This is the most wonderful and complex soup I have had for a while and I already have some soup recipes on this blog that are truly wonderful. The soup combines tamarind with sweet potato and many other good ingredients such as cumin, coconut milk, star anise – the result is a mix of flavour competing for attention in a marvellous way. It is a Gordon Ramsay recipe that I found on the Times Online site. This is what he says:
Tamarind is a sharp and sour paste extracted from the seed pods that grow on trees in southeast Asia and India. You’ll find it in most supermarkets. The sweetness from the potato complements the sharpness from the tamarind perfectly in this recipe. You can substitute the potato with butternut squash or really ripe plantain.
50ml sesame oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 star anise
700g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
400ml coconut milk
3 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp light soy sauce
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
Handful of basil and mint leaves, shredded
Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, chilli (seeds as well) and dry spices and fry for a minute until the spices smell fragrant.
Add the potatoes and pour in the coconut milk. Stir in the tamarind and soy sauce, then add enough stock to cover the potatoes. Bring the soup to the boil, cover with a lid and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Pick out the star anise and discard.
Remove the pan from the heat and blend until smooth. Pass the soup through a sieve into a clean pan. Stir in more stock or water until you have the right consistency, then reheat. Season with more soy sauce or salt to taste and add the herbs just before serving.
I also added some jambon pieces recently cut off the bone. Perfect texture and salty flavour to complement the soup.
Another Indian side dish to join spiced okra in my Indian cooking escapades. Both spinach and cheese are popular in this household so how wrong could it go? Also, saag paneer is one of the dishes I tend to order when having an Indian meal (which is rarely until now).
I used this BBC food recipe but instead of fresh spinach I got a bag of frozen one from Waitrose, which did just as well. Useful metric: cooking 10oz of frozen spinach will deliver the equivalent of 1lb of fresh, cooked one.
750g/1½lb baby spinach, washed (I used >500g of frozen spinach)
3 tbsp vegetable oil (a bit less as I always try to go easy on fats)
1 tsp cumin seeds (only had ground cumin which I added after the onions, as they were frying)
1 large onion, chopped
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into long julienne
1½ tbsp chopped garlic
1-2 green chillies, whole (got confused about this, but followed the recipe and discovered that whole chilli does transfer enough heat to dish. Chopped would have ruined it with too much heat).
2 tsp ground coriander (I only had seeds so crushed them myself)
salt, to taste
250g/8¾oz ready-made paneer (I found mine in Waitrose), cut into cubes (these were cut into 1cm cubes, but got a request to chop them smaller next time or quickly fry them before adding to spinach to have them a little more heated through)
½-1 tsp garam masala
6 tbsp whole milk, or 4 tbsp double cream (I used cream, so the fat I avoided in less oil shows up here. Better place, I say.)
1-2 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
Blanch the spinach in hot water for three minutes or until wilted. Drain into a colander and run cold water over it until cool. In a food processor or blender, blend to a smooth paste and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the cumin and fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add the onion and fry over a low heat for about six minutes, until soft. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for a further minute.
Add the ground coriander and salt to taste. Cook for another 30 seconds then add the spinach and a splash of water if necessary. The mixture should be loose but not watery. Bring to a boil and then simmer for three minutes.
Add the paneer cubes, garam masala and milk or cream. Stir and cook for a few minutes or until the spinach is nice and creamy. Stir in the lemon juice to taste. Serve with pilaff rice or naan bread.
It tasted like proper saag paneer and I’ll definitely be making it again.
Since I first blogged about my attempts at Indian cooking, this chicken tikka masala has become a favourite. I made it again, third time, last Saturday. I ventured to make Saag Paneer as a side dish and served it with wonderful basmati rice with star anise and cardamom (recipe is in the same post as the chicken tikka masala).
Next I am going to try Korma and Jalfrezi dishes. If successful I’ll cook an Indian feast for friends, where we shall have all of them!
I made this last week on a weekday and must say it was the best Indian dish I have had outside the Painted Heron. It is not from an Indian source but from Gordon Ramsay. The rice is wonderful too, cardamom and star anise working its fragrant magic.
1 large onion, peeled
2 fresh green chillies
1″ piece of ginger, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
4 boneless chicken breasts (approx 150g each), cubed
10 dried curry leaves
4-6 tbsp natural yoghurt
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
For the steamed rice
400g basmati rice, rinsed
600ml cold water
Salt and pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 star anise
Heat two tablespoons of groundnut oil in a pan. Slice the onion and fry in the oil. Meanwhile, deseed and chop the chilli, chop the ginger and add to the hot pan, crush in the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
Add the chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes to the pan and allow them to cook for a further few minutes.
Transfer the sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth (I transfered into a deepest pyrex ball I had and used a hand blender. This seems unnecessary as the sauce already look good, but it is an essential step to make the dish really creamy and make all the flavours blend.
Add a tablespoon of fresh groundnut oil into the pan and fry the chicken pieces until lightly coloured (watch the video from Gordon on how to joint a chicken). Pour in the blended sauce and add the curry leaves. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Place the rice in a saucepan, add the cold water and season with salt and pepper (watch the video from Gordon on how to cook rice). Lightly crush the cardamom pods with your fingers and add to the pan with the star anise. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to steam for a further 5 minutes. Remove the cardamom and star anise. Fluff up the rice with a fork and set aside.
Stir in the yoghurt to the chicken curry along with half the chopped coriander. Serve with the steamed rice and garnish with the remaining coriander.
After a rather nice dinner in an Indian restaurant, I decided to have a go at cooking some Indian dishes myself. I came across this red lentil soup, which turned out to be fragrant, tasty and filling. Serve with some warm grilled naan bread spread with a little garlic butter and cut into chunky fingers. If not bothered about keeping it vegetarian, serve with a decent amount of dry-fried bacon, it works wonderfully and turns it into a hearty dish.
Serves 4, takes 30 minutes to prepare. I made a double batch, which is enough for 8, for sure.
225g dried red lentils
3 tbsp sunflower oil (used light & mild olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, grated
1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and chopped, plus extra to garnish, if you like
1 medium-hot green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
300ml hot vegetable stock (I used my own chicken stock, foregoing the vegetarian option)
200g can chopped tomatoes
Good pinch of cayenne pepper
100ml coconut cream
100g baby leaf spinach, to serve (I didn’t have any so I used lots of fresh parsley)
20g bunch fresh coriander, to serve
6 tbsp natural yogurt, to serve (optional)
Put the lentils into a medium saucepan and cover with 900ml of cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until tender and just falling apart. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in another pan, add the onion and fry gently for 15 minutes, until browned. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the spices and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the stock, the lentils and their liquid, canned tomatoes, cayenne pepper and season with salt to taste. Cover and simmer for just 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then add the coconut cream. Blend, using a hand blender or in batches in a liquidiser, until the soup is almost smooth.
Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the spinach and most of the coriander leaves and cook for a further minute. Using a hand blender, blend briefly until the spinach is just roughly chopped.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of yogurt, the remaining coriander leaves and some finely chopped red chilli, if you like.
Nutritional Information per serving
16.1g fat (1.6g saturated)
This is an absolutely amazing way of preparing okra, a dish that I can never make too often. I found it at random, when searching for a quick and tasty way of preparing okra.
1/2 lb Okra
1 tablespoon Ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Vegetable oil (I use a lot less, for a non-stick pan)
Mix cumin, turmeric, chili powder, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add mustard and mix into a wet paste.
Cut stems off okra then split them three quarters of the way down. Split them again, dividing pods into 4 equal parts that are held together at the narrow end tip. Pour a little of the paste in to the openings, spread it lightly all over but the narrow tip. Sprinkle with salt (I never do this bit, don’t think more salt is needed.)
Heat oil in a skillet and fry okra, covered, till tender, about 10 minutes, turning them once.
I serve this with my usual turmeric basmati rice. As for meat, grilled chicken breasts always work, though have had it with roast beef and pork cutlets too.