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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- While the onions are cooking add the garlic, ginger, remaining chili, spinach and tomatoes to a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add the spices and some a little salt to the pan, stir through.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
Simple Samosa Recipe
My simple samosa recipe came about because I’m not that keen on making pastry. I don’t have the patience for a lot of the recipes, you know the ones where you have to chill it for hours, that kind of thing. So, I’m always looking for ways to make the pastry part of baking as easy as I can. One of my favourite ways is to swap various sorts of pastry for ready-made filo. Not only is this a easier option, but a healthier one too as it has less fat (relatively).
This is a great snack to have as part of a curry based meal, or it has proven a firm favourite when friends gather for beers to watch various sporting events.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Time to Build the Samosa’s : 30 minutes
Baking Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Ingredients for about 25 to 30 Samosa’s
2 x tbsp of sunflower oil
6 x spring onions chopped finely
1 x tbsp of honey
2 x tsp tomato purée
400gr / 14 oz. of potatoes, boiled, cooled and crushed roughly with a fork
2 x tsps garam masala
2 x tsps ground turmeric
1 x tsp ground coriander
1 x tsp chili powder (more if you want it hotter)
200gr / 7 oz. frozen peas (de-frosted) or of course you can use fresh
4 large sheets of filo pastry (or about 400 to 500gr / approximately 1lb)
Sesame Seeds or poppy seeds to decorate.
Salt to taste.
- Heat the oven to 220°C.
- Line a roasting tray (s) with baking paper.
- Heat half of the oil in a non-stick pan and add the onions, cooking on a medium heat for a few minutes.
- Add the spices allowing it cook through for a minute of minutes, add the honey and tomato puree and mix through.
- Then add the potatoes and the peas mixing them through the curry spice until covered. You may need to mash a little to get a paste sort of consistency. If you find it a bit dry, just add a little water, a few drops only though, about a tbsp or so.
- Check for seasoning and adjust if needed, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Cut a sheet of filo into 4 strips or strips of about 5cm / 2in. depending on the size of your filo sheets.
- Brush each strip of filo around the edges with a little oil.
- Place about a tbsp spoon or so at the bottom end of one or your filo strips, slightly to the left corner.
- Taking the area where you have placed the filling, lift it and fold it to meet the other edge at the bottom of the strip at a diagonal, giving you a triangle shape. Repeat this process from left to right until you reach the end of your strip of filo
- Repeat until you have used your mix, brush with a little oil, sprinkle with seeds is you wish and place roasting tray and then into the oven.
- Place each samosa onto your lined baking sheet.
- Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are nice and brown
Tips and Variations
- Serve with some sweet chili dip sauce or some mango chutney.
- For a meaty version try with minced beef or lamb instead of potatoes, or even as well as.
- The filo is pre-bought and I find it in the freezer area of the supermarket – but you can also try Turkish shops.
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Asian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks
I’m not trying to jump on the bandwagon or anything when I say I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I don’t. It has been a conscious decision, I used to eat a lot (too much) red and processed meat every day, in fact, I ate too much of everything every day. When I say I don’t eat much now, I’m talking more about portion sizes. I still eat red meat, maybe once a week at home, but mostly when I eat out – it’s a treat after all. My meat of choice at home is chicken, or fish, but mostly chicken – which I eat at home probably twice a week (maybe even more), so I’m always looking for and coming up with lots of ideas as to how to cook it.
I used to use a lot of skinless chicken fillets, but, to be very honest, there’s not much flavour there, so I’m a real convert to thigh and leg meat. Here’s my latest way to enjoy a drumstick.
Marinating Time: Minimum an hour, but up to 5 hours.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 to 30 minutes
12 chicken drumsticks.
For the Marinade
75gr / 2.5 oz. grated ginger
2 x tsp 5 spice powder
2 x tsp chilli powder (or more if you want it hotter)
3 x tbsp light soy sauce
4 x tbsp honey
4 x tbsp tomato ketchup
Juice of 2 limes (about 4 to 5 tbsp)
3 x cloves of garlic, crushed
2 x tbsp sesame oil
A couple of finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
Some toasted sesame seeds
Optional – some natural yogurt
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife make a couple of deep slashes on each of the drumsticks so that marinade can get around the meat. Place the chicken in it and cover in the drumsticks in the mix. Cover the bowl with some cling film and put in the fridge to marinate.
- Set the oven to heat to 200°C / 400°F. Line a roasting tray with aluminium foil, place the chicken pieces into it and pour over any remaining marinade.
- The drumsticks need about 20 to 30 minutes to cook. This will depend on how meaty those legs are and also how your oven works. Check the chicken after 20 minutes by inserting a sharp knife to the thickest part of the meat close to the bone and if is ready the meat should be white and any juices should be clear. You want colour on the outside and a succulent inside.
- If there is enough marinade in the roasting tray, you can mix it with a little natural yogurt (to your taste) and serve as a dip with the drumsticks.
- To serve, sprinkle the drumsticks with some toasted sesame seeds and the chopped spring onions.
Tips and Variations
- You can make these in advance and serve at room temperature – good for picnics.
- I like to serve the drumsticks with some rice and a simple salad.
Harissa Meatballs with Turkish Bread
Unless you are cooking for vegetarians, meatballs are a real crowd pleaser (but there are options for a more falafel style for our vegetarian friends). You can dress them up for a dinner party with a really classy tomato sauce, or you can keep their feet on the ground and use them in sandwiches. I’m going a bit in between with this recipe, it’s basically a sandwich, but, the meatballs have some sophisticated spices to give them a nice kick and keep things interesting. And it’s not just the meatballs I’ve jazzed up, I’ve got some nice ideas for you to pack into the bread to satisfy every taste sensation.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
For the Meatballs
350gr / 12 oz. minced lamb
1 x small carrot, finely grated (about 100gr / 3.5 oz. )
2 x large garlic cloves, crushed
75gr / 2.5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 x spring onions (scallions), chopped finely (keep back a handful of the green parts)
1 x handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 x tbsp. of harissa paste
2 x heaped tsp cumin powder
1 x heaped tsp coriander powder
1 x heaped tsp paprika powder
1 x tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
2 x tbsp. olive oil for frying.
1 or 2 Turkish breads (depending on how big they are) or you can use pitta breads.
2 x large tomatoes (nice and ripe) sliced thinly
1 x red onion, sliced thinly
About 8 leaves of a Kos lettuce, shredded
175ml / 6 fl. oz. natural yogurt
The green tops from your spring onions (scallions)
½ a clove of garlic, grated or crushed
Juice of half a lemon
A pinch of salt
- Place all the ingredients for the meatballs, except the oil, in a large mixing bowl and with clean hands mix it together. Get your fingers right into the meat and squeeze it through your hands repeatedly to get an even mix. Taste for seasoning and flavour and adjust accordingly.
- Make small balls by rolling the mix in your hands, the balls should be roughly walnut sized, set them aside on a plate.
- Heat the olive oil on a medium setting in a non-stick frying pan and get a clean plate ready to receive the cooked meatballs.
- Place the balls in the pan, being careful not to overload your pan – if you do, the heat will decrease and it’ll be difficult to get a nice brown finish – you’ll stew them rather than fry them. You may need to cook the balls in batches.
- The balls will need about 4 to 6 minutes on each side depending on how big you have made them. I say each side because I tend to cook them on two opposite sides. You can make this a little easier for yourself by pressing on the balls to flatten them a little.
- Once the meatballs are cooked, you should have quite a bit of cooking juices in the pan, this is flavour, so here is an idea on how to capture it. Return the pan to a high heat with all the cooking juices still in there, toss in the red onions and allow to brown, stirring occasionally. De-glaze with the lemon juice and add a little salt if needed.
- Mix the yogurt, spring onion (scallion) tops, garlic and a small pinch of salt and set aside.
- If you’re using Turkish bread, slice it length ways and into triangles. Make up sandwiches with the lettuce, some tomato, onion, meatballs and a drizzle of the yogurt sauce.
Tips and Variations
- Harissa paste is originally a Tunisian ingredient but can be found in recipes from other countries in north Africa. Each brand varies in its spiciness, so make sure you taste it before you add too much. If you want your meatballs spicier but don’t want to add any more paste, use some chili powder.
- The only way to know if your meatball is seasoned and tasty is to taste it when it’s raw. This is why you should only buy your meat from a good butcher that you trust.
- You can swap the carrot for oats, I often do.
- The best way to roll meatballs is with wet hands, run them under water and the mix won’t stick to you.
- The meatballs can be served hot or cold, they’ll keep for a few days in the fridge and you can freeze them if you wish.
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
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
- 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.
- Put all the curry ingredients (except for the oil) into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Set aside.
- Drain the spinach and put it in the food processor with the chili’s, garlic and ginger and blitz until smooth.
- 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.
- 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.