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
1 medium chicken or 2 chicken breasts cut into curry pieces
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).
Heat the oil gently and add the five spice mix. Wait until the seeds sizzle.
Add the onions and cook over a medium flame until golden brown (up to 10 minutes).
Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, cover and cook until soft and pulpy.
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).
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.
Add the water and bring to boil. Simmer for 2 mins, then drop in the green chillies, if using.
Cover and cook on a low flame until the chicken is thoroughly done.
Garnish with coriander leaves, if using, just before serving.
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
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
Heat the oil in a large wok or karahi over a medium flame.
Add the panch phoron and bay leaf. Wait for seeds to sizzle.
Add the onion and cook until soft and golden.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 mins.
Add the dry spices and cook for another minute (adding a splash of water if the spices begin to stick to the pan).
Add the vegetables with the salt. If using frozen vegetables use a wooden spoon to break any chunks.
Stir fry for 10 mins on high heat ensuring they are evenly covered with the spices.
Add a splash of water, stir, then turn down to heat and cover.
Cook for another 5 mins or until the vegetables are just tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK!
Remove from heat and garnish with chopped coriander before serving.
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
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!
Following a healthy diet doesn’t have to mean missing out on a good old bit of spice. You can always add some punch to the simplest of recipes by dry roasting some basic spices to bring out the flavours without the use of oil.
Here’s a very simple soup recipe which I threw together for my family one evening, based on the ‘Tadka Dal’ recipe I teach in class but minus the ‘tadka’. It makes a completely healthy meal in its own right, low in fat whilst high in fiber and protein.
Cooking Time: 30-40 mins
1 cup (240ml) split red lentils (masoor dal)
1 medium tomato, cubed
3 medium carrots, grated
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1″ piece fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dry ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3 cups water
sprig of fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
How to cook
In a small frying pan or karahi, dry roast the cumin and chilli powder until the aromas are released (2-3 mins). Set aside.
In a larger vessel combine all the other ingredients, except the coriander leaves along with the water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 30-40 mins, until the lentils and vegetables have softened.
Remove the pan from the heat and run a hand blender through the mixture until smooth.
Return the pan to the heat and add another 1/2 cup water if the soup appears too thick. Bring back to boil.
Lower the heat and stir in the roasted spices.
Simmer for 3-4 mins until the desired consistency is reached.
Garnish with coriander leaves just before serving.
I had promised myself an early night, but instead, I found myself writing up recipes for this week’s advanced class and then landing here. Oh well, so much for catching up on sleep…
With the chilly weather and uninspiring November rain settling in, we look for pleasure in creature comforts, being the forever wanting mortals that we are. I pictured myself curling up on my cosy, worn out 12-year-old sofa in the conservatory, sipping a cup of freshly brewed Indian Chai, watching the rain wash out my back garden. Now add to that some hot ‘n’ spicy veggie samosas, sweet onion bhajis or garma garam (steaming hot) pakoras and you are transported to the heavenly planes.
A lovely lady who joined my cookery classes earlier this summer has moved onto my advanced course. We have been through several dishes, some of which have been challenging and some rather elaborate. This week’s class where we are making the rather delectable Kashmiri Chai and traditional Indian snacks is a much anticipated one and well timed I would say. A perfect antidote for the Winter blues.
Stay tuned as I will be sharing the recipe for these crispy pakoras in my next post.