Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baked chicken curry

Another recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's CURRY EASY. The chief difference from her version is that I did not marinate the chicken overnight.

4 chicken thighs
Salt, pepper
2tbsp lime juice (you can see the lime hulls in the dish, above)
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
3 heaped tbsp thick yoghurt
1tsp finely grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2tsp ground turmeric
1/4tsp cayenne pepper (or more, according to taste)
4 cardamom pods
1 onion, finely chopped
1tbsp sunflower or olive oil

In an oven dish, toss the chicken pieces in the salt, pepper and lime juice.

Heat the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan over a gentle heat until toasted. Crush in a mortar, or whizz them in a grinder. Mix them with the yoghurt, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne and cardamom. Toss the chicken in this mixture. Scatter the onions on top, and sprinkle the dish with oil.

Bake at gas mark 6/200C, checking that the onions do not burn, for 30 minutes. Turn over the chicken pieces, and return the dish to the oven for a further 40 minutes, basting from time to time, and turning down the heat if the sauce is bubbling too vigorously. The splitting of the yoghurt does not matter, because the sauce evaporates and thickens.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stewed belly pork - and crackling

Poaching or stewing belly pork does not mean that you cannot crackle the skin. On the contrary, it may help, because it will break down the collagen, which is what causes rubberiness. The crackling above comes from slices of belly pork, simmered in a stew with beans.

About 30 minutes from the end of cooking, lift the pork from the stew, and slice off the rind. Return the pork to the pot.

Line a grill pan with foil, and pour on to it about a tbsp of oil. Pat dry the pork rinds (which will be sticky). Toss them in the oil in the pan, and arrange skin-side up. Grill them at full setting at first, but turn down the heat as soon as they start to make crackling noises. The danger is, if you keep them too close to a high flame, that they will burn before turning crisp. I move the pan down to the floor of the grill.

The process will probably take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spiced rice, reheated

The cooked rice above is sitting in foil in a colander. I parcelled up the foil, rested the colander on the lips of a pan above vigorously simmering water, and put a lid on top. I gave it 10 minutes. (Inadequately reheated rice can be dangerous.)

The yellow rice is another recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's terrific CURRY EASY. Adaptation, for 4, below.

300g basmati rice
2tbsp olive or sunflower oil
1 whole dried red chilli
(I think she means ones of normal size. Mine, which are fiery, are minuscule. I used a couple)
1tsp skinned urad dal or yellow split peas
(I used red lentils. But I'm not sure what the point of them is - perhaps it's to add colour, along with the turmeric)
1tsp mustard seeds
1tbsp sesame seeds
1/2tsp turmeric
1tsp salt (optional)

Put the rice in a bowl. Cover with cold water and stir gently. Pour out the dirty water. (I do so carefully and slowly, in an effort to leave all the rice behind. Draining the rice in a sieve, then trying to return it to the bowl when a good deal of it sticks to the mesh, is a pain.) Repeat the process four or five times. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Drain.

(What is it that turns the rice water so murky? Starch? Or less pleasant stuff?)

Warm the oil, in a heavy pan, over a medium heat. Throw in the chilli, dal (if using), mustard seeds, and sesame seeds. When you hear the mustard seeds popping, add the drained rice, turmeric, and salt (again, if using).

Pour over enough water to cover the rice by about 0.5cms. Bring to the boil, and simmer until the water level sinks beneath the surface of the rice. Cover, and turn the heat right down. (I put a heat disperser under the pan.) Give the rice 10 minutes' cooking time in total. After you've turned off the heat, you can leave the rice to rest until you need it.

Madhur Jaffrey tells you to steam the rice for 25 minutes. Lots of cookbooks give similar timings, but in my experience most brands of basmati rice are ready much more quickly than that. I suppose that the extra steaming might help to separate the grains, but I find that long cooking simply causes them to clump together.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Spiced black bean soup

Madhur Jaffrey's CURRY EASY was worthy of the Sunday Times' Cookery Book of the Year accolade (though the claims of Niki Segnit's THE FLAVOUR THESAURUS were strong). I find, as I browse most cookery books, that I come across at most half a dozen recipes I might cook; I want to try just about everything in Jaffrey's, even if, as here, I adapt them.

2tbsp sunflower or vegetable (or olive, Jaffrey says) oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
Generous pinch ground asafoetida
1/4tsp cumin seeds
2 red onions
1/4tsp cayenne pepper
1/4tsp turmeric
1 can organic black beans
Lemon juice

Warm the oil over a medium heat, and throw in the garlic, asafeotida, and cumin. When they're sizzling, add the onions, and stir until soft, lowering the heat if they threaten to catch. Add the cayenne and turmeric, and pour in the beans with their liquid. (If the beans are not organic, you may prefer to throw away the salty, slimy water in which they have been sitting, and to use fresh water instead.) Add more water to come to the top of the beans and to create a soup of the consistency you like. Here, I must admit that I added half a chicken stock cube too.

Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Blend. (I use a stick blender.) Squirt in a little lemon juice. If you have not used a cube, you may want some salt.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Chocolate mousse, without graininess

This was the best chocolate mousse I have ever made: richly frothy in texture, and without the graininess that has marred my efforts in the past. I think the key was that the chocolate mixture was properly cool before I added the egg yolks.

The ingredients produced enough mousse to fill seven ramekins.

150g dark chocolate (I used Green & Black's cook's chocolate)
25g butter, cut into small cubes
6 eggs, separated

Break the chocolate into its squares, and melt it in a bowl held above a pan of simmering water. (I have a Pyrex bowl that rests on the edges of a saucepan.) Stir the chocolate to encourage melting, and remove it from the heat as soon as, or slightly before, all the lumps have disappeared. Drop in the butter.

Beat the egg whites, just on their own and with no salt or acid (see this post), until they form soft peaks. Take about a quarter of the white and beat it into the chocolate and butter. The mixture should retain the texture and consistency of thick chocolate sauce. Now stir in the yolks.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the egg whites. Fold it in, using a lifting and turning motion with the spoon until amalgamated. Transfer to a dish, or to individual ramekins, and refrigerate for at least three hours.