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: Smorgasbord of Indonesian specialities at Hujan Locale

Hujan  Locale in Ubud is the latest offering in Australian chef and entrepreneur Will Meryck’s “chain” of contemporary Asian restaurants in Bali, including Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak.

Tucked away in Jalan Sri Wedari, off the main street – Jalan Raya Ubud, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Singapore ore Vietnam colonial interior, featuring a mix of wood, bamboo, tiles and even a chandelier.

The warm, inviting interior is filled with diners the night we visit. Bookings are highly advisable. We asked for a table upstairs which gets the through breeze and views over the street to one side and a Balinese family compound on the other.

The menu features a diversity of dishes inspired by the various regions of the Indonesian archipelago with most ingredients supplied by local farmers. It is a smorgasbord of Indonesian delights and uncompromising in it’s inclusion of chilli and spices, so would not recommend if you don’t like spicy food.

We choose the Pig Ear’s served with sambal spiced aioli and a crackling and the Gorengan or “fried platter” to start with. Admittedly, this was probably a wrong combination as both dishes feature deep frying but the tomato chilli sambal, lemon, green chillies and aioli provide fresh,spicy flavours.

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Crispy Pig’s Ears with crackling and sambal aioli

Our favourites were the corn fritters and fried tempeh with bites of fresh green chilli in-between which is as the locals do! The serving size of the starters is very generous and the Gorengan Platter which also features delicious lumpiah (Spring rolls) and average curry puffs could be further refined for a smaller and more focussed offering. I found the Pig’s Ears interesting but rather chewy and flavourless on their own but okay dipped in the aioli.

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Gorengan platter with fresh green chillies and tomato chilli sambal

The mains we ordered, on the other hand, were really delicious! We had the Kari Kambing Aceh – slow cooked Sumatran Lamb Curry (with Australian lamb) with roti canai, the Karangasem Sambal Udang – prawn sambal and Pelecing Kunkung – stir fried water spinach.

The lamb cooked in a rich sauce with star anise, cardamom and  curry leaves was “melt in your mouth” perfect. The roti canai was not of the soft, fluffy variety that we are accustomed to but crispy, still providing a good medium to dip into the curry sauce.

The prawns are cooked with the heads off but shells and tails still on. The shells come off easily and are delicious to chew on, the prawns themselves are perfectly cooked, tender and sweet cooked protected in their shells but still redolent of the spicy sambal sauce.

The Pelecing Kankung, stir fried water spinach features spicy chilli and hints of sambal belacan(shrimp paste) with roasted peanuts scattered on top, is a perfect green accompaniment to the other two dishes.

The overall experience of Hujan Locale was very pleasant and a good way to get a sense of the smorgasbord of tastes available in Indonesian regional specialities. Once again we were too full to try the desserts.

Lamb and spinach curry with lime

This is my version of lamb and spinach curry which is fresh and zesty through the addition of mint, coriander and lime to the traditional lamb and spinach combination. It goes really well served with rice or naan/flatbreads, and a side salad of tomato and cucumber.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes
Ingredients:

750g diced lamb
1 bunch fresh English spinach, cleaned, washed and chopped finely
250g packet of frozen spinach defrosted
1/2 bunch mint – leaves only
1/2 bunch coriander – chopped
2 tablespoons ginger and garlic crushed paste
1/2 lime cut into thirds, other half reserved
2-3 red chillies, left whole
1 onion finely diced
1.5 tomato chopped
1 tspn salt
1 tspn cummin powder
1/2 tspn chilli powder
1/2 tspn turmeric
2 pieces cinnamon
4 cardamom pods
1 tspn cummin seeds
Handful curry leaves
3 tbspns vegetable oil

Fresh spinach adds extra texture to the silkiness of the frozen spinach.
Fresh spinach adds extra texture to the silkiness of the frozen spinach.

Method
Heat oil in large heavy based casserole pot
Add cinnamon, cummin seeds, curry leaves and cardamom pods and cook until fragrant, taking care not to burn the spices
Add onions and cook on medium heat until translucent
Add ginger and garlic paste and heat through
Add tomato, red chillies, then salt and ground spices – cummin, chilli and turmeric powders
Let the mixture heat through, then add diced lamb and stir-fry until meat is coated in onion spice mixture and sealed.

Add spinach, mint, coriander and lime to lamb mixture
Add spinach, mint, coriander and lime to lamb mixture

Add fresh and frozen spinach, mint and coriander, 1/2 a lime cut into thirds and a cup of water
Bring to a simmer and cook on medium heat with lid on for 40-50 minutes until lamb is tender, stir from time to time to ensure it’s not sticking, add more water if needed. Taste to check if lamb is tender and add more salt if required
Remove lime pieces, garnish with extra coriander and serve with quarters of fresh lime to squeeze over.

Simmer lamb and spinach mixture over medium heat until lamb is tender
Simmer lamb and spinach mixture over medium heat until lamb is tender

Red Lentil Tarka Dhal with turmeric and ginger

Most Indian meals should be accompanied by a Dhal – an almost souplike side dish which can be made from a number of different types of lentils. Dhal is an absolute must to accompany South Indian vegetarian meals adding essential proteins. My version is quick and easy, using red lentils and the flavours featured are inspired by the dhals of Kerala and other parts of South India. Tarka dhal refers to the process of adding a Tarka(seasoned oil dressing with onions, tomatoes and spices) to the boiled lentils which adds flavour and depth to the sauce. Unlike most recipes I prefer to “cook” the boiled lentils in the Tarka at the end to allow the flavours to permeate the whole dish. For a richer and creamier consistency that is truly South Indian, coconut cream can be added at the end or else to make it sinfully delicious a knob of butter. Dhal keeps well in the fridge and can be successfully frozen and reheated. Leftovers are also great on toast.

Red lentils, ginger, garlic,, onion tomatoes form the basis of the ingredients for Tarka dhal.
Red lentils, ginger, garlic,, onion tomatoes form the basis of the ingredients for Tarka dhal.

Prep time:5 minutes Cooking time:25 minutes
Ingredients:
For Boiled lentils
3/4 cup red lentils
3 cups water
4-5cm knob of ginger peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt
For Tarka
1/2 onion sliced finely
1/2 tomato chopped into small pieces
1 tspn fresh ginger and garlic ground into paste (2 small cloves garlic and equivalent amount ginger)
2-3 dried red chillies
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 tspn cummin seeds
Handful curry leaves
1 stick cinnamon bark
2 tspns vegetable oil
Coriander chopped to garnish
Optional: knob of butter or 1/4 cup coconut cream

Method
Bring water to boil in small but deep pot or saucepan
Add knob of ginger, turmeric and salt
Add lentils stirring initially so the don’t stick to bottom
Reduce heat and cook on a low rolling boil for about 20 minutes or until lentils become soft and create a souplike consistency.
Add water in half cup measures as you go to allow for this consistency to be achieved without the mixture sticking or burning.

Red lentils on a rolling boil in pot for Tarka dhal
Red lentils on a rolling boil in pot for Tarka dhal

In a seperate deep non-stick frying pan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat, then add cinnamon stick, dried chillies, cummin seeds and curry leaves to flavour the oil ensuring spices don’t burn.
Add onions and cook over low heat until translucent for about 5 minutes, then add black mustard seeds.
Fry mustard seeds with onions and other spices for 1 minute and then add tomatoes, ground ginger and garlic.
Cook for another 5-8 minutes stirring regularly until tomatoes have broken down and slightly caramelised. Turn off heat.
Flavouring the oil with cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, dried chillies and curry leaves for Tarka Dhal
Flavouring the oil with cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, dried chillies and curry leaves for Tarka Dhal

When lentils have boiled, reheat Tarka on medium heat in the frying pan, and then carefully pour boiled lentils into the seasoned oil, spices and onions and bring to a simmer to allow flavours to permeate the dhal.
Add extra butter or coconut cream at this point if you are using.
Garnish with coriander and serve.

Serves 4-6 as an accompaniment

Durban-style Lamb and potato curry

The smell of curry leaves frying in oil with spices and onions is one that always transports me to the kitchen of my Aunt Vimala. Even though it was a regular occurrence in our own home, there was something very special about staying over at Uncle Pat and Aunty Vim’s with all the cousins. She was a wonderful cook and inspired my love of cooking. This traditional lamb and potato curry is a staple in many South African Indian homes and now in the homes of my family and many friends in Australia.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time:1.5 hours
Ingredients
800g diced lamb, preferably lamb chump chops with fat removed and diced so that there are some small bones but plain diced lamb can be used too
3 teaspoons ginger and garlic ground together into a paste
1 large brown onion diced finely
1 tomato chopped
1/2 bunch coriander including stalks
2 pieces cinnamon bark
5 cardamom pods
Handful of curry leaves removed from stalks
1.5 teaspoons cummin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1.5-2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon fennel powder
1.5 teaspoons cummin powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium size potatoes quartered
2.5-3 cups water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
4 dried chillies(optional)

Ginger, garlic, cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, turmeric, cummin powder, fennel powder and chilli powder Ginger, garlic, cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, turmeric, cummin powder, fennel powder and chilli powder

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Method
Heat oil in a heavy based, medium sized casserole pot
Add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds, cardamom pods and curry leaves
Stir for a minute until fragrant on medium heat
Add onions lower heat and cook slowly until translucent
Add ginger and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute still on low heat
Add turmeric, cummin, fennel, salt and chilli powder and stir fry for 1 minute ensuring the spices don’t burn – take off heat if necessary.

Onions cooking with curry leaves and dry spices Onions cooking with curry leaves and dry spices

Add tomatoes and chopped up coriander stalks and stir fry for a minute, then add lamb and increase heat to medium high
Cook lamb to seal it, adding 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock if sticking
Once lamb is sealed, add enough water or stock to just cover, bring to a boil and then lower heat to low and cover with lid to simmer for 35 minutes
Check lamb every ten minutes or so stirring and ensuring there is suffient liquid for the meat to stew
After 35 minutes add potatoes and 1/2 cup of water or stock if necessary so potatoes can cook in liquid for another 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender
Taste to see if extra salt needed
Take lid off and I crease heat to reduce liquid if necessary without allowing potatoes to disintegrate
(If potatoes are too tender and you want to reduce liquid, take the potatoes out, reduce liquid to a viscous gravy consistency and then add potatoes back in.)
Remove cinnamon bark and excess curry leaves when transferring to serving dish.
Garnish with coriander and serve with roti and/or basmati rice and salad and red lentil dhal.

Lamb and potato curry served with basmati rice and red lentil dhal Lamb and potato curry served with basmati rice and red lentil dhal
Lamb and potato curry garnished with coriander Lamb and potato curry garnished with coriander

Cauliflower and Pea Curry

A fabulous accompaniment for spicy lamb cutlets or just as good with red lentil dhal and some freshly cooked basmati rice. This classic Indian dish has many variations and this one is a simple South Indian flavoured version with curry leaves and cummin seeds.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
Half a head of a small cauliflower cut into small florets
1 cup frozen peas
1 onion finely diced
1/2 tomato chopped
3 cloves garlic and equal amount of ginger ground together into paste
1 tbspn cummin seeds
1 cinnamon stick (preferably cinnamon bark)
1/2 tspn turmeric
1 tsp cummin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbspn vegetable oil
Handful of fresh curry leaves
Handful of coriander leaves chopped for garnish
Salt to taste

Method
Heat oil in heavy based pot over medium heat
Add cinnamon bark, cummin seeds, curry leaves and heat until fragrant
Add onions and cook slowly over low-medium heat until transparent
Add ginger and garlic paste and mix through onions
Add cummin powder, turmeric and chilli powder and cook spices with onions for 1 minute taking care not to burn
Add tomato, mixing through onions and spices until heated through and starting to break up, add half a cup of water if necessary.
Add cauliflower and another half cup water and simmer over low heat until almost tender. (About 10-15 minutes)
Add salt to taste
Add peas and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender but still bright green
Garnish with chopped coriander
Serve with rice

Serves 4 as a main with rice or 6 as an accompaniment.