Category Archives: Curry

Turkey Meatball Curry

A blender full of meatballs (web)

When do you do when you feel as though your life has descended into chaos? OK, so chaos might not be the best term for it, but in the past few weeks I’ve managed to bag myself an exciting new job, quit my old job, become very very very nervous, then very very very excited. While the stress levels are nowhere near those I experienced before my wedding (where I infamously was forced to run laps around the outside of my office a few days before the ceremony in a futile effort to calm the eff down) I do feel a bit like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster at the moment – I turn the corner and my mood dips into trepidation with a side order of anxiety about being up to the task and then rises again into total euphoria about what the future holds. I must say, it’s all getting a bit exhausting.

So, I do what I always do in times of stress. I make meatballs. I’ve spoken before about how meatballs make the perfect comfort food, and (with the possible exception of cake), I’ve yet to find any other bite-sized food stuff which makes me feel so zen. Perhaps that’s why this blog is full of the things. After all, they’re easy to make, even easier to eat and they’re (usually) a better form of stress relief than drinking a large bottle of red booze and kicking a lamppost.

Turkey Meatball mixture

This Turkey Meatball Curry isn’t exactly the kind of thing that you can just whip up after a hard day at work. It involves blending, rolling, resting and rather a lot of simmering. But the end results are totally worth it – warm from the whole cinnamon stick and cardamom pods used in the sauce, slightly spicy and utterly delicious. I made a gigantic pot of this and feasted on it for days – from wrapping up huge messy scoops of it inside hunks of flaky naan bread, or dished over a bowl of steaming white basmati rice with a pile of carrot salad on the side. While you can eat it right away, it tastes even better the day after when all the flavours have settled and mingled together.

Turkey Meatball Curry

TURKEY MEATBALL CURRY (Serves Four)

Curry recipe adapted from BBC Food.

For the meatballs

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • A small handful coriander leaves, chopped finely

For the curry 

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 garlic cloves , roughly chopped
  • 50g ginger , roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely, to garnish

Make It!

Make the turkey meatballs:

  • Put the breadcrumbs in the bowl of a food processor, add two tablespoons of water and combine until the mixture turns sandy.  Add the rest of the meatball ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and pulse the food processor until the mixture looks chunky.
  • Wet your hands, and fashion your meatballs. This mixture should easily make around 26 teaspoon-sized balls (hurr). If these are too many for you, freeze half to save for later. Allow the meatballs to rest for at least an hour, although the longer you leave them to rest, the better they’ll taste.

Make the curry sauce:

  • Roughly chop the onion, transfer to your food processor, and add 3 tablespoons of water. Pulse the onions a few times until they form a chunky paste. (If you don’t own a food processor, coarsely grate the onion with a box grater into a bowl – there’s no need to add any water if you are doing this.) Tip the onions into a small bowl and place to one side.
  • Put the chopped garlic and ginger into the same food processor and add 4 tablespoons of water. Blitz until smooth and spoon into another small bowl. (Alternatively, crush the garlic to a paste with the flat end of a knife and finely grate the ginger.)
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Combine the cumin and fennel seeds with the cinnamon and chilli flakes and add to the pan in one go. Swirl everything around for about 30 secs until the spices release a fragrant aroma.
  • Add the onion paste.  It will splutter in the beginning, but fry until the water evaporates and the onions turn a lovely dark golden colour – this should take about 7-8 mins. Add the garlic and ginger paste and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
  • Stir in the garam masala, turmeric, and sugar and continue cooking for 20 seconds before tipping in the chopped tomatoes and the black and green cardamom pods. Continue cooking on a medium heat for about 10 minutes without a lid until the tomatoes reduce and darken.
  • Reduce the heat to a low simmer and gently add the meatballs. Cover, and let simmer for 40-45 minutes, turning the meatballs every ten minutes or so. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve.
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Tomato and Red Lentil Curry

Red lentils

So, the honeymoon is definitely over. I walked out of the house on Monday and into a cold grey abyss of doom, bills, narky emails and never ending rain. I tell you, it’s enough to make a woman want to go into hibernation for the next few months.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore September. Autumn has always been my favourite season, a fact I put down to being a city dweller. As anyone who lives in a major British city knows, they always feel a bit quiet and jaded during Summer. It’s as though the urban landscape is holding its breath, waiting for people to return and for the business of living to start all over again. But when it’s continually pissing it down, and the third umbrella you’ve bought in the space of six months decides to break when you’re trying to walk home during the middle of a thunderstorm, and your feet feel as though they’ll never be warm again, and you’re wondering if it would just be easier and cheaper to laminate yourself…well, then desperate measures are called for.

I have a few recipes in my armoury that I always call upon when I need to fill my belly with something which is inexpensive to make, while also managing to be hot and tasty. One of these is this Tomato and Red Lentil curry, a dal-esque concoction which consists of red lentils stewed with some tumeric, and flavoured with tomatoes and an array of sizzling spices. I’ve adapted this from a recipe which I originally saw in Delicious magazine, and which over time has become a Monday night favourite. I tend to whip up a giant batch of this at the beginning of the week and dip into it for numerous breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Scooped up with flatbreads, spooned over brown rice or even shovelled down with an egg or top, it makes for a delicious, warming, easy meal – the perfect antidote to the squally September storms.

Tomato and Red Lentil Curry

TOMATO AND RED LENTIL CURRY (Serves Four)

Adapted from this recipe in Delicious magazine

You will need:

  • 200g red lentils
  • 500ml cold water
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A large fistful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Make It!

  1. Rinse the lentils, and pop them in a saucepan. Cover them with the water, and add the tumeric and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum which rises to the top. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, and leave to cook for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the tomato sauce. Top the lentils up with some more water if the pan begins to boil dry.
  2. Put the shallots, garlic and ginger into a food processor and blitz into a paste. Fry this off in a tablespoon of olive oil for a minute. Then add the mustards seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds and cook for another 30 seconds until the seeds become aromatic and the mustard seeds begin to pop.
  3. Add the chilli flakes and garam masala to the paste and fry for another 30 seconds. Then, throw in the chopped tomatoes and simmer on the hob for fifteen minutes. When the sauce has thickened, add it to the lentils.
  4. Stir the tomatoes and lentils together thoroughly and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (if you have a rice cooker, this is exactly the amount of time it will take you to prepare a batch of rice). Once cooked, stir in the fresh coriander leaves and lemon juice. Garnish with a sprig of fresh coriander and serve either over pilau rice or scooped up with naan breads.
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Lamb Biryani

If procrastination was an Olympic sport, then I would definitely win a gold medal. Whenever I have a deadline dangling in front of my nose, I am immediately gripped with an urge to do a million and one things totally unrelated to the task at hand. “A 500 word feature due by 9am you say? Why, this presents me with the perfect opportunity to alphabetise my record collection!” Of course, I’m not alone in this. The esteemed Mr. Cay once wrote and recorded an entire album while procrastinating from a writing assignment. Putting things off until we absolutely positively have to do them or else appears to be all the rage in my house.

So, seeing as my diary is full of deadlines at the moment – the most important of these being get married – and I have a million and one things to do, it felt like the perfect time to make a dish for dinner which used practically every spice in my cupboards and every saucepan I own. “It will be a good chance for me to relax and de-stress!” I told myself as I inwardly wondered what insults would fly from my other half’s lips when he witnessed the vast amounts of washing up this would inevitably result in.

The recipe this Lamb Biryani is adapted from comes from a Saveur feature called ‘Queen of Spices’. After taking one look at the ingredients list, it’s not difficult to see why. Seeds and brightly coloured powders are sizzled, simmered and sprinkled throughout the cooking process, staining fingers and t-shirts alike. While lamb is the preferred protein here, it’s definitely not the star of the show. That’s left to the morass of different flavours that assault your tastebuds with every bite. Sometimes it’s cinnamon, other times it’s a hint of smoky black cardamom, or the sharp nasal-clearing hit of clove. It’s a dish which will make your kitchen smell like a souk – which is great if you live somewhere like Bootle, where the atmosphere usually smells of rotting grain or dockside tyre fires.

While this is a great dish to serve immediately (topped with a nice blob of natural yoghurt garnished with fresh mint and coriander), I would suggest making more than you need, as this produces some pretty sensational leftovers. As procrastination techniques go, this is the tastiest one I’ve discovered yet.

LAMB BIRYANI (Serves Four)

Adapted from Saveur.com

You will need:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. dried chilli flakes
  • 1⁄2 tsp. turmeric
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 pods green cardamom
  • 3 pods black cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 400g lamb shoulder, cut into even sized cubes cut into 2–3″ pieces
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 200g plain yogurt
  • A fistful of roughly chopped mint leaves
  • A fistful of roughly chopped coriander leaves
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 200g white basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Red/orange food color (optional)

Make It!

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable cup in a medium sized saucepan over a high heat. Add the onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally for 20–25 minutes until they become dark brown and caramelised. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining oil over a high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add the garam masala, dried chilli flakes, turmeric, 5 of the black peppercorns, 3 green cardamom pods, 1 black cardamom pod and 1 cinnamon stick.  Cook the spices for one minute until they become fragrant.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, green chillies, and ginger; and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring all the while.
  3. Add the cubed lamb, season with salt, and cook for around five minutes until lightly browned. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium; and simmer for an hour until the lamb is fork-tender. Add the fried onions, yoghurt, a sprinkle of mint, and a good handful of coriander.  Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes more and  Set aside.
  4. Put the saffron strands into a bowl, cover with 100ml of hot water and set aside. Bring 700ml of water to the boil in a good sized saucepan (alternatively, you can use your rice cooker for this step if you own one). Add the remaining peppercorns, green and black cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick, along with the rice, cumin, cloves, and bay leaves, and season with salt. Cook rice for 5-10 minutes until al dente. When done, drain and set aside.
  5. Transfer half the lamb curry to a large pot. Top the lamb curry with half of the rice. Pour half the saffron mixture onto the rice and mix with your fingers (the mixture will be hot, so take care not to burn yourself!) Top with remaining lamb curry and remaining rice, drizzle with the remaining saffron and mix. Steam, covered, for around 10 minutes until the rice is fragrant and tender, about 10 minutes. Garnish with the remaining mint and coriander, and serve.
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GUNPOWDER, TREASON AND CURRY

I’ve never really been able to get the point of Bonfire Night. I don’t know – call me a killjoy, but if I wanted to see a bunch of kids thrown a load of incendiaries at each other I’d take a nice relaxing holiday in downtown Kabul. And then there’s the weather. It’s truly horrible outside at the moment – the icy November wind cuts through you like a knife through butter, and the rain keeps coming down like sheets of wet bullets. Foolishly, I decided to wear ballet flats when embarking on my adventures today, so with every step I took, the damp seeped through the thin leopardprint fabric and turned all my sinews to ice.

So, I’ve decided to forgo the pleasures of standing in a damp field watching men in balaclavas set off damp Catherine Wheels to stay at home and watch them through a pane of glass instead. Besides, home has many things the outside world doesn’t. It has wine, episodes of The Restaurant and America’s Next Top Model, a gas fire, Miles Davis records and – possibly the best thing of all – all of the ingredients I require to make myself a stonking Lamb Curry.

I love curry. All kinds of curry – seriously, I’m not fussy. I’m as happy tucking into a large portion of Jamaican Curried Goat with Roti breads as I am plunging into a coconut-and-lemongrass-scented bowl of Thai Green Curry with sticky Jasmine rice.  And I love making it in my little kitchen at home. There’s something incredibly soothing about the sizzle and pop of mustard seeds frying in a pan, the measuring out tablespoons of tumeric and smashing cardomom pods with the flat side of  my knife, the smells of cinnamon, garlic and coriander wafting through the house, the small pools of oil which float to the surface, showing it’s cooking properly. I usually make this around once a week, and serve it with piles of steamed basmati rice – seasoned with saffron fronds if I’m feeling flush.

This recipe is inspired by a South African curry recipe I found in an old copy of the Guardian in the waiting room of a Sexual Health clinic. Proof, if ever you needed it, that I am always thinking of food, even when discussing birth control methods.  It’s the perfect thing to tuck into when it’s cold outside, and the thought of stepping outdoors to watch  people set fire to things causes you to hunker down in your favourite piece of knitware and wrap your arms around the nearest radiator. Indeed, if you’re in an exotic frame of mind, you could even choose to turn your gas fire up to full and pretend you’re basking in the warmth of a South African afternoon. Not that I’d ever do such a thing of course.

LAMB CURRY (Serves Four)

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 onions sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic crushed
  • 1 tub of passata
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 large portion of lamb mince
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger powder
  • 3 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1- 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
  • 1½ cups (about 375ml) lamb stock

Make It!

  1. Heat the oil, and fry the mustard seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves in the oil until they release their aroma.
  2. Fry your lamb mince until brown
  3. Add the butter and the onions and fry until translucent then add the garlic and tomato puree and stir through.
  4. Add your passata and cook over a low heat to form a thick sauce. When you see the oil coming to the top of the sauce add the  ginger, coriander, cumin, chilli and turmeric.
  5. Braise the curry with 1½ cups of lamb stock. Cover your pan and cook for around 45 minutes. Then take the lid off, and simmer for another 30 minutes until a rich, thick sauce has formed.
  6. Serve with steamed basmati rice, flavoured with either saffron or cardamon pods, and roti breads.
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