It is time for you to open the cupboard and find that half used tin of Madras curry powder. It is National Curry Week . I want to start with an easy recipe, nutritious, and full of flavour, a Roasted Vegetable Curry. As an added bonus for everyone, this is my first vegan recipe. I can totally guarantee it is so tasty, great for everyone to eat and enjoy. Roast Vegetable Curry is a comforting supper dish you can serve just as it is. Or serve it as a side as part of a larger group meal. Why not try it with my Butter Chicken, rice, poppadums, and pickles.
Every one Loves Curry
Curries are now a staple part of English cooking. Chicken Tikka Masala is now the most popular takeaway dish in the UK. Our tastes have definitely changed from the days of early Indian influenced dishes such as kedgeree. This recipe was bought home from India by colonial civil servants. We now eat curry dishes from around the world. Curry recipes from turmeric and ginger spiced Malay to the fantastically popular Thai green variety. Finally please remember curry does not need to be fiery hot. The key is developing layers of flavour through using different spices and aromatics.
Roasted Vegetable Curry
My recipe uses chilli, ginger, garlic and curry powder as the key flavours. If you are a little more confident you can substitute ground cumin, coriander, turmeric and mustard powder for the curry powder.
Believe it or not, curry powder was not invented in India. The most common theory is that it was invented by Chinese cooks to emulate the recipes the British had grown used to. The most used spice mixes in India are Garam Masala.
Any spice mix and ground spice you may have has a limited shelf life. Spices are best stored in an air-tight container in a cool environment away from direct sunlight. Over time the intense flavours will be lost and the taste can become stale in time.
I have used several vegetables, but this recipe is a great fridge clearer whatever you have in your salad drawer can go into it, cauliflower, aubergine, boiled potatoes, tomatoes you can really experiment. You can save time by omitting the garlic, chilli, ginger, and spices and use a quality Tikka Masala curry paste if you are in a hurry.
As a country we are lucky to have so many culinary influences, down I guess in no small part to having been a trading and seafaring nation with ships and merchants travelling across the globe and openly accepting many different peoples and cultures into our own. Today in any major town and city you can eat authentically cooked food from around the world in fine dining restaurants, family-owned corner cafes and from street vendors and pop-ups. Now one of the most influential of all these cuisines would be Indian and spices, curries, and chutneys now play a major part in our cooking and dining habits from the mildest Butter Chicken to the hottest Phall, an Anglo-India mix of tomatoes, ginger and Scotch Bonnet peppers. Supermarket shelves are full of pastes, sauces, pickles and poppadums and fridges full of every type of curry imaginable, and you are never far from an Indian* restaurant.
There is an Indian influence to kedgeree, but it is a particularly British interpretation. Kedgeree is thought to have originated with the British colonial servants returning to Britain after working in India. It was traditionally served at breakfast and is still popular in grand hotels and gentlemen’s clubs. The classic kedgeree is made from curried rice with flaked fish and perhaps some sultanas and quartered hard-boiled eggs. I like to serve my kedgeree with soft boiled eggs, a sprinkling of flaked almonds, maybe you could throw in a few prawns ( entirely my own corruption ) and a jug of fruity curry sauce and yes, I do eat it for breakfast and for lunch too as it makes for a wonderful brunch.
*Often of Bangladeshi origin
Smoked Haddock Kedgeree
For the kedgeree
400 gr naturally Smoked Haddock Fillet
300 gr easy-cook long grain Rice, rinsed under running water
600 ml quality Fish Stock
Approximately 300 ml full-fat Milk
4 large free-range Eggs, at room temperature
3 medium Onions, peeled
A small handful of frozen Garden Peas, defrosted
A small handful of flaked Almonds
A small handful of Parsley, washed and finely chopped
A small handful of Coriander, washed and finely chopped
First to prepare the curried rice finely chop two of the onions and heat half of the oil and two tablespoons of the butter in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan, add the onions then over a moderate heat cook for twenty to thirty minutes until soft. Add the garlic and spices and half a teaspoon of salt and continue to cook, stirring continuously for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stock and bring up to a gentle boil. Cover the pan and simmer for ten minutes. Remove from the heat and without removing the lid leave to finish cooking for a further fifteen minutes.
While the rice is steaming in the pan, place the smoked haddock into a small heavy-bottomed pan and cover with milk. Halve the remaining onion and stick the bay leaves to the onions halves with the cloves to make a cloute. Add these to the pan containing the smoked haddock. Place on a low heat and bring up to the lowest possible simmer and poach for ten minutes. Remove the fish from the milk and allow to cool. The milk can be reserved to make chowder. When the fish is cool flake into thumbnail sized pieces and put to one side.
Place a pan of water on to boil and once simmering add the eggs placing them in with a spoon. Start your timer and simmer for six minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately plunge the eggs into iced cold water. When cool you can peel the eggs and set to one side. To serve the kedgeree add the remaining oil and butter to a sauté pan and over a medium heat cook the peas for two minutes then add the fish, rice and flaked almonds. Stirring constantly fry the mix until it is thoroughly warmed through, then season and stir in the chopped parsley and coriander. Cut the boiled eggs in half and serve them on top of the plated rice with some crispy fried shallots and a jug of sweet curry sauce.
For the sweet curry sauce, melt half the butter in a medium-sized heavy-bottom saucepan and add the onion, pineapple, and apple. Sauté carefully for ten minutes to start to soften the onion. Add the curry powder, chilli flakes, sultanas, coconut milk, and stock and bring to the boil and gently simmer for twenty minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mango chutney and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then puree in a food processor and pass through a sieve to form a smooth glossy sauce. Return to a pan and add the lime zest and juice, season and gently reheat stirring frequently. Because of the high sugar content, the sauce will easily catch and burn so heat very gently.
We are if you are unaware in a celebratory culinary alignment of epic proportions it is National Curry Week, Seafood Week, Chocolate Week and National Porridge Day. “Go on”, I hear you cry, “You’ve had all year have you come up with a recipe combining all of these?”
Well no. We had porridge for breakfast, big bowls made with creamy Jersey milk and I can hear all you spurtle welders screaming, yes made with milk.* Chocolate, I have two daughters so I could use Willy Wonka’s chocolate fountain, seafood I will save for the weekend so supper this rather chilly, wet evening was a suitable curry, one of my favourite curries, in fact, Murgh Makhani or Butter Chicken. This week I have soaked lentils, pounded garlic, ginger and cinnamon sticks, roasted coriander, mustard, and fennel seeds and even opened a jar of the now infamous, homemade chilli and lime pickle. I love cooking curries and balancing the complex flavours of the spices.
*The spurtle is used to stir proper porridge made with rolled oats, salt, and water only. I worked for a two times winner of the Golden Spurtle but that as they say is another story.
Murgh Makhani does not have a pedigree stretching into the dawn of history, it is believed to have been created in Peshawar and after the British partition, the chef moved to a New Delhi restaurant. A customer wanted a meal late in the evening and marinated chicken, ready for the Tandoor oven, was tossed with tomatoes, butter and spices and the Murgh Makhani ( butter chicken ) was born. While Murgh Makhani looks similar to a Chicken Tikka Masala, it is more flavoursome with more depth of spicing in the rich tomato-based sauce. The Tikka Masala is Britain’s most popular curry and is believed to have been made originally with Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup and to have originated in the hallowed curry houses of either Birmingham or Glasgow.
The chicken, either on or off the bone, is marinated in yoghurt and spices but the secret of a true Murgh Makhani is Qasuri Methi or dried fenugreek leaves. The chicken is best cooked in an extremely hot oven, a Tandoor ( if you have one ) or over coals or on a char grill to add an authentic smoky flavour before finishing in the sauce and serving. So, you can fire up the BBQ. Garnish with green chillies, sliced hard boiled eggs, coriander leaves, raisins and toasted almonds.
Toast the spices, excluding the chilli, cardamom and cayenne pepper by heating them in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed frying pan, stirring occasionally, until they colour slightly. Place in a small food processor or coffee grinder with the cayenne and cardamom seeds and reduce to a powder. Mix half of your spice mix with the chilli, lime juice, and yogurt and in a large glass or ceramic bowl stir in the chicken. Cover, refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least two hours. Larger chicken pieces benefit from marinating an extra couple of hours.
Preheat your oven to 425 F / 220 C / Gas mark 7. Drain off any excess yogurt mix from the chicken and set aside. Place the marinated chicken pieces on an oiled baking tray and cook for fifteen minutes for diced chicken or twenty-five minutes for the large chicken pieces. The chicken can brown well, almost char in the oven as this improves the flavour of the finished dish. At the same time as the chicken is cooking heat the clarified butter and a little more oil in a large casserole, add the onions. Sauté the onions for 15 minutes until golden brown in and then add the ginger, garlic, remaining spice mix and the turmeric. Cook for two more minutes, stirring to prevent sticking and burning.
Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, kasuri methi, cream and any remaining yogurt marinade to the pan and mix together. Place in the chicken and simmer for ten to fifteen more minutes till the chicken is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Do not boil as the sauce will split. Finish the sauce by correcting the seasoning and immediately before serving stir in the lemon juice and butter pieces. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with Naan bread and rice.
What to Drink? While spiced Butter chicken is not chilli hot pairs well with dryish, German-style Riesling wines or slightly sweeter, fruity Sauvignon Blanc. The delicate balance of malt and hops of a classic English ale such as Fullers London Pride will gently cut through flavour of this rich dish.