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

Fun with Food
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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.

Have you entered my giveaway? It’s open internationally!

Vegetarian Rogan Josh

Last Christmas, my sister asked for a cookbook: Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. I dutifully ordered a copy from The Book Depository, and waited for it to arrive. In the meantime, I turned on Food TV, and discovered a show of the same name. One episode saw Jamie cooking Peri Peri Chicken and Portuguese Custard Tarts, and I was drooling in front of the telly.

When the book arrived, I flicked through and saw, to my delight, that these recipes were in there, and promptly ordered myself a copy too.

So far, I think we’ve enjoyed 50% of the meals I’ve made from this book, and 50% have been so-so. I like the concept, and the recipes are varied so there’s sure to be something to suit everybody’s cooking style. I generally don’t make the full meal, but pick and choose depending on the season, and who I’m cooking for.

One recipe I saw on his show recently, that looked delicious, was for a vegetarian Rogan Josh curry. I checked my book, and yep, it was in there, so I decided to give it a go. We sat down with Tiny one Sunday evening and demolished virtually the whole curry – it was so good!

Here is my slightly-amended version of Jamie’s recipe. I also made his clove-scented Fluffy Rice, and some paratha breads to have with it, which were the perfect accompaniment.

The aftermath

Vegetarian Rogan Josh

olive oil
2 onions, sliced
3 cups diced pumpkin (roughly 2cm dice)
1 small cauliflower, in bite-sized chunks
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional, depending on your spice preferences)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
handful fresh coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped (reserve some leaves for garnish)
500g jar Rogan Josh sauce (I used a medium Tandoori Palace sauce)
400g tin chickpeas, drained
130g pre-washed baby spinach
natural yoghurt, to serve

Put a large saucepan on a med-high heat. Add a good lug of olive oil and add the onions and a splash of water. Cook, stirring, until softened.

Add pumpkin, cauliflower, chilli, garlic and coriander to the pan and stir well.

Add Rogan Josh sauce and chickpeas; season and stir well.

Cover and simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove lid and check seasonings; add spinach and stir until wilted.

Serve on basmati rice*, garnished with coriander leaves and a dollop of natural yoghurt on the side.

* Jamie’s clove-scented Fluffy Rice: put 1 mug of rice into a medium pot; add a lug of olive oil and a few whole cloves. Cover with 2 mugs of boiled water; add a pinch of salt then cover and boil over a medium heat for 7mins. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a further 7mins (lid on) before serving.

Original Recipe: Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals

Things I’m Loving

Doughnut muffins, first discovered here, and then here and a few other places! I know, I’m late to the party with these ones, but better late than never, right?? I’ve made them twice this week already (the second lot were a double batch so I could freeze some); I even got all fancy and added a little bit of jam to the centre of half a dozen, and have plans for more filled varieties. The recipe is so quick and easy, but be warned – they are DANGEROUSLY addictive.

Tall: "They're just like Mini Orbits...only better."

Finding fresh shitake and oyster mushrooms at the supermarket, and using them to make a divine mushroom risotto. The price tag, on the other hand….not loving that so much!

Jamie Oliver's Oozy Mushroom Risotto

Sitting back while my boys made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Tiny was in charge of cutting up chives. And eating them as he went.

It's a serious business, making scrambled eggs

World Vision’s ‘Smiles’ campaign – awesome gift ideas for those people who already have everything (ie: mothers and mother-in-laws!).

Making a rather spicy lamb kofta curry which was enjoyed by all three of us – Tiny wolfed it down, to my surprise and delight. The boy has good taste.

He even has the runny spice nose!

Fresh celery and seasoned cottage cheese. Can’t get enough of this right now (in between doughnut muffins, of course).

Crunchy goodness

Tiny’s new big boy bed. He’s been sleeping in it for four nights now, and while we’re struggling to get him to stay in it at bedtime, we’re giving him a week’s grace before we begin to get tough. He loves the idea of the bed, but the idea of being able to get out when he wants is obviously even better!

Big boy bed

Hmm, this is a bit of a food-heavy loving post, isn’t it?! Oh well…I do love me some food.

Linking up with PaisleyJade and other loving lovelies

Baigan Aloo Charchari (Char-Crusted Eggplant & Potato)

I’ve mentioned before how much we love eggplants, so when a friend mentioned an eggplant and potato curry dish she made regularly, I had to have the recipe.

Now, Tall is a carnivore from way back, but is willing to eat a vegetarian meal every now and then. I made this last night, and he not only finished off my plate, but hopefully asked if there were leftovers for his lunch….and was disappointed to find out that there were none.

Without further ado, I give you:

Baigan Aloo Charchari (Char-Crusted Eggplant & Potato) – serves 2-4*

1 medium eggplant, cut into 2.5cm cubes
2 medium-large potatoes, peeled & cut into 1cm cubes
2t coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1t cumin seeds
1/2t turmeric
1t sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh green chillies, slit lengthways
large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
juice & finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
250ml water
50g butter, cubed

In a large non-stick frying pan – off the heat – arrange the eggplant and potato chunks in layers. Sprinkle over the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, sea salt, black pepper, chillies, fresh coriander, lemon juice and zest.

Pour over the water and dot with the butter.

Cover, place pan over a high heat and bring to the boil.

Shake the pan a few times, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered and without stirring, for about 20 minutes, checking from time to time that the water has not dried out. If it has, add a little more.

After 20 minutes, the eggplant should be buttery soft, the potato tender, and the liquid reduced to a thick glaze. Do not stir.

Remove the lid and increase the heat; reduce the sauce until it just starts to form a crust on the base of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.

Leave to stand for two minutes, then stir the crust through the mixture. Fry a little more to achieve more crusty bits, if desired, or serve immediately.

* This dish would serve 4 as part of a curry banquet. It is considered a “dry” dish, and would be delicious served alongside a saucy curry dish (like daal), but we ate it with a simple dollop of mango chutney, and it was divine. Buttery and fragrant, with perfect textural contrasts in the softness of the eggplant, and the crustiness of the sauce.

Recipe credit: ??? Unfortunately I have no idea where this recipe came from, so I can’t give credit where credit’s due 😦