Fried eggplant and pea curry

This curry is delicious with grilled lamb, fish or chicken or as a main served with dhal, rice and roti for a vegetarian meal.

Frying the eggplant pieces before putting the curry together makes the eggplant melt like butter in your mouth.

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:

1 large eggplant cut into cubes
1 onion diced finely
1 cup of frozen peas
1 tomato chopped into medium chunks
2 cloves garlic and same quantity of ginger pounded into a paste
Salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cummin powder
1 tsp cummin seeds
Handful of curry leaves
6-8 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Optional: 2-3 green chillies left whole but split down the middle (remove seeds for milder outcome)
½ cup of water
Handful of chopped coriander to garnish

Method:
Place eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle with salt, allow to sit for at least 30minutes. This allows draw some of the bitter juices from the eggplant rather than it all going into the curry sauce.


Drain eggplant and pat dry with paper towel before placing in a bowl. Add ½ teaspoon each of turmeric, chilli powder and cummin powder and mix well to coat.
Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat, then add eggplant in batches frying until golden on the outside but not overcooking. Drain eggplant on paper towel and set aside. Repeat until all your eggplant is fried. (The eggplant will absorb oil so you might need to add a tablespoon or so more to fry all the pieces.)

Once eggplant is all fried, wipe pan clean, then add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and heat. Add curry leaves and cummin seeds to the pan and heat through to flavour oil.

Add onion and cook until transparent, then add garlic and ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes. Then add tomato, and the rest of the powered spices (i.e ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chilli powder, ½ tsp cummin powder), the green chillies if using and ¼ cup of water. Cook for 5-8 minutes over medium heat until tomato starts breaking up, adding more water if needed to prevent mixture from sticking to pan.


Add in eggplant pieces and peas and gently mix through the spice mixture. Cook for 2 minutes until peas are cooked to your liking.
Remove from heat, garnish with coriander, serve and enjoy

Durban Indian Meatballs in tomato curry sauce

This is another Durban comfort-food staple. It is often referred to as “lamb kebabs in chutney”. This curry is delicious with roti or rice and a dollop of cucumber raita.

I often make extra meatballs and freeze them as they can also be used as an appetizer, just grilled from frozen and served with a  Mint Chutney or Chilli Sauce on the side.
These meatballs can also be cooked with borlotti or cannellini beans for an Indian version of the Spanish dish of meatballs and beans in tomato sauce. Adding beans changes the texture of the gravy making it “more creamy” and much heartier than the basic tomato version.

Ingredients
Meatballs:

1 kg lamb or beef low fat mince
½ onion finely diced
4 cloves garlic and equivalent amount of fresh ginger peeled
1 teaspoon cummin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 fresh red chillies chopped finely (can be deseeded for less heat0
1/4 bunch of coriander finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons worth)
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon of salt

To make meatballs:
Use a mortar and pestle to pound ginger and garlic into a paste.


In a large bowl, add mince and all other ingredients, including ginger and garlic. Add beaten egg last.
Mix well with your hands (I use disposable gloves), then form into medium size balls
Place on baking sheet lined with baking paper, put extras into a plastic container for freezing.
Heat oven to 170 degrees celsius and cook for 20 minutes or until just browned on the outside, cook for 5-10 minutes if serving as an appetiser. Taste test to see if cooked through so the meatballs don’t dry out too much.
If using from frozen, heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius, place frozen meatballs on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and cook as above. They might take slightly longer as they are cooking from frozen.

Tomato Curry Sauce

Ingredients:
1 onion finely diced
2 large fresh ripe tomatoes diced
1 handful of curry leaves
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon (preferabley cinnamon bark available in Indian grocers but quills are fine if not)
3 cloves of garlic and equal amount of fresh ginger peeled
3/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cups chicken stock
Coriander to garnish
Vegetable oil

Method:
Heat vegetable oil in medium size heavy based pan which has a lid
Add cummin seeds, curry leaves and cinnamon sticks and heat gently until fragrant
Add onions and cook gently until transparent
Add ginger and garlic and heat through
Add all powdered spices: chilli powder, turmeric, cummin powder, salt and sugar and mix through for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring to avoid tomato mixture burning.

Add 1 cup chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower heat and then simmer for 15 minutes, adding more chicken stock as required to make sure the tomatoes break down but don’t stick to the bottom. (*See below if you want to add borlotti or cannellini beans to your curry)


After 15 minutes, add the meatballs which have been cooked for about 20 minutes in the oven, add any juices from the baking sheet and more chicken stock or water to just cover meatballs and tomatoes.


Simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until tomatoes have broken up and a thick curry sauce is created.
Serve with hot rotis or white rice and cucumber raita.

Note:
Durban Indian Meatballs and Borlotti Beans Tomato curry.

For this version of the meatballs, add 1 can (400g) of borlotti beans or cannellini beans to the tomatoes after they have been cooking for about 5 minutes, add an additional ½ cup of chicken stock, and simmer mixture for another 15 minutes before adding the meatballs.

IMG_5770

Durban Style Chicken Briyani

Briyani-Breyani-Biryani…, however you want to spell it, is a traditional feast dish in the homes of Indian families. The accompaniments of Grapes Apple Mint Raita, Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney, Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt and Red Lentil Tarka Dhal with turmeric and ginger make the serving of biryani a true foodie experience.

This family recipe includes lentils, boiled eggs, spicy potatoes along with the marinated chicken and golden fried onions which combine for a protein and carbohydrate packed pot of deliciousness. Definitely best kept for special occasions!

The chicken can be replaced with lamb for an equally wonderful result.

This recipe should be started the day before or early in the morning to allow the chicken to marinate in the yoghurt-tomato based marinade which tenderises and flavours the chicken. The time and effort required to prepare this delicious layered rice dish is definitely worth the effort and the leftovers are especially delicious the day after

I have organised this recipe with the ingredients and method for each different steps to make it easier to follow, as well as providing a shopping list at the end to help you get all the ingredients you’ll need.

Chicken and Marinade

1 large onion sliced
50g butter and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 stalks of curry leaves stripped from stalk
4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
1 can of chopped tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic and equivalent amount of fresh ginger
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder
1.5 teaspoons of cummin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
About 1.5 kg of chicken with or without bones – I use a mix e.g 3 chicken thigh cutlets with bone or 3 chicken drumsticks as well as 4 chicken thigh fillets cut into large chunks

Step 1: Marinate Chicken
Heat oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan, add curry leaves and fry until fragrant, then add onion and cook gently until brown and caramelised. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then pound the onions and curry leaves in a mortar and pestle to break up onion and create a rough paste.

In a separate bowl add the chicken, yoghurt, tomato, pounded onions, ginger and garlic, and rest of spices. Mix well and allow to marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Step 2: Boil Eggs

3-4 eggs
Hard boil eggs, shell and halve
Set aside

Step 3: Par-boil Rice

2.5 cups of basmati rice
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon salt
5-6 cups water

Add water to large pot and bring to boil with turmeric and salt
Add rice and cook for 8-10 minutes until par-boiled only – do not overcook at this stage or rice will go mushy when cooked in oven.
Drain rice in colander and set aside

Step 4: Par-cook Potatoes

2 large potatoes peeled and cut into medium size chunks
½ tspn chilli powder
½ tspn cummin powder
½ tspn turmeric powder
½ tspn salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add potatoes to bowl with spices and 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil to help coat potatoes evenly in spices

Heat rest of oil in a non-stick frying pan, add potatoes in small batches if necessary, frying potatoes until the outside of the potatoes are fried and an outer “skin” is created. Potatoes will not be cooked through but remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

Set aside

Step 5: Lentils

2 cans of brown lentils, drained
Set aside

Step 6: Onions for topping

1 large onion cut into thin slices
50 g butter and 1 tablespoon oil

Fry onions gently in butter and oil until golden but not brown
Set aside

 

Step 6: Cook Chicken

2 tablespoons oil
1.5 teaspoons of cummin seeds
5 green cardamon pods
2 sticks of cinnamon (preferably cinnamon bark)
1.5 cups of water/chicken stock
Marinated chicken

Heat oil in casserole dish or large heavy based pot, add cummin, cinnamon and cardarmom pods and fry for 1 minute until fragrant taking care not to burn spices

Add chicken mixture to pot and simmer, stirring so it does not stick to bottom until chicken is sealed

Add 1 cup of water, cover pot with lid and simmer slowly for 25 minutes checking that the mixture isn’t sticking – add a bit more water if necessary. You want a fairly dry resulting mixture as the base for the briyani.

Skim the excess oil off as you go.

After 25 minutes, remove chicken from heat and set aside.

Step 7: Assembly

Handful of Fresh torn Mint leaves
50 g butter
Handful of chopped Coriander
1 cup of water

Prepared Ingredients:
Cooked chicken
Partially cooked potatoes
Hard boiled eggs
Lentils
Par-boiled eggs
Fried Onions
 

Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius

In a large casserole or crock pot begin to assemble the layered briyani:

Place 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on the bottom of the casserole pan

Sprinkle bottom with 1-2 handfuls of lentils

Add the chicken mixture over the lentils using a slotted spoon to minimise the amount of liquid from the cooked chicken that this transferred to the briyani

Add a layer of lentils on top of the chicken, then a layer of rice (3/4 cup), sprinkle a few mint leaves over the rice

Place potatoes and eggs over this layer and sprinkle a few mint leaves over the potatoes and eggs

Place rest of rice over the potatoes and eggs and sprinkle with some water.

Cover the pot with foil to “to seal” the mixture then place lid on top of foil

Place in oven for 30 minutes, then push small knobs of butter into the rice at intervals, sprinkle with more water if rice on the top is drying out. You can check the progress of the cooking of the potatoes by inserting a long spoon vertically into mixture and carefully removing a sample of the dish. The rice and potatoes are the best to sample to determine how much longer you need to cook the briyani – I generally find it will require another 30 minutes at least.

After a total of one hour, check on the briyani again and add the reserved fried onions over the top of the rice and place back in oven for 10-15 minutes. Then remove the briyani from the oven and allow to rest for at least half and hour before serving.

To serve, dish out onto a platter ensuring there is a representation of all the different ingredients, sprinkle with chopped mint or coriander leaves.

Serve with accompaniments such as Indian Pickles,  Grapes Apple Mint Raita, Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney, Roasted eggplant with cummin and yoghurt and Red Lentil Tarka Dhal  .

Shopping List

Here’s the list of ingredients to use for the Durban Style Chicken Briyani recipe:

  • 1.5 kg chicken – 3-4 thigh cutlets with bone and skin and 4 thigh fillets
  • 2 cans brown lentils
  • Tub of plain yoghurt
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2.5 cups of Basmati rice
  • 1-2 cups Chicken stock (or water)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 150g butter
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Curry Leaves
  • Coriander
  • Mint
  • Chilli Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Green Cardamom pods
  • Cinnamon bark (available at Indian Grocers) or quills
  • Salt

Prawn Caldine with tamarind and ground almonds

This recipe is inspired by Rick Stein’s version with a few adjustments to make it an easy mid-week dish. It is lightly spiced but the addition of green chillies adds a hint of heat. The tamarind water adds a sweet sour component which complements prawns or fish brilliantly. The ground almonds add another dimension and help to thicken the sauce but can be omitted if you prefer.

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

500g fresh or frozen prawns(defrosted), preferably with tails left on OR 500g firm white fish
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cummin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 onion thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic and equivalent amount of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
400ml coconut milk
3 tablespoons tamarind water (made using tamarind seeds or concentrate)
4-5 mild green chillies, cut into long strips
coriander to garnish
salt
vegetable oil

Method
Place peeled (and defrosted) prawns/fish chopped in pieces in a bowl and marinate for 10 minutes or so in white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

If using tamarind seeds, soak a handful in 1/2 a cup of boiling water, or mix 1 tspn of tamarind concentrate with 3 tablespoons of hot water. Set aside.

Dry fry cummin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns in a frying pan until just fragrant over medium heat, taking care not to burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before grinding to a fine powder. Add turmeric powder to spice mixture.

Grind or blend ginger and garlic together to  a paste.

Slice onions and green chillies finely.

Heat oil in a pan and add onions and cook until onions start going translucent, add ginger and garlic paste and ground spices and mix through stirring until fragrant, then add coconut milk, tamarind water, ground almonds(if using)and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste.

Drain the moisture from the prawns/fish, then add them to the coconut milk mixture with half the sliced green chillies, cook for 5-7 minutes until the prawns are pink and just cooked or the fish is cooked through.

Garnish with coriander and serve with basmati rice.

Serves 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Posh Indian at Bombay Club Washington DC

The Bombay Club is right in the heart of Washington DC’s executive quarter, just a few blocks from the White House. Frequented by American Presidents and Hollywood stars this is not your everyday Indian restaurant. It was rated by GQ India as the third best Indian restaurant in the world. (Read full article http://www.gqindia.com/live-well/food/7-best-indian-restaurants-across-globe/ ).

Intrigued by what we had read and heard about the restaurant we saved it for our last night in DC and we were not disappointed.

From  the plush padded seats, starched linen tablecloths and the tinkling from the pianist in the corner, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Raj-era exclusive club.

For entree we chose the highly recommended Spicy Duck Kebabs- Minced duck, chilies, ginger, nutmeg and garam masala and the Dum Ka Shrimp marinated in black pepper, saffron, yogurt, cardamom. The kebabs were divine and spicier than we expected which to us bode well that the Bombay Club hasn’t “dumbed” down the spicing for Western palates too much. The prawns were more subtly flavoured and delicious too.

For mains we ordered an “unabashedly Indian curry” – Lamb vindaloo and Bhindi Do Piaza (okra), Dhal Makni, naan, basmati rice and lemon chutney. The lamb vindaloo was redolent of the aged vinegar, onions, chilies, cinnamon and cardamon it is cooked in with a perfect balance of tanginess and spicy warmth. The Dhal Makni is cooked for 16 hours and it tasted smoky and rich, like it had been cooked overnight in the tandoor. The okra is cooked with pickled onions, tomatoes and chilli and was an ideal vegetarian accompaniment to our meal, along with one of the best pickled lemon chutney I have ever tasted. Wish I could get the recipe for that!

Treating ourselves to dessert, we loved the Gulab Jamun served with cardamom gelato and the mango kulfi.

The entire meal was one of the best Indian epicurean experiences we have ever had and I would highly recommend eating at Bombay Club if you live in or visit DC. Here is the link to their website for more pictures and information http://www.bombayclubdc.com

 

 

Mild Potato Curry

This mild potato curry is quick and easy to make. Recently on a rainy Sydney day we were in the mood for an Indian breakfast, or more accurately brunch, so I made this accompanied by my Red Lentil DhalEasy Wholemeal Roti and Coconut Sambal. The resulting meal took us straight back to the streets of India  where these types of vegetarian combinations are favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This Potato Curry is also a good staple side dish that can be whipped up quickly and is particularly nice with grilled fish.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 medium size potatoes peeled and cut into smallish cubes
1 onion diced
1 tomato cut into large chunks
8 curry leaves (optional)
2 cloves garlic and same amount of ginger crushed into paste
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup of water
coriander to garnish

Method
Boil potatoes first for 10 minutes in salted water(1/2 tspn salt) to which you have added 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric powder. The potatoes should be almost cooked, but not too soft and they will be a beautiful golden colour from the turmeric in the water.

Drain potatoes in a colander and set aside.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, curry leaves if using and mustard seeds and fry until mustard seeds start to pop. Be careful not to burn, remove from heat if necessary and add onions.

Cook onions over medium heat until transparent, add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

image

Add to tomato, chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon, turmeric 1/2 teaspoon salt, cummin powder and mix through until spices just start to change colour, add potatoes and gently coat with onion spice mixture then add water and simmer until reduced and potatoes are tender and almost breaking up (about 5 minutes).

Garnish with coriander and serve.

image
Indian breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!