Posts Tagged: curry

Feb 11

Cool out with kachumber


A home-made curry is a squillion times better than a take-out version – healthier, fresher and more delicious – and you can throw in whatever you feel like (or just what’s been lurking at the back of the fridge).

They’re a doddle to do – but following recipes can often be useful as spicing is a complex business – for yonks my curries always ended up tasting the same until a few useful lessons from a half-Bengali friend.

Last night’s effort was a vegetarian variety, light on the chilli front and made with mushrooms and potato. A bowl of yogurt makes a perfect addition with fragrant green chillies scattered over the top and some home-made chappatis to scoop it all up with.

The icing on the cake was what is known as a kachumber, a typical Indian salad made with tomatoes, cucumber and onion served as a cooling accompaniment. My version has a little tropical twist though…

Click here for my recipe for kachumber with coconut, black sesame and poppy seeds

Jan 11

Spicing it up


After all the Christmas excesses, the cooked breakfasts and the roast dinners, the leftover sarnies and the cheese boards, I end up wanting something completely different.

Curry flicks all my switches at this time of year – sorry for those of you who have a gallon of turkey curry still in the freezer but I didn’t see a single one over the Christmas period!

That is, of course, until I returned to London and was taken to the rather nice Ravi Shankar for a spot of chaat (the delicious cold Indian dishes often featuring yogurt, tamarind sauce, chickpeas or potatoes and all based around fried dough).

Fresh, tangy, zingy flavours with a good dose of fiery chilli and a crunch from raw onion add up to make these an incredibly more-ish snack – hence their popularity all over India.

Taken a tentative bit of inspiration from these dishes, I whipped up a quick dip that is the perfect counterpoint to roast sweet potato wedges – a lovely marriage of spicy chillies, cooling yogurt, crunchy spring onions and a hint of sharp lime. A brilliant snack to tuck into in front of a good movie with an ice cold beer.

Click here for my recipe for sweet potato wedges with garam masala, yogurt and chillies

Nov 10

The Camel Collective, part 2



If you remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned a plan to eat the rather unusual camel meat and last Saturday was the day we tucked in.

A group of us – journos, chefs, food writers and bloggers alongside a couple of food photographers and some inquisitive children got together to try our hands at cooking and eating camel.

Kebabs with sumac, steaks with herb and garlic butter, empanadas, a Burmese cinnamon curry and even a tartare were cooked (or not, in the case of the tartare).

Bizarrely, the last dish, served traditionally raw with gherkins, capers, shallots and Tabasco was probably one of the standouts, as was the curry.

Camel is, as you’d imagine, a touch on the chewy side, not even yielding to the seven hours cooking Mimi put it through for the curry but an interesting culinary adventure none-the-less.

Photo courtesy

Jul 09

Rainy summer days and spicy curry nights


So our beloved country is yet again afflicted by weather. Summer seemed to be going so well and then, in no uncertain terms, came the rain. My cooking was all salads, cold cuts, jellies, berries, meringues and ice creams and now…well, now it’s rather regressed to the things I was cooking in spring.

Curry seems perfectly appropriate. It doesn’t hugely matter if the weather changes – I’d probably just swap out the rice for paratha or roti and serve it with a kachumba on the side, a light crisp, crunchy salad for contrast. Also, it gives rise to one of my favourite treats – a leftover curry wrap. If you’ve sensibly managed to keep a bit to the side for later, just pop it in a flatbread with some salad leaves, tomatoes and red onion and devour.

This recipe comes from my good friend and author, Simon Majumdar, whose book, Eat My Globe,  about his world eating tour, has been garnering praise left right and centre.

Doi Murgh

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 whole chicken, jointed and skinned
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 fresh green chillies
  • 2 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 cup whole milk (not low fat) yoghurt

For the spice mix

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt


Blend the garlic, chilli and fresh ginger to a paste in a blender with a little salt and water.
Pour the oil into a large saucepan and fry off the paste for two minutes, stirring constantly.
Tip in the chopped onion and cook until soft and golden

Add the spice mix and cook until it begins to release its oils and lose its rawness. You can see this by drawing a spoon through the mixture – oil will pool around the spices. If they begin to stick, add a little water.

Remove from the heat and add in the yoghurt, blending it in thoroughly with the sauce.
Return to the heat and cook on a very low heat for three to five minutes.

Next put in the chicken pieces, reserving the breast to add later. Toss in the sauce. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for thirty minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked, checking occasionally to make sure it is not sticking. If it is, add more water.

Add the diced breast meat and cook for a further fifteen minutes on a gentle heat.

Remove the chicken and keep warm while reducing the sauce down to a thick consistency before returning the meat to make sure each piece is coated.

Serve with plain boiled rice or naan.

May 09

Spice things up with a Mussel Rassam curry


There is something deeply satisfying about the process of making a curry. It seems almost like a secret formula, adding weights and measures of different and sometimes quite alien ingredients that affect the taste, colour, smell and even the noise the dish makes when cooking.

The alchemy involved is great fun though, embarking on a culinary adventure into the great unknown. One thing I have picked up is the importance of following a recipe as much down to the letter as you possibly can, guaranteeing your results will probably be as the recipe writer intended. Cooking curries can lead to feelings of great achievement in the kitchen too – and the pleasure of sitting down to a delicious end result, mostly cooked out of the kitchen cupboard.

Often they are also a wonderfully exotic lesson in frugality – costs are low but the results are so vibrant and pleasing. Mussels are a quirky and inexpensive addition to a curry – as in this one I swiped from Manoj Vasaikar, chef/proprietor at my nearly-local restaurant Indian Zing in Hammersmith.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients here most of them you will probably have in your store cupboard. Just take each step at a time and the results will be fantastic.

Indian Zing’s Mussel Rassam

Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course)

  • 400g mussels                       
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, sliced
  • 5 tomatoes                       
  • 4 green finger chillies (halved and deseeded)       
  • 2 Garlic cloves                       
  • 25g tamarind pulp                   
  • 5g jaggery or sugar           
  • ¼ tsp turmeric                                                            
  • Salt to taste                    

For the Rassam powder

  • 5 dried red chillies (whole)               
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds                   
  • 3 tsp black peppercorns                           
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds                   

For the tempering

  • 3 tsp coconut or groundnut oil   
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves or a few freeze dried
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida

To garnish

  • A large bunch of  fresh coriander
  • 5 dried whole red chillies, fried briefly in oil (optional)


Blanch the tomatoes to remove skin and roughly chop. Set aside. Coarsely grate the jaggery and set aside. Soak the tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes and strain, reserving the liquid.

For the Rassam powder, roast all the ingredients in a thick bottomed pan for few seconds and then crush in a pestle and mortar to a powder.

Crush the garlic and sauté in 2 tsp of the oil until light brown. Add the shallot and sweat until soft but not coloured. Add the chopped tomatoes and the Rassam powder.

Add the washed mussels to the pan, discarding any that are not open. Add a pint of water, bring the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

While the mussels are cooking, make the tempering mixture. Heat 3 tsp of the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop add the ginger and sauté for a minute or two, then add the curry leaves and asafoetida and pour over the simmering Rassam – the mixture may pop and spit a bit.

Take off the heat and serve in a large bowl with the coriander and chillies scattered over and a finger bowl on the side!

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