Recipe: Roasted Eggplant and Mushroom Curry

This curry probably should have served four, but it was so tasty that Tall and I ate the whole lot between us. It was delicious and filling, especially when served with homemade chapati.

Eggplant & Mushroom Curry Eggplant & Mushroom Curry Roasted Eggplant and Mushroom Curry – serves 2-4

2 large eggplant (aubergine)
rice bran or canola oil
1/2 tsp yellow or black mustard seeds
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
200g button mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on the size
1 zucchini (courgette), sliced into bite-sized chunks
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeded removed if you don’t like much heat)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp each: ground cumin, ground coriander, salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
fresh coriander

Preheat oven to 200degC. Brush the eggplants all over with oil and prick with a fork a few times. Bake for 35 minutes, until soft.

While the eggplant are roasting, heat 1-2 Tbsp of oil in a wok and fry the mustard seeds until they begin to spit. Add the spring onions, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic and chilli and fry for about five minutes.

Stir in the dry spices and salt; fry for a further 3-4 minutes then add the tomatoes and simmer gently for another 5 minutes.

Cut the eggplant in half and scoop the soft insides into a bowl. Mash to a coarse consistency with a fork, then add to the wok with a handful of fresh coriander leaves.

Bring to the boil; simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Serve sprinkled with more fresh coriander leaves, with plain basmati rice or chapati and mango chutney alongside.


Kid-Friendly Chicken Curry

We eat a lot of curries, therefore my boys are not afraid of a little bit of spice. I do try and tone the heat down a bit when making a curry for the whole family to enjoy, but I love that both boys will happily tuck into a dish that is verging on a medium heat.

This curry is full of flavour, but not particularly spicy; it would be a good dish to make as an introduction to curry for a child (or an adult!) who was a little bit wary. Westerners have a tendency to believe that a curry is always going to be spicy, but this is often not the case, and we’re making a conscious effort to ensure our children are aware that a curry comes in a variety of flavours and styles.

Kid-friendly chicken curryChicken Curry – serves 4

4t tikka masala paste (or kashmiri masala paste, if you can find it!)
4T tomato sauce
1t Worcestershire sauce
1t five-spice powder
1t sugar
pinch of salt
8 chicken drumsticks, skins removed
3T rice bran oil
5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded
4 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
fresh coriander leaves

Mix the masala paste, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, five-spice powder, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Leave to stand until the sugar has dissolved.

Place the chicken in a large roasting dish and rub the marinade all over with your hands. Cover and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. Fry half the ginger and all the garlic for a few minutes.

Add the chicken (in batches, if necessary) and seal on all sides. Lower the heat, cover and cooks until the chicken is tender and the oil has separated from the sauce.

Remove the wok or frying pan from heat. Remove the chicken from the sauce and shred the meat from the bones*; add the meat back to the pan with the lemon juice and remaining ginger, and mix well before heating through gently.

Serve with plain basmati rice, garnished with the coriander leaves.

* if you prefer to get messy, you can keep the meat on the bones – since getting my braces, I find it easier to eat if pulled. It also goes a bit further, and my kids will eat it better.

Recipe adapted from Curry, by Mridula Baljekar

Cheap-As Tuesdays

Now that I have spare time again, and I’m used to my braces, I’m enjoying getting back into my kitchen. For the past few weeks, I’ve been cooking fairly simple, similar dishes, meals that I know won’t take long to prepare, and that I hope will be eaten with little or no protests from my boys. While Tall was away, I made three meals, and we ate leftovers or variations for the eight days. While we were on holiday, we ate a lot of salad-based meals, with fish or meat on the side, but it’s a bit cold for salads in Dunedin right now.

I took great delight in sitting down with recipes on Sunday, planning our week’s meals before doing the groceries. It felt so nice to spend time doing one of my favourite things – thinking about food – and it felt great to plan meals that were different, healthy and hopefully delicious. An added bonus was that Tiny was watching me flick through Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals, and chose two of this week’s meals based on the pictures he liked.

PizzaInspired by Elizabeth’s post about meal planning and food budgeting over at To Find a Silver Lining, and by SAHM I am‘s current What’s Cooking Wednesday series, and the distant memory of posts I used to do long ago, here is this week in meals in the Tall, Short, Tiny & a Pickle household:

Sunday: malai kofta with rice – a recipe given by a friend, which takes a while to prepare, but is definitely worth the effort! Everyone ate and enjoyed this curry, which was very mild but so flavoursome.

Monday: Thai red prawn curry – one of Tiny’s choices, a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. It was spicy, and de-heading the whole prawns saw me retching into the kitchen sink, but the flavours were delicious and the near-voms were an acceptable trade-off. The fish lady at our local supermarket wanted to get rid of her last few prawns, so discounted the lot by $10/kg for me, making this dish much cheaper than it might otherwise have been!

Tuesday: sweet and sour pork – a recipe from Tana Ramsay’s Real Family Food that I’ve made before and we’ve all enjoyed.

Wednesday: Thai-style chicken soup – another Tana Ramsay recipe, but one I’ve not tried before. The spices will be much more muted than the prawn curry above, as this book is aimed at families with children who may not have tried spices before.

Thursday: Pregnant Jools’ Pasta – another Jamie O. recipe, and another of Tiny’s choices. Pasta and sausage-meatballs, essentially – but very tasty and appealing to my pasta-loving boys *this week’s Cheap-As Tuesday meal*

Friday: pizza (pear and blue cheese; salmon and cream cheese) – our classic favourite variations.

Saturday: orange chicken bake – a Tana Ramsay recipe that I’ve made before and we’ve all enjoyed. Leeks, potatoes, oranges and chicken pieces, baked and served with crusty bread to mop up the juices. Yum.

All of these meals will be completely home-made, and I was quite proud of myself for managing to buy everything we needed for these dinners, plus kindy lunches, breakfast staples, fruit etc, for about $40 less than I had been spending. Winter (and June, particularly) is an expensive time of year for us, so keeping the weekly shop cost down is something that’s on my mind at the moment.

Lamb Kofta Curry

On Saturday night, we had friends over for a potluck Indian Feast (the same friends we had the Eastern Mediterrnean dinner with a few weeks ago). There were homemade samosas, mango lassi, and four different types of curry. I made a chicken tikka masala, and paratha breads; we ate and drank until our bellies were bursting and our plates were clear.

IMG_3647IMG_3649When I sat down to plan this week’s meals, I had to think of a way to use up the fresh coriander and chillies I’d bought for the tikka masala. This recipe uses both in the kofta, and calls for a coriander garnish – perfect!

As he did the last time I made this (how cute does he look here?!?!), Tiny scoffed the lot, and Pickle ate a little too; I served it with a basic cucumber raita in case it was too hot for Tiny, but reducing the amount of chilli powder meant the spice kick was very slight.

Lamb Kofta Curry – serves 4

675g lamb mince
1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1/2t garam masala
1/4t salt
3T fresh coriander, finely chopped

2T rice bran oil
1/2t cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1t ground cumin
1t ground coriander
1/2t salt
1/2t chilli powder (I use about 1/8t if I’m making this for the kidlets to eat too)
2T tomato paste
400g can chopped tomatoes (I prefer the crushed and sieved variety)
fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
basmati rice, to serve

Combine the kofta ingredients in a large bowl; mix well with your hands until everything is bound together (you could use a food processor to do this). Shape into 16-20 even-sized meatballs; cover with cling film and chill for 10 minutes.

IMG_3644Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the cumin seeds until they begin to splutter.

Add onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for five minutes. Add the spices and fry for 30 seconds; add the tomato paste and stir before adding the tinned tomatoes. Simmer for five minutes.

IMG_3653Add the meatballs. Bring to the boil; stir, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Uncover, and cook a further five minutes.

Serve over cooked basmati rice and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Fun with Food

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Fun with Food: Nut Pulao

The perfect accompaniment to Chicken in Green Masala Sauce is a classic nut pulao.

This is a dish that is delicious on its own, but combined with the chicken curry – wow! It takes about the same amount of time to prepare and cook; they are two very easy dishes to prepare side-by-side, yet present beautifully and appear much more complex than they actually are!

Chicken in Green Masala Sauce and Nut Pulao

Nut Pulao – serves 4-6

1-2T vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
225g basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes
1t cumin seeds
2t ground coriander
2t black mustard seeds
4 green cardamom pods
450ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
3/4c unsalted cashew nuts
salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a wok and fry the onion, garlic and carrot for four minutes.

Drain the rice and add to the wok with the cumin, coriander, mustard seeds and cardamom. Cook for two minutes.

Pour in the vegetable stock; add the bay leaf and season well.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat right down, cover and simmer very gently for 12 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat – don’t lift the lid! – and stand for a further five minutes. Check that the rice is cooked – there will be small steam holes on the surface of the rice if it is done – and discard the bay leaf and the cardamom pods (which will have risen to the surface).

With a metal slotted spoon, stir in the cashew nuts and check the seasoning before serving.

Nut Pulao

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Fun with Food: Chicken in Green Masala Sauce

I’ve mentioned previously that my Curry recipe book was the best £2.00 I spent when we were living in England. The pages are spotted with spices and splashes of sauce, and it is the most prized cookbook in my collection. Whenever I make a curry, my husband always asks, “Is this from the book?”, and my answer is, inevitably, always “Yes.”

This chicken curry is beautiful, and really simple to make. It is slightly sweet and slightly salty, with the merest hint of spice.

Chicken in Green Masala SauceThe original recipe calls for chicken breasts, but I prefer chicken thighs, which work just as well, and also for sultanas as a garnish. I can’t stand sultanas (they are grapes that just couldn’t be bothered, in my opinion), so I omit them, and the dish is still delicious. Feel free to adjust the amount of fresh chilli for your own heat preferences – I use one if my babies are going to be eating this, which gives a hint of spice, but isn’t the overriding flavour.

Chicken in Green Masala Sauce and Nut Pulao

Chicken in Green Masala Sauce – serves 4

1 green apple, peeled, cored and cubed
3T fresh coriander leaves
2T fresh mint leaves
2/3c natural yoghurt
3T ricotta cheese or fromage frais
2 fresh green chillies, seeded and chopped
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
1t salt
1t sugar
1t crushed garlic
1t fresh ginger, grated
1T vegetable oil
225-300g chicken breast or thighs, skinned and cubed
1T fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
(25g sultanas, for garnish)

Place the first 11 ingredients into a food processor, and process for one minute. Scrape around the sides of the bowl and process for a few seconds more.

IMG_3053Heat the oil in a wok; pour in the processed mixture and cook gently over a low heat for two minutes.

Add the chicken pieces and stir well. Cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

Serve over basmati rice or a nut pulao (recipe to come!); garnish with extra coriander and sultanas, if using.

Recipe: Curry – Mridula Baljekar

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Meal Planning with Pinterest

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying recipes that I’ve pinned on Pinterest. There have been some dismal failures, but generally, everything has turned out pretty darn tasty.

I made Cumin Spiced Baba Ganoush, which was delicious, although Tiny stunk of garlic the day after chowing down on a big bowl full.

I attempted macarons; the passionfruit and milk chocolate ganache worked perfectly, but the meringues macarons were another story.

We ate this fantastic Hawaiian Pulled Pork for dinner last night when Tall got home from his work trip…and again for lunch today. We combined it with some fine coleslaw in multigrain pita breads – yu-um!

Tall begrudgingly admitted that these vegetarian burgers weren’t too bad, and didn’t complain about taking the leftovers for lunch the next day. The texture wasn’t quite right thanks to my seeming inability to read the recipe correctly; I duly cooked up one raw cup of quinoa and was merrily adding it to everything else, when I happened to read that I should be using one cooked cup.

I love pears, and I love roasted parsnip, so when I saw this recipe for a combination of the two, with added shallots and macadamias, I had to try it. And oh my, it was fantastic, the perfect side dish to a bland roast chicken.

This Palak Paneer was quite bland at first taste, but improved the more we ate, and was apparently even better the next day. Paneer itself is pretty tasteless, and the spinach sauce wasn’t very strong, but the more time the two swam around together, the better the marriage became.

And this cranberry-glazed pork belly was a-MAY-zing. I tweaked it a little to suit the ingredients I had, but used the same basic cooking techniques. I bought a nice slab of pork belly from the market last weekend, so we might be trying this one again this week.

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