Cookbook Challenge 2011: Fortnight 12, Spice

Theme: Spice
Recipe: Spiced red lentils with cucumber yoghurt
From: Ottolenghi’s Plenty

Do you ever have those instances when you have a very firm idea of a dish in your head? You know the ingredients you want, you know what the texture should be like, and you know what it should taste like. It sends you off to find a recipe to try and create it, hoping that it will meet your expectations.

The theme for this fortnight’s Cookbook Challenge is “spice” and I knew immediately that I wanted to make dal. And I *knew* what this dal was going to be like. I could see it, I knew the texture, and I could almost taste it.

Cookbook Challenge, Fortnight 3: Rice/Noodles

Theme: Rice/Noodles
Recipe: Lamb Biryani
From: Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking

The theme for this fortnight’s Cookbook Challenge is “rice/noodles”. I choose to do something with rice dish and something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – biryani. Biryani is a layered rice dish made with spices and meat or vegetables. The rice is cooked separately from the curry sauce of meat or vegetables and is then layered together after the separate components have been cooked.


Cookbook Challenge: Week 2, Indian


Recipe: Vindaloo
From Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food

Bonus recipe: Roasted cauliflower with cumin, coriander and almonds
From Jame Oliver’s Cook with Jamie

It’s week two of the Cookbook Challenge, and this week’s theme is Indian. I had a bit of trouble finding a recipe for this theme. I do own a couple of Indian cookbooks but I had cooked from those books before so told myself I wasn’t going to look in them.

I looked through a few cookbooks before I picked up Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver. In it was whole section on curries. Dilemma solved!

Out of the curries in the book, I choose the vindaloo recipe. I made the vindaloo paste the night before and marinated some lamb chops in it overnight.

Roasted cauliflower with cumin, coriander and almonds

The next day I cooked the vindaloo and then made a bonus recipe to eat with the curry – roasted cauliflower with cumin, coriander and almonds. It’s “Indian-ish in style” so I figured I may as well throw it in here!

The vindaloo was fantastic! The sauce was slightly sour, sweetish, and full of flavour. It was wonderfully spicy, which Bro and I enjoyed, but poor Alastair struggled a bit! If you’re a chilli-wimp, I’d recommend cutting back on the amount of chilli.

I think it’s one of the best curries I’ve made – so I highly recommend giving this recipe a go. In fact, it was better than some of the curries we’ve eaten in restaurants (toot toot goes my horn).

The cauliflower was okay, it was rather spicy and sour. It wasn’t a bad side dish, just eclipsed by the curry.

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Update: My Food Trail has a round up of posts for Week 2. See what others made!



From Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food

Serves 4-6

To make the paste:

2 cloves of garlic, peeled
a thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea slat
3 tablespoons groundnut oil (I used canola)
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 fresh red chillies
a small bunch of fresh coriander

Spices for toasting:

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cloves
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

Put a dry frying pan on medium to high heat and add the spices for toasting. Toast them lightly for a few minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a mortar and pestle, add the toasted spices and grind until fine.

Place the ground spices in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a smooth paste.

For the curry:

2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1-2 fresh red chillies, finely sliced
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
a small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
vegetable oil
a knob of butter
800g diced pork shoulder (or other meat – I used lamb)
vindaloo curry paste as above
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon runny honey
Yoghurt, to serve

Place a large pot on medium heat and add a dash of oil and the butter. Add the onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes, until softened and golden.

Add the pork and the vindaloo curry paste. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, honey and just enough water to cover everything. Stir to mix and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low, put the lid on, and let it simmer until the meat is tender.

When the meat is tender, taste and season with salt and pepper (mine didn’t need any additional seasoning, so do check it first).

Serve on rice with yoghurt on top. Sprinkle with the coriander leaves.

Roasted cauliflower with cumin, coriander and almonds

Roasted cauliflower with cumin, coriander and almonds

From Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie

Serves 4

1 head of cauliflower, outer green leaves removed, broken into florets
sea salt
olive oil
a knob of butter
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1-2 dried red chillies
a handful of blanched almonds, smashed
zest and juice of a lemon

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

In salted boiling water, blanch the cauliflower for a couple of minutes. Drain in a colander, letting it steam dry.

When dry, toss it in some oil and the butter.

In a mortar and pestle, grind your spices and chillies with a pinch of salt. Mix with the almonds and put them in a hot, dry ovenproof pan.

Toast the spices and almonds for a couple of minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the lemon zest and juice and mix well. Fry for another minute.

Pop the pan into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes to crisp up.

Cheese party and Rogan Josh

Alastair and I are going on holiday soon (Tuesday in fact). We’re going away for almost four weeks, so last weekend I organised a catch up dinner with Dany, Ben and Lisa.

Randomly, Lisa and I have a couple of running jokes relating to cheese. One is about a travelling cheese salesman, and another one is about a cheese party. When I sent Lisa an email about dinner, she asked whether it was going to be the fabled cheese party.

Yes it will be a cheese party, I told her, but only if you bring the cheese. And I made sure to tell her that one cheese does not make a cheese party. Neither does two cheeses. In fact, for a cheese party, you need at least FIVE cheeses.

Cheese party

Lo and behold…….. I don’t know why I was surprised when Benisa arrived on Saturday bearing five cheeses!

Cheese party

And not only were there five labelled cheeses (what’s a party without a name tag?), check out the flags Lisa made – the cheeses are partying! Have you ever seen anything like it?


For dinner, we veered away from the cheese party as I had prepared an Indian feast. I made a rogan josh, chicken saag, daal, (store bought) roti and basmati rice. I was pretty pleased with how things turned out, particularly the rogan josh, which was the star.

The recipe for the rogan josh I copied out of a cookbook a long time ago and I neglected to note down the source. I think it may have been a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook – I will have to try and find it so I can try the other recipes in the book. On first read the recipe seems like a lot of fuss with lots of ingredients. Once you get started though, you’ll find that it’s not so bad, and is well worth the effort. With all the yoghurt, the end result is a pretty mild curry which is aromatic and flavoursome. I have made it before, and will definitely make it again!

Oh! Our holiday! We are off to Japan and Hong Kong – in Japan for almost 3 weeks and HK for 5 days on the way back. Ooooooh the excitement!

Rogan Josh

Rogan Josh

Adapted from….?

2 x 2.5cm chunks of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tablespoons water plus 300ml water
10 tablespoons vegetable oil
900g boned lamb or beef
10 cardamon pods
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
10 peppercorns
2.5cm cinnamon stick
200g onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Black pepper

Put the ginger, garlic and 4 tablespoons of water into a blender and blend into a smooth paste.

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in several batches and set aside. Into the same hot oil, place the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Stir it once and wait a few seconds for the cloves to swell and for the bay leaves to colour. Add the onions and fry for five minutes, or until the onions are medium-brown.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and the salt, and fry for another 30 seconds.

Add the browned meat and any meat juices to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt and stir and fry for about 30 seconds until the yogurt is well blended. Add the remaining yogurt, a tablespoon at a time, in the same way. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Add the water and scrap down the sides and bottom of the pot. Increase the heat to high, and bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer for about an hour or until the meat is tender. Stir the pot occasionally.

When the meat is tender, remove the lid, increase the heat and boil off some of the liquid, stirring all the time, until the sauce is thickened (I skipped this step – mine had lots of gravy!)

Mix in the garam masala and black pepper just before serving.

Portuguese-style chicken curry, daal and cabbage slaw

I’m having difficulty with food blogging at the moment. It’s not due to lack of time or energy. It isn’t because I’m not eating well, or not cooking good food, or not photographing meals. My issue is with the whole stringing words into coherent sentences thing. It seems that food blogging involves more than just food, it also involves writing. I know. Who’d thought!

However, I am pushing through and making an effort.!

The other week, I cooked a meal from a Indian cookbook I had received over Christmas. I made a chicken curry, a daal, and an interesting cabbage slaw that I’d never tried before.

The Portuguese-style chicken curry (aka mungh vindaloo) wasn’t as spicy as it usually is in restaurants, although I did try to up the heat factor. Originally, vindaloo wasn’t particularly spicy and the cookbook tells me that vindaloo actually means “vinegary”. Other sources (internets!) say that vindaloo is a derivative of the Portuguese “vinho de alho” which literally means wine (vinho) and garlic (alho). Vindaloo was bought to Goa by the Portuguese and was traditionally cooked with pork. I used chicken drumsticks in my version. They took ages to cook, but were very succulent.

The daal was good, but a bit overshadowed by the vindaloo and the cabbage. My daal was quite soupy at first, but after standing for a while (I had to wait for the curry to finish cooking) it thickened up. I was rather heavy handed with the ginger!

But on to the cabbage. The cabbage slaw was a real surprise. The coconut gave it a lovely fragrance, and the cabbage was sweet, slightly nutty and spicy. If you like coconut (and cabbage) give it a try. It was very different from how I normally cook cabbage and we really enjoyed it.


Gujarati Cabbage Slaw

From Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking

Serves 6

1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
1 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 medium head green cabbage (1 1/2 pounds), finely shredded (8 cups)
1 cup shredded fresh coconut or 1/2 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
3 fresh Thai, serrano or cayenne chillies, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
Juice of 1 medium lime (2 tablespoons)

Heat oil in wok or pan over medium-high heat. Add asafetida and peanuts; sizzle 30 seconds.

Add remaining ingredients except lime juice, stir fry about 5 minutes or until cabbage is hot; remove from heat. Stir in lime juice.


Moong daal

From Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking

Serves 6

1 cup dried whole green lentils (sabud mung), sorted, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon asafetida (hing) or garlic powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 medium tomato, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
2 fresh Thai, serrano or cayenne chillies, cut lengthwise in half
1 teaspoon salt

Place lentils, water and turmeric in a saucepan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Partially cover and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender.

While lentils are simmering, heat ghee/oil and mustard seed in a a pan over medium-high heat. Once seed begins to pop, cover skillet and wait until popping stops.

Add asafetida and ginger to mustard seed; stir fry about 30 seconds or until ginger is partially brown. Add tomato and chillies, stir fry 3-5 minutes or until tomato is softened.

Stir tomato mixture and salt into lentils. Partially cover and simmer for 10 minutes.


Portuguese-style chicken curry / Mungh vindaloo

From Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking

Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped ginger
5 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup tomato sauce (I think this is tomato puree, I used a can of whole tomatoes)
1 tablespoon coriander seed, ground
1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips (I used drumsticks instead)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup plain yoghurt

Heat in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic; stir fry about 5 minutes or until onions and garlic are golden brown.

Stir in tomato sauce, ground coriander, ground cumin, salt, cayenne pepper and turmeric, reduce heat. Partially cover and simmer around 5 minutes or until a thin film of oil starts to form on surface of sauce. Remove from heat; cool 3 to 4 minutes.

Place sauce in blender (or use a stick blender). Cover and blend on medium speed until smooth. Return sauce to saucepan.

Stir chicken into sauce. Simmer uncovered 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is partially cooked.

Stir in vinegar and coconut milk. Simmer uncovered 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in centre.

Beat yoghurt with wire whisk until smooth; stir into chicken mixture. Cook uncovered for 1 minute, stirring occasionally, just until yoghurt is warm. Serve with rice.