What sandwich filling infused with ‘curry’ spices was made specially for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953? Why, coronation chicken, of course! Indeed, the (mustard) seeds for this revelatory dish were planted nearly twenty years earlier, with the presentation of the similar ‘Jubilee chicken’ for George V’s silver jubilee in 1935.
The best thing about these lamb koftas is also their worst thing – they’re so darned tasty that however large a batch you make, there’s only going to be these three wee balls left (and I had to hide them) as evidence of your labors. (more…)
(A version of this review was published on Baristanet, July 26, 2011. This review includes dishes and photos from a subsequent visit. )
In the midst of the most blistering summer week in recent memory on the eastern seaboard, residents gave Brick Lane, Montclair’s new and most eagerly awaited Indian restaurant, a fervent welcome.
(A version of this was published on Baristanet Feb. 1, 2011)
I’ve been waiting for a yummy Indian restaurant to show up in a commercial space near me. Let’s hope this will be the one that will save me from slaving over a stove cooking Indian meals (slaving is entirely necessary, unfortunately, to do it well)!
Brick Lane, the third offshoot of an Indian restaurant with its roots in NYC, will open its doors “in three weeks’ time,” almost directly opposite Valley National Bank on Valley Road, according to a manager of Brick Lane.
The restaurant is named for the street in London, UK, a landing area in decades past for Irish, Ashkenazi Jewish and Bengali/Sylheti immigrants, and on which many curry houses are located. (more…)
There are pluses and minuses with a last-minute trip. On the upside, you get out of your immediate surrounds, and sometimes, that’s just what you need after a couple of stressful weeks. For the chief cook in the house, there’s a break from planning and cooking meals and packing lunchboxes (as with any trip, really). You could save money, like in our case with this road trip to Washington, D.C. as opposed to flying somewhere. On the downside, there’s a long stretch of driving, which my husband thankfully offered to do on the way there and which we split on the return journey. And one might forget things in the frenzy of packing and have to drag male children into Victoria’s Secret, where they blush and comment on how female the place is. “Look, that woman is practically naked!” one cries in horror. I reckon they’ll change their tune in a few years 😉
The lack of planning aside, however, we lucked out on food, which was the only thing on our agenda after we arrived in D.C. late on Monday.
I had a much-needed lie-in today after weeks of early wakings (deliberate) and sleeplessness (unintended). Came downstairs to find husband and kids watching the Thanksgiving Parade on CBS , on which a commentator, doing the easiest job on TV, refers to Spiderman as Superman. One superhero wears his underpants on the outside and a big S on his chest, the other’s in tights – not too hard to differentiate. But she got Pikachu right – the chubby yellow fellow in the Pokemon series (I would have guessed his name was Pokemon).
As I was reluctant to make pancakes or waffles (our Sunday regulars), and no one was in the mood for the weekday cereals, yoghurt or fruit, my kids and hubby voted for upma – an Indian pudding made of durum wheat. Great idea, I thought! It could well have been breakfast for the pilgrims and native Indians, being made of wheat, fruit and nuts and a pinch of salt. (more…)
I get fits of nostalgia for Southeast Asian food. Once you’ve had a whiff of those spices, it’s hard to go back! My mother used to make these at Christmas or for birthdays or sometimes when we nagged her to. While the original versions tend to be deep fried and nevertheless are exceedingly delicious, I have become a little obsessed with worries about clogged arteries, and so prefer to bake the patties. The end result is pretty much as tasty as what you’ll find on Malaysian streets, with a lot more meat content and a whole barrel less grease!
For the pastry:
- butter, 250g of the real thing, cold and cubed
- plain flour, 500g
- salt, 1 to 1 1/2 tsp
- egg yolk, 1, beaten
- very cold water, a few tbsp
- In a food processor, pulse the butter, salt and flour till it resembles bread crumbs
- Add the egg yolk and pulse a few times
- Add water by the tablespoonful until the pastry comes together
- Remove from the processor, divide into two discs, wrap and refrigerate
For the filling:
- minced beef or chicken, 300g
- potatoes, 2 large
- onions, 3 medium
- chilli, 1 green, chopped finely
- ginger, 1 1/2 inches worth, minced finely
- garlic, 5 cloves, minced finely
- ground cloves, 1/4 tsp
- ground cummin, 1 tsp
- ground coriander, 1 tbsp
- ground chilli, 3/4 tsp
- coriander leaves, 1 large handful, chopped
- curry leaves, handful
- mustard seeds, 3/4 tsp
- 1 beaten egg, to brush pastries with
- Preheat the oven to about 200C, 400F
- Fry the onions, garlic, ginger, chili, along with the mustard seeds and curry leaves till fragrant
- Add all the ground spices, saute for about five minutes
- Add the minced beef or chicken, stir till everything is combined
- Separately, boil the potatoes till almost done, cool, skin and cube
- Add a little stock or water, cover and cook the meat for 10 mins, then add potatoes
- Cook for a further 15 minutes, add coriander leaves, stir into the meat, allow to cool
- Remove the pastry dough from the fridge after 20-30 mins and roll out
- Cut into small rounds with a pastry cutter
- Fill with the filling, bring the edges together and combine firmly (you may have to get creative here but you could twist the pastry in the style shown in the picture above)
- At this stage, the pastries may be frozen for future use
- Brush the top of the pastries with a mixture of beaten egg
- Place them on a Pam-ed baking sheet lined with aluminium foil (to save on cleaning)
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!
Happily, I don’t need to pretend to be an authority on food from Kerala because I know it intimately. Perhaps my love of fish comes from having descended from lakeside and seaside- dwelling folk who lived off the harvest of the sea on the idyllic coconut tree-lined southern west coast of India.
But I shouldn’t need an excuse. This is a wonderful and aromatic curry, simple to prepare, delicious enough to spur repeat performances and perhaps, to convert the sworn carnivore.
Serve with rice or chapati (wholemeal flatbread) and dhal (lentil curry).
- Fish, firm-fleshed, cubed
- Coconut milk, 1/3 cup
- Onion, 1 medium, chopped
- Green chilli, 1, quartered
- Ginger, 1 cm worth, chopped finely
- Garlic, 1 clove, sliced
- Chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp
- Coriander, ground, 1/2 tbsp
- Turmeric, 1/2 tsp
- Fennel seeds, 2 pinches
- Mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp
- Curry leaves, about ten
- Stock, vegetable, about 1 cup
- Tamarind, 1 tsp soaked in 1/4 cup boiling water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cut the fish (salmon works, or any firm white-fleshed fish such as kingfish, haddock, cod, tilapia) into cubes
- In a pan, add about 3 tbsp of canola oil over medium heat
- Once the oil has warmed up, add mustard seeds and saute till they begin to pop
- Add the onion and curry leaves, ground spices and fennel
- On medium heat, stir gently till the spices are cooked. A sign of this is when the oil starts to gently seep through the spice and onion mixture
- Add 1/2 cup of the stock and bring the gravy together
- Prepare the tamarind by squeezing the pulp, which has been soaking in boiling water for a few minutes; strain and add the thick juice to the pan, using half the amount first, then adjusting the curry to how tart you like it
- Add the fish but at this point, do not stir the curry any more, lifting the pan and swirling it around instead (to avoid breaking up the fish) to combine
- Once the fish is done, about 5 minutes’ time, add 1/3 cup of coconut milk and some stock to make the curry as thick or thin as you prefer
- Taste and season to your own preferences
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I am a generation removed from a time when cooking a curry involved a fixed recipe, a hard copy of which no one possessed, from which no one deviated, and which followed many hours of labour – from buying the fresh chillis, coriander and cummin seeds and turmeric, to washing, sun-drying, roasting, hand-milling and placing them in fresh, clean jars. All this might sound romantic but I just ain’t got the time for all that palaver!
Here’s my version of the family’s chicken curry, which I’ve pepped up with my favourite Southeast Asian herbs. You may as well, as I do, get your dry spices from the nearest Little India, where their speedy turnover should guarantee a degree of freshness.
- Ground coriander, 1 tbsp
- Ground cummin, 1/2 tbsp
- Chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp
- Fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp
- Onions, 3 medium, chopped
- Ginger, a few slices, chopped fine
- Green chilli, 1, chopped
- Garlic, 2 cloves, sliced
- Tomatoes, 2, chopped
- Chicken fillets, 4, cubed
- Potato, 1, cubed
- Saute the onions, ginger, chilli and garlic in about 3 tbsp canola oil till fragrant and translucent
- Add the three dry spices. Stir on medium heat till foams and the oil begins to seep through the spice mix – a sign that the dry spices are ‘cooked’
- Add the chopped tomatoes, saute till softened, adding a bit of water if needed
- Throw in the cubes of chicken and potato, add enough water to allow the meat to simmer
- Put a lid on it, leave for about 10 minutes on low-to-medium heat
- Thai basil or other basil, 1 handful
- Lime leaves, 4
- Galangal, 4 slices
- Coconut milk, 1/2 cup
- Brown sugar, 1 tsp
- Salt and pepper
- Taste and adjust the seasoning, allow to simmer another 10 minutes.
- Check if meat and potatoes are done. You may want to remove the bits of galangal which I’ve added for flavour and scent but aren’t the tastiest thing to bite into
- Serve with rice, chapati or naan bread and steamed veggies 😀