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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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.

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.

New Indian Cookery Class in Ewell!

Last year, I took on the role as a school Cook where I thoroughly enjoyed feeding over 200 young children and members of staff. It was a brief but most fascinating experience; one which I would not have foresaken if I had been provided with a fully functional team….but that’s another story…

From Lasagne’s to Butter Chicken Curry, the responses from the children ranged from, “These are the best school dinners ever!” to “I hate curry, yuk!” Each day was a welcome challenge I still miss today.

I have always believed though that all things happen for a reason. Since the first day I started at the school, I had eyed up the Food Tech building at the site where I trained. And much to my satisfaction, this is the venue I have secured to hold this exclusive class where we will be preparing a two course Indian meal.

Date: Friday, 6th Feb 2015
Time: 7-8.30pm
Venue: Glyn School, The Kingsway, Ewell, KT17 1NB

There are only 8 places available so do head on to Eventbrite to book your place as early as possible!

Eventbrite - Indian Cookery Class in Ewell

A True Calling

Paddy & Mustard fields

It wasn’t too long ago that I last visited Dhaka, a place where I spent several of my childhood years.

I grew up with my elder brother in our very comfortable Dhaka home situated opposite the Shongshod Bhobon – the Bangladesh Houses of Parliament. Accustomed to the luxurious living my father had provided for us, and much pampered by our loving mother, the dreaded announcement of our annual visit to my father’s village, Shailan, was always greeted with much objection.

During those days, the roads that led to the family home in the village were a far cry from what they are today. It was an hour long drive, the latter part of which was uncomfortably bumpy, and the subsequent hour of walking under the glaring midday sun, along uneven pathways interrupted only by the sodden paddy fields, was not an appealing thought to the young mind. Add to that the constant scrutiny of the gazing villagers, the sparse communal-style living with the most elementary sanitary facilities, it was a trip my brother and I simply did not look forward to.

That being said, the village offered a freedom which our urban lifestyle could not measure up to. I have fond memories of running through the bright yellow mustard fields under the blue skies, picking ripened kamranga (star fruit) off the trees and playfully teasing the Mimosa leaves with a curious fascination as they closed when touched. By night, we would chase the jonakis (fireflies) by the pukur (lake) close to our dwellings, intent on trapping the bright creatures in a jar! It was with much pride that we would display our accomplishment to the grown ups gathered around the open fire stoves preparing hot pithas (traditional Bengali cakes) in volumes large enough to feed the entire village population!

Ride-A-Nouka (boat)

Ride-A-Nouka (boat)

Such was village life, simple, innocent and carefree.

Much has changed since then with established schools, medical facilities and newly built roads that lead all the way to the family home. But the generosity of the locals and their sense of ‘oneness’ is always there. I hope to return soon to these soils where my mother has been laid to rest.

All images published here are copyright of the amazing photographer Mahbub Shaheed. More stunning photography of Dhaka can be found here.

All Things Chai…

Najma's Blog

Chai for me is to be enjoyed on its own. Simple. No food required. I often long for a ‘dhaba’ (roadside restaurant) style desi (with reference to all things South Asian) chai. The last time I enjoyed the authenticity of sitting by a roadside kiosk at dusk, sipping a hot, sweet masala chai, was during one of my rare visits to Bangladesh – a place where I spent a good part of my childhood. Sadly, most restaurants in London will not serve a tea without a meal…unlike our coffee shops. So whilst my day always starts with a desi cardamom chai, when out and about, like a bee to drawn to nectar, I find myself in my favourite coffee shop ordering a “Grande Soya Chai Tea Latte, extra chai, no water” – a bit of a mouthful but certainly worth the effort. Worth noting: The soya lends a creamy sweetness…

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