A few weeks ago I made my first Indian curry paste from scratch (see the recipe for Lamb Curry here) and was so pleased with the results that I started planning a curry evening with some friends to explore my new hobby further. I was sure that I could handle knocking up a few dishes at the same time and, keen to impress, I even decided to make my own pilau rice rather than serving up my usual plain basmati. Here I'm sharing my favourite dishes from the evening: Lamb Hyderabadi, Carrot and Chickpea Salad, and Pilau Rice.
The main event - Lamb Hyderabadi (serves 4-6)
This recipe is courtesy of my Big Sis (originally adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Bible, I think) and is a firm favourite in our family. It is really easy to make and tastes amazing. The flavours are very distinct and create a really memorable, unique curry dish.
For the turmeric infused orange rind
1 large orange
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
For the minced lamb curry
3 tbsp corn or peanut oil (I use groundnut oil, which is fine but will not cause the onion to change colour when fried)
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into fine half-rings
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
900g minced lamb (mine was local meat from Cambridge market)
0.5 tsp ground turmeric
0.5 tsp ground cayenne pepper
250ml freshly squeezed orange juice (2-3 small oranges)
1.5 tsp salt
1-3 fresh hot green chillies, sliced into very fine rounds
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp Garam Masala
1. Prepare the orange rind by peeling the orange, leaving the white pith behind, and cutting the rind into very fine, 2.5cm long julienne strips. Set the rind and orange aside.
2. Add the turmeric and salt to 1.5 litres of water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Once boiled, pour half of the turmeric water into a measuring jug and reserve. Add the orange rind to the pan and boil the water rapidly for one minute.
3. Pour the orange rind and turmeric water from the pan through a sieve set over the sink. Then add the reserved turmeric water from the measuring jug to the pan, with the orange rind, and boil again for one minute. Once again, strain through a sieve into the sink and rinse the orange rind under cold running water. Set the rind aside for later.
4. Allow an hour before serving to cook the curry. First, heat the oil in a large non-stick pan with a lid over a medium high heat. When it is hot, add the onions and fry for 6-7 minutes. If using corn or peanut oil, the onion will turn reddish-brown. With another type of oil, such as groundnut oil, the onion will soften and start to turn golden-brown.
5. Add the cumin and coriander and fry for 30 seconds, stirring it into the onion. Then add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for a further minute.
6. Next, add the natural yoghurt one tablespoon at a time, stirring each one in until it is absorbed. The spices and onion mixture will lighten and turn a light-brown, reminiscent of a Korma-style curry.
7. Add the minced lamb, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Stir the meat to break up any lumps and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the orange juice, orange rind and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer.
8. Cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture gently for 40 minutes.
9. To finish the curry, 10 minutes before serving add the chopped chillies (according to taste), coriander, mint and Garam Masala and stir to mix. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Serve with extra chopped coriander, if desired, and rice or flat breads such as Chapati.
An Indian Salad - Carrot & Chickpeas (Serves 4 - 6)
I've made this salad a few times in the past, to accompany barbequed spicy chicken thighs and as a light side dish with a Thai beef massaman curry, and it has always been a hit. It is light, refreshing and not as heavy as some typical vegetable-based Indian side dishes. The recipe is adapted from an Indian food range recipe card by Tesco.
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed and lightly toasted
3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp mild honey
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of mint leaves, chopped
1. Toast the crushed coriander seeds in a hot dry pan until just fragrant. Keep it moving so they don't burn.
2. Combine the shredded carrots (I use a food processor grating attachment but a hand grater works just fine too) with the chickpeas, honey and oil. Toss with the toasted coriander seeds.
3. Stir in the juice of half a lemon and add a generous sprinkling of chopped mint when ready to serve. Mix well and season to taste, ensuring that the coriander seeds have not sunk to the bottom of the dish. Serve with natural yoghurt and a robust, spiced curry.
On the Side - Homemade Pilau Rice (serves 4)
I'm terrified of cooking rice so scoured the 'net with trepidation after deciding to make my own pilau rice. I found many easy recipes, including this one from BBC Food, and found that when it came to making the rice I used my intuition about the amount of stock/water, how long to keep it on the heat, etc, and had none of the usual sticking and overcooking issues. Success!
450g basmati rice, use an authentic basmati rice rather an easy-cook version where possible
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Large knob of butter
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch of saffron threads
2 bay leaves
600ml vegetable stock
Salt, to taste
1. For best results (i.e. nice, fluffy, soft rice), rinse the uncooked rice in fresh, cold water several times and soak for up to 30 minutes in cold water. I left enough time to rinse under running water for a couple of minutes and soak in a bowl of cold water for about ten minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large pan and cook the onion until softened (about 5-8 minutes). Add the spices, saffron and bay leaves and cook for a couple more minutes.
3. Ensure the rice is well-drained and add to the pan, stirring it in with the onions and spices so that the grains are coated in the mixture. Add the stock and salt and bring to the boil.
4. Take off the heat whilst you cover with a tight-fitting lid or foil followed by a lid. Turn the heat down to low and place the rice pan back over the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Don't remove the lid, just trust that it is not sticking. Turn the heat off after 10 minutes and leave the lid on for a further 5 minutes to enable the rice to finish cooking.
5. When you open the lid, the water should be completely absorbed and any stuck rice has loosened during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Fluff up with a fork, garnish with chopped coriander, if desired, and serve.
The Wine - a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with great acidity
I'm sure I'm not the first person to fret about matching curry dishes with wine; it's quite difficult and sometimes a bit of a gamble. With last minute menu changes and a non-saucy lamb curry on the agenda, I found myself at Cambridge Wine Merchants on Saturday afternoon in a mild state of panic, I must say, as I weighed up the pros and cons of red versus white, safe Riesling / Gruener Veltliner / Gewurztraminer choices versus tempting crisp, citrus fruity Sauvignon Blancs. The Cambridge Wine Blogger had been kind enough to recommend a whole host of options, which I clutched like a shopping list (or safety blanket) to my chest as I span back and forth from shelves of wines from Italy, France, New Zealand, and Austria.
I decided to go for a white wine with a red as a back up and some nice familiar beers. Breaking from tradition, I chose to serve a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Waipara Springs, New Zealand, to match to the lamb curry and chickpea salad. It worked surprisingly well. The curry was sweetly citrus flavoured, from the warm mix of spices and the turmeric infused orange rind, and fairly spicy from the lightly cooked green chillies and strongly-flavoured coriander leaves. The wine had a great aromatic, citrus fruitiness to it, which seemed to hold its own against the lamb and orange in the curry. It was also crisp and mouth-wateringly acidic, in a good, punchy Sauv Blanc kind of way, and created a vibrant, well-rounded accompaniment to the already refreshing chickpea salad and paired well with the moist curry, perhaps even better than other curries because the wine didn't need to fight against a rich sauce. The curry was fiery and fragrant but the wine cut through it, with an elegant bouquet of herbs and lime of its own. For under ten pounds, this wine was a great dinner party-pleaser.
Want to know more about wine? Check out the Cambridge Wine Blogger's fantastic blog here and read his wine matching guest blog post on this Blog here.