Chicken Korma

We’ve not yet made anything from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand which hasn’t been anything short of delicious. That said, we’ve tried lots of recipes for curries over the years and often find that there’s something missing… so we were curious to see what Diana’s recipe for chicken korma turned out like.

First thing you need to know here is that this recipe takes a long time. I think end to end I was probably in the kitchen for about 2 hours. This is because there are quite a few separate things you need to do, some of which take quite a lot of time. You have to salt some chopped onions and leave them to drain for 30 minutes; you also have to soak some saffron for a long time… none of it is especially hard, but there are just a lot of things keep track of.

You also have to use the food processor a few times – firstly you fry the onions and then you have to blitz them into a paste. Separately you have to soak some nuts in hot water and then blitz those into a separate paste. It’s certainly enough to keep you busy!

But as I said none of this is hard, and the end result is definitely worth it. Is it the most authentic tasting curry I’ve ever made? Hmmm… probably not, but it’s tough to say with a korma because it’s such a rich rather than spicy dish. It certainly tasted close to the real thing, and it certainly tasted delicious. Time consuming, but worth the effort.

Parsee Chicken with Apricots

Something nice and spicy today from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand.

We’ve raved about this book often enough, but this meal is a prime example of why we love it so much – it’s easy to put together and doesn’t call upon any especially exotic ingredients but the end result is a really tasty, comforting and spicy meal – but also noticeably unique from the myriad of other chicken recipes you can find in other books.

I’d eat this again and again – possibly the apricots appealing to my sweet tooth, but it was a real treat of a meal.

Indian Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

It’s been a while since we cooked anything from Simply Nigella, and fancying some sort of mince and potato dish this recipe for Indian Spiced Shepherd’s pie looked like a good candidate. People seem to agree too, because the photos for this have had more likes than any of our photos before now!

The recipe takes a little while to put together. First you boil the sweet potato with some cardamom, peppercorns and pieces of lime peel. Meanwhile you blitz together onion, garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds and coriander seeds to form a paste and fry this – supposedly with coconut oil but I just used butter and olive oil.

Next you add the turmeric, chilli flakes and garam massala before finally adding the lamb mince. When it’s all cooked add some red lentils, chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and water before seasoning and putting a lid on whilst it simmers for about 20 minutes.

You’re still not finished though! Now you have to mash the potatoes. Nigella is ambiguous about whether you should fish the lime/peppercorns/cardamom out. I did, or at least I removed as much as I could. To make the mash a bit easier to work with, Nigella suggests saving some of the potato cooking water and mixing it in as you mash.

Next you transfer the mince mixture to a your dish(es) and put the sweet potato mash on top, then bake it in the over for 15 – 25 minutes. It’s not supposed to go crispy on top, but mine did a little bit (possibly because I added some ridges with a fork) and was all the better for it.

Something magical happens with this dish. Before it went in the oven I thought it tasted a bit bland, but when it came out the flavours had deepened tremendously and the dish was a really tasty, interesting and satisfying dish.

Banana and Cardamom Loaf

There were a pair of bananas gloating at me in the kitchen, slowly turning brown in the fruit bowl so rather than let them go to waste it seemed appropriate to try out a banana bread recipe from Nigella’s latest book, Simply Nigella.

I had to deviate from the recipe though because it calls for cacao nibs. There were only two places I could find selling these – a health food store where they were very expensive, or through the wonderful Bulk Powders website but they wouldn’t have arrived in time for when I wanted to cook this. So I took the easy option and went with dark chocolate chips instead.

The cardamom is an unusual addition but it works… I really need to invest in a proper mortar and pestle though because grinding them using a rolling pin in a bowl wasn’t the most efficient method.

End result was a success – I know this because Mark wanted a second slice!

Apricot Almond Cake with Rosewater and Cardamom

We’d polished off the matcha cake from Simply Nigella and with a day off work, I couldn’t resist making another cake. This cake comes from the same book, but you can also find the recipe on Nigella’s website.

Despite the slightly esoteric list of ingredients, it’s actually remarkably easy to make – I hadn’t even given the oven enough time to warm up completely. There are strong parallels between this and the clementine cake we made a few weeks ago, since it involves lots of eggs and begins with boiling some fruit – but boiling dried apricots for 10 minutes is a lot less tedious than boiling clementines for two hours!

The end result is very nice indeed. A dense but light cake with an unusual but beautiful set of flavours. Neither the apricot, the cardamom or the rosewater dominates but the end result is lovely.

Chicken with Red Chilli, Yoghurt and Garlic

After a bigger than expected lunch at Altrincham Market, a lighter dinner was called for. This recipe comes from Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food, a book which I bought a few months back but haven’t really cooked much from yet.

Making the paste was a bit of a trial for me – it requires a food processor and I never seem to be able to get them to work as expected. Although people keep telling me that a food processor is so much easier for things like cakes, I always get better results by hand. Today was no exception – bits of my sauce kept getting stuck in corners of the processor and it seemed to take forever to blend.

Once done though, the rest was pretty simple. Marinate the chicken thighs and then pop them under the grill. Meanwhile, grate some courgette and fry with mustard seeds before mixing with a bit of paprika and yoghurt. Not my favourite recipe from Mr Slater’s books, but certainly an acceptable dinner.

Quick Chicken Korma

I love a good curry, but have had limited success making them myself. This Nigel Slater recipe may not be an authentic korma, but it tastes great and only takes 30 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients at the ready for tonight's curry – chicken korma from a Nigel Slater recipe.

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That said, it takes me slightly longer than 30 minutes because I try and get everything prepared in advance to avoid any risk of burning the spices. The end result is neither the healthiest or most visually appealing of meals, but it tastes bloody marvellous.

The finished product – faux chicken korma in just 30 minutes!

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Bananas Baked with Cardamom and Orange

A quick and (fairly) healthy pudding here. I deviated from Nigel’s recipe slightly, using dark muscovado sugar instead of brown simply because it was what we had in the cupboard.

Time for some healthy pudding? Banana, orange and cardamom!

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I loved this, but Mark was less convinced. It was sweet but strangely didn’t really taste much of banana!

Bananas baked with sugar, butter, cardamom and orange. Delicious and healthy(ish)!

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