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 Cod

It’s been a while since we cooked anything from Simply Nigella, so we dusted the book off the shelf and decided to give this recipe a go. It’s a pretty quick and easy to put together – just right for a warm evening after work.

The recipe is very easy. The spices all get mixed together with some yohurt, lime juice and lime zest. Nigella uses coconut yoghurt (that’s the dairy substitute, not coconut flavoured regular yoghurt!) but says you can use Greek instead. I used Greek because we had some in the fridge. Nigella also suggests cutting back on the lime if you use Greek yoghurt… I missed that particular instruction and used the full amount, and it ended up with a very strong lime flavour which was a bit much for me but marked loved it.

You then thickly coat your cod with the sauce and bake in the oven at 200 Celsius for 15 minutes… and that’s it! Done! I did a side of mashed potato and peas to go with this. Maybe not in keeping with the Indian flavours, but it went well enough for my liking.

Spiced Chicken Rice

We’re rounding out the working week with another recipe from the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website. It’s another quick and easy recipe and takes next to no time to prepare.

Cut the chicken and fry in some oil, then add some chopped garlic and fry for a few more minutes before adding a teaspoon of turmeric and two teaspoons of garam masala. Next add some chopped leek and lettuce, plus some sultanas and chicken stock.

The recipe calls for it to be simmered with some frozen rice and frozen peas. We had the latter, but no frozen rice – we just boiled up some run-of-the-mill white rice and added that and it worked just fine.

End result was nice, but no particularly exciting. The spices added some flavour, but it wasn’t as satisfying as a true curry. It was a great mountain of food though and very filling.

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.

Quick Lamb Curry

It’s been a while since I last made anything from Nigel Slater’s The 30-Minute Cook and whilst trying to think of something nice and spicy to cook for dinner I remembered we’ve had some other nice recipes from that book (most notably his quick chicken korma) and that led to this quick lamb curry recipe.

The recipe makes quite a dry curry and uses quite a lot of spices but the end result works. Perhaps not as tasty or authentic tasting as some of his other recipes, but certainly not bad. We mopped it up with supermarket naan breads – not too fancy, but does the job nicely.

One suggestion – Nigel says to add water to the recipe, but use stock if you have it available. We used water and thought it was a bit bland and added a fair bit of salt to the recipe. I suspect that if we’d used stock it might have reduced the need for salt and added a bit more depth to the flavours.

Afghani Style Stew with Pine Nuts

Recipes have been a bit thin on the ground this week because I’ve been ill. I had an ill fated attempted at cooking a Nigel Slater lamb casserole earlier in the week and I’m going to blame the illness because it was a disaster – possibly the single blandest meal I’ve ever had.

I’m on the mend now, but feeling the need for something healthy so where else to turn but good old Thrive on Five? Five portions of veg in one meal must help get me on the road to recovery.

This recipe isn’t the easiest – get all the chopping and prepping done first because it’s a tight turnaround between adding each set of ingredients, and if you don’t keep stirring the pan then things will burn and taste bitter. I thought I’d managed it but got caught out and half way through the recipe I tasted it and thought it was disgusting.

By the time I got to the end though, things had improved. The yoghurt helped balance out the bitterness and the end result wasn’t half bad. Lots of vegetables and lots of spice. We also followed it with a dessert of cherries, strawberries and banana so I think that’s 8 portions of fruit and veg just at dinner time… I’ll be back to full health in no time.