Tuesday, November 4, 2008

3 curries

Two lamb curries and a spicy veg stew.
Spicy and sweet flavour combinations. Dairy free, wheat free, gluten free.

Lamb and pumpkin curry

This uses a basic Indian spice mix and can be as hot or mild as you like. The pumpkin gives a thick and smooth consistency as well as a sweet taste. Dairy free, wheat free.

1 large onion, diced or sliced.
Ginger (about 1 inch, cut into fine slices)
Quarter of a medium size pumpkin, peeled and diced into smallish cubes.
Vegetable oil for frying
¾ to 1 kilo of lamb diced into large cubes
4 fresh tomatoes
1-2 Bay leaves
4 Cardamom pods (pound to open pod slightly)
1 cinnamon quill (or equivalent cinnamon/cassia bark)
1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)

Spice mix:

1 teaspoon each of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, and two teaspoons coriander seeds. Dry-fry in a pan or saucepan until giving off strong aroma, then grind to powder with a mortar & pestle. Mix in 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or to your taste), 1 teaspoon tumeric powder, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Prepare the spice mix as above.
Heat the oil in a large pot, add the chopped onion and ginger. Fry on high heat until onion begins to brown. Add spice mix, a little water to moisten, and pumpkin. Fry briefly then add lamb and tomatoes. Stir thoroughly then add water to cover with the bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon. Bring to boil, stirring, then reduce heat and simmer (stirring occasionally) until pumpkin disintegrates into dish. Add salt and extra chilli as needed. Serve with sprinkling of fresh greens such as parsley or coriander, and plenty of rice. Should serve 6-10 with sufficient rice.

Lamb and spinach curry
As with all my recipes this one is wheat free and dairy free; in this case it's also gluten free. I don't know if it could be adapted to a vegetarian recipe very easily but you're welcome to try!

Dry spice mix
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp laos (galangal) powder (optional)
½ tsp cinnamon powder
chilli powder to taste (suggest 1-2 tsp hot)

3 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil e.g. sunflower)
2 medium onions, diced roughly
1" piece of ginger, sliced thinly
3-6 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)

Main bulk & sauce
1 kg mutton or lamb, diced roughly
4 large tomatoes, chopped in halves or quarters
3 tbsp almond meal
1 pint (1/2 litre or 2 cups) boiling water
chopped spinach (250g frozen packet or 1 bunch fresh)
2 tsp tamarind concentrate or 2cm cube of tamarind pulp soaked in a quarter cup of hot water.
salt to taste

Preparing the spice
Heat a small saucepan on high heat and add the cumin, fennel, coriander and fenugreek. Shake saucepan around lightly to allow seeds to settle across bottom. After a minute or two the fragrance of the spices will be rising strongly – then tip them all into a mortar (before they start to smoke!). Add peppercorns and grind with pestle until all seeds are crushed to powder. Add other dry spices and mix together.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan or wok on high heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic and stir-fry until onion is caramelised (turning translucent) and sautee is giving off strong aroma. Add dry spice mix and stir. When it is thoroughly infused into oil (before it burns) add the diced meat. Stir it until the oil and spice mixture is thoroughly coating the meat. Continue stirring until meat is browned all over, splashing a little hot water into wok/pan any time the mix starts to stick.

Once the meat is browned, add almond milk (to make: mix almond meal into paste with a little cold water, then add boiling water and mix). Stir gently. When it is boiling add the tomatoes and stir gently. When boiling, turn heat down and simmer. (About now would be a good time to put some rice on!) Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. When the liquid has reduced and thickened a bit, but not yet sticking to pot/wok too much, add the tamarind and salt. Continue to simmer, stirring more frequently, until the sauce is quite thick and is beginning to stick to the pot/wok. Add the (defrosted/chopped) spinach, mix in thoroughly, then add one last tablespoon of oil and turn the heat up to full. Stir vigorously as it heats up and fries the curry for a couple of minutes. Then you can turn the heat off and it is ready to serve!

Spicy pumpkin stew

I like a sweet and spicy dish. This recipe uses pumpkin for both sweetener and thickener, and can be used as a template for cooking with a wide variety of ingredients (it's only a stew, after all!). This can be a meat or vegetarian recipe as you please, and is dairy and wheat free (providing the stock and vinegar don't have wheat). Serves 6-8, and takes about 1 hour to cook.
The quantities, and range, of spices in this recipe are pretty over the top. I was in an odd mood when I made it; but the end result was pleasing to me! If you're cautious, use less spices.

1 large onion
¼ of a medium size pumpkin
1 large zucchini (aka courgette)
Vegetarian version: 3 cans Borlotti beans
Non-vegetarian version: 1 can Borlotti beans and 500g diced chicken on the bone, pork, or stewing meat of your choice)
Half litre vegetable stock
1 bulb of garlic (or less if you prefer!)
1 cinnamon quill
3 whole cloves
2-3 Bay leaves
12 Pimentos (Allspice) or 1 tablespoon of ground allspice if whole pimentos unavailable.
1 whole nutmeg, ground (or 2 teaspoons nutmeg powder)
1 teaspoon chilli/paprika powder
2-6 small pickled (or fresh) chillies (optional – hot or mild, to taste)
Oil for frying
brown or red wine vinegar

1. Prepare stock if making from cubes or powder.
2. Chop the pickled/fresh chillies if using, chop the onion roughly, chop the pumpkin into smallish pieces
3. Heat 2 tablespoons frying oil in a large pot. Add the chillies and onion and fry on high heat, stirring, until onions start to brown. Add pumpkin and meat (if you are using it)
4. Splash in 1 or 2 tablespoons vinegar and stir, then pour in stock and add cinnamon quill, cloves, bay leaves, pimentos, chilli powder, nutmeg.
5.Peel the garlic cloves and add to pot whole. Chop zucchini into round slices and add to dish. Top up with boiling water to more-or-less cover vegetables and meat.
6. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid off. Add 2-3 (heaped) teaspoons of salt. Drain canned borlotti beans and add.
7. Simmer until the pumpkin has begun to disintegrate into the stew. You can crush it with the stirring spoon to verify. It should act like a thickener.
8. Serve with lots of steamed rice

You can adjust the quantities of spice to suit the tastes of those you are cooking for (especially chilli and garlic). You can substitute different vegetables for the zucchini (okra, celery, tomato etc) or just leave it out, omit the beans or use a different kind, substitute something else like sweet potato for the pumkpin and so on.

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