“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crankin' Up The Heat

Yesterday I surpassed myself. Let me explain.

When I arrived home in the afternoon I was informed that Christopher, who had not been feeling quite right all day, cursed with a bunged-up snout and sneezing, spluttering, and wheezing like a good'un, had requested that I make a nice hot Indian dish for him and myself. Mum, who does not partake in such frivolity, preferring somewhat milder tastes, abstained and had a nice bit of chicken with a baked spud. And why not?

However, I was up to the challenge. Something to clean out the old sinuses. Can do.

I started with a bit of beef, cut into cubes. I made a paste with about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, 1 and 1/2 tsp. mixed spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, mace, etc.), a tablespoon of hot madras curry paste, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of ground ginger and a good dollop of Greek yoghurt. This I mixed in a small bowl, added the cubed beef and then walloped the whole lot into a Ziploc baggie for about an hour so the flavours could work their way into the meat.

After about 45 minutes I started on the rest. I was basically going to do a Channa Masala with beef, using what I had to hand and substituting where necessary, and accompany it with a nice rice and vegetable pilaf.

In a pan I started sauteeing some garlic and onion in a bit of Olive Oil. I chopped a tomato and added that too, with a squirt of tomato paste. I chopped about an inch of fresh ginger, added that. Then, I drained a 440g/15oz. can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) and added them over a medium heat. Then about a can of water and1/4 red bell pepper and 1/4 yellow bell pepper, diced, went into the pan. Finally a heaped teaspoon of garam masala went in. Everything was bubbling along nicely, so in went the meat, and I turned it down to medium low and put a lid on the pan. While that was simmering nicely I started on the rice. In a saucepan over a medium high heat I put in a knob of margarine and a drizzle of olive oil, and the remaining 1/3 of the chopped onion, and of course, more garlic, and a diced medium sized carrot.. Then in went 2/3 cup of a lovely Waitrose basmati rice/wild rice blend. This I sauteed for a minute or two and then added a pint (20 oz. or 2 1/4 cups) warm water with a chicken stock cube and some cumin, a little more ground ginger and a teaspoon of fenugreek. I brought this to a boil and then simmered it on medium low, covered, for about 35 minutes. When almost all the liquid was absorbed I added a good sized dash of both cumin and turmeric, and a decent handful of frozen peas. At this point I also added about a half teaspoon of dried coriander (if you have fresh, it's better) to the Beef and Chickpea curry, which was smelling better and better by the minute. We then served and ate, and boy was it good. Intense rich flavours, a pretty good amount of heat (Chris was wiping his brow and blowing his nose) without being just hot for the sake of it. Fragrant and rich without just blowing your head off, but coming close.
Remember when you do this to periodically stir both the rice and the curry, you don't want to have to scrub any pans afterwards. This made enough curry for two guys with healthy appetites and a little more.

Now, I am always on the lookout for decent Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi cuisine and there is only one in Tenterden, so if you know of some really good ones in the Ashford/Maidstone/Hastings/Tonbridge area that isn't crazy expensive, let me know.

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