Spicy Potato Curry

North Indian foods generally have quite a depth of flavour and the right amount/types of spices. Spiced potatoes are a quick and nutritious dish which can be prepared with minimal fuss after a long day at work. Best served hot with rice or naan breads, this is definitely a must try.

If you’ve still kept your kadai from my last recipe, you can definitely use it for this dish.

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Recipe – serves 2

Ingredients

Spices

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon garam malasa (powder)
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Ingredients

  • chopped coriander (optional but adds flavour)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 -3 tablespoon canola oil
  • ~200-250g potatoes cubed

Method

On a medium heat, heat oil, then add the chillies, cumin seeds and curry leaves for around 10~15 seconds

Next, add the onions and saute it until it turns golden brown, then add the potatoes. Stir the potatoes until it is well coated with the mixture

After approximately 1 minute, add all the remaining spice, including the salt and mix well.

Add about 1/2 cup of water or enough to just cover the potatoes and cover the kadai with a lid. Cook until the potatoes are done then remove the kadai from heat and remove lid.

Garnish with coriander and serve.

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Kadai Chicken

This is probably the simplest chicken curry dish you can make but the flavours are amazing. Kadai chicken originates from North India (the author of this blog is not North Indian and hails from Fiji. Fiji is still a fair way away from India so making this recipe was quite an experience). The dish is best served with naan bread or roti however, you can also serve it with basmati rice.

Kadai itself is actually the Indian word for a thick bottomed wok. For Sydney siders, you can pick one up from Udaya Spices or use Google to find a shop closest to you.

kadai

Recipe – serves 2

Spices

  • 4 red dried chillies (add more if you’re looking to bump up the spice-o-meter)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns (do not add too much of this – it will make the dish taste weird)
  • 2~3 coriander seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds

Ingredients

  • 500g boneless chicken thigh fillets
  • 2~3 green chillies slit and bruised slightly (more if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience later)
  • 1 tomato (medium to large) finely chopped
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 1~1.5tbsp garlic paste (I just use the store bought one)
  • 20 cashew nuts soaked in lukewarm water for about an hour. Drain water then crush/grind cashews until you get a thick paste – crush as fine as possible
  • 0.5tsp turmeric powder
  • 3~4tbsp canola oil (you can use olive oil but this may change the taste slightly)
  • salt according to taste
  • chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Stage 1 – Spice Mix

Just like Breaking Bad, you have to cook the spices to get the end product. Unlike Breaking Bad, you’re not likely to have people trying to kill you to get to your product.

Throw all the spices into a saucepan on low heat for five minutes or more. You will know its good to go when the spices begin to impart aromas making your house smell like a spice shop.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the spices cool down then grind all the spices together using a coffee grinder or a mortar a pestle (if you’re the sort who likes to workout). Keep the mixture somewhere safe and within reach. Do not let your pets mistake this for pet food and get to this stuff or they will explode.

Stage 2 – Cooking

Bring out the kadai (if its new, you may need to wash and dry it carefully) and using a medium-high heat, add about 1tbsp oil and all the garlic paste, stirring the contents until the paste browns slightly then add the chicken.Cook the chicken halfway through then remove from heat and set aside.

Wash the kadai and dry thoroughly then return to heat, adding the remaining oil and once hot, add the green chilies then let it release some of the flavours into the oil.

Add the onions and saute till slightly browned then add the spice powder mixture, tomatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Ensure you mix all the ingredients well until the tomatoes are mixed thoroughly with the onions (you will know this when the tomatoes are mashed up well with the onions)

Let the mixture evaporate – you will know this has happened when the mixture starts looking thick, sluggish and the oil separates slightly from the mixture. At this point you may wish to add around 150ml water to prevent the mixture from sticking at the base of the kadai

Add the cashew paste and return the chicken to the kadai. Mix thoroughly throughout the kadai to ensure all the chicken pieces are coated with the mixture (note: I used a fork to scoop out the chicken pieces to ensure none of the liquid which had drained from the chicken went back into the kadai because the liquid looked a little icky)

Cover the kadai and let the chicken cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once you’re sure the chicken is cooked through (are you a fan of salmonella?), switch off the heat and garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.

Take pictures which show your presentation skills and post to social media sites then serve (or just eat it yourself).

A Study of Eggs (with a recipe)

One of the things that you quickly discover about Australia is that Australians love their breakfasts – actually, Australians (“Aussies”, as I have come to learn) love all their food. A great deal of effort is put into creating television shows and now, theres an entire channel which talks about food and making food all day. The people who present their ideas on the channel speak with so much enthusiasm and charisma, the television viewer begins to feel pangs of guilt for not having the same enthusiasm when boiling an egg.

According to the lady on the cooking show, boiling an egg is an exact science and it is close to sacrilege if the ratio of salt and water are not correct because the egg will not taste right. I felt compelled to the point that I went out and got an electric egg boiler which claims to make the worlds best boiled eggs, depending on your preference of hard boiled or silky smooth (the polite/fancy way of saying “runny eggs”) to dip the toasted soldiers into. I must admit that my sense of taste is rather below par when it comes to knowing what a good boiled egg is since I couldn’t tell the difference between a properly boiled egg (as per the electric egg boiler’s claim) from the sort I boil in a saucepan of water. The one consolation that did come about though was that I no longer had to stand about watching the egg cook in a saucepan and ensuring the water did not boil over the sides. It gave me the time to sit and read my kindle and when the buzzer from the electric egg boiler went off the first time, I am fairly sure my neighbours thought I was experimenting with a time bomb and the timer went off. But since then, I’ve become used to the sound it makes which is approximately ten times louder then an alarm clock to let me know that I need to remove the allegedly perfectly boiled egg and marvel at the finished product both by sight and taste.

Having used it a few times now, I have come to the conclusion that there is only so much intrigue that a boiled egg can possibly generate and have since retired the unit in search of more exotic ideas involving eggs. Digressing, I am probably the worlds worst person to go shopping with where the purchase of eggs are involved (the remainder of this paragraph will be a digression on my views about eggs). I will often spend up to thirty minutes or more checking each egg and their origination (free-range, caged and etc.).If they’re free ranged, I generally start to read the pretty (and often pointless) stories about how the chickens are kept in order to produce the perfect egg and delivered to the supermarket shelves. I read about how chickens are given TLC and how each chicken is lovingly treated by the farmer to the point where the story stops short of saying the farmer feeds each hen lovingly with his own hands. I read about how chickens are free to run about (some are given more then 1 metre of space to run around) and forage for food. As a rule of thumb, I don’t buy caged eggs simply because I believe the chickens are kept in rather nasty conditions and this practice needs to stop. I have heard the argument from farmers that this is apparently normal practice and these hens will forever be kept in this state until they are dead. Needless to say, the farmer would no doubt change his mind if all his children were kept standing from the day they were born in a pen the size of a matchbox, till the day they expire and never taste freedom. So, I stick to free-range eggs, but thats where it becomes tricky for you see, free-range comes in different forms. There is one definition of free-range which the farmers trick you into believing is the real deal but its not because all they’re doing is moving the chicken coup outdoors and putting the hens in individual pens of their own which is approximately a one meter square area the hen wanders around in. The other free-range is the real deal where hens  are free to roam about everywhere on the farm with no restrictions. These hens are free to walk about the countryside, go to a pub and even take a stroll down to the riverside (I may be exaggerating a bit here about their freedom of movement). These hens lay eggs happily and in the evening, stroll back to their hen houses like people coming back from a fun filled day at the beach. Their eggs are laid in happiness and there are some that allege the very shape of the eggs these hens lay are the “happy” shape but I’m not quite certain about that part of the argument and have no views on the topic given my rather amateur ranking in the world of egg management. These are the sort of eggs I generally buy.

Coming back to the topic at hand, I decided to try sprucing up the normal scrambled eggs I make. So I settled on an idea which I had never tried before and thought that this first article should be about my foray into the world of combing avocados and eggs. So, without to much further fuss, I present to you (something you probably already know about) my version of scrambled eggs on avocado toast.

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You will need:

  • 1 egg (or more, depending on how hungry you are)
  • salt and pepper
  • a ripe avocado
  • thick slice toast
  • thickened (cooking) cream
  • curry powder (no, this ingredient is not a typo. I use “Clives of India”)
  • butter (lets not quibble about whether its low fat and unsalted for health reasons. Just use Devondale spreadable and work it out with your fitness trainer later)

Optional extras (which are nice to have though so it really depends how much you love your food and how much energy you have to make this for breakfast)

  • hash browns (either get Mcains or run to McDonalds early morning and pick up a few)
  • baked beans (you can get them from Aldi or get the five bean mix version from Woolworths)

Method

  1. break the egg(s) into a bowl
  2. add salt and pepper to taste
  3. add one tablespoon of thickened cream per egg
  4. add half a teaspoon of the curry powder (if you want to make these curried eggs instead, experiment with more curry powder. I am not responsible for the end result though)
  5. mix the ingredients together. I suggest not being lazy and using an electric whisk. Good ole’ elbow grease will get you a better result. Set aside when all the ingredients are fully mixed and then entire concoction has a smooth yellow golden appearance.
  6. slice an avocado, remove the seed (there is only one seed. If there are more, stop and confirm you bought an avocado) and with a spoon, scrape the inside of the avocado into a bowl (try to avoid scraping too close to the inner skin as it can bring bitterness into the avocado).
  7. add salt and pepper to the avocado according to taste then mash the avocado using a fork until it has a smooth consistency and there are little or no lumps left. Set aside
  8. toast the bread (I generally like to toast the bread until it is golden brown and just a shade away from charring) and liberally spread the avocado mix over the bread and set aside.
  9. heat butter in a saucepan on low heat (I generally use about a tablespoon of butter for two eggs) until the sizzling has died down and the base of the saucepan has a glazed look.
  10. add the egg mixture to the pan and slowly fold the eggs in from the edges as it cooks. Keep doing this until the mixture is cooked and looks nice and fluffy. Ideally, there should not be any runny egg left over in the pan. As soon as the egg is cooked, turn off the heat or it will dry out.

Plating

  • top the avocado toast with the scrambled eggs and serve hot.