Butter Chicken & Pea Pies #tastypies

This recipe combines 3 delicious things, my version of lite butter chicken curry, peas and puff pastry. My theory goes that skipping cream in the chicken filling recipe makes up for the butter in the puff pastry!

Lovely with just salad on the side and also great picnic food.

Prep time: 40 minutes Cooling: 20 minutes Baking: 20 minutes

Ingredients for 4 pies

  • 400g chicken thigh fillets cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1/2 piece of cinammon bark or quill
  • 1 teaspooon nigella seeds
  • Handful of curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cummin powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • I cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 cup of plain yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander
  • 3 sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 egg beaten for brushing pastry

Method:

A. Begin by turning on oven to preheat to 220 degrees Celsius and take out 3 sheets of puff pastry to allow to thaw.

B Make filling and pies

1. Heat vegetable oil in a heavy based pot over medium heat.

2. Add cummin, seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves if using and stir until fragrant. Ensure cummin seeds don’t burn.

3. Add onions and cook gently until transparent and soft. Add ginger and garlic paste and mix through the onions.

4. Add cummin powder, turmeric and chilli powder and stir though onion mixture until just heated through. Take care not to burn the spices.

5. Add chicken, salt, nigella seeds. Stir fry until chicken is sealed, then add water and simmer for 15 minutes.

Nigella seeds add an earthy sweetness.

6. While chicken is cooking line pie tins with baking paper, then cut out circles of puff pastry to fit into bottom of pie tins, prick bottom of pastry with a fork. Line with another layer of baking paper, add pie weights or dried beans and blind bake in oven for 10 minutes until pastry is cooked and just turning golden. remove from oven and set aside.

Blind bake bottom layer of puff pastry to form cases for pies.

6. Add yoghurt and butter to the chicken curry mixture and bring back to a simmer, then add peas and cook for further 5 minutes until peas are just tender. The chicken should be cooked by now and the sauce reduced to create a moist filling without too much extra sauce left.

7. Sprinkle generously with chopped coriander and set aside to cool for 15-20 minutes.

8. When chicken mixture has cooled to lukewarm, remove pie weights/beans and top layer of baking paper from pastry cases but leave them in the pie tins.

9. Heap chicken mixture into pie cases to form small mounds, don’t forget to remove the cinammon stick.

10. Cover tops of pies with a larger circle of puff pastry crimping edge of uncooked pastry onto the pastry cases, prick top or make a small cut in top to allow steam to escape, use the back of a fork to Mark the edges, then brush with egg yolk and place in oven for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden and puffed. Don’t worry if they are a bit untidy, they look nice and rustic when done.

11. Allow to cool/rest for 5 minutes or so and serve with salad. If packing for a picnic best to allow to cool for at least half an hour before packing.

Fish in Indian Crazy Water #fishbroth #crazywater

This an old recipe of mine which I haven’t made in ages but planning for dinner tonight. I have nice tomatoes and lots of fresh herbs so will wing the flavours to create a delicious broth for the fish to poach in, and I might throw in some potato to bulk it up for a Sydney winter’s evening.

Here’s the link to the original recipe https://freespiritfood.net/2015/11/08/snapper-in-indian-crazy-water-broth/

I’ll post photos of tonight’s version later.

Cauliflower, eggplant and green bean #curry #mixedveg

A nice vegetable curry is delicious just with some dhal and rice or alongside other curries or grilled meat.

The combination of cauliflower, eggplant and green beans with the warmth of mild Indian spices is a tenure winner. I love eggplant and in this recipe I use the long, skinny variety cut in discs.

The onion mixture with dried red chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves is a classic base for many a South Indian curry and you really can’t go wrong with any vegetable combination you add.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion finely diced
  • Handful fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 piece cinammon bark or quill
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic pounded to a paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tomato diced finely
  • 2 Thai long eggplants
  • 1.5 cups cauliflower florets
  • Greens beans, top and tailed chopped into small pieces (about a cup’s worth)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method:

1. Heat oil in a flat, heavy based pan which has a lid, add cinammon, cummin seeds , fenugreek seeds, dried chillies and curry leaves and heat over medium heat until fragrant.

2. Add onions and simmer gently until onions are transparent then add turmeric, cummin powder, mustard seeds and mix through.

3. Add ginger and garlic paste, tomatoes and mix through, stir fry until tomatoes just start breaking down, add 1/2 cup of water to stop mixture from sticking.

4. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 10 minutes with the lid on.

5. While cauliflower is cooking, cut eggplant into discs and then add with green bean pieces to cauliflower mixture. After 5/minutes, Add in peas and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 1/2 cup of water to stop mixture sticking. Simmer for 5 minutes until eggplant is tender and going transparent but not mushy.

6. Taste to see if additional salt required. Garnish with coriander and serve with fluffy white rice or naan, or just as a delicious side dish with other dishes.

Red #Kidney Bean #Dhal

I substituted the black beans with a can of red kidney beans and added 1/2 a cup of red lentils about an hour into the cooking, adding extra water to stop it from sticking along the way.

The outcome was delicious and I’d recommend playing around with this recipe with beans and lentils of your choice. can’t go wrong really!!

Here’s the original recipe with black beans.

Black bean Dhal with ginger, chilli, onions and tomato

Shepherd’s Pie with an Indian Twist #spicysheperdspie #indianpie

This is a spiced up version of an Irish lamb mince Shepherd’s Pie that will warm you up and tingle your tatstebuds.

The addition of spiced fried onions to the mash and curry leaves and spices to the mince mixture adds a touch of India that is a great twist to a winter comfort food staple.

I also added a layer of raw baby spinach that kept its texture and is a great way to make sure your green quotient box is ticked, especially with a nice green salad on the side as well. In fact, with leek, carrots, ginger and garlic, onions, potato, spinach and tomato the nutrition value of this dish cannot be denied!!

This quantity serves 2 so use a small-medium size casserole dish

Ingredients

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1/2 cup diced leek
  • 3 cloves garlic and equal amount ginger and 1 red chilli ground to paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of tomato passata
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 Handfuls of curry leaves
  • 2 cups of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small piece of cinnamon bark or quill
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 egg beaten for brushing top of mash
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • Extra curry leaves and coriander for garnish
  • Salt

Method:

1. Prepare vegetables for mince mixture. Chop leeks, onions and carrots. Make ginger, garlic and chilli paste.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy based pot, add cumin seeds to flavour the oil, then add leek, onions and carrot and sweat gently until softened. Add ginger, chilli and garlic paste and mix through.

Soften vegetables the add spices and mince.

3. Add turmeric, cummin and chilli powders to mixture and mix through, then add mince, and stir to break up mince and brown it before adding tomato passata, 1 handful of curry leaves and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes or so until mince is cooked and sauce is reduced.

4. While mince is cooking, peel and cut up potatoes into pieces. Place in a pot of boiling water with salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Boil potatoes until tender, strain and then mash them with a dollop of butter and 1 tablespoon of milk, taste to see if additional salt required and set aside.

5. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

6. Slice (not dice) additional onion. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small pan, add cinammon stick, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, other handful of curry leaves, then add onions and fry gently until onions are brown and starting to caramelise.

7. Add half the browned onion mixture the mash and mix through, reserve the other half.

8. Place the mince mixture in a casserole dish, top with spinach leaves, mash.

9. Using a fork, score the top of the mash, then brush with the egg. I add a red chilli to the top for decoration.

10. place in hot oven for 20 minutes until top starts crisping, then sprinkle rest of onions on top and put back into the oven for a further 10 minutes.

11. Garnish with curry leaves and coriander. Serve with a crisp green salad.

Nur Marvellous Moroccan Cooking Class #fes #nurrestaurant

So glad we made it to Morocco last year for a wonderful week in the Médina of Fes, and then visiting Rabat and Casablanca. It might be a while until we return now, so the closest we’ll come will be trying out some of the recipes we learnt at Nur Restaurant Cooking school with celebrity chef Najat Kaanache.

Najat was trained in Europe at restaurants like El Bulli and is quite a character, passionate about her restaurant and teaching others. https://najatkaanache.com

Najat welcomes us into the kitchen when we arrived at the restaurant for our 4 hour cooking marathon and explained the courses we would be cooking. She then handed over to her Assistant Chef to guide us through the actual hands-on experience as she had to zip to support a young friend who was in the selections for the Moroccan Soccer team!

Assistant Chef at Nur …our teacher for the day
The menu and courses we cooked!

We began by making a Moroccan spice paste which would be the base for a number of the dishes and salads. Then quickly moved onto making the Mafrouk or Moroccan flatbread from scratch.

Najat shows us the basics of making Mafrouk

We prepared the vegetables for 7 vegetable couscous and learnt how to “massage” and make couscous, grilled eggplants and peppers over the open gas flame, made a fish tagine, cummin carrots .

It was a busy few hours even with two helpers. We were the only people booked in as we had chosen a private class. This was excellent as we got to ask questions and get really hands-on, but then we had to eat it all ourselves as well!

Rubbing the couscous
Grilling peppers over the gas 🔥 flame!

Fish tagine with lemons, red capsicum and tomatoes with spice paste
Our chicken and 7 veg couscous

It was a great experience and the food tasted very authentic even though we had cooked it! The recipes were also all easy to recreate at home which we will now be doing to relive our memories as international travel seems like a thing of the past or a long way into the future right now.

Our fabulous Moroccan feast!