Goan Fish Curry

Goan Fish Curry

Did you know there are some people in the world that have NEVER eaten a fish curry?  I know, I, too, am flabbergasted.

Fish curry, for those of you uninitiated in the experience, is one of the most delightful curries you will ever devour.  Providing, of course, you love a curry and are partial to fish.  I have noticed, coming from a fishing family, that those who have not been lucky enough to experience variable types of seafood from a young age and typically live inland, are not very good with fish.  By which I mean they pull an ‘oh no’ squirmy face when I mention fish and begin to jibber on about bones etc. at which point I have to change the subject.

That aside, if you tick the aforementioned boxes, you will find this irresistible.

The wee boy and I decided it would be a lovely thing to eat fish curry on Friday evening, so we bought all the ingredients we didn’t have in, including a bag of frozen Talapia from the Continental supermarket down the road.  Sadly, for one reason and another, this didn’t come to pass on Friday.  Undeterred, Saturday became designated as fish curry day.  However, according to the wee boy, it was puppet Dave’s birthday on Saturday, so I made a lovely batch of brownies which we all enjoyed enormously.  So much so, that when I tentatively suggested fish curry for dinner no-one, including myself, really had the appetite for it.

And so it was that we eventually ate this glorious curry on Sunday as, quite frankly, had we not done that, it would have been shelved for at least a week.

So what is in this now infamous curry, I hear you cry.  Well…

Whizz up a 4cm chunk of fresh ginger with 2 cloves of garlic, 2 deseeded long green chillies, and 2 onions.  Fry in a little oil until translucent then add 2 teaspoons of cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, and turmeric.  Stir for a couple of minutes before adding 6 large chopped tomatoes, one tin of coconut milk, 2 bay leaves and 2 cardamon pods, cut into two.

Allow it to simmer for around ten minutes.  In fact, I actually made this sauce the night before, but it’s not necessary.  Then add approximately 600g of meaty fish.  I used Talapia and salmon, but choose whatever you fancy.  Allow this to cook in the sauce then add a few prawns.

Just before you serve this delight, have a cheekie taste as you may want to add a little salt. Add a shake of lime juice (the juice of one if you’re going fresh) and sprinkle with fresh, chopped coriander.

Serve with whatever takes your fancy.

Midway through finally eating the curry, I remembered that I had forgotten to add the lime juice, which does give it a little extra kick, but is not, it turns out, the end of the world if you forget.  Also, as a little tip for those of you who like a curry with spicy heat in it, you could consider adding a couple more green chillies.

The important thing to remember here is, however you like your curry, making it with fish instead of meat, is a wonderful, dare I say healthy, alternative and one I can guarantee you won’t regret.

 

 

 

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Onion Bhaji

onion bhaji

We are all brought up with different ‘staples’ in our diet.  Indian food was never a staple for us, more a take away treat, like many children of my era.  However, as a nation, we seem to have completely embraced the delicately spiced nuances which are associated with asian cooking, although I would suggest that, in the main, it is still experienced via the restaurant or take away.  And I include myself in that category.

However, I am trying to conquer the art of cooking different cultural staples, if nothing else, just to see how easy it is.  Enter the Onion Bhaji, or as son #1 used to call them, Onions and Bhajis.

We are extremely lucky where we live, to be surrounded by different cultural food grocers, so finding all the ingredients is very, very easy.  I just pop down the local shop.  However, I am acutely aware that not everyone is as lucky, so, before I go any further I’d like to remind you all that recipes for savoury foods are just a guideline, nothing more.  If you don’t have it in, and cannot easily get hold of it, either miss it out or replace it with something you do have that is complimentary.  This may take a little research but trust me, it’s really not worth getting all hot and bothered because you can’t find fresh curry leaves …

Right.  So the ingredients I used are as follows:
60g gram flour, 30g rice flour – I used ground rice here as I didn’t have any rice flour and ground rice is just a more coarse version of the flour.  You could, should you so desire, just use gram flour in which case it is 90g (I know, mathematical genius…)
Juice of ¼ lemon, 1 tbsp ghee or butter, melted, or, in my case, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.  It’s personal preference here, but I also use vegetable oil to cook the Bhajis in so it’s a win win for me.

½ tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 2 green chillies – the thin ones are better as they have more heat – 2 tsp fresh ginger and two cloves of garlic chopped together and 2 onions halved and sliced.  Small pinch of salt.

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the oil, lemon juice and just enough cold water to make it into the consistency of Yorkshire Pudding batter.  Add all the spices, mix, then add the chopped onion.

At this juncture you may wish to add some fresh, chopped coriander, curry leaves or both.

Bring a deep pan of vegetable oil to a heat of 180C – now then, here’s a thing.  I had to look this up because I don’t have a deep fat fryer or a thermometer to test the heat.  I go by throwing a small piece of bread into the oil.  If it fizzles up and becomes a crouton in seconds, I know the oil is hot enough.  Not very scientific I know, but it’s the best I’ve got to give at present.

Anyway, when the oil has reached the desired temperature, take a dessertspoon of the mixture and drop it into the oil.  It should fizzle and rise to the top immediately, if it doesn’t, your oil is not hot enough, so whip it out and wait.  Keep turning the Bhaji until all areas are golden brown, then fish out and pop on a sheet of kitchen roll so that any excess fat is soaked up.

In my pan I use for frying, I can fit about 3 Bhajis in, so, prior to cooking, I put my oven on to keep already cooked Bhajis warm, whilst cooking the others.  This mixture makes between 6 and 8, so they won’t be in there long.

I then prepare a yoghurt dip by adding 1 – 2 teaspoons of mint sauce to 1 – 2 tablespoon of natural yoghurt.  Lush.

The first batch I made were not as delicious as I thought so I readjusted the balance of spices to the above recipe.  You, too, may have to readjust until you find the right spice level for your personal preference.  The other little tip I have, is, make sure that the batter is not too runny.  You can always add a little more water if it feels too stiff but it’s an absolute nightmare to readjust quantities if it’s runny.

Onion Bhajis.  Simple as.

 

 

 

 

 

Chilli

veg chilli

I know what you’re thinking, ‘What the bally heck has a leaf and a stick swimming in a sea of orange, got to do with chilli?’

Well, this is the thing, chilli is a funny old foodstuff if you ask me.  It’s one of those meals everyone seems to learn to cook as soon as they fly the family nest to pastures new and independent.  Consequently there are a plethora of recipes out there, not just on paper, but in people’s heads, about how to cook a chilli that will satisfy all on a cold, dark, night.

However, it’s not until you begin to look at other people’s recipes that, in my opinion, you begin to see a pattern emerging. There are certain ingredients that are a given.  And then, every so often, up pops a little surprise and you think,

‘Well I never, I’m going to give that a go’

And so it was for me, with adding a bay leaf and stick of cinnamon to chilli.  Which is what the leaf and stick, are.  I would never in a month of Sunday’s thought that was a good idea, but I tell you what, I recommend it all the time now.

As for the other ingredients, I put in the following:

Onion, garlic, ground cayenne cumin and coriander, meat (or today, meat free soya alternative) tomatoes, tomato puree, stock cube (usually beef), boiling water and thyme.  Salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Then add the leaf and stick, and simmer.

Just before I wax lyrically about beans, just a little note regarding meat.  I often cook this with minced beef, but occasionally use the soya alternative and sometimes just use vegetables.  Whatever you decide to put into your chilli, what I do recommend is that you let everything sit in itself for a while.  You know the thing, make it, turn it off and leave it, then come back to it later that day or the next, and just reheat.  There is something about a chilli, like so many other one pot dishes, that improves with time.

Onto beans.  For years I religiously tipped a tin of kidney beans into the chilli after twenty minutes or so, and thought nothing of it.  However, recently a lovely friend of ours made us a chilli and put in haricot beans.  The very same beans that are in tins of baked beans.  And do you know, it was lovely.  It was only then that himself admitted that actually, he wasn’t that keen on kidney beans in chilli, so ever since then I have used haricot.

It takes a while getting used to the different colour, but a sprinkling of fresh coriander always helps brighten any dish and compensates for the anticipated deep aubergine flecks.

Meanwhile, we have a new addition to our household.  A thing of utter beauty who sounds as mellow as the maple tree she was made from.  Yes, we have added to our increasing musical instrument collection and now have Bessie the double bass, lounging elegantly in a corner.  I shall, of course, endeavour to keep you updated on progress as the year unfolds, but for now I must return to the chilli…

Carrot and Coriander Soup

carrot and corriander soup

This is probably one of my favourite soups.  Not only is it a doddle to make, but it always smells and tastes divine.

And this is how it goes…

Chop up a couple of onions and dice some carrots.  Fry the onions in a little butter, add the carrots, a splash of salt, a sprinkle of coarse ground black pepper and a teaspoon of cumin.  Stir it all around then add chicken or vegetable stock and some boiling water.  Bring to the boil and simmer until the carrots are soft then add a good handful of chopped coriander.  Let it all simmer for another couple of minutes.

Take off the heat and blitz.  I use my trusty hand whizzer, but anything that makes it look soup-like, works.  Then add another big handful of chopped coriander and stir.

It is now ready to eat.

Sadly, my gang are still in the ‘munching through boxes of sweets’ phase so have turned down the offer of soup.  Thankfully a lovely friend came by and happily shared a bowl with me.  The rest I have placed in a tupperware box with lid and put into the fridge, where it will either freeze, or just sit there for days until it begins to emanate a slight odour.

At this point I will either take it out, reheat and eat the last portion on my own, or, if it’s gone past the point of no return, throw it away with my head hung in shame.

You see that’s the thing about leftover food, it’s all fine and dandy transforming it all from one foodstuff to another, but if those you are feeding have no appetite for such delicacies, it remains uneaten.

There is, however, a slight chance that somebody may have a pang for something savoury in the next few hours which will vindicate my desire to have ‘just in case’ food prepared.

And it is with that eternal optimism that I am now going to retire to the sofa, having eaten enough Christmas cake and cheese for the week, in just one sitting.

Tomato and Chilli Chutney

Tomato and Chilli Chutney

This is one of my favourite chutneys of all time.  To be fair I haven’t made that many in my lifetime, however, my childhood was full of other peoples homemade pickles, jams and chutneys which were passed around the parents, so it is always with great pleasure and fondness that I have begun indulging in the task myself.

Back to the chutney.  The recipe is one of Delia’s and will be online, but for those of you who would rather just find out what it’s got in it, here is a short synopsis.

1.8kg tomatoes – chopped small

225g sundried tomatoes – soaked in just boiled hot water for 20 minutes, drained and chopped small

225g dark soft brown sugar

4 onion, 4 red chilli, 4 garlic cloves, 2 red peppers – chopped small

1 dessert spoonful of coriander seeds and mustard seeds warmed in a frying pan and coarsely pestle and mortared – although I don’t have one of those so use a bowl and the base of a rolling pin

1 dessertspoonful of salt

750ml cider vinegar

One of the many reasons I love this chutney is because it is so darn easy to make. You literally put everything in a pan and let it simmer for 3 – 3.5 hours. Stirring occasionally.  The only tension comes when it is just about ready.  It is at this point that you pull a wooden spoon along the top of the simmering chutney.  If the juices fill the small trough you have made with the spoon, it isn’t ready.  As soon as the juices stop filling in the trough, it is.

Simple as.

And because the season of good will is almost upon us, I have bought some beautiful Kilner Jars to put the chutney in.  All I have to do now is leave it for 6 – 8 weeks, and Bob’s your Uncle, job done.

I would say however, as a slight down side, it doesn’t ever make as much as I think it’s going to, so if you are considering making this glorious chutney to give as gifts to some very lucky people, it might be best making double the amount.  Unless you only have one friend, then it’s perfect.

Oh, and by the way, we eventually had the roasted figs with goat’s cheese. Absolutely delicious.  Just a small tip, don’t forget the rosemary, it makes all the difference in the world.

Red Thai Curry

photo (49)

I do believe we are officially experiencing summertime.  It’s glorious.  And with this season comes a whole array of foods to eat which compliment the heat.  In my head I have time to flick through recipes, buy new ingredients and potter in the kitchen, presenting my boys with yet another piece de resistance.  The reality is, there is never really enough time, and I end up, most of the time, falling back on old faithfuls. Things which I have the ingredients for, that don’t take too long to cook, and that I know everyone will enjoy.

When I was growing up, the summer staple was always some sort of food, with salad.  And every time we had salad, big Dave would exclaim something along the lines of,

‘Rabbit food again then?’

As a friend of mine once said, ‘I don’t do greens.  I don’t do anything with fibre’

There’s nothing quite like the soul destroying feeling of someone’s dinner disappointment.

So, with this in mind, I have incorporated a red Thai curry into my repertoire, which I believe ticks all the summer food boxes, without instigating the ‘summer salad’ conversation.  And it’s a doddle to make.

I usually use either a meaty fish (cod), pork or chicken strips, but sometimes I break the mold and just use vegetables.  Oh yes, living on the edge.  Anyway.

What I start with is a teaspoon of Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste, bought in a tub from my local supermarket which cuts out the faff of mixing together all the things I don’t have, and it keeps in the fridge for an eternity.  I think.  I add this into a wok with a splash of oil, a teaspoon of soft brown sugar, a splash of fish sauce and a dash of lime juice.  Mix together, warm through and add the meat.  If you’re using fish, skip this stage and add the fish in with the coconut milk as otherwise it breaks up too much.

Cook for five minutes or so.

I then add sliced red onion, orange, red and yellow peppers if I have all three, if not I put in whatever I do have, stir around for a wee while, and add a tin of coconut milk. Next I add mange tout, sugar snap peas, green beans, (once again, whatever I have in), and let them all cook in the milk until they look as though they’ve seen some heat**.

And that, my friends, is it!

If we’re eating it with noodles, I also add them, if we’re eating it with rice, I cook that alongside the curry and serve the two separately on the plate.

I do like to add some fresh chopped coriander right at the end, but more often than not, if I haven’t bought some that day, the stuff I have has either wilted or been semi frozen by my temperamental fridge.

It may not be totally authentic, but it tastes devine.

** Just a final thought, the peppers, beans, whatever you fancy veg really could do with having a crunch to them otherwise it does taste like ‘old people’s home’ food.