Singapore Prawn Curry

This is another recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent  Ultimate Curry Bible. It may seem like a lot of ingredients on first glance, but it is just a matter of measuring teaspoons of things out for the most part and the remainder of the recipe is very simple. Besides, in terms of depth of flavour and ‘nnnhhnmmm, omg’ ness, the ends do definitely justify the means. Maybe I am biased – my love for prawn curries and my romance with tamarind would predispose me to liking this, but still it is good. Despite the creaminess of the coconut milk, the tamarind and paprika make this a bright and spicy curry of medium heat. Madhur specifies this should be eaten with rice – and if Madhur says so, then ordinarily rice it must be. But I have run out of rice, so chappatis it must be for our tea tonight. No-one will mind.

  • 4 tbsp yellow oil such as corn or sunflower
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 3 shallots, very finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250 ml water
  • 1 tbsp ground corainder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 750g raw prawns
  • 400 ml coconut milk

Please, please peel your tomatoes. Tomato skin doesn’t taste all that nice, and given the cost of the prawns, this two minute job will really improve the finished dish. Simply, boil a kettle and pour it into a bowl. Cut a cross in the top and the bottom of the tomato with a sharp knife, cutting the skin but not too deeply into the flesh. Leave them in there for about a minute and then remove them. By the time they have cooled down, the skin will slip off.

Anyway, heat the oil in a large wide pan, and put in the cumin seed, the fenugreek and the fennel seed. Give them a quick stir and when theu start to pop and jump out of the pan, put in your galic and shallots and fry over a gentle heat until the shallots are soft and golden. Stir in the ginger and chopped tomato and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have softened down – bashing them with the wooden spoon will help this process considerably. When you are satisfied, stir in the remaining spices and the salt until well combined with the shallots, and then stir in the water. Cook this over a medium heat for 15 minutes.

Add your prawns and coconut milk, stirring over a medium heat until the sauce is simmering and the prawns are opaque. Eat.

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Coconut & Mackerel Curry

I am fairly certain I am addicted to curry. I can only really go a week without one before I start to get to get uncomfortable cravings and I would usually rather have a curry over almost anything else. People say that it is the chilli I am addicted to, but I don’t think so. I think it is the whole spice package that you can only get with a nice curry that I’m after. I never used to cook much in the way of curries, having tried a few mediocre recipes and getting mediocre results, I resigned myself to a life of having to have people cook my curry for me, and then I discovered Indian Food Made Easyand every recipe I have made from it has been great. Great, and, as the title suggests, easy.

I’ve adapted this recipe from the said book. I can kind of hear people thinking… I don’t like mackerel… Well, neither do I normally but cooked like this it’s delish, I promise. And mackerel is very cheap and very good for you indeed. Win Win. This is a fairly hot curry, anyway, so if you don’t like it too hot I suggest halving the quantity of chilli powder. Serves 4.

  • 450-500g fresh mackerel, get it cleaned and the heads removed and then cut into chunks 1-2 inches thick. The bones in will flavour the sauce and keep the fish together. Bones are obviously not a problem unless you are a small child or very elderly.
  • 25oml coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • handful of cherry tomatoes or 1 or 2 normal tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 10g ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 25 leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp  ground coriander
  • 350 ml water
  • salt & pepper

Ok, so. Heat your oil in a large pan and fry the fenugreek , half the curry leaves and cumin seeds for 1o or so seconds, and then add the onions, salt & pepper. Cook over a medium heat for 6- 8 minutes until the onion is soft and golden. Meanwhile, put the garlic, ginger, tomato and the remaining dry spices in a blender and whizz into a paste. When the onions are cooked, add the spice paste and continue to cook over a high heat for another 10 minutes. If it gets a bit dry you can add a splash of the water. After the 10 minutes have elapsed, you add the rest of the water and bring it up to the boil. Add the fish and the remaining curry leaves, bring back to the boil again and cook for 3-4 mins. Stir in the tamarind paste, and, when the fish is cooked – a matter of minutes depending on how thickly you’ve cut it, add the coconut milk. Stir, and taste. If you’d like it a bit more sour, add more tamarind . Serve with plain rice.

Honey Roasted Indian Lamb with Coconut Rice

If you cook, then I’m sure you’ve used food to communicate. Maybe if you don’t cook really, I bet you have. I bet you’ve bought someone a box of chocolates, well meaningly bought a packet of sweets to reward a child’s good behavior. Maybe you’ve cooked a dinner to make up to your better half over a row or when you’re trying to tell someone you’re serious about them. Even if it is a M&S ready meal. This is normal and perfectly lovely. Maybe if its the ONLY way you communicate with your loved ones then its not very healthy, but every now and then, a few hours in the kitchen to demonstrate your love to the people you love, is nice.

finished dinner.

So this is the sort of thing I might cook when I have that sort of need. Its not difficult by any means, but it does require a few processes, and ideally, you need to start preparing 24 hours in advance. Loosely following recipes here by Anjum Anand.

Serves um.. 4-6. I recommend a vegetable side to go with this, try sweetcorn & red pepper curry.

Lamb:

  • 1 leg of lamb, 2.2 -2.5k                  100g blanched almonds
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil                       100ml thick greek style yogurt
  • 2 tbsp water                                1 & 1/2 tbsp Honey
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 15g fresh ginger, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder

24 hours ahead, put everything in the first column except the lamb in a blender. Whizz until smooth. Get a small, sharp knife and make deep, regular cuts in the lamb. Take the spice mix out of the blender and rub it into the lamb, ensuring the marinade gets into the cuts. At this point, I wrapped the coated lamb in a (clean!) carrier bag, put it on a big plate and put it in the fridge. Forget for 22 hours.

The next day, whizz up the almonds, yogurt and honey.[important] Do not allow your other half to mistake this for a smoothie. Rub this mixture into the lamb , you mnigtht well smear this into the marinade – if you do, don’t worry, won’t have that big a bearing on the final dish, and put back in the fridge for at least 30 mins – and up to two hours.  Bring it back up to room temperature before cooking. Preheat the oven to Gas 7, cook the lamb for 15 mins and then reduce the heat to gas 4 . You need to cook your lamb for 20-25 mins per 500g and then up to an additional 15 minutes, depending on how pink you like your meat. Remember to baste the lamb fairly regularly with any juices that might have dripped off it in the oven. Its a bit more cooked than I would usually like, preferring pinker meat, but a mixture of attending to guests and not really looking about the clocks made for medium cooked lamb. No worse for that, as it turned out. Meanwhile…

Coconut Rice:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 small red chilli
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped or grated ginger
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 500g cooked basmati rice (as per packet instruction to make up to that amount when cooked)
  • 8 tbsp dessicated coconut, cover in water to soak before cooking.

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When the lamb is cooked, turn the heat off and open the oven door to give it a chance to rest.  Heat the oil for the rice in a large non stick frying pan and when its hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds & chilli. When the onion seeds start to pop, put in the onion and ginger and cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft, roughly 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and fry over a medium heat until the rice is hot through and everything is combined. Serve with the carved lamb. Scoff. And soak up the reflected lurve.