Tandoori Lamb Chops with Yoghurt Dressing

These are just amazing. When I look at them, and notice they are not tandoori red nor tell tale tandoori scorched, I cannot kid myself that I am not in my favourite curry house. I do not have a tandoor (oh, how I wish…) and I do not use a red dye in my food. But the taste of them, is comparable with the best tandoori lamb I have ever had. And damn easy too.I can take no credit for the deliciousness of the chops as I nicked the recipe from here, but I have modified the dressing somewhat, owing to availability of ingredients and evading the evil coriander. I bet my dressing is nicer.

Marinade and cook the lamb chops as per instructions. Take blender, and add:

  • 100 ml plain yogurt
  • good sprig of mint leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of one lemon
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • glug of olive oil
  • half teaspoon of sugar

Whizz all the ingredients in a blender and serve, with chops and salad.

Advertisements

Curried Lamb Meatballs

These lamb meatballs have become so popular in our house now that I subconsciously almost always have a pack of lamb mince in the freezer just in case. I’m not sure that it is a perfect summer recipe, in the same way that any meat and gravy dish wouldn’t be ideal in the heat, but the perfect summer is a dim and distant memory now. Otherwise, for me they are perfect.

The meatballs don’t have any breadcrumbs or starch holding them together so as a consequence they are very light, but it does mean you need to be gentle with them – they will be wetter than normal meatballs and its best not to stir them in the pan – a gentle shake will do. Despite their relative fragility none have fallen apart on me yet! I tend to make the meatballs in the morning and leave them in the fridge but it won’t really matter if you do them as you start the sauce. I have adapted this from Anjum Anand’s Curried Lamb Meatballs, from the brilliant Indian Food Made Easy – I have changed the quantity of the lamb required and removed the evil fresh coriander from the original recipe.

For the Meatballs:

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp very finely chopped onion, (from onion used for sauce)

For the sauce:

  • Splash vegetable oil
  • large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • small cinnamon stick
  • 3rd of tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 800 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala

So first make your meatballs. It’s simply a matter of combining all the ingredients in a bowl and giving them a thorough mix with your hands. Then, when the ingredients are fully combined, take a spoon and shape spoonfuls of lamb mixture into walnut sized pieces. AsI have said, you can make these in advance if you like.

Now, heat the oil in a wide non-stick saucepan. Put in your onion and cinnamon stick and cook over a low to medium heat until your onions are golden brown. In a blender, blend together your tomato, ginger and garlic. When smooth, add to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the oil starts to separate from the tomato mixture and pour in 200 ml of water. Cook, stirring, over a medium heat until the water has evaporated and it has reduced down to a paste. Stir fry this for 2 or 3 minutes and then stir in the spices and salt. Add the remainder of the water and bring to simmering point. When you have simmered for 5 or 6 minutes carefully drop in the meatballs and simmer for another 20 minutes. Resist the temptation to stir! When the meatballs are done, give the pan a quick shake and serve the over rice, with plenty of the gravy.

Love Me Tandoor

Sorry, Elvis.

I have often wondered what it is that stops people making their own curries more often. Apparently Chicken Tikka Masala is the nation’s favourite food – although I can’t honestly remember the last time I sat in a curry house with anyone who actually ordered one – never mind, it is indisputable that curry is a fairly popular cuisine. Different sources suggest between 8 -10,000 restaurants that serve Indian food in the UK. So why do so few people cook curries from scratch in their own home?  Weeellll, it depends by what you mean by scratch, is probably the answer. Some people view Homepride curry sauces mixed with chicken/lamb/whatever and put in the oven as homemade (eww). Some people use spice pastes and coconut milk, some people just buy ready meals and takeaways. And if the quick straw poll I took is accurate,people do this because they think making curry is difficult or time consuming, and they think you need loads of expensive ingredients. Now even if the above were true, I think the results would be worth it.

Happily, curry is easy and spices are cheap, that is, as long as you don’t buy those stupid glass jars that have about 50g of spice in from the supermarket. And spices do last. Not forever, but even if you don’t cook curries as regularly as me (maybe twice a week on average) then the return on investment on these babies is fairly high, certainly a lot cheaper than ready meals and ready made spice pastes. Just don’t leave it a year between uses. So anyway, these are the things I have accumulated in my kitchen cupboards, and you can cook anything you like when you have this stuff.

Essentials:

  • Turmeric
  • Coriander (seeds – you can grind it)
  • Cumin        (as above)
  • Chilli Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Green Cardamom Pods
  • Black Peppercorns

Nice to Haves:

  • Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • Cinnamon Sticks/Cassia Bark
  • Bay Leaves
  • Fenugreek Seeds
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Cloves
  • Dried Red Chillies

For the girl that has everything:

  • Brown Mustard Seeds
  • Black Cardamom
  • Dessicated Coconut
  • Chappati Flour
  • Panch Phoran
  • Asafoetida
  • Methi Leaves
  • Curry Leaves
  • Mace
  • Coconut Milk
  • Tamarind

I costed this on a moderately priced website – buying on the web is fine and it came in at around £20. You’ll also need a decent pestle and mortar and a heavy based lidded pan. It may seem like a lot to you, but I barely noticed I was accumulating it, although when I look at my spice cupboard now, maybe it IS a lot..

Anyway, you’ll need to buy Garlic, Ginger and fresh Onion regularly, unless you want Kashmiri curries, which don’t really have those in. Once you do have this stuff, it’s just a matter of picking up the protein of your choice on the way home and you can have a restaurant standard meal within an hour of getting in.

Dinner Out: Joy Raj, Clifton Village, Bristol

Y’all know I’m not a professional food writer (No, really?). Nobody pays for my dinner, no one even buys me a drink actually, for writing this stuff. And I’m sure you realise this, when reading some of my reviews which may have been less than flattering. The ones I can’t pick any holes in? They’re just really good – there is no bias. It’s also worth considering that I do drink – and when I go to a curry house, I sometimes drink more than one beer. I just like to think I’m reviewing in context, anyway.

joyrajpickletray

So on Friday night, the opportunity for a curry presented itself, somewhere new. In CliftonVillage there is  some stiff competition in terms of curry houses ( I can think of maybe 4 within a 5 minute walk) and loads of other places to eat, Joy Raj doesn’t particularly stand out for me in the street. But, Greedy Companion girl insisted and down we went. And we went downstairs, were greeted and sat down immediately. The tables we really wanted were booked out (always a fairly good sign that people would bother to book for a high street curry house in Bristol) and they were fairly busy so I don’t think our spot was the good, but it was lit well and comfortable. The decor wasn’t stunning.. by any means, but it was clean and bright.We had pickles and poppodoms to start – the pickles were delicious, and I am fairly picky about pickles . So far so tasty. When ordering our the rest of our food I got into a conversation with our charming waiter about one of my obsessions, the tandoor. Would I like to go into the kitchen and watch them cook in it? Would I? You don’t need to ask me a question like that twice. So I waited until the chef was ready and I tottered in. I know I don’t get out too much, but wow, it made my night! I think the kitchen staff were a bit bemused as I stuck my head down and started taking photographs of the oven, but you know, simple things for simple minds..  The other bonus, as an inveterate nosy parker who is always trying to stick her head through the kitchen door, is that its always nice to see that your food is being freshly prepared (it was) and that everything is nice and clean (it was) and that people working in the kitchen at the very least, appear happy, and clean (they did). This may seem like some fairly basic criteria to people who aren’t always poking their nose about but believe me, not all is as you’d hope in some of the least obvious places. And to avoid getting sued by anyone in particular, I’m going to stop it there.

joyrajtandoorichef

So, I went and sat back down and our food arrived very shortly after. I had lamb saag (the best dish out of the three mains), greedy companion girl had a lamb dansak and greedy companion boy had a tandoori mixed grill. We also had garlic naan, mushroom rice and saag bhaji. It was all lovely, with beautiful fresh flavours. The naan was particularly delicious, light and fluffy and without any dry or burnt spots – seemingly so hard to acheive in some places. Oh naan, how do I love thee? All very trad curry house of course, and nothing surprising, but theres really nothing up with that on a friday night after a beer or two.

joyrajmainslambsaagjoyrag

With all our chatting, eating and drinking, we must have been in there a long time and I think we were the last to leave. Staff were extremely welcoming and we never got any feeling like they were waiting for us to get lost so the could clean up and go home. In fact, apart from a small incident with an unpleasant drunk (hazard of a friday night curry), which got cleared up very tidily, the atmosphere was lovely all through. In short, it was a great curry, a great night and a great place to go.

Joy Raj, Clifton

Parathas

This is the first time I’ve ever tried to make Parathas. I eat curry a lot – as you can probably tell from this blog. I make a curry weekly, and days I’m not posting, truthfully, I’m probably eating leftover curry out of the freezer. I really love curry, but we’ve talked about this before. The thing is, no matter what I seem to do to rice (pilau rice, coconut rice, mushroom rice, lemon rice), I just don’t want to eat it as often as I eat curry. I just don’t. So what do you eat with your curry when you can’t face another bowl of rice?  Bread, that’s what. My favourite bread to eat with curry is naan bread, of course, but I didn’t have the courage to attempt them this time – thinking I would start with what I was promised was – easy!

parathas

Well, sure, its not impossible at all, but I think its something you get better at with practice unless you are a born baker. I found it to be one of those times where the food showed me that actually, I was not boss in my kitchen for once and by the time I had made just 6 pieces, it was definitely time to stop. Still, as a first effort it was fairly creditable and we all have to start somewhere. I would make enough for 2-3 pieces per person so I’ve made 6. If the instructions sound quite complex, they’re really not, you just have to do it and it will make itself clear.

  • 90g plain wholemeal flour
  • 90g plain white flour
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 75 ml tepid water
  • ghee, or vegetable lard, like Trex

Place the flour, salt, water and oil in a bowl. Mix together with your hands until it comes together into a ball- be prepared to add a little more water if its too dry. Its too dry if it doesn’t pick up all the flour in the bowl, its too wet if it sticks to your hands. Anyway, put it on a floured surface and knead, for 10 minutes until its smooth then cover – plastic bag is ideal, and leave for at least 30 minutes. I made mine mid afternoon, put it in a bag and put in the fridge til dinnertime and it was just fine.

When you’re ready to make your parathas, and I would recommend having your main ready to go and warm at this point, because you don’t want to concentrate on anything else, especially if you, like me, are new and/or inept. Get a large heavy frying pan. This is the bit where you need to concentrate.

Divide the dough into six. Put the pan on the heat, and brush it with a little ghee or Trex. Cover the pieces you are not using. Now, roll out the dough into a circle roughly 6 inches in diameter on a floured surface. With a pastry brush, brush some ghee or  melted Trex onto the circle and fold it in half. Brush that half with more fat and then fold it in half again. You should be looking at at triangle. Roll out the triangle again until its 7 inches from top to base. I must confess I wasn’t great at this bit, my triangles were more rhomboid in truth. Now, put the paratha on the hot, oiled pan and cook for one minute. Brush the top of the paratha with more fat (I know, this isn’t for you if you’re on weightwatchers) and then turn it over. The bottom should have brown spots on it. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds, moving it in the heat a few times so its evenly cooked.

Put the cooked paratha on a plate and cover with an upturned plate of bit of foil. Cook until you’ve done all your paratha. Serve with the Beef in Yoghurt and Pepper and Spicy Green Beans.