Pheasant curry: from bird to bowl

My family don’t shoot.

A few years ago Dad killed quite a few tadpoles by turning on a water pump that pumped them out of the pond (though Mum transported most of them back to safety in a tea strainer), and he did once tentatively tread on a paving stone he’d put on the head of a rabbit which had been badly mauled by a dog…. 

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National Curry Week 2011

Tomorrow is the start of National Curry Week . Sure, the national event might’nt have as much clout as Christmas or New Year (not yet anyway…) but it is a chance to have a go at breaking the poppadom tower challenge (currently 5ft 1”) or the samosa speed challenge (how many can you wrap in 10 minutes?)

…or, you could just use it as an excuse to whip up a curry, which is exactly what I did. The lovely ‘wallahs’ at Dishoom - my favourite Indian restaurant –sent me the recipe for their legendry Ruby Murray curry, which kept me warm on many not-so-balmy summer evenings at their not-so-tropical Chowpatty Beach pop up on the South Bank.

The great thing about this curry are the clean, delicate flavours – it’s not swilling in ghee or saturated with cream. Although mine did taste good, Dishoom’s version was darker in colour then mine, and the flavours ran deeper…maybe I just prefer eating other people’s food…but if I work out any sort of tweaking to the recipe that makes the curry end up more like Dishoom’s version, I’ll let you know.

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients – they’re so cheap and easy to come by (especially round Bethnal Green) and once you’ve invested in a boxful of ‘Indian ingredients’ then the next curry you make will be even cheaper, and you’ll already have the key ingredients which is always satisfying.

Ingredients (for 2)
50ml vegetable oil
6 chicken thighs (boneless and cut into 2 inch cubes)
5 green cardamom pods
4 bay leaves
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
20g tomato paste
several dried chillis (Dishoom recommend a Kashmiri red chilli pod)
3 large chopped onions
20g ginger paste
30g garlic paste
20g coriander powder
10g cumin powder
3 large, chopped tomatoes
salt
fresh coriander (to garnish)

I thought I’d stick to the recipe and use boneless chicken thighs – I’m not a fan of using chicken breast, especially in a recipe that involves cooking things for a long time, because they dry out so easily. The problem is that buying boneless thighs is pretty expensive, so have a go at boning them yourself – this guy will show you how. It really is worth it, and the meat is so much more flavourful. Do this before you begin so everything is all prepped and good to go.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks and chilli until they start to crackle and release their flavour.

Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, then add the ginger and garlic pastes, then the coriander and cumin powder.

Then, after a couple more minutes, put in the tomatoes and chicken, and whack up the heat.

Let the curry bubble away for 25 minutes. The chicken should be juicy and tender – but not pink, so do check before serving. Garnish it with fresh coriander, and serve with rice, nan, poppadom…or my favourite, rotis.

Aubergine curry

Am just off to eat the leftovers of this delicious vegetable curry for lunch.
Cheap, healthy and really, really tasty!

Ingredients (for 4)
2 red onions
2 chillis
1 (200g) tin of chickpeas
2 (200g) tins of tomatoes
1 large aubergine
1 teaspoon of cumin
Coriander (fresh or dried)
4 garlic cloves
250g fresh spinach

Start by dicing the red onion, and gently cooking it in a heavy-bottomed pan with a bit of oil. Add the chopped chillis, crushed garlic, cumin and coriander (only if you’re using dried coriander – if you’ve got your hands on fresh coriander, then add it at the end with the spinach). Next, drain and rinse the fresh chick peas, then chuck them in. Then chop the aubergine into 2cm cubed chunks, and add that to the pan as well. Cook for five to eight minutes on a medium-low heat.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Taste some of the sauce, and check that it’s seasoned to your liking—add some more spices, salt or pepper if you fancy.

As you’re reaching the end of cooking, then stir in the fresh spinach until it’s fully wilted, and (if you’re using fresh coriander) then add that too.

This could work as a delicious vegetable side dish with lamb. Serve with rice for a conventional curry—though we just ate it with some flatbread so we could mop up all the juices.

Dr Durkin makes a chicken, olive & PRESERVED LEMON tagine

On Thursday evening Natalie invited me round for supper.

Just to keep you up to date, I shall from now onwards refer to her as Dr Durkin – firstly, because Dr Durkin is a more comic name than Natalie. And secondly, because this is now her real title…. 

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