Shahi Chicken Korma

I usually whip up recipes blogs in minutes, but this, I must say has taken a bit of doing…Just knowing when to throw things into a pan doesn’t make it any easier to write some not-so-simple recipes. But I promise you, the effort for this one is worth every precious minute of your time.

You will find many variants of this recipe, some of which use ingredients such as cashews, khoya (reduced milk) and/or cream. Cashews are a complete ‘no-no’ in my cooking due to my daughter’s allergy (she is miraculously tolerant to almonds); khoya simply wasn’t in my cupboard so I used desiccated coconut with milk to create a creamy richness. And of course, I substituted cream with condensed milk.

So without further adieu, I bring to you Shahi (meaning ‘prestige’) Chicken Korma, aptly named as a dish fit for a royal 🙂

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 50 mins

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 500g boneless chicken, cut into small pieces ( I used thigh meat)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • I large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic (OR 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste (OR 1” piece root ginger, finely grated)
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 4 tbsp desiccated coconut soaked in ½ cup milk for 20-30 mins
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • ½ cup condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp rose or kewra water
  • 2-3 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil gently in a medium heavy based pan or wok.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle and change colour – approx. 20 secs.
  3. Add the onions and chilli flakes. Turn up the heat to a medium flame and fry until softened and lightly golden.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook off for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer this onion mixture into a blender, add the soaked coconut with milk and the ground almonds. Blend to a smooth mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a medium flame until any excess liquid has reduced.
  8. Add the chicken pieces and turn up the heat. Cook until the chicken is sealed – approx. 5-8 minutes, depending on the heat.
  9. Add the turmeric, coriander, chilli, garam masala and salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes
  10. Stir in the mace and remove from the heat.
  11. Gently stir in the condensed milk and mix in well.
  12. Return the pan to a medium heat and 1½ cups of hot water. Bring to boil.
  13. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until chicken is tender (approx. 30 mins).
  14. Stir in the rose or kewra water and garnish with flaked almonds, if using.
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Sabut Masoor Dal (Whole Red Lentils)

One of my favourite lentil curries often made at my in-laws, I have just reduced the use of oil to the bare minimum 😊 Enjoy with naan, boiled rice or fragrant zeera (cumin) rice for a wholesome, healthy and heart-warming dish on a cold winter’s day.

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 45 mins

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole red lentils
  • 3 cups water + plus a more during cooking
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green chilliest ( optional)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste, or 2 cloves finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Fresh ginger slivers and lemons wedges (optional garnish)

How to prepare

  1. Rinse the lentils and pressure cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
  2. Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the cumin. Wait till they change colour.
  3. Add the onions and green chilli; cook until the onions have softened.
  4. Add the garlic and cook off for 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the tomato with the salt, cover and cook until softened completely.
  6. Add the dry spices and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add a little water and continue cooking to create a semi-dry mixture – ‘bhuna’.
  8. Add the cooked lentils to the pan and mix well.
  9. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot water, stir again and bring to boil.
  10. Simmer the dal until the desired consistently is achieved – add more water if you preferred a runnier curry.
  11. Stir in the coriander leaves and remove from the heat.
  12. Top with the ginger slivers and lemon wedges, if using.

Gobi Bhuna

A delicious yet simple semi-dry dish, best enjoyed with traditional roti or in a wrap for a satisfyingly healthy meal!

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp level curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped

How to prepare

  1. Rinse the cauliflower and leave aside to drain.
  2. Heat the oil gently and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Wait till they change colour; stir in the dried chilli and curry leaves.

3. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook gently for 1 min.

4. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower and salt; turn up the heat and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

5. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes.

6. Add a splash of water, lower the heat, cover and cook until then cauliflower is tender.

7. Stir in the coriander leaves and serve.

Spicy Aubergine Stew

Last night I was ‘Desperately Seeking Spice’ and discovered a plump aubergine hiding out in my refrigerator 😊 I had 45 minutes to present something palatable and suitably spicy before it was time to break my fast. So I decided to cut out the elaborate prep and just throw it all into one of my dinky little woks and hey presto!

Prep time: 3 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large aubergine, cubed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the oil, into the wok and mix well.
  2. Drizzle the oil and stir in.
  3. Cover and allow to cook until the aubergine is tender.

Word of caution: Those normally adverse to aubergine may just be tempted to delve in so keep the dish by your side and only offer to share at the risk of missing out 😜

Achari Chicken

Good to be back here! It’s a long shift in my kitchen tonight as I prep for a private catering event later today. Christmas parties everywhere! The biriyani masala mix is well under way, wafting its aromas at this rather ungodly hour 😳

While I wait, having of course done all my chopping, I thought a bit of blogging wouldn’t go amiss given it has been a while…

Last week I cooked this flavoursome traditional dish which, as the name suggests, does not use archar (pickle) in the recipe at all! No, no no. The achari tanginess is created with my favourite good old Bengali ‘five spice’ mix. I still remember the flavour created by this incredible concoction of five seeds when my grandma made her delectable chicken curry during our rare visits to see her in Bangladesh.

So this is how it goes:

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • img_27091 medium chicken or 2 chicken breasts cut into curry pieces
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon panch phoron (five spice mix)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger purée
  • 1 tbsp garlic purée
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 200g chopped tinned tomato
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 hot cup water
  • 2 green chillies (optional)
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

How to cook

  1. Wash and drain the chicken well (although it’s best not to wash the chicken to prevent campylobacter cells from spreading – the most common cause of food poisoning; cooking the chicken thoroughly will remove this as well as other bacteria – read NHS article here).
  2. Heat the oil gently and add the five spice mix. Wait until the seeds sizzle.
  3. Add the onions and cook over a medium flame until golden brown (up to 10 minutes).
  4. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, cover and cook until soft and pulpy.
  6. Mash down the tomato mixture with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the turmeric, ground coriander, cumin, chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Add a splash of water if the mixture becomes dry. Stir well and allow to ‘bhuna’ (i.e. the oil should separate from the spices and float to the top).
  7. Stir in the the chicken pieces ensuring they are well coated with the spice mixture. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium-high flame, ensuring the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Add the water and bring to boil. Simmer for 2 mins, then drop in the green chillies, if using.
  9. Cover and  cook on a low flame until the chicken is thoroughly done.
  10. Garnish with coriander leaves, if using, just before serving.

Enjoy 😊

 

Cauliflower and Lentil Curry tempered with Fennel, Cumin and Mustard Seeds

Where do I even begin! I have been run down most of the week struggling to teach my yoga class on Wedneaday and not able to go to the gym since Monday 😱 I was determined to make the day count so at the first sign of recovery I felt my creative juices flowing again. So here we are, a popular vegetarian curry which I have just added a bit of this and that to and adapted to my own liking; gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, low fat and rather delicious 😜 Perfect for my yoga students 🙏🏼

Rich in protein with a good balance of veg and just a tablespoon of oil this is a nutritious meal in itself. Of course if you need your carbs just pour two generous dollops over some boiled rice.

I actually made it to the gym this afternoon and helped myself to two bowlfuls upon my return. Guilt-free pleasures of my simple life 😊🙏🏼

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2 cups red lentils

6 cups water

2 tbsp ginger purée

1 small cauliflower, separated into small florets

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

2 green chillies (optional)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin, roasted

1/2 tsp chilli powder

Salt to taste

Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

For the Tempering

1 tbsp veg oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp dried curry leaves

HOW TO COOK

1. Wash the lentils and place in a medium saucepan with the water.

2. Add the ginger, onion, dry spices and salt.

3. Stir well and bring to boil.

4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft.

5. Strike in the cauliflower, tomato and green chillies, if using).

6. Cover and cook on medium heat until the cauliflower is tender – about 10 minutes.

7. To prepare the tempering, gently heat the oil in a small wok or frying pan.

8. Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and mustard seeds. Allow them to sizzle.

9. Stir in the garlic and cook until browned.

10. Mix in the curry leaves.

11. Pour this mixture over the curry. Stir in and cover the pan to allow the flavours to infuse through the dish.

12. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

Curried Red Lentil Stew

A simple, nutritious protein rich dish to be enjoyed as a meal in itself or served over a bed of rice. 

 Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 40 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1.5 cups red lentils

1 red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1″ root ginger, minced

1 tomato, chopped

2 celery sticks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp grounded cumin, preferably roasted

1/4 red pepper flakes or chilli powder

Salt to taste

2-3 cups water

For the tempering

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 bay leaf

6-7 curry leaves

How to cook

  1. Wash and drain the lentils and place in a medium saucepan with the water.
  2. Add the vegetables, garlic, ginger, onions and spices.
  3. Stir well and bring to boil.
  4. Cover and simmer over a low flame for 30 mins or until the lentils and vegetables have softened.
  5. Gently mash using a wooden spoon, add the chilli and salt.
  6. Cook uncovered for another five minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from the heat.
  7. Place a small non-stick pan over a medium flame and heat the olive oil.
  8. Add the mustard seeds and allow to sizzle.
  9. Stir in the garlic and cook until slightly browned.
  10. Add the bayleaf and curry leaves and stir through.
  11. Pour the tempered spices over the cooked stew and cover immediately to seal the frangrance.
  12. Stir well before serving.
Aside

 

Curry pastes are readily available in the ‘World Food’ isles in most large supermarkets nowadays or from food retail wholesalers. They are easy to use as the paste simply needs to be dissolved and cooked to your desired consistency. The sauce can then be used to create a variety of meat, poultry, vegetable or seafood dishes.

However, if you are having trouble sourcing the paste or would simply rather make your own, this simple recipe guides you through the steps for making a batch of Chinese Curry Sauce for up to four portions.

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil (if obtainable)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 medium onion (cut into chunks)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (depending on size)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 ground cumin
  • 1/2 ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 tsp mild or hot Madras curry powder
  • 1 tbsp soya salt
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • salt and pepper as needed

Chinese Curry Sauce

How to cook

  1. Gently heat the oil and cook the onions until slightly browned.
  2. Add the garlic, star anise and chilli flakes. Stir fry until the garlic is slightly browned.
  3. Add the flour, cumin, ginger, five spice powder, curry powder, salt and pepper and cook gently for 30 secs until a paste starts to form.
  4. Gradually add the water whilst stirring to make a lump free sauce.
  5. Bring to boil and simmer until the mixtures has thickened slightly (no more than 10 minutes).
  6. Remove from the heat and blend the mixture with a stick (hand) blender. If the sauce it too thick, add a little boiled water and simmer for another 1-2 minutes.
  7. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Your sauce can now be used immediately or cooled and refrigerated for up to three days or stored in the freezer for 3 months.

Chinese Curry Sauce

Mackerel with Spinach (Macher Chorchori)

mackerel_with_spinach.jpg-pwrt3Based on the traditional Bengali dish known as ‘chorchori’ (medley) this is variation which I learnt to cook from my father, a master of culinary creativity. An easy to cook recipe bursting with flavour and goodness.

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 2

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tin mackerel fillets in brine, drained
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • ½ tbsp garlic paste, or 1 fresh clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste or 1” piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-7 blocks of frozen spinach
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 green chilli, chopped (optional)
  • handful of fried fenugreek leaves (optional)

Method:

1. Heat the oil and add the bay leaf.

2. Add the onions and cook on medium heat until transparent.

3. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1-2 mins.

4. Add the dry spices and sauté for 2 mins with 2 tbsp water.

5. Add the mackerel and stir well to cover with spices, using a wooden spoon to break up the fillets.

6. Add the spinach and green chilli (if using), stir a little and cover; leave to cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

7. Stir the spinach well to blend in with the fish mixture. Cover and cook again, if necessary, until the spinach is cooked through.

8. Remove the lid and turn up heat to evaporate any excess liquid.

9. Continue stirring and remove from heat when the dish is completely dry and begins to come away from the sides of the pan as you stir.

10. Stir in the dried fenugreek leaves, if using, and remove from heat.

As published in the Wimbledon Guardian, 12 December 2013

Shobji Bhaji (Vegetable Stir Fry)

Sometimes there really is nothing like good old Bengali cooking.

This is a very simple, yet beautifully presentable recipe, representative of the staple ‘dry’ vegetable dish served with every Bangladeshi meal. The panch phoron seeds lend a wonderfully aromatic flavour that is so typical of Bengali cooking.

The key here is to stir fry the vegetables over a high heat, using little or no water. This will ensure that the vegetables do not stick together and become and mushy.

Cooking Time: 20 mins

Serves: 3-4  

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp panch phoron (bengali five spice mix)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ piece root ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp ground, roasted cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 250g mixed veg (fresh or frozen)
  • 2-3 small new potatoes, diced
  • salt to taste
  • fresh, chopped coriander to garnish each piece

How to cook

  1. Heat the oil in a large wok or karahi over a medium flame.
  2. Add the panch phoron and bay leaf. Wait for seeds to sizzle.
  3. Add the onion and cook until soft and golden.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 mins.
  5. Add the dry spices and cook for another minute (adding a splash of water if the spices begin to stick to the pan).
  6. Add the vegetables with the salt. If using frozen vegetables use a wooden spoon to break any chunks.
  7. Stir fry for 10 mins on high heat ensuring they are evenly covered with the spices.
  8. Add a splash of water, stir, then turn down to heat and cover.
  9. Cook for another 5 mins or until the vegetables are just tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK!
  10. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped coriander before serving.