Try This: Delicious Indian Curries at HomeBy Sorcha Pierce
Cooking curry – genuine, Indian curry – at home isn’t something I usually do. I’ve just always relied on the people who run the four or five thousand Indian restaurants in London to do it for me. That is until, I was taught how to make curry (genuine, Indian curry…) by Anjali Pathak.
And let me tell you people, my days of oily, tin foil takeaways are now officially over.
Anjali comes from the Pathak family, who famously ‘brought curry to Britain’. Her grandparents started selling Indian sweets from their home, the demand for which soon helped them expand to a shop and wider range of authentic Indian cooking pastes and sauces, then a national business the fruits of which line supermarket shelves today.
It’s very much a family affair – when she married into the family her mother left a promising modelling career in Mumbai to develop spice paste recipes in England; and Anjali is still involved with the brand to this day. Modern career woman that she is however, this is not the only string to Anjali’s bow, she’s also about to release a book, ‘Secrets from my Indian Family Kitchen’ full of the classic Indian recipes she has learnt growing up.
All the dishes we cooked were gluten free and utterly delicious. I also came away from the class with some amazing cooking tips: things which I would never consider being able to cook were so simple, and things which are so easy to mess up (I speak here, of our porridgy friend, rice) were a five minute stroll in the park!
The recipes we learned: Kale and Onion Bhajis, Perfect Spiced Rice, Chicken Tikka Masala, Cucumber and Mint Raita and Lentil Dhal cover starters, sides, mains and soups so you can try them out on their own or as part of a Dishoom style feast. Having consumed them all in one go, I’d advise the latter.
As well as being entirely gluten free (bar the naan…) cooking Indian food at home means that you have the ability to control the amount of oil you are using, which means that the calories are likely to be way lower than if you went to an Indian restaurant. Win. Win. Here’s some treats to make at home:
Kale and Onion Bhajis
An all-time Indian favourite, eaten at any time of the day. These are great to serve as snacks before a meal, or with a nice cup of Indian Chai.
Serves 4 (as a snack)
250g chick pea flour (gram flour / chana flour)
2 – 3 onions, sliced
juice of ½ lemon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cm root ginger, chopped (optional)
1 – 2 green chillies, chopped (optional)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
1½ tablespoons Patak’s Balti Paste
salt, to taste
water as required
vegetable oil for deep fryingIn a bowl mix together the chick pea flour, onions, lemon juice, garlic, ginger (if using), green chilli (if using), turmeric powder, fresh coriander, Patak’s Balti Paste and a good pinch of salt. Slowly start adding in the water, a little at a time, until a batter begins to form. It shouldn’t be too wet, nor it too dry. Just wet enough to coat all the onions. Heat the vegetable oil to 180C. Make a loose dumpling and carefully drop into the hot oil. You will know the oil is the correct temperature as the bhajia will sink and quickly rise to the surface. Add a few more being careful not to overcrowd the pan, and fry for 3 minutes or until they are a light golden brown. Turn them over and cook for a few minutes on the other side. Once golden brown remove using a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Taste the bhajia and adjust the seasoning if required. Make small dumplings with the remainder of the mixture and deep fry in batches until the bhajias are cooked through. Serve with Patak’s Mango Chutney
Cucumber & Mint Raita
Most Indian meals have a yoghurt accompaniment. This raita is simple and tastes great served alongside any main course.
300g thick Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
½ cucumber, grated on a cheese grater
½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder (optional)
juice of ½ lemon
pinch of sugar
salt, to taste
few mint leaves for garnish
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir. Check the seasoning and garnish with fresh mint leaves
Top Tip: It’s easy to make your own roasted cumin powder. Simply toast the seeds in a dry frying pan and remove once golden and aromatic. Coarsely grind in a pestle and mortar.
‘Dhal’ refers to lentils and ‘Tadka’ is the technique of tempering your spices to release their flavours and aromas. There are so many different varieties of lentils, and any will do, but I love to make this recipe with yellow lentils (toor dhal). Different cooks will add their own spice creations and so make sure you play around with your spice tin and see what works for you.’
250 g yellow lentils
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 black cardamom pods (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons root ginger, finely chopped
1-2 chillies, finely chopped (or more if you like it fiery)
2 spring onions, sliced (optional)
3 cherry tomatoes or 1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
½ teaspoon sugar, to taste
juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons fresh corianderWash the lentil in several changes of water and put in a deep saucepan with around 2 pints of water. Stir in the turmeric powder and add the black cardamom pods.Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Allow the lentils to cook through and soften. This should take around 30 minutes. Remove the foam that rises to the surface, and top up with water if it boils off too quickly. There should be plenty of water.When the lentils have softened it’s time to make the tadka. Gently heat the oil in a frying pan.Add the green caradmom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick. After a minute or so the green cardamom will start to lose its colour and the cloves will begin to swell. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds.When they start sizzling, which will only take a minute, stir in the garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onions. Saute for 2 minutes before adding the tomatoes.Stir well and leave to cook for a further minute before removing from the heat and pouring it all into the lentils. Add the salt, sugar, lemon juice and stir through the coriander.Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Perfect Pilau Rice
A traditional rice dish flavoured with aromatic spices. This recipe includes the royal spice ‘saffron’ and is a great way to avoid sticky rice
250g basmati rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pod (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 – 2 star anise (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole mace
1 – 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
good pinch of saffron
1 teaspoon salt, to tasteWash the rice in several changes of water and leave to soak in a large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. In a large pan add plenty of boiling water and add the whole spices and saffron. Drain the rice and add to the pan. Stir well before adding the salt. Stir and add the vegetable oil and allow to cook on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes. The rice should have a little bite to it before you remove from the heat and drain the water. Remove the whole spices before serving if you wish.