Monday, 31 December 2007

Jhinge Ka Pulao (Spicy Prawns and Rice)

Since discovering the wealth of recipes to be found on the web, especially those published on many of the food blogs I now regularly read, I find that I hardly ever feel to the need to seek out a recipe book. That said, I do like to occasionally flick through one of my few recipe books at the weekend to get ideas for meals. This Christmas, I received another two books, both with good flick-through properties and today, I decided to give one of the recipes I found a try.

My sister got me The Indian Kitchen by Monisha Bharadwaj, a really interesting book, with more emphasis on the ingredients, rather than the recipes themselves. Definitely a nice format for a book of this kind, and with lots of nice photos and illustrations too. There’s more than one ingredient mentioned that I’d never even heard of, and so I decided to make one of the easiest recipes, for which I had all the required spices already, just to be on the safe side. I also added some peas which weren’t in the original recipe.

This really was a quick and easy recipe, and I can definitely see myself making this one fairly often. Still, I’m going to have to go ingredient hunting soon to try out some of the others.

Recipe for Jhinge Ka Pulao (Serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons of Sunflower Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Thumb of Ginger, minced
  • 200g Uncooked Prawns, shelled and de-veined
  • 1 cup of Basmati Rice
  • 3 tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon of Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Coriander
  • Half teaspoon of Salt
  • 1.5 cups of Hot Water
  • 1 cup of Peas
  • 3 tablespoons of Fresh Coriander, finely chopped

Using a heavy bottomed pan (with a lid), heat up the oil, add the Cumin Seeds, and when they begin to pop, add the Onion, Garlic and Ginger. Fry for about 5 minutes until starting to brown. Then add the prawns and cook until translucent. Next put in the rice and stir in until all the rice is shiny. Drop in the powdered spices, salt and Tomato Ketchup and stir in well before adding a little water to help deglaze the pan, then the rest of it. The whole thing should be brought to a simmer, then covered until the rice is cooked and has absorbed the liquid. Stir once or twice using a wooden spoon during this time. Finally, stir in the Fresh Coriander and serve.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Beef Kerala, or maybe just Beef Curry Stew

I had various plans for cooking this weekend, but in the end, I decided I wanted something nice and warming, and with a bit of red meat for a change. Laura was going to come for dinner and didn't want to eat Lamb, so Beef it was. I really liked the Chicken Kerala recipe I made a few weeks ago, so decided to hunt the web for some ideas for a Beef equivalent.

I found a number of slightly different recipes, but which tended to follow the same theme, with one of the common differences between the Beef and Chicken variety being the addition of Black Mustard Seeds and Green Cardamom Pods. Also, none of them seemed to have as much in the way of vegetables, so I decided to add a bit of what I had, in this case, some Fresh Peas, a bit of Cauliflower, Carrots and Potatoes. This is where it tended towards a stew I think. This and the fact that after normal cooking time had completed, and after a little taste, I decided that the beef wasn't anything like as tender as I like it, so I decided to keep slow cooking it in the oven for a couple more hours which worked great.

The resulting dish was definitely a cross between a curry and one of my more traditional stews, but with a very different flavour. Still, it was missing something on the flavour front, but I'm just not sure what, so I will have to have a little of the leftovers later to try and figure it out. The taste was fine, but just something missing.

Recipe for Beef Kerala (Serves 6)

  • 900g Casserole Steak (cubed)
  • 8 cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • 2" piece of Fresh Ginger (grated/minced)
  • Half teaspoon of Salt
  • Half teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Green Cardamom Pods (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves
  • 3 Green Chillies (sliced)
  • 3 Red Onions (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of Chilli Powder
  • Half teaspoon of Ground Turmeric
  • 4 Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 4 Potatoes (cubed)
  • Half Head of Cauliflower (cut into small florets)
  • 3 Carrots (julienned)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Peas
  • 400g Can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala

First marinate the Beef in the Ginger, Garlic, Salt and Pepper for about an hour.

Heat up the oil in a heavy pan and add the Cardamom and Mustard Seeds. When they start popping, add in the Curry Leaves, stir for a minute, then the Chilli, stir for a minute, then the Onion and continue to cook until going golden. Put the Coriander, Cumin, Chilli and Turmeric into a small bowl and mix with some hot water to make a thin paste, then add this to the pan and stir well.

Next, add the Beef and continue to stir for about 10 minutes until the beef is browned all over, then throw in the tomatoes and continue to cook for a few minutes. At this point, I added the rest of the vegetables and a cup of hot water, covered, and allowed to cook for about 40 minutes at a simmer. Next add the Coconut Milk and Garam Masala. Stir in and simmer for a further 5 minutes without letting it boil.

At this point, most of the recipes said to serve it, but after finding a fairly tough piece of beef at the top, I decided to put it into a 150 degree Celsius cover for the next few hours and see how it came out. For me, this worked well, and the resulting curry/stew was definitely one to keep you warm in winter, plus I could imagine up a number of variations. I'm pretty sure none of the other recipes added much in the way of vegetables other than the Onion and Chilli, but the tomatoes I added as the Chicken version I'd made had used them, and as I wasn't doing any other vegetable side dishes to go with it, I felt it necessary to add some other vegetables in there.

Definitely a recipe I'm going to make again in future, even if only to see if I can figure out what the missing flavour was, if indeed there was any. I could just have been my imagination.
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