Kadai Murgh — chicken curry

chicken curry

“Must-stop-baking-cakes,” I muttered to myself as I browsed the blog of this month’s partner for Taste & Create, Happy Cook of My Kitchen Treasures. I seem to have baked a lot of cakes recently, many of them from my T&C partners or other bloggers, and the effects on my waistline are noticeable.

It wasn’t easy though; there were quite a few sweet dishes I fancied trying, such as Apricot-Marzipan Bundles, or coffee-craisin-mascarpone loaf. Or moelleux au chocolat. Or raspberry financiers. Well, you get the picture. HC likes making panna cotta too, and I love panna cotta.

But still, I tore myself away and decided that since HC obviously knows what she’s talking about when it comes to Indian food, I would make Kadai Murgh. Excellent choice — we both really liked it, and scraped our plates clean. I served it with a Basmati rice pilau and some yoghurt — sadly no Geeta’s mango chutney, because our local Carrefour doesn’t stock it any more — most upsetting.

This dish is dead easy to make; you can do it in little more time than it takes to cook the rice. Mine doesn’t look quite like HC’s, because I couldn’t get any tandoori powder, so I had to make do with a spoonful of paprika and some ras-el-hanout. When I tasted it at the end of the cooking time, it was a bit too spicy for me, so I just added an extra spoonful of crème fraîche to tone it down. Definitely a keeper, so thanks HC!

Visit My Kitchen Treasures for the real recipe. Here I give my own way of making pilau rice; I’ve been doing it this way for years and it always produces rice that is not soggy or stuck together. Of course you can vary seasonings to suit yourself.

For two not very greedy people, take a glass or cup of about 220 ml capacity and fill it about 3/4 full with Basmati rice. Finely chop a small onion or a shallot or two, and crush a clove of garlic. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Soften the onion and garlic in it for a few minutes, then add the rice and stir to coat it with oil. Fill the glass to the top with cold water, pour into the pan, and stir once just to loosen anything that might have stuck. If you like your rice a bit more cooked than I do, you can add a little more water — a tablespoon or two. Season to taste: I use salt, pepper, two or three crushed cardamom pods, and a bay leaf. Sometimes I add crushed coriander seeds or cumin too. Put on the lid, turn down the heat to very low, and leave to cook completely undisturbed for 15 minutes. Do not take off the lid or stir!

At the end of this time you can take a peek; all the water should have been absorbed, and you can test the rice by eating a bit. If it’s done, turn off the heat and stir it up a bit in case it’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. It will keep warm with the lid on for another 10 minutes or so.

Potato galette

I adapted this from a recipe by Jeremy Lee of the Blueprint Café. It’s rather like pommes Anna, only made with duck fat instead of butter. OK, neither of them is very good for you, but it’s not something you’re going to eat every day! Serve with a simple roast; we had it with the pot-roasted pork I posted a couple of days ago. It is crispy on the outside and melting in the middle — lovely!

Really it should be turned out, but a galette made with enough potatoes for 9 people was so large and so dense I just served it straight from the dish, using a slotted spoon so it wasn’t swimming in fat. If yours is smaller, do turn it out.
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Gorgonzola risotto

Gorgonzola risotto

One more recipe for the cookbook challenge. I had just one question about this: would it be as good as Rossella’s fabulous pear and gorgonzola risotto? Answer: not quite. It’s a plain risotto with gorgonzola and parmesan melted into it and a garnish of fried onions and apples. We felt there wasn’t really enough gorgonzola, but I liked the slight crunch of the apples in contrast to the creamy rice. Nicky managed to take a presentable photo of hers; I tried, but I can’t say the same. Well, I’ve already established that risotto is not photogenic!

Brown Tom

Brown tom ready to eat

This recipe inaugurates a new tag of “frugal food”, which seems appropriate in these credit-crunch times. Made mainly of ripe tomatoes and stale bread, it costs almost nothing, and can make a light vegetarian main course along with a green vegetable or salad. Carnivores can have it as a substantial side dish with a roast — less meat needed! And of course I wouldn’t be posting it if it wasn’t delicious. The bottom layer of crumbs soaks up the juices, while the top is brown and crunchy.

I habitually whiz stale ends of bread to crumbs in the blender and then store them in the freezer in ziploc bags, as they are useful for so many things. So I used some of those for this, and the last of the season’s tomatoes. It’s really best made with the ripest, reddest tomatoes you can find. If they’re a bit pale, up the garlic and herbs to compensate.
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Caramelized apple, onion and cheese risotto

Caramelized apple, onion and cheese risotto

Taste & Create time, and I seem to be firmly stuck in the risotto groove. My partner this month is Cuisine Heart, and after browsing her blog I found several recipes to interest me. After the fabulous pear and gorgonzola risotto, I was tempted by her caramelized apple, onion and cheese risotto. Also I was running out of time, and it was easy and quick to do, using ingredients from the storecupboard. It’s basically a standard risotto method, except that you caramelize the apples and onions instead of just gently softening them in the oil, and use dry cider instead of white wine.

Verdict: OK, it is not up to pear and gorgonzola standards, but it was delicious and unusual. The only cheese I had was a stub of Comté and lots of parmesan, so I made do with those and didn’t add cream at the end. I loved the tart fruitiness of the cider and apple. We ate it on its own, but it would be nice as an accompaniment to roast pork. The photo is just further proof of how unphotogenic risotto is.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille makes it a real pleasure to be vegetarian. Don’t get me wrong; far too often, “ratatouille” is a mushy, tomatoey mess swimming in red, slightly sour juices. Sometimes it even has carrots in it. That is not the dish I’m talking about. The real thing is a lot more work, but well worth the effort –especially as it’s even better when left overnight. It’s equally good hot or at room temperature, as a main course or as an accompaniment to grilled or roast lamb for confirmed carnivores.

I learned to do it decades ago from that holy bible of French cuisine, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Beck, Bertholle, and Child. Even Julia and her friends, who are no strangers to hard work, admit it’s a lot of effort. But my very first attempt at their recipe proved how worthwhile the extra work was and now I never do it any other way. As with moussaka and lasagne, I do generally make more than we intend to eat, and either eat the leftovers the following day, or freeze them.

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Tomatoes stewed in olive oil

A typically simple dish from the Roux brothers, one where the ingredients “ont le gout de ce qu’ils sont”, as Curnonsky said. You need proper ripe tomatoes for this, and the best olive oil you can lay your hands on (I used the last of our designer Tuscan oil). It requires no last-minute attention and can be served hot or at room temperature, so it’s good for entertaining.

Serve with grilled or roast meat, or just on their own, with good bread to mop up the juice. Keep any left-over juice to add to salad dressings or sauces.

Source: the Roux brothers’ French Country Cooking.

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Le vrai gratin dauphinois

Someone asked today how to make a gratin dauphinois without the cream separating and going oily. This is Edouard de Pomiane’s answer. However, I often leave out the flour with no ill effect. He specifies white Dutch potatoes — I’m not sure what he means by this, but I generally use waxy ones, as that’s about all we can get round here. Quantities are not very exact.

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