Vegetable Pakoras

Four or five large potatoes, diced

One onion (or three shallots), sliced or diced

Four or five handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped

Mix the vegetables in a large bowl.  Add half a teaspoon each of turmeric, ground coriander and chilli powder.  Add a rounded teaspoon each of ground cumin and sea salt.  Grind in some black pepper.  Mix well with your hands.  Add 300g of gram flour, mix, then add a few drops of water, mixing all the time, until you can form clumps with the mixture.

Heat up a large, deep-sided frying pan with oil.  When the oil is really hot, drop in four or five balls of the sticky vegetable mix (about a heaped tablespoon per pakora).  Cook for 4-5 minutes until nicely browned, then keep warm in the oven while you do the rest.

Chicken Curry with Green Beans

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3 onions, in wedges

4 green chillis, halved lengthways

3″ ginger, peeled and grated

6 garlic cloves, bashed

4-6 chicken breasts, in thinnish pieces

tin of tomatoes

a squeeze of lemon juice

a handful of green beans

fresh coriander

spices:  ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, turmeric, cardamom pods, bay leaves

First make the sauce:

Put one of the onions, half of the tomatoes, the ginger, 3 garlic cloves, the 4 green chillis, a big handful of fresh coriander, stalks and all (reserve about the same amount for sprinkling later), and 4 tablespoons of olive oil into a small pan with a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of turmeric and 200ml water.  Boil together with the lid on for 20 minutes.  Now use a hand blender to blitz this into a sauce.  By all means leave some of the chillis unscathed, if that’s how you like it.

Now, make the curry:

Put 3 tablespoons olive oil into a frying pan.  When it’s hot, add 3 bashed cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, and 6 bashed cardamom pods.  Let them sizzle for a few moments, then add the remaining sliced onions.  When they are just starting to burn, add the chicken and a little more salt.  Let the chicken colour for a couple of minutes before turning down the heat and adding a teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin and paprika.  Stir well, and add the remaining tomatoes, the green beans, the sauce from Stage One and about 100ml of water.  Before popping the lid on, add a squeeze of lemon juice.  Simmer for 30 – 40 minutes.  Stir in some more fresh coriander before serving.  Serve with a drizzle of natural yoghurt and some basmati rice.

Lamb Curry with Tomatoes and Green Beans

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but this is my new favourite curry.  First, get about a kilo of diced lamb.  It’s best to buy a leg of lamb joint, and snip it up yourself, because it’s easier to trim away all the fat this way.  Put the lamb into a bowl with one teaspoon each of turmeric, dried ginger, sea salt, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Mix well and set aside.

In a large, lidded pan, heat two tablespoons of oil until shimmering.  Add four cloves, two bay leaves and sizzle.  Now, add two sliced onions and let them brown.  Remove the onion from the pan, then add the lamb and let it brown.  When it’s browned, pop the onions back in, and add two chopped cloves of garlic and a teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin and paprika.

Stir well, then add half a tin of tomatoes and 200ml of water.  Put the lid on and simmer for 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your fresh, tomatoey, curry sauce by putting one and a half tins of tomatoes, 100ml water, a chopped onion, four cloves of garlic, four long, green, hot chillis, six slices of fresh ginger, one teaspoon of turmeric, one teaspoonful of salt, two tablespoons of oil and a handful of fresh coriander into a medium-sized saucepan.  Boil with the lid on for twenty minutes, then liquidise.  Set aside until the lamb has cooked for an hour.

When the lamb is tender, add the sauce and a few handfuls of green beans.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with plain, boiled rice and fresh coriander.  Also delicious with a few potatoes added.

Lamb and Spinach Curry

Fry 2 large, sliced onions in 4 tablespoons of oil until browning.

Skoosh up a two inch piece of ginger and 3 cloves of garlic and add to the onions.  Stir this into the onions with a teaspoon each of chilli powder, turmeric, ground cumin and salt.  Continue stirring and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add 500g lean diced lamb (I usually buy a leg or shoulder joint and cut it up myself so that there is no visible fat) and stir well.  Add half a tin of chopped tomatoes and stir.  Then add 400ml water and stir.  Put the lid on and cook slowly for 50 minutes.

Add 200g chopped spinach and cook – lid on – for a further 10 minutes.  Then take the lid off and turn up the heat to reduce the liquid for the last ten minutes.

Garnish with sliced chillis, ginger or coriander.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

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Fry a finely sliced onion with a bay leaf and 4 cloves in a mixture of hot oil and butter.  When it’s good and brown, add a tablespoonful of grated ginger and 3 chopped cloves of garlic.  Turn the heat to medium.

Now add 2 diced potatoes and stir through for a minute or two.  Add about 300g cauliflower florets or a mixture of broccoli and cauliflower.  Stir again.

Add a teaspoonful and a half of sea salt, some black pepper, a teaspoonful each of cumin seeds and turmeric.  Stir through, then add a sliced fresh green chilli.

Stir in half a tin of tomatoes and half a pint of water.  Add a drained tin of chickpeas.  Simmer with no lid for 15-20 minutes.  Add a teaspoonful of garam marsala at the end, and some chopped coriander.  Serve with yoghurt.

Chicken Curry with Coconut

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Even the children like this one.  It tastes better when made the day before and reheated.

3 onions, finely sliced:  Fry them hot until browning in 4 tablespoons of oil.

500-600g chicken breast, cut into slices:  Add to the pan and stir until they start to colour.

3″ ginger plus 5 cloves garlic, skooshed up together in the mini-processor:  Stir this into the chicken mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Turn the heat to medium.

half a teaspoon cinnamon

a teaspoon each of hot chilli powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and salt:  Stir into the pan and keep stirring for a further minute.

400g tin of chopped tomatoes:  Add this to the pan and let it start bubbling before adding the…

coconut milk (400ml):  Put the lid on the pan and simmer for 40 minutes.

garam marsala:  Sprinkle this through (about half to one teaspoonful) at the end and add some…

fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon.

Chicken with Lemongrass, Coconut and Spiced Mushroom Rice

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Fry a chopped onion with a large green chilli until soft.

Add 2 whole cloves of garlic, 4 peeled, finely chopped lemongrass stalks and half a tablespoonful of chopped ginger.  Allow them to soften in the pan for a couple of minutes, then remove them from the pan and set aside to cool.

Turn the heat up under the pan and add a little more oil.  Sprinkle 4 chicken breasts (skin on or off, as you like) with salt and pepper.  Fry on high for about a minute or two each side, until really golden, then turn the heat down.

Meanwhile, skoosh up the garlic, onion etc to a paste in the mini-processor.

When the sizzling in the chicken pan has subsided, add a teaspoonful of turmeric, a tin of coconut milk and the garlic, onion, lemongrass, ginger paste.  Stir well, put the lid on, then leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, add the juice of a lime and plenty of fresh coriander.  You will probably need to add a teaspoon of sea salt.

Spiced Mushroom Rice

Start making this fifteen minutes before your chicken is ready.  You need a smallish, lidded saucepan for this.

Fry a small red onion in 3 tablespoons of oil with 5 cardamom pods, a couple of roughly crushed cloves, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and three large, sliced chestnut mushrooms.  Let them all sizzle around happily until the mushrooms start to brown.

Take the pan off the heat and turn the heat down to low.  Add half a mugful of uncooked basmati rice, a teaspoon of turmeric and two teaspoons of sea salt and stir.  Then, add a whole mugful of boiling water, stir again, pop the lid on and leave to cook on a low heat for about 10-12 minutes.  When the time is up, fluff up the rice and stir some coriander through it.  If you want to make dinky little timbales, just use a ramekin.  It might encourage your children to eat it if they’ve had the opportunity to practise their sandcastle-making skills beforehand.

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