Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beer braised short ribs

Recipe: Beer braised short ribs
4 meaty short ribs

Barbecue rub
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp hot chili powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Mix this all together and rub over meat, let stand for 1 hour.

1/2 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely diced
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup sherry or red wine
1 tin plum tomatoes
1/2 bottle beer or lager
1 beef stock cube
1/2 tsp salt or more to taste

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a heavy pan over medium heat and sear the ribs on all sides until very dark brown. Remove from the pan and pat dry on kitchen towel.
Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and bay leaf to the pan with the extra 1 tbsp oil and saute over low heat until soft. Place the ribs back in the pan on top of the vegetables.
Add all other ingredients, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low - medium, cover and let cook for about 3.5 - 4 hours until the meat is very tender.
Once cooked, you can remove the meat and keep warm while you reduce the sauce to thicken. It should be quite creamy from the spices and sugar from the barbecue rub. Mashed potato would probably be the best accompaniment  for this or some rice.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prawn and lentil salad with coconut, peanut & lime

Recipe : Pan fried prawns with coconut peanut lentils
1 tin lentils, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced length ways
1 bunch spring onions, (scallions), finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely sliced 
1 small red chili pepper, seeded and finely sliced
a handful of spinach
1/3 cup coconut milk
juice of one lime
1 tbsp Asian style peanut sauce or peanut butter
a dash or two of fish sauce
10 - 15 large, raw prawns
1 tbsp butter

Place the lentils in a bowl with the cucumber, scallions, peppers and spinach and mix together well. 
In a separate small bowl, mix together the coconut milk, peanut sauce or butter and lime juice. Taste and season with the salty fish sauce to achieve a nice salty, sweet and tangy dressing. Adjust with a little more lime juice if you like. Set aside.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the prawns until pink and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and then add to the lentil mixture. Pour over the dressing, mix everything together thoroughly, then serve.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Carrot halwa


Recipe : Carrot Halwa
I've always known Indian people are stereotyped with very sweet teeth, (2 thumbs up, a popular drink, is 5 times sweeter than Coke), but this dessert was a more subtle take on a classic, perhaps watered down slightly for 'delicate' Western palates. Considering the amount of sugar, condensed sweetened milk and butter that went into it, it was surprisingly light, tasting of sweet, earthy carrots and cream.

1 kg carrots
1 litre milk
200g sugar
100g unsalted clarified butter
1 tbsp green cardamom powder
1 tin condensed milk
30g each almonds and raisins

Peel and grate the carrots and place in a large pan. Add the milk, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the carrots are soft and fully cooked and the milk has reduced significantly. 
Add the sugar, cardamom powder, condensed milk and clarified butter and let the mixture cook until until all the moisture has evaporated.
Allow to cool, garnish with almonds and raisins and serve. Chef Gurpreet suggested vanilla ice cream or maybe whipped cream to accompany. 

Okra with onions

Recipe : Bhindi po piaza (Okra with onions)
I still have no idea how chef Gurpreet managed to cook this dish without there being any trace of sliminess in the okra whatsoever. I have always known that okra could be slimy, tried it once which confirmed my suspicions and never really thought about it again. This recipe deceived me into thinking I could easily recreate such a tasty, crunchy and wonderful dish. Nope, tried it again last night and had to throw the whole thing away, so bad was the gelatinous gloop inside each little green finger. The chef said simply don't add water and that would be good enough. I didn't and it wasn't! This was wonderful however. Very spicy but a great vegetable accompaniment to all the rich curries. I looked online and found a few ideas for reducing the slime, one of which maybe chef used, (if sauteing, cook for at least 15 minutes which should draw the gloop out). 

450g okra
2 big onions
20g amchur, (mango powder)
10g red chili powder
10g garam masala
50g ghee
3 green chilies
salt and pepper

Heat the ghee in a large pan over medium to high heat and saute the onions until brown and caramelised.
Add all the spices and cook, stirring, for one minute.
Add the okra and allow it to cook over slightly reduced heat, don't stir too much.
After about 15 - 20 minutes the okra should be crisp tender (and hopefully not slimy at all). Stir in the green chilies and serve.



Bread is integral to Indian food, whether the deep fried puffy puri, raised naan or flat bread such as chapati. This is a version of the unleavened paratha, a robust wholewheat flat bread that is composed of layers and brushed with melted butter.

You can add many different seasonings to this bread, including salt or spices such as cumin seeds, poppy seeds or chili powder.

2 cups wholewheat flour

Pour the flour into a large bowl, add salt, (start with about 1 tbsp) and gradually add cold water, about 2 tbsp at a time until you have formed a soft dough that leaves the edges of the bowl clean. Let rest for about 20 minutes.
Separate the dough into about 10 small balls, (or more if you want smaller paranthas) and roll each into a smooth ball. Roll each ball out on a lightly floured surface until quite thin and keeping the round shape. Add any seasonings you would like now.
Make a cut into the circle about half way up, (like you are drawing a radius) and brush the bread with a thin layer of oil. Start curling the edge of one cut side around itself until you have a cone like shape and press this down. Roll this out to a circle again, (this is what creates the layers).

Heat a griddle or flat pan over high heat until very hot, (the school used an upside down cast iron frying pan to create a smooth surface - pretty ingenious I thought). Fry the paranthas until they are golden brown on both sides and crisp.

Serve with a curry, using the bread to pick up the sauce like a spoon.

Butter chicken

OK, that's more like it! I hear the combined calls of a nation raised on this perennial favourite. Strange that I'd never heard of it before coming to North America. I'm assuming it's also called Murgh Makhani, often seen on UK menus but usually ignored in lieu of the chicken tikka masala or lamb vindaloo. It's a beautiful dish, full of complex notes from the tomato, creamy and luscious from butter and cream and a little spicy heat to round things off.

500g boneless chicken breast
1.5tbsp grated fresh ginger
1.5tbsp minced fresh garlic
100g yogurt
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp red chili powder
1 tbsp garam masala

250g well flavoured tomatoes
10g fresh ginger
10g garlic
2 green chilies
3 cloves
2 green cardamoms
10g coriander
50ml heavy cream
2 tsp butter
100ml cashew nut paste
1 tbsp kasoori methi, (fenugreek leaf)
salt and pepper
100ml tomato puree
10g deghi mirch, (paprika)

Butter chicken is so called because of the texture, which should resemble butter and not the use of butter in the recipe (although it is often included).

It's important to add any fenugreek a recipe calls for at the end. If added too soon it will create a bitterness that will spoil the finished dish.

Slashing meat and adding a mix of vinegar and salt for 15 minutes before marinating will help tenderise and assure the marinade will take better. It needs to be patted dry before the meat is placed in the marinade.

The cashew nut paste in this dish is integral to an authentic flavour, but is often left out in restaurant curries or even cookbook recipes. It adds a depth and creaminess. You may need to make your own by soaking the required quantity of cashew nuts in water for up to 24 hours and then pureeing to a paste. This makes it very creamy, (the same technique is often used for raw cheesecake as a cream cheese substitute).

Make slashes on the chicken breast and rub with the vinegar and sprinkle well with salt, rubbing this into the flesh also. Let stand for 15 minutes and then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Mix the chicken marinade ingredients together and add the chicken. Allow to marinade for around 6 hours, or longer

Chop the tomatoes and add to a pan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, green chilies, cloves and cardamoms and stir well.
Add the tomato puree and cook over gentle heat until the tomatoes are completely collapsed and cooked, (about 50 minutes). 
Puree the mixture in a blender until very smooth.

Heat the butter in a separate pan until foamy and then add the coriander powder and deghi mirch, (paprika). Stir well. Transfer the pureed tomato sauce to this and stir. Let cook for about 4 - 5 minutes.
Add the cashew nut paste and cream. Simmer and stir constantly until the cashew nut paste starts to sink. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Grill or bake the chicken until cooked through, chop into small pieces and add to the sauce.
Finally, add the kasoori methi, (fenugreek), stir well and serve.

Monday, December 9, 2013


Recipe : Samosas
450g white flour
a few pinches of salt
125ml vegetable oil
700g potatoes
2 medium onions, chopped small
15g grated fresh ginger
2 small green chili
1 bunch fresh cilantro
200g fresh green peas
10g curry powder
20g garam masala
20g coriander powder
10g red chili powder

The key to samosas is very thin pastry. Chef Gurpreet suggested that when held to the light, it should be almost transparent. This ensures a truly crisp samosa.

Crimping the edges of samosas with your fingers ensures they are even crisper still. Obviously, the crispness is something highly desirable with these little fried dumplings.

The dough
Mix the flour and salt together then add the vegetable oil and mix to breadcrumb consistency.
Add 125ml water and bring together with your hands to create a soft dough.
Wrap in cling wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

The stuffing
Boil the potatoes in boiling salted water until soft, then dice finely. Taste and add more salt if required.
Heat oil in a pan over medium - high heat and saute the onions and ginger. When the onions begin to brown, add all the spices and stir well for a minute.
Add the green peas and cilantro, taste again and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add everything to the diced, cooked potato, stir thoroughly and allow to cool.

To make the samosa, divide the dough into balls, (as many as you like, but generally samosas are quite small). Roll each ball into a circle very, very thinly. As I mentioned in the notes, this is key to a crisp samosa. 
Cut each circle in half to form two semi circles. Fold the semi circle on itself to make a cone sealing the edges with a little slur, (a mixture of dough and water to form a sealing paste). Fill the cone with about 1/2 - 1 tbsp of filling, (don't overfill or the samosa will break) and then seal the edges shut with more slur. Crimp the top seam with your fingers to make it very thin, then repeat with the other dough and fillings.

Deep fry each samosa at a temperature of 350oF until golden brown and crisp.

Serve with tamarind chutney and mint chutney, (recipes follow).

Recipe: Mint chutney
2 bunches fresh mint
1 bunch fresh cilantro
2 green chilies
100ml plain yogurt
15ml lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients to a smooth paste in a blender or processor.

Recipe : Tamarind chutney
65ml tamarind pulp
1.5 cups jaggery, (cane sugar could be substituted)
5tsp roasted cumin seeds
1 tsp black salt
1.5 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
10ml ginger juice
1 cup water

Heat 1 cup water until hot and add the tamarind pulp.
Add all the other ingredients and simmer slowly until it reduces down to a sauce consistency.
Allow to cool before serving.