What with the girls at school yesterday and Sindy off for the morning, I found myself flitting between the little ones, television, art class and the Aga. We played various games throughout, but I find if I give 100% of my undivided attention for several hours to Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb, there’s usually a few more skirmishes than needs be! If I divide my time with all three and separate one on one, plus another project to think about, things run a lot more smoothly. And due to my love of cookery, that project usually ends up being dinner. Now, I’m not huge on baking, partly due to the fact that only 2 of the 4 ovens on the Aga actually work and the one fan assisted of the 2 isn’t that even in heat distribution!
Okay, I love my hob. That was all I had to work with from my time spent in Mumbai and that is where I perfected my ability to cook a damn good curry. I have spoken about cooking various curries throughout my writing of this diary and today I am just going to reiterate on last nights dinner for both the children and indeed ‘Daddies and Dadda’s Dinner’.
As ever you need to start with a good, tasty gravy (curry sauce). Blitz onions until pulp and fry in a little oil. Add your spices and cook out. My favourite combo is garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin, coriander leaf, garam masala or Madras mix, turmeric and salt. Add tomato purée, cook out further, then add stock (Knorr cubes are fine). You want a slightly thickened consistency and this I regulate purely with the volume of onion and tomato purée to stock! Cook for 30 – 40 minutes in a low heat or until the rawness of the spices have morphed into that sweetness and harmony of fragrant spice that is all a good curry should be!
Now come your options! I usually cook at least a litre of sauce and freeze some but yesterday I used the whole lot and made a feast. Pre-soaked yellow lentils were simmered with some of the sauce plus the addition of extra turmeric and garlic, cooked on the hob for maybe 2 hours. The longer you cook, the more sumptuous the lentils become. I always use a potato masher towards the end of cooking! Bombay potatoes are just way too simple! I tried a few recipes from the internet way back but settled on just steaming cubes of potatoes, cooling and placing in a freezer bag and covering with some of my curry sauce. Tie the bag, give it a squish and put it in the fridge. I actually put all of my curries in a freezer bag once cooled and lay them alongside each other in the fridge until service. It makes cooking multiple curries a real doddle to serve up. Just heat one after the other in a microwave before serving up! There’s usually a bit of squishing of the bags to regulate heat and some re-microwaving to get everything to the same temperature – but that’s half the fun of ‘curry night’. I also microwave the dry poppadoms for 20 seconds, turn, then a further 20 seconds. Perfection and so much healthier than shallow frying. But if you much prefer the taste of the fried, just use a pastry brush and lightly brush the dry poppadom with cooking oil on either side before microwaving.
Okay, the other dish’s last night were tandoori boned and skinned chicken thighs and mutter (pea curry). The thighs were 3 hours marinated in garlic, ginger, chilli, salt, lemon juice and a pre mixed tandoori spice mix. No red food colouring like your local Indian takeaway might use! The chicken was cooked in an oven dish covered in foil for 20 minutes, then dry heat for a further 15. Moist and tender was the result. The last main dish of mutter had a variation to it last night as I added green beans to the peas – cooked with some of Dadda’s curry sauce, a tin of tomatoes and a little extra salt – divine ‘Amrit’ (manna) indeed.
My rice was of course cooked in the microwave – see earlier entry for 100% perfect basmati rice and our nibbles on the side were homemade onion bhaji’s and pakoras. I’m pretty sure I have covered those in an earlier diary entry, but if not, do let me know – they’re so simple to make and so tasty. The children love them!
A meal fit for 5 little Maharajahs (and a daddy and a dadda).