder
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Grind the cumin and coriander seeds to a fine powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large casserole or pot. Cook the onions gently until soft and golden. This should take at least 20 minutes.
  3. Now add the garlic-ginger past and fry for another minute or two. Add a splash of water if the mixture is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato puree and increase the heat slightly. Add the reserved cumin and coriander powders, paprika, chilli powder, yoghurt and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. This step is essential to cook out the raw flavour of the tomatoes and spices.
  4. Now remove the pot from the heat, add 400ml of water and whizz the sauce to a fine consistency using a stick blender.
  5. Return the pot to the heat and add the diced chicken. Allow to simmer gently for 25 mintes.
  6. Now time to finish the sauce – add the sugar, butter cream, lemon juice and fenugreek leaf powder. Simmer for another 10 minutes and check the flavour and consistency. If the sauce is took thick add another splash of water. I might add a little extra lemon juice, salt or sugar at this point – just adjust it to your own taste.

Serves 5-6.

Sambhar Lentil Soup

Sambhar

Occasionally, when I have leftover tadka dal I will convert it into a tasty soup using some vegetable stock and a handful or two of chopped vegetables. This is a cheat’s version of sambhar and as delicious as it is, it doesn’t compare to the real deal. This is my version.

Sambhar is prepared every day in South Indian homes and is eaten at all times of the day. Sambhar makes a tasty and filling lunch but can also be served as a more substantial main meal if served with some rice and homemade onion bhajis. I’d imagine it would make a great hangover “cure”, though of course I have no first-hand experience of this…

You can use any combination of vegetables you like – I used green beans, celery, courgette etc. because they’re easily available here in Ireland. You could also use aubergines, cauliflower, peas, broad beans or broccoli. You can use more authentic vegetables like okra and drumstick if you have an available supply. (Having tasted drumstick in restaurants, I am happy to leave out this most strange of vegetables!)

Ingredients

  • 225g toor dal
  • 750ml water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • thumb-sized piece of root ginger
  • a selection of mixed vegetables, chopped into small pieces (I used 1 red onion, 2 green chillies, 3 tomatoes, 2 carrots, 200g green beans, 1 stick of celery, 1 small courgette and a few pre-cooked baby potatoes)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 15 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp sambhar powder (see below)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp tamarind puree (or lemon juice)

Method

  1. First make the dal. Rinse the lentils and check for little stones. Rinse well using a sieve, then place in a large saucepan along with the water, turmeric and salt. Slice the root ginger into fine matchsticks.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Stir occasionally and skim off any scum that rises to the top of the cooking water. Reduce the heat and add the sliced root ginger. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally as the lentils will stick to the bottom of the pan as the liquid starts to evaporate. While the dal is cooking you can prepare the vegetables and spices.
  3. When the dal is cooked, heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the asafoetida, cumin and mustard seeds. Stir-fry until the seeds have started to pop, then add the curry leaves and chilli flakes. Fry for another few seconds before adding the vegetables.
  4. Stir-fry the raw vegetables for a few minutes then add the sambhar masala, stock and tamarind. Now add the cooked dal and stir to combine. Season with a little extra salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
  5. Taste for seasoning, then mix through a handful of chopped fresh coriander and serve.

Serves 6.

Notes

  • I use a commercial sambhar powder, available in any good Asian store. But you can make you own if you wish.
  • This is great recipe for using up any vegetables a little past their prime. You can also add leftover cooked vegetables. This is one of the first things I think of cooking when I have some leftover baby potatoes. Just add the cooked vegetables at the end to warm through.
  • You can add a little cooked basmati rice to make it more substantial or my favourite: a tin of cooked (and rinsed) chickpeas.
  • Needless to say, make sure you chop your vegetables according to cooking time. Carrots will take longer to cook than green beans, for example, so chop them smaller.

Lemon & Coconut Dal

Coconut Dal

This dal has a bit of a South Indian vibe. It uses the same recipe as my Tadka Dal but with the addition of lemon and coconut milk. Serve with some chapatti and poppadoms.

Ingredients

  • 225g toor dal
  • 750ml water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 green chillis
  • 1 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced/finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh coriander, a handful

Method

  1. Rinse the lentils and check for little stones. Rinse well using a sieve, then place in a large saucepan along with the water, turmeric and salt. Make an incision in the green chillies and add them too.
  2. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top of the cooking water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes. Stir regularly as the lentils will stick to the bottom of the pan as the liquid evaporates.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, make the tadka in a separate pan. Heat the butter and oil, then add the whole spices and curry leaves. Stir-fry until the mustard seeds start to pop. Reduce the heat then add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for about 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and browned. Add the chopped tomatoes and ground spices, then cook gently for another 5 minutes.
  4. The lentils should now be fully cooked. Squash the lentils using a potato masher (or use a stick blender) to achieve a creamy consistency. You can add a little extra water if you want a thinner consistency.
  5. Add the tadka to the lentils, then add the coconut milk. Simmer very gently for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir through the fresh coriander and a good squeeze of lemon juice, then serve.

Serves 2-4.

Pomegranate Raita

Pomegranate Raita

If you like dipping poppadoms, this makes a nice alternative to mint raita. Remove the seeds from ½ pomegranate by bashing with a wooden spoon. Drain the seeds of juice and set aside. Take a 1½ cups of greek/natural yoghurt and mix in the pomegranate seeds, a handful of chopped fresh coriander, pinch of garam masala and a little sea salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with a few more pomegranate seeds and serve.

Vegetable Makhanwala

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 6/8

Vegetable Curry

A vegetarian curry? You might think I’ve lost my marbles here, but trust me, this is really good.

I used 2 large carrots, 3 small yellow courgette, 200g green beans, 3 large tomatoes. You could also use broccoli, cauliflower, peas, broad beans, spinach, aubergine or okra. Cooked chickpeas would also work very well with this. Dice the vegetables according to cooking time – for example, carrots should be cut smaller than broccoli etc. Use your own judgment here.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 x 400g canned tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp of each the following: ground coriander, garam masala, paprika, turmeric
  • 800g fresh vegetables, diced
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 100ml cream
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp honey

Method

  1. Place a large pot or casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook the onions gently for around 20 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry-fry gently for another 5 minutes. Take off the heat.
  3. Blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions, garlic and ginger from the pot using a slotted spoon and put in a blender. Add the canned tomatoes and a splash of water. Blend until smooth.
  4. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be some residual oil, but you can add a little extra. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  5. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the ground spices. Add the salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes to cook out the tomatoes and reduce the sauce slightly. Add the diced vegetables along with the dried fenugreek and cook at a gentle simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are cooked to your satisfaction.
  6. Now reduce the heat and finish the dish by adding the cream, butter and honey. Still well to combine and simmer very gently for a minute before serving. Best served with some chapatti or plain white rice.

Serves 6.

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

Tadka Dal

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 1/8

Tadka Dal

Dal is often consigned to the “side dishes” section on restaurant menus, but this hearty lentil curry deserves to take centre-stage. It makes a fantastic meal accompanied by some bread or rice. I think lemon rice makes a particularly nice accompaniment, though this is not very authentic. Tadka dal is more a north Indian specialty, lemon rice being from the south.

Ingredients

  • 225g toor dal
  • 750ml water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • thumb-sized piece of root ginger
  • 2 green chillis
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced/finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp onion (nigella) seeds
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh coriander, a handful

Method

  1. Rinse the lentils and check for little stones. Rinse well using a sieve, then place in a large saucepan along with the water, turmeric and salt. Make an incision in the green chillies and add them too. Slice the root ginger into fine matchsticks and add to the lentils also.
  2. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top of the cooking water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir regularly as the lentils will stick to the bottom of the pan as the liquid evaporates.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, make the tadka in a separate pan. Heat the butter and oil, then add the whole spices and curry leaves. Stir-fry until the mustard seeds start to pop. Reduce the heat then add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for about 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and browned. Add the chopped tomatoes and fenugreek then cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. The lentils should now be fully cooked. Squash the lentils using a potato masher (or use a stick blender) to achieve a creamy consistency. You can add a little extra water if you want a thinner consistency.
  5. Add the tadka to the lentils and simmer very gently for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir through the fresh coriander and a good squeeze of lemon juice, then serve.

Cheat’s Sambar – This recipe can be easily converted into a cheaty version of sambar, a thin lentil soup commonly eaten in South India. When the dal is cooked, add 750ml – 1 litre of good-quality vegetable stock, 2 tsp of tamarind extract and some chopped vegetables. I use canned chickpeas, frozen peas and frozen broad beans. Simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked. This is also a good way of using leftover dal; just use a smaller amount of stock and vegetables until you achieve the desired consistency.