I cooked another dinner for the Estonian gang last week here in Edinburgh. Introducing them to the local cuisine, we feasted upon brinjal masala, chicken korma, gobi matar, strawberry shrikhard, and masala chai . Indian food is extremely popular in Scotland, and here's my version of a home-cooked Indian feast. All cooked from scratch, not a ready made curry paste or sauce on sight, although I did use a shop bought curry powder for the korma. And it was all on the table within an hour. Not bad, I think, for my first full Indian feast..
Brinjal Masala or deep fried aubergines/eggplants.
The recipe for deep fried aubergines is from the October 2000 issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated, and I modified it only slightly. Instead of 2 large aubergines I used 6 baby aubergines (the long and thin type), which I sliced thickly and deep-fried golden brown in sunflower oil. After draining them on kitchen paper, I sprinkled them with smoked pimento powder (Waitrose prescribed chilli powder, but I wanted something smoky and not too hot) and Maldon sea salt flakes.
Mmm. It must have been good. By the time I finished cooking the rice for the main course, the bowl of brinjal masala was suspiciously empty. It was good then that I ‘tasted’ couple when making them…
This recipe comes from the World Food supplement of the September 2001 issue of Family Circle. It was the first Indian curry I made from scratch, and I was very pleased with the result. Easy to make, creamy and delicious and very mild curry. Serving a vindaloo to an inexperienced Estonian palates may result in never having to cook a curry to my fellow nationals again, as they’d avoid me like plague. And as I like to cook for friends, I reckoned it’s best to start with something safe and mild as to make sure that I won’t be dining in solitude in the future..
1 tbsp olive oil
4 skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized chunks)
1 chopped onion
2 crushed garlic cloves
3 crushed cardamom pods
2 tsp mild curry powder*
1 tsp turmeric
50 grams of flaked almonds
3-4 dl (low fat) crème fraiche
salt & pepper
225 grams fresh spinach (preferably baby leaf; wash and drain thoroughly and chop roughly)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add chicken and cook until browned. Remove and set aside.
Add onion, garlic, cardamom, curry powder and turmeric to the pan. Cook on a low-ish heat until onion has softened.
Return fried chicken to pan, add crème fraiche and season with salt and pepper. Heat through and simmer for some 5 minutes.
Add spinach and heat through until spinach has wilted.
Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika.
* I used the Finnish Santa Maria brand that contains coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin and ‘other seasonings’. Whatever that means then:)
Serve with a salad of red onions and cucumber.
Gobi matar or cauliflower and peas with cumin
This is from October 2005 issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated. I am a great fan of cauliflower, and usually eat it either boiled and smothered with browned butter and breadcrumbs, or grated raw and mixed with sour cream and seasoned with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. This was my first ‘exotic’ cauliflower dish, and I really liked it. I imagine it would be lovely as an accompaniment to a piece of grilled meat as well.
salt and pepper
4 tsp ground turmeric
350 grams cauliflower florets
200 grams of frozen petit pois
3 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of chilli flakes
fresh coriander for garnish
Bring a pan of water to the boil, add turmeric and salt and cauliflower florets. Cook until cauliflower is almost done (like in al dente). Add frozen peas for the last minute or two. Drain (and leave to cool, if you are preparing this in advance.)
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add cumin seeds and fry, until seeds start popping and crackle. Add cauliflower and peas and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until cauliflower starts to colour.
Season with salt, pepper and chilli, sprinkle with coriander and serve hot.
Strawberry Shrikhand or spiced yogurt with strawberries
This was the dessert, published in the Flavours of India supplement of November 2005 issue of delicious. I mixed a 500 gram tub of Total Greek yogurt with some sugar, chopped strawberries, crushed cardamom seeds from 5 cardamom pods, divided the shrikhand between glasses and decorated with chopped pistachios and strawberries. Nice and easy, but next time I’ll add a tiny amount of rosewater for an added exotic touch.
For drinks: beer, water, and finally a nice cup of Chai Masala (from The Whittard of Chelsea, seasoned with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves).