30.4.10

indian feast

My blog friend from Croatia Tadeja suggested that since I live in UK, it might be interesting to my girls from Croatia to see some English cuisine recipes.
So, I thought I should start this with the best liked cuisine in England – Indian :D

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It's true, the English love Indian food very much, they cook and eat curries regularly and even though English cuisine has many wonderful domestic dishes, I came to view especially North Indian food as a regular part of the menu in the UK.





Indian food is wonderfully fragrant and tasty, often quite hot (ljuta), especially if cooked according to the traditional recepies, and is very good for you because it has detoxifying and clensing properties due to large amounts of chillies and spices. Many spices that are often used in this cuisine, like turmeric, have been extensivelly studied and found to have various medicinal properties including a protective effect against bowel cancer.
Indian food in restaurants can be very oily, partly because it is cooked with ghee – an original form of vegetable fat used in India, but at home you can cook it with olive oil and lose none of the flavour.
In any case, the curries are typically very strong, to be eaten with a lot of rice and special flat breads, often with fresh salad and yoghurt.

MY CARDINAL RULES ABOUT COOKING AND EATING INDIAN FOOD

1. Use olive oil to make them lighter

2. Make sure you have the authentic spices, these are absolutely essential: cumin, cardamom, cloves, chillies (dried and fresh), coriander (seed and powder), garam masala, mustard seeds, turmeric, peppercorns, fresh ginger, fresh coriander, paprika (hot and mild). You can also use a generic curry poweder if you like, but you should still have all the original spices.

3. First thing you do, most of the time, is to heat up the oil and fry the spaices until they are fragrant. This works much better than adding the spices later and you should assume this to be the first step unless otherwise specified.

4. Cook your curries (like Rogan Josh and other main dishes) on slow fire for upwards of 1 or even 2 hours. Only the side dishes like bhajis are cooked quickly, the real curries take time, much like croatian stews.

5. Eat your curries with a lot of rice, breads, salad and fresh yoghurt. Curries are much stronger than stews or goulashes, and the same amount can feed twice as many people, because it is supposed to be eaten much more diluted with carbohydrate staples.

These are my all time favourite Indian dishes to cook at home – they are simple to make, very tasty and full of vegetables, I must admit I often buy my chapatis in the supermarket but they are really easy to make at home, so I will include the recepie I got somewhere off the internet, I can’t remember where, but it is very good.

CHAPATI

This is the simplest type of flat indian bread that is served with all the curries and accompaniments.

for 8 chapatis you’ll need :

130 g wholmeal flour
65 ml of warm water
splash of olive oil

Make a hole in the middle of the flour and pour in water. Mix and make into a dough. Add oil and knead for 5 - 8 mins until nice and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and leave for 1 hour.
Heat up the frying pan with no oil in it.
Make 8 balls out of the dough and on floured surface, roll out into thin pancakes.
Place on the pan on high heat until brown spots appear, turn over and cook on the other side briefly (all up, each chapati takes just a few minutes to cook).
Set aside covered with foil to keep them warm, until they are ready to serve.

ALOO CHAT

This is an entrée, served on a warm chapati or just an ordinary pancake or a tortilla, it is wonderfully fragrant and fresh due to fresh vegetables mixed with spicy fried potatoes.

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3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chaat masala (or garam masala)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
salt to taste
fresh coriander
2-3 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
About 10cm length fresh cucumber, finely chopped

Dice potatoes and boil for 5 minutes. Drain well and shallow fry them in oil until golden. Add finely chopped onion, garlic and spices. Fry until fragrant.
Take off heat and mix in finely chopped fresh tomato and cucumber.
Stir well, garnish with fresh coriander and serve with chapatis.

BHINDI BAHJI

This is a very tasty okra curry (okra in Croatian is “bamija”) that is served as a side or a vegetarian dish. If you don't like okra, you may substitute it with aubergine (eggplant), zucchini (courgette), mushrooms or even potatoes (in which case add more chillies to make the dish more spicy).

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You’ll need:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
3-4fresh tomatoes, chopped
450g okra, cut into 3cm pieces

Heat the oil in a pan and fry spices briefly. Add the onions and fry for 3-5 minutes until the onions are transparent. Tip in the tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.
Throw in the okra and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the okra is cooked through.
Season with salt and fresh coriander and serve.

ROGAN JOSH

This is a main course dish, there will be lots of it and it’s perfect to keep for a day or two in the fridge, in fact, the longer it stands the more flavoursome it becomes.

1 kg lamb or chicken
2 onions
8 cloves of garlic
2.5cm ginger stem
2 bay leaves
10 whole black pepecorns
10 cardamom pods
6 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp hot paprika
2 tsp sweet paprika
3 red hot chillies
or cayenne pepper (as much as you can handle)
1 tsp salt
splash of olive oil
1 can (400ml) chopped tomatoes
6 tablespoons yoghurt
sprinkle of garam masala
coriander for garnish

Place a roughly chopped onion, fresh ginger and cloves of garlic in a food processor, with a little water added, until you get a nice uniform mixture.

Warm up the oil and add bay leaves, peppercorns, whole cardamom pods, cloves and a stick of cinnamon to the pan, and let them fry for a minute or so until they become really fragrant.

Add meat to it and brown lightly (meat on the bone will give tastier curry, but I most often use either skinless chicken breasts or lean lamb chops to reduce the calories. It also is nice but the most authentic taste will be achieved by meat on the bone).
To this, add one finely chopped onion and allow to fry for a few more minuts until adding onion puree.

Add ground coriander, cumin, paprika and as much cayenne pepper as you can handle. Start with a little over a third of a teaspoon and work upwards from there. A teaspoon of salt is also needed. Stir and fry gently for about five minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes, mix well and simmer on low fire for 90 minutes, stirring regularly.
When cooked, add yoghurt, one tablespoon at a time stirring each spoonful in to make a rich and creamy sauce.

Finish with a good sprinkling of garam masala a twist or two of ground black pepper and roughly chopped fresh coriander just before serving.

Bon apetit!

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