Sunday, October 23, 2005

An Indian feast: Brinjal Masala, Chicken korma, Gobi matar & Strawberry Shrikhand

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.
(Praetud pommuviilud)

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…

Chicken korma

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)
paprika powder

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
(Vürtsine lillkapsaroog)

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).


Anne said...

Yum! I *always* order Korma when I eat at Indian restaurants, so I'll definitely be trying out this recipe!

Kalyn Denny said...

Your food looks delicious. Good photos and I like your recipe choices too.

chili&vanilia said...

Hi Pille,
all these look really good, I hope your friends liked it!I too love Indian food but it's still quite uncommon in Hungary,we have only a few, expensive Indian restaurants in Budapest. So I'm in the "learning phase" I tried an aloo gobi which turned out to be great. I'm going to try your chicken korma!

Sandeep said...

Very nice. Looks like my home-cooked food !!
In India, we have pickles called aachaar, which are..lets just say more lethal than nukes. But the interesting thing was my Estonian friends used to dig that.
Their face used to go all red and tomato-like, but they simply could'nt stop eating!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, everything looks fantastic! I made a huge Indian meal last week when my mom was visiting - we're still eating leftovers. Luckily most Indian dishes only get better as they age ;)

Your recipe for brinjal looks especially good (and easy) - I'll have to give it a try!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, Truly a feast :) As Nicky and I have somewhat divided up cuisines amongst us - ie. anything Asian related I cover - I treasure Indian recipes more than ever. Thanks for sharing them, they all look fabulous! Hope you had a great time -

Anonymous said...

What a feast! And nice colorful dishes, too. Just the way I like them. ;-)


Pille said...

Anne - so we both prefer the milder Indian dishes:) Let me know how it worked out!

Kalyn - thanks for your compliments. I still have so much to learn about food photography thou!

Zsofi - I liked the look of your aloo gobi as well! There are quite a few Indian restaurants in Tallinn, but just like in Budapest, they tend to be on the expensive side. Plenty of cheap ones in Scotland though:)

Sandeep - thanks!! I'm glad it looks like your home cooked food - that's quite a compliment:)
I'm intrigued by your Estonian friends. I'd probably find aachaar way too lethal..

Thanks, Melissa! I would love to read about your Indian meal - hopefully soon!? Brinjal was easy - though I didn't try the "proper" version with chilli. But I thought the smoky pimento paprika worked really well, so I don't mind..

Oliver - I like the idea of you and Nicky having divided up cuisines amongst you:) I enjoyed the meal - and the exotic smells in the kitchen!!

Paz - happy to have pleased your visual senses. I knew you'd like the brightness of these dishes:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, oh yes, I know I am rather late ... but you are such a busy "poster" that I can hardly catch up ! And being keen on Asian food as well I have especially taken interest in reading about your Indian feast. Must be great to have you as a hostess ! Looking forward to reading more, best regards from Vienna and angelika

Nupur said...

Everything looks delicious and authentic! I am so happy that you like food from my country :)

Courtney said...

Hey, Pille!

I just loved reading this post... I quoted it on the Naughty Curry Indian spice blog under 'Random spice-Punx'.
Keep at it, girl!

Pille said...

Angelika - I will slow down a bit from now on, with Christmas coming soon, and the new job in January:)
I'm pleased you like my Indian feast - I'd be delighted to cook it for you!

Nupur - thank you so much for your compliment!!! I was actually surprised how easy it was to put the meal together and I will definitely try these and other Indian dishes again soon..

Hi Courtney - thanks for linking to me! I only now found the correct column to look for myself at your blog - I guess I'm a bit slow:)

Chef Jeena said...

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Click here for jeenas food recipe blog :-)

Doug and Beth said...

Chicken korma

Absolutely amazing. I adapted it by adding potatoes. I was able to hide the creme fraiche taste from my husband with extra curry - he thinks he doesn't like creme fraiche until I mask it with amazing flavors. I'm so glad I found you!