Tag Archives: Curry

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Slowly but surely I’m building up my curry recipe collection.  Every now and then, I give one a go, admittedly some are better than others, but, the ones I think have potential eventually end up as an official recipe.  I take the base, do lots of research in my cook books and on the internet, tweak and twist until I get what I want.  Then I practise a few times to make it mine.  This lamb curry has been knocking about with me for a good few years.  For some reason, I can’t remember what, I fell out of love with it, but never forgot it.  Over the last month or so, I’ve resurrected it, got it just so, and now am proud as punch with it.

It follows the basic principle of so many curries in that it is basically a stew, but this one doesn’t have the sharp spike of heat you might associate with Indian food.  The spinach sauce gives a delicious fresh contrast to the sweet fatty lamb.  If you can make a stew you can make this curry.

The Recipe

Preparation Time:  Under 15 minutes
Cooking Time:  About 2 hours

Serves 4 to 6
800gr / 1.7lb  leg of lamb meat, boned, trimmed and cubed
1 large onion, sliced in thin rings
2 tbsps vegetable oil
500gr / 1.1lb of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
100gr / 3.5 oz. of fresh ginger peeled and halved
3 green chilies, pricked with a knife
1 green chili, cut in half with the stalk removed
2 tbsps coriander powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
2 x tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
Serve with some natural yogurt on the side or drizzled over the curry

Lamb and Spinach Curry  Method

  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, then add the lamb, let it brown on quite a high heat being careful not to overload your pan – you may need to do this in batches. Resist the temptation to try and move the meat around the pan straight away.  If you do this too soon, before it has browned, it will stick.
  2. Add the chopped onions and the three pierced green chilies, stir through the meat. Allow the onions to cook until soft and browned lightly, a few minutes should do this.
  3. While the onions are cooking add the garlic, ginger, remaining chili, spinach and tomatoes to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the spices and some a little salt to the pan, stir through.
  5. Pour the spinach mixture into your pan and mix it through the meat. Bring to the boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, turn to a low heat and let simmer gently for about one and a half hours or until the lamb is tender and cooked through.
  6. Remove the three chilies after about an hour. If you don’t they will disintegrate and you will have a really hot curry (unless of course you want this).
  7. Check the salt and also the balance of spices before serving. You may want it spicier or want to add a little extra of a certain spice.  If you do add more spices, cook for a few more minutes before serving.

Tips and Variations              

  • You can easily add more vegetables to this dish, aubergines (egg plant) work well.
  • If you are serving with rice, try making it fragrant by adding a cinnamon stick and some lime leaves while it cooks.
  • The idea is that this is quite a dry curry, but you can add more water to it if you want a more liquid version.
  • When making curry, I always measure my spice powders into a bowl before I start cooking. This is much easier than trying to do this quickly when everything is bubbling.
  • Basically, this recipe follows the same technique as a stew, so, that means it is important not to let it cook too aggressively. To tenderize the meat, your curry needs to cook gently.

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Southern Indian Vegetable Curry

Southern Indian Vegetable Curry

Southern Indian Vegetable Curry

Before I say anything else, please, please don’t be put off by the list of ingredients for the curry.  It’s mostly just spices, and in no way means that this is a complicated recipe, in fact it is pretty simple.

Ok, now that’s out of the way I can tell you that as a confirmed meat eater this is a really satisfying dish.  I’ve said (sorry if I’m beginning to repeat myself) that there is only one place I could consider being vegetarian, and that’s Sicily.  Well, I have to eat my words (and believe me, if it were possible I would) and tell you that India could also persuade me to give up meat.

It’s the spice I think that does it, it charms and disarms the carnivore and before you know it you realise that you’re not even looking at the ‘non-veg’ options on their menu’s.  Of course it’s got something to do with the environment you’re in, the culture, the climate, I know how that can affect eating habits, but even after coming home I found myself eating less meat and turning more and more to spice.

Although I love meat, I don’t eat a huge amount and one of the many things I learnt in India was that I wanted to eat even less.  So, if you feel like cutting down a little too, but not giving up on the flavour or enjoyment of your food, this could be a really great place to start.

South Indian Vegetable Curry

Preparation Time:  25 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4 to 6
For the Curry Paste
1 x tsp of fennel seeds
2 x tsp of cumin seeds
2 x tsp of coriander powder
2 x tsp turmeric
2 x tsp Kashmiri chili powder
1 x tsp cinnamon
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
6 x tbsp. of desiccated coconut
3 x red chilies, stalks removed and halved
4 x large garlic cloves
2 x medium tomatoes, quartered
1 x red onion, quartered
1 x tbsp. of tomato puree
4 x tbsp. of water

For the Vegetables
2 x tbsp. of vegetable oil (I normally use sunflower)
1 red onion sliced thinly
700gr / 1.5lb cauliflower florets (a small cauly will do).  Cut or tear the florets into quite small,  bite sized sections.
1 x aubergine (eggplant), diced
2 x red peppers with the seeds and stalks removed and then diced
200gr / 7oz. x green beans, topped and tailed and cut into 2cm / 1 in. pieces
1 x tbsp. of honey
1 x tbsp. of red wine vinegar (or other vinegar if you don’t have the red wine variety)
Salt to taste

To Serve
Some natural yogurt and fresh coriander leaves.

Method

  1. Grind the fennel and cumin seeds. If you are feeling particularly worthy or in need of some exercise you can do this by hand with a pestle and mortar, but, if like me you just want your dinner, do it in a little electric spice or coffee grinder.  Oh, but if you use a coffee grinder, keep it for spices only.
  2. Place the ground fennel and cumin with the rest of the ingredients listed under the heading ‘for the curry paste’ in a blender and whizz up until you get a smooth puree. If it is not blending as smooth as you want it, add a little more water to loosen up the mix.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottom soup or stew pan and add the sliced red onion, frying on a medium high heat until it browns.
  4. Add the curry paste, a little salt, the vinegar and honey, stir through and cook at a medium simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the red pepper, stir through, cover with a close fitting lid and cook for about 7 minutes. Check after a minute to make sure your temperature is correct, it should be simmering gently.
  6. Then add the cauliflower and aubergine (eggplant), again stir through to cover it in your curry paste, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Then it’s the beans, cook for a further 7 to 10 minutes.  The curry is ready when the vegetables have softened but still retain a little bite.
  7. This curry should be quite thick, but because of all the vegetables and depending on how much water you added to blend your paste, it may be thinner than you wish. To thicken, remove the lid from the pan, turn up the heat and allow to reduce for a minute or two.
  8. Check your curry for seasoning, you may need to add some more salt or you may want a little more heat in the form of fresh or powdered chili. You can even add more sweetness with an extra squeeze of honey.

Tips and Variations

  • You can vary the combination of vegetables as much as you wish – it’s a really handy recipe for using up veggies lurking in the back of the fridge that are perhaps past their best. Just remember different vegetables have different cooking times – you don’t want it turning to mush.
  • Try this mix with peppers (red and green) and tofu, this is one of my favourite variations.
  • Asafoetida is a powder that you will find in some specialist shops or Indian deli’s. It’s derived from a root and is often used in Southern Indian vegetable dishes and has an earthy, oniony flavour.  It’s not to everyone’s taste and can take a bit of getting used to.  To be honest I tend not to use it as I find at home I really don’t enjoy it the way I did when travelling in India.
  • This curry is a bit of a mix of a Goa style and Kerala curry. You can see the Goa influence with the addition of a little bit of vinegar – this came from the time when the area was colonized by the Portuguese.  And of course no Kerala curry would be complete without the use of coconuts.

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Spinach and Paneer Curry

Spinach and Paneer Curry

Spinach and Paneer Curry:

Ever since my south Indian travels I’ve been working on getting to grips with some of my favourite food from the trip.  This curry with spinach and paneer (Indian fresh cheese) is really fresh and light and, it uses a very (in my opinion) exotic spice –  asafoetida.  This spice has a sort of earthy onion type aroma and flavour and in its raw form is a root like ginger or turmeric.  In the South of India they use it in a lot of vegetarian curries.  I had heard of it, but I had absolutely no idea how to use it.  That’s the great thing about travelling to the places where your favourite food originates, you get to taste how it should taste and that makes it so much easier to understand how to use it.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes 

Serves 4
500gr / 1.1 lb. of paneer cut into cubes (you can also use tofu)
For the Curry
2 x tbsp of sunflower oil
2 x red onions, quartered
2 x large tomatoes, quartered
4 x large garlic cloves
2 x tsp of cumin
1 x tsp of turmeric
3 x tsp of coriander
3 x tsp of cardamom
1 x tsp f fenugreek
¼ tsp of asafetida (optional)
¼ tsp of salt

For the Spinach
500gr / 1.1 lb. of fresh spinach, cleaned and the most woody stems removed.
2 x green chili’s
2 x large cloves of garlic
75gr  / 2.5 oz. piece of peeled ginger

Method 

  1. Place the spinach leaves in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes.  Remove them and plunge them into a bowl of iced water.  This keeps the vibrant green colour.
  2. Put all the curry ingredients (except for the oil) into a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Set aside.
  3. Drain the spinach and put  it in the food processor with the chili’s, garlic and ginger and blitz until smooth.
  4. Heat the oil in a non stick pan and cook the curry sauce for about 3 minutes.  Add the spinach mix and stir through, cooking on a medium heat for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Add the paneer, stir through and check for salt before serving.

Tips and Variations

  • This can be served as a main dish or without the paneer it makes a great side dish to a curry menu.

Spinach and Paneer Curry

Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese

 

Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese Spiced Griddled Indian Paneer Cheese

So, now that you’ve made your cheese (or maybe you haven’t – don’t worry, I wouldn’t do that to you, there are other options below) here’s a great idea to spice it up.  This is something I ate in Kerala as a starter to a fabulous fish meal at the Bait Restaurant just outside Kovalam.  Some of this cheese, dipped in mint chutney and a cold Kingfisher beer – what better way to start off your curry night? 

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes. 

Serves 4
400gr (just under 1 lb.) of paneer cheese cut into oblongs (about pinky finger sized)
1 x large garlic clove
1 x green chili
1 x tsp nutmeg
2 x tsp honey
1 x tbsp sunflower oil
Juice of a lime (about 2 x tbsps)
A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
4 x tsps of coriander powder
2 x tsps of cumin powder
8 dried curry leaves (or 4 fresh)
A pinch of salt

Method 

  1. Place all the ingredients, except for the cheese, in a food processor and whizz up until everything is very fine. Check for salt.
  2. Rub the mix over each piece of your cheese to cover each side as best you can.
  3. Heat a grill pan until it is very hot. Place each piece in the pan turning them every 30 seconds or so to brown each side and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Tips and Variations

  • If you can’t get a hold of paneer cheese try this with halloumi or tofu.
  • Serve with some mint chutney, mango chutney or chili style dip.
  • Great served with a cold beer.

How to Make Indian Paneer Cheese

How to Make Indian Paneer Cheese

How to Make Indian Paneer Cheese

I’m a cheese eater, I’ve been a cheese seller and now I’m a cheese maker (aren’t they supposed to be blessed?).

When I was in the phase of cheese seller, clients used to ask me why I didn’t make my own cheese.  At first I’d laugh, thinking they were joking, but looking at their dead pan face I realised they were serious.  I never considered it because I’ve visited and bought from so many small cheese makers in the Netherlands and all over Europe and there was no way I’d even attempt to recreate the dedication, quality and passion of these people.  They are a special bunch the cheese makers.

Now that I’m no longer in the business of selling cheese and fall again into the category of eating cheese I feel that this is the time to give making cheese making a go.  Especially as I was reminded on a recent trip to India how easy their cheese is to make.  So, after some eating, interviewing and research, I found my preferred method.

Indian Paneer cheese is a fresh cheese and is meant to be eaten within a few days of production.  They use it in their curries or just as a snack.  It’s creamy and delicious and there is something really special about saying that you made it yourself.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Time Needed to Press the Cheese: From 15 minutes up to an hour.
You’ll need some cheese cloth for this recipe.

 Makes 400gr (just under 1 lb.) of Paneer Cheese
2 x liters / UK 3.5 pt. / US 4.2 pt. of whole milk (I like to use goat’s milk)
100ml / 3.5 fl. oz. lemon juice
½ tsp of salt

Method 

  1. Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan until it starts to steam and become foamy, almost at boiling point. You may want to stir it a little to make sure it doesn’t burn while it heats.  It’s best to watch the milk as it can boil up all of a sudden.
  2. Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. It should start to curdle and split out into lumpy curds and watery whey.
  3. Cover the pan and leave the milk to cool and curdle further for about 10 minutes.
  4. If you discover that the milk isn’t curdling, you can add a little more lemon juice. Note that UHT milk products won’t curdle.
  5. Set a colander or sieve in a mixing bowl and line it with your cheese cloth. Scoop your curds from the pan with a slotted spoon into the cloth and allow the whey to drain off into the bowl.  Add a little salt to the curds and gently fork it through.

How to Make Indian Paneer Cheese

6. Gather the cheese, twist it and squeeze gently but firmly to get rid of most of the whey.

How to Make Indian Paneer Cheese

7. Place the curds, still in the cloth, onto a plate, form the curds roughly to flatten them a little into a square or round shape.

8. Then you need to press the curds to form cheese. You need some weight for this.  I use a heavy pan with a few tins inside.

How to Make Indian Paneer Cheese

9.  Leave for 15 minutes or up to an hour to take shape.

10.  Remove the cheese from the cloth and use it immediately or you can chill it first. You can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days.

Tips and Variations

  • You can use the left over whey in baking recipes in place of water or you can use it in smoothies or even drink it if you wish.
  • Use this cheese to make spinach and paneer curry or, I like to give it a spice rub, grill it and serve it with some mint chutney as a starter or with drinks.
  • Instead of lemon juice you can use vinegar. You may want to rinse the curds off though, the vinegar flavour seems to stay around more than the lemon juice.

How to Make Indian Paneer Cheese