Thursday, 28 July 2011

Chicken Madras with Saffron rice and Spinach Paratha

Chicken madras uses a lot of spices but the blend makes a really good hot spicy curry and tastes great.

I used chicken breast for this delicious curry but chicken thighs are also good and probably more economical.

For the chicken madras

2lb chicken, cut into 1" pieces
8 oz onion, sliced
4 oz sliced fresh tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 oz fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 black cardomom pods, black inner seeds only
2" cinnamon stick
5 cloves
4 oz ghee or butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp med hot chilli powder
1/2 pint water
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 fresh green chillies, chopped (keep the seeds in if you like very hot curry)

Melt the ghee in a large frying pan or heat proof casserole, fry the onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger over a moderate heat until the onion is golden brown.

Add the rest of the spices except the garam masala and green chillies and fry gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Add the meat and continue to cook over a gentle heat, stirring until the meat is well coated in the spice mixture.

Add the water and simmer gently for 15 minutes until the chicken is tender.  Sprinkle over the garam masala, lemon juice and chopped chilli, leave it to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

For the saffron rice

12oz basmati rice
½ tsp ground saffron threads, infused in 4 tbsp hot water
salt and freshly groundblack pepper

Place the rice into a large saucepan and cover with enough water to reach about 2.5cm/1in above the rice. Add the saffron and its soaking water and place the pan over a high heat.

As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cover the pan with a lid. Cook gently for 8-10 minutes, without stirring, or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the spinach paratha

1 cup whole-wheat flour
Water (Use as needed)
250g fresh spinach, cooked, drained and blended to a puree
Pinch of salt
3-4 teaspoon of oil
1/2 cup dry flour to roll

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and pureed spinach add a little water and mix well until it forms to soft dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly greased surface. The dough should be very smooth and soft.

Set the dough aside, cover and let it rest for at least ten minutes before cooking.

Place a griddle over a medium heat . To check if it is ready, put a couple of drops of water on it. If the water sizzles right away, it's ready.

Divide the dough into 5 equal parts. Roll it to about 3 inch diameter circles. Spread about 2 drops of oil and fold into two again put another drop of oil and fold into a triangle.

Roll it in dry whole-wheat flour. Press it a little and start rolling on a clean surface to about 6 inches in diameter.

Place the Paratha on the griddle. When it starts to puff up, turn the paratha over.

Cook for a few minutes on the other side and serve warm.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Afternoon Tea

Rich Chocolate Tray-Bake with Truffles

What a great tradition afternoon tea is, especially when the weather has taken a turn for the worse.  A small piece of cake and a cuppa is just what is needed.

The truffles were a present from a trip abroad and are delicious but to stop me consuming too many at once I thought this would be a good way to share them.

The chocolate tray bake is quite rich, so I cut them quite small.  If you find truffles are a bit much, a chocolate button will do just as well.

for the cake

4 oz self-raising flour
1 scant tsp baking powder
4 oz butter, softened
4 oz golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water

1 x 8" square cake tin lined with parchment paper

Pre-heat the oven to 190C

Using a hand held electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter together then gradually add the eggs.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until pale and fluffy.

Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes.  To test  insert a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is ready, if there is wet mixture leave for a couple more minutes then test again.

Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

For the icing

3 oz butter, softened
3 oz icing sugar
1 oz cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
Seive the icing sugar and cocoa together

Beat the butter and coffee mixture together then gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa, beating well after each addition until the mixture is light and creamy.  Set aside but do not refrigerate.

When the cake has cooled completely spread the icing over the top then cut into small squares and decorate with truffles (or chocolate buttons).

Friday, 1 July 2011

Spicy new potatoes with spinach and tomatoes

This is a lovely accompaniment to any meat or rice dish but also delicious with just a chapati and some mint and cucumber raita.

If you prefer a mild spice omit one of the chillies, for a really spicy dish add 1 more but make plenty of raita.
For the spicy new potatoes

700g new potatoes, boiled in salted water until tender
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
2" root ginger, peeled and grated
2 small red chillies, cut into thin strips
6 tomatoes, chopped
400g spinach, washed and cooked in a little salted water until wilted, then drained
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan, over a medium heat add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute until they begin to pop.  Add the turmeric and stir fry for a few minutes more.  Then add the ginger, tomatoes and potatoes, stir to combine then cook for 5-6 minutes more.

Test the seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Chop the spinach and add to the pan along with the chopped coriander and strips of chilli.  Stir gently to avoid breaking up the potatoes.

Serve hot with a freshly made chapati.

For the chapatis

280g chapati flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
220ml warm water

Sift the salt and flour into a bowl, pour in the water and mix to a soft dough.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside for at least 1 hour.

To make the chapatis

Take a piece of dough the size of a golf ball, place on a floured surface and roll out thinly to a large circle.  Heat a heavy based frying pan and cook the chapatis for 1 minute each side, if you press down the edges with a cloth bubbles will form.  Continue to cook the remainder of the dough and wrap the chapatis in a tea towel until ready to serve.

Seafood Paella

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