November 19, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized, North Indian, Reared red meat — ros @ 12:44 am

Not long ago,  I suddenly realised that one part of my cooking that had disappeared completely during the first weeks of my job was the home made curry. It’s not because they take too long to cook. I can pull together a decent Goan fish curry in about half an hour. Instead it’s the attention to detail that is the problem.

When making a curry I find I need to be really on the ball. The spice quantities in recipe books or on the web aren’t ever quite right and I find I need to be there tasting and adjusting constantly if I want it to be good. However, it has now got to the stage where Goon seems to have given up cooking completely so, it’s in the door at 9pm for me and straight into the kitchen.  Even after just a week of that it got to the stage where I managed to cook, serve up and then fall asleep on the sofa before I managed to eat.

I was woken up half an hour later by Goon who had managed to scoff most of my portion as well as his and was trying to shoo me away so he could get to his favourite programming spot in front of the television. Let this be a warning to you:never share a flat with a geek,especially one who doesn’t like cooking.

There’s no way I could manage to make something that requires concentration whilst I am in that state of exhaustion so home made curries might have to become a holiday treat. This half term, I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by so, during a Friday visit to Borough, I picked up my favourite currying meat, came home and made this.

Saag Gosht with Red Peppers  

 sag gosht

Ingredients 

  • 450g mutton, lamb neck or other red casseroling meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • vegetable oil or ghee for frying
  • 1 medium/large onion, thickly sliced into rings
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced,
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 birds eye green chillis, chopped
  • 300ml (or just enough to cover the meat in step 2 below) home made lamb or beef bone stock (nothing herby). Water will do as the mutton has a rich flavour of its own, but I much prefer using a simple bone stock. 
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 red pepper, cored deseeded and cut into small pieces
  • 200g fresh spinach, washed and thoroughly drained
  • a handful of chopped coriander leaves plus extra to garnish

Method

  1. Brown the mutton pieces on all sides over a high heat in the oil/ghee. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down and add the onions to the saucepan. Fry gently until they start to soften.
  3. Add the spices, garlic and ginger.
  4. Once the onion is cooked, return the mutton to the pan, barely cover with the stock, place the lid on the saucepan and simmer for around 2 hours. Keep an eye on the curry and, if it starts to become too dry, add a little more stock.
  5. In a seperate pan, fry the pepper until soft, then add this to the curry with the chillies. Stir the curry well and continue to let it simmer for another five minutes so it takes on the flavour of the peppers.
  6. Taste and adjust spice balance if necessary.
  7. Wilt in the spinach. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve over pilau rice, perhaps with a lentil side dish.

***

As far as curries go, this one has a relatively short ingredients list. it includes the staples of coriander and cumin, but contains few other spices. The distinctive flavour of this curry comes instead from the red peppers.  An excellent accompanient to this dish would have been a naan bread flavoured with garlic and cumin, but my baking skills still aren’t up to much, so I went with spiced pilau rice and some garlic dahl instead.

After a long seven weeks of no home made curries, this was a breath of fresh air. A take-away hasn’t got the freshness and vibrancy of  home made Indian food so I’d urge anyone to try making their own at least once, even if time constraints mean it can’t be a regular occurence. Start with a decent recipe, but always be prepared to adjust the spice levels to suit your own taste.

It looks like it will be another five weeks at least until I get another chance to do curry, but, given its game season that is probably for the best. It is now the season for rabbit pie and roasted pheasant, so I’d better get myself to Borough soon. 

 

June 21, 2006

This time I got photos.

Kukul mas, breadfruit and kiribath

The reddy-brown stuff on the right is ”kukul mas.” That’s chicken curry to the rest of us. Like most Sri Lankan curries, it’s very hot. Roasted Sri Lankan curry powder gives it a dark colour and a distinctive flavour. I added  a little bit of paprika to bring out the red colouring.

I have talked about kiribath before. This time I tried to make it into diamond shaped blocks in the way it is traditionally served. The freshly cooked rice is made into a big rectangle like this.

mungatta kiribath

As it cools, the rice becomes more sticky and you can cut into shapes. You can see these in the top picture.

The yellow curry is bread fruit. This was one of my favourite things when I was growing up. Until last night, I hadn’t had it for years and I was delighted when my Dad brought me some. As far as I’m aware, you can only find bread fruit in cans in Britain with the skin removed and the white flesh chopped into small pieces and cooked. It has a wonderful texture and, when it is heated in a curry, the fruit almost disintegrates. This thickens the curry and makes a wonderfully soft and gooey accompaniment to kiribath.

There is already a recipe for kiribath here. Try it! It is very nice. Also recipes here for the chicken and the bread fruit.

May 25, 2006

For some reason I’ve been craving Sri Lankan food recently. This is very weird as I thought my parents’ cooking had put me off it for life.

My parents see food as being purely functional.  Everything in the kitchen gets thrown in a pan and stir fried to death. Every vegetable in the fridge gets chopped up, thrown together with soya mince, quorn sausages (yes, they’re veggies) rice, chilli sauce, soy sauce, tomato sauce and lettuce and cooked until the sausages are solid and the lettuce is soggy. Once, for a dinner party, tandoori chicken got made with strawberry yoghurt because Mum thought it wouldn’t make it taste any different. And then there was the lamb chop that was left in the oven so long I thought it was pork.

However there were some things which I really miss. Mostly things I had on holiday in Sri Lanka. Kiribath is amazing stuff and a well made Sri Lankan fish curry never goes down badly. I’d like to find some breadfruit too.

So I thought I’d give it a go, and it worked. Very well in fact. I made..

Mungatta Kiribath: Kiribath is rice cooked in coconut milk and is traditionally served on New Year, birthdays and other special occasions. It has a risotto like texture, but is slightly more sticky. Its often pressed into a large square and cut into diamond shaped pieces. Mungatta means mung beans. These are sometimes added for a bit of extra texture and flavour.

Fish Curry: Sri Lankan curries are similar to South Indian curries in a lot of ways. There are subtle differences in the spicing. Often a LOT of chilli is used. Also the spices for the curry powder is roasted before being ground, giving the flavour of the curry more depth

I served these with some okra that I fried gently with curry powder and a touch of chilli powder. I would say that it was a big success. It certainly seemed to go down well with my housemates who tried it.