A busy week meant I kept this dish very simple. It’s the perfect midweek supper. Lots of flavour and ready in less than half an hour. Green beans were the starting point then spuds for bulk and finally cherry tomatoes (colourwise I couldn’t resist!!!) completed the dish.

The fire and heat come from the chili and ginger then for the Indian flavour it’s equal parts coriander powder and turmeric and 1/2 the amount again of cumin seeds. It’s a mix that works with any veg and obviously you can dial the heat up or down by using as much chili as you want. Dried works just fine as well.

A simple curry with green beans and potatoes

You’ll need:

Coconut vegetable oil

1 thumbsize piece ginger peeled and finely chopped

4 heads garlic finely sliced

1/2 red chilli chopped (remove some or all of the seeds if you don’t like things too hot)

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

200gr (1about 12 cherry tomatoes )

About 300 ml vegetable stock

800gr potatoes

200gr green beans

With this recipe you need to have everything ready to go before you start so it’ s a little different to most of my recipes where you throw on an onion and mooch around preparing everything else as it gently fries. This one is more on the fast and furious side. You can do it as you go but you’ll need to be fast. The upside is that the dish is ready in about 20 minutes and you can’t say that about a lot of curries (well, mine anyway).

Right, so to get going have the garlic, ginger and chilli prepared as described above. Peel the potatoes and chop into large bitesize pieces. Wash the tomatoes and cut in half. That should do it for now.

Heat a generous dollop of coconut oil on the pan. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and gently fry for a minute or two before adding the spices along with a generous pinch of salt. Fry for another minute then add the tomatoes. Gently cook for a couple of minutes before adding the potatoes  and the stock. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes and while this is happening wash,  top and tail your beans. Now would also be a good time to put on your rice if you’re having some. Add the beans to the pan. Cook for a further 6 -7 minutes until the beans and spuds are tender.  Serve with rice and/or naan bread.  This recipe will easily feed 2-3 hungry people, 4-5 if you serve it with some daal.

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Chicken with spinach

Absolutely everyone loves a curry. It’s weird -people who won’t eat local food in places like Spain and Portugal will all eat curry. In our house anything curried goes down a storm even with the kids who moan about the tiniest bit of ginger making their juice “too spicy!”. And it doesn’t have to be fancy either. Got loads of random stuff at the back of the fridge and don’t fancy soup? Make curry instead. Now, I’m no expert and most of my curries are, shall we say, on the not very authentic side but somehow they always seem turn out ok.

From some cooking I did alongside an Indian girl in Barcelona I know that a good way to start is with lots of slowcooked onions which is pretty much how I start most dishes. I sweat these in plenty of rapeseed or coconut oil over a low heat til they start to go mushy then throw in lots of garlic (not only because it tastes good but because it’s so good for you). Keeping cooking until the garlic softens then add a pre-mixed curry powder (I’m currently working my way through a tin of Madras but it’s whatever you fancy) along with a little chilli for extra fire. Normally I then throw in a few chopped tomatoes (a tin will also work fine) and cook these down a bit before adding some coconut milk (told you this wasn’t kosher!)

While all this is going on, I’m furiously peeling and chopping what, in any other dish would be a waaaay too random selection of veg – parsnip, carrot,cabbage (red, white and green) celery, fennel, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, spuds……pretty much anything works. In they go and I’m onto rinsing a tin of chickpeas. These get thrown in with some water or stock then it’s sit back and let things cook. If I’m using greens, they go in at the end as do courgettes and broccoli (they go to mush otherwise) and I’m also partial to a handful of sultanas at this stage. Serve with rice and some chutney and pickles – we’re enjoying a lime one from M&S at the moment that one of you recommended (thanks Penelope). Easy, peasy, lasts well in the fridge and it rocks the next day for lunch with flatbread.

When it comes to the real thing, I’ve always found Indian food to be such a complex mix of spices and flavours that unless I pay very close attention to a recipe book I usually don’t have a clue where to start so I tend not to bother with it unless I’ve got lots of time (so that means never at the moment). Plus, there are usually so many spices required that I’m frustrated before I start (when I’m ready to cook, I’m ready to cook). Paul is the one with the patience/OCD tendencies for all that assembling of ingredients and precision grinding of spices. He also does a mean matchstick of pretty much any root veg but I warn you – bring snacks because dinner’s at midnight.

Recently, Indian cooking guru MadhurJaffrey completely changed this for good when she brought out Curry Easy, a book that seeks to do the previously unthinkable – simplify and speed up Indian cooking. She says herself that over the years (she’s now in her seventies) her cooking had changed and that some of the processes she’d previously considered essential she has recently discovered can be done in different ways. So, instead of cooking for hours  there’s lots of marinating to really let the flavours sink in before you even start. There are also fewer spices (well, usually 6 or 7 but not the 10 -15 that you find in her other books) so there’s less faffing around. I feel like I’m starting to understand how to build Indian flavours without a recipe and I find myself using more in other cooking.

We’ve been cooking our way through this book for a while and everything we’ve made has been amazing. First of all, we tried the Chicken Karhai with Mint which involved marinating everything overnight then simply frying it up and it was superb. We served it alongside Aubergines with Tomatoes which were also great. After that we were hooked. Standouts so far have been Chicken with apricots, Masala fish steaks and the green lamb curry.

spinach leaves

I have earmarked this week’s spinach in from Denis Healy in Wicklow for one our favourite dishes from the book which I’m going to share with you –  Chicken with spinach.  I haven’t changed anything except lower the quantity of oil used. It’s very quick and fantastically moreish.This recipe feeds 2 with leftovers.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Chicken with Spinach

3 chicken legs separated into drumsticks and thighs weighing about 1k in total

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion roughly chopped

2.5cm/1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 tablespoon sweet red paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive/ rapeseed oil

1 x 5cm/2 inch cinnamon

4 cardamom pods

150g/ 5 oz spinach, chopped

Spread out the chicken pieces and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and lots of black pepper on both sides

Put the onions, garlic, ginger, paprika and cayenne in the food processor and chop all the ingredients as finely as possible taking care not to allow things to go to mush.

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Add the cinnamon and cardamon letting them sizzle for a few seconds before adding as much of the chicken as will fit in a single layer. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides then remove to a bowl leaving the spices behind. When all the chicken is cooked add the onion mix to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated taking care to stir as you go so thing don’t stick and burn. Add the spinach and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 12oml/4 fl oz water. Bring to the boil, cover and lower the heat then gently simmer for about 30 minutes. Any excess fat can be removed before serving with boiled basmati and nan bread

Enjoy!

This week  there’s also celery in our selections and I notice how Guardian columnist Yotan Ottolenghi has been using the leaves and inner tender stalks for salads a lot recently. Last Saturday’s Avocado, radish and celery salad with spiced croutons and lime is on my to-make list for this week – sounds fab right? Our larger bags have radishes from the Healys and I’m hoping to secure enough for all our bags next week.

Have a brilliant week,

Sarah

Hi all

I am on hols !!
You wont miss me because I have a treat for you. Margaret who is a fab cook but in a completely different style will be doing the recipes for me. Enjoy something a bit different and new..

Sarah

From Margaret … some organic recipes

Courgettes
I love courgettes, they are so versatile eaten small, large or medium. I plan to grow again this year so I get the lovely flowers to stuff and deep fry. I also like marrow that dreaded and maligned veg. Courgettes are a great base and take strong flavours well. I eat courgette sliced lengthways to about 1/4 cm thick and then griddled with a little oil on a hot grill pan. Then marinate in chopped garlic and lemon juice for a few hours (and if I have in the garden lots of chopped parsley). This is good as a sandwich filling maybe with goats cheese, as part of a pizza topping or a veggie tart or as a side dish with other salads. It keeps in the fridge for a few days.

I like to fry courgettes in olive oil with some garlic on the pan and have as a side dish with maybe grilled chicken. This time of the year they can also be added to a risotto with whatever other greens you have around; young nettles if you have time to forage.

For a healthy option slice lengthways to 1/2 cm thick or in halves if courgettes are small and use instead of pasta in lasagne. Surprisingly nice and tasty…

Or chocolate courgette cake.. always moist. Here is a link to Riverford organic http://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/recipe.php?recipeid=414&catid=8. My 5 and 2 year old nephews love making cakes chocolate if possible so this or chocolate beetroot brownies are favourites. The great thing is these cakes cant really go wrong as they dont rise too much. You can add some healthy spelt flour instead of the white if you want.

For a light supper or a lunchbox try Courgette Fritters.
For 2-3 people
Ingredients
2 medium courgettes grated and then squeezed in a clean tea towel
1 egg beaten (or use 2 tbsp chickpea flour and water)
1 tbsp plain flour or potato flour
1 teaspoon cumin seed or cumin and caraway mixed (lightly toasted on dry frying pan)
black pepper
chopped red chile (optional)
oil

Method
Heat oven to 150 -175
Put the grated courgette into a bowl and season with pepper.
Mix in all other ingredients.
Roll into small balls with your fingertips. Or make into patties if easier.
Heat oil in a wok at about 3 inches depth.
Carefully brown fritters on all sides then remove and dry on kitchen paper.
Put on a roasting tray in the oven for 15 minutes.

The fritters can be eaten hot of cold with a sour cream or greek yoghurt dip.

Sour Cream dip
To sour cream or greek yoghurt add a squeeze of lemon and chopped coriander or parsley or chives or dill…. Whatever beckons. I like to grow herbs in the garden as they can add that needed bit of flavour. I had these first with a Munich friend of Indian descent made to take to the beer garden for a picnic!! Happy memories

Eat with some green salad for a light supper !!

To vary fritters
Add grated carrot or spinach and eat straight out of the oven with an Indian style tomato sauce.

Red Cabbage

I like red cabbage best slow braised with apples in the oven. Sarah already has a recipe on the blog for this. It is great with pork or duck or game. As with any cabbage red is also good shredded stir fried and wilted with
sesame oil, vinegar and rice wine/sake and soy or possibly try cider vinegar, mirin and pomegranate molasses.
Another classic is a hearty borchst with red cabbage, tomatoes and beetroot topped with sour cream.

For an alternative try a simple Indian style curry with Red Cabbage. The spices help to make the cabbage more digestible !!

red chillies

red chillies

Indian style curry with Red Cabbage
Ingredients

1 tsp mustard seed (optional)
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves or garlic finely chopped
1cm piece of ginger finely chopped
1 chile finely chopped (if you dont like too spicy go for half a chile and put some in a bowl on the table for other people to add)
2 tomatoes finely chopped (I find canned better for this)
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 red cabbage shredded
a cup of sliced courgette or whatever other veg you have to hand like shredded carrot or beetroot
optional some cooked aduki beans
oil
salt
half can coconut milk or about 1/4 block of coconut
fresh chopped coriander or curry leaves
1 tbsp of garam masala
optional 1 tsp poppy seed 25g cashews ground together in food processor

Method
Heat oil in deep pan and pop the mustard seed. Then add the onion and fry gently in some oil till softened. Add ginger and garlic and chile.
(a good trick here if busy is chop onion earlier in day with garlic add some oil and maybe some stock and roast in a low oven for 40 minutes then puree)
Then add tomatoes and fry gently.
Add sugar and sprinkling of salt.
Add the veg and stir and cook for a few minutes stirring and put lid on and cook for 15-20 minutes adding some water to nearly cover veg if needed.
Then add the coconut milk or shredded block coconut with little water .
Stir in the masala and the ground seed and nuts if using.
If you have a lime or lemon handy a squeeze is always good just before serving.
Serve with plain rice and some chutney.

Enjoy Margaret