Madhur Jaffrey my new Hero!!


What better way to end a day full of application filling and a well needed session of swimming than to make a curry!  For a long time I have followed only very basic curry recipes, thinking they were ok, but wondered why they didn’t taste the same as the ones you’re served in Indian restaurants.

I’d heard a few good reviews about Madhur Jaffrey’s curry’s before but never had the opportunity or ingredients to make any of her dishes.  A trip to the local library returned good results and I found her essential reference book on Indian cookery, ‘Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cookery’. It was this book that has changed my mind about cooking or being able to achieve, in my opinion and skills, the unachievable.  Hmmm…perhaps that statement was a little hyperbolic, but I just want to explain how good this following recipe is.   Unfortunately my image doesn’t show it any justice, but the taste is a different story!

Mixed Vegetables in a Mustard and Cumin Sauce

Ingredients: Serves 6

  1. 450g potatoes, boiled and cooled
  2. Vegetable oil for shallow frying
  3. 1 medium sized cauliflower, broken into fairly chunky florets
  4. 7.5com (3inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  5. 4 T plus 600 ml (1 pint) water
  6. 1 t black mustard seeds
  7. 1 t cumin seads
  8. 1/4 t kalonji
  9. 1/4 t fennel seeds
  10. 1/2 t ground turmeric
  11. 1 t ground cumin
  12. 2 tsp ground coriander
  13. 1 t cayenne pepper
  14. 1 1/2 t salt
  15. 1/2 t garam masala
  16. 450ml finely chopped tomatoes
  17. 2 medium sized carrots (I forgot to put them in the basket) cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  18. 150g peas (I used edamame)

Directions:

Cut the potatoes into thick ‘chips’.  Put the oil in a wok or frying pan and set over a medium-high heat.   When very hot, put in the potatoes and fry them until they are golden-red.   Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper. put the cauliflower into the same oil and fry until golden-red.  Remove with a slotted a slotted spoon and put on a plate lined with kitchen paper.   Turn heat off and reserve the oil.

Put the ginger and garlic into the container of an electric blender or food processor along with 4 T of water and blend until you have a smooth paste, pushing down with a spatula when necessary.

Put 4 tablespoons of the oil used for frying into a large, preferably non-stick,frying-pan and setover a medium-high heat.  When very hot, put in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds – put in the kalonji and, 2 seconds later, the fennel seeds.   Give one quick stir and put in the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 2 minutes.

Put in the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne.  Stir once or twice and put in the salt and tomatoes.  Stir and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are soft.

Add 600ml (1 pint) of water and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn to low and simmer for about 7 minutes.   Put in the carrots, cover again and simmer for a further 3 minutes.  Now put in the gharam masala, peas, fried potatoes and cauliflower.   Mix gently and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer on a low heat for 6-7 minutes, stirring gently now and then.

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Tomato & Basil Brown Rice Salad


To accompany the chilled cucumber soup, I prepared a refreshing brown rice salad.

Both of these dishes could be made ahead of time, saving you valuable relaxing evening time.

Cold dishes like these really do offer you more interesting lunches as well.

What you don’t see in the image is a side dish I also served,  pan-fried tofu stakes seasoned in curry salt and pepper mix.  A nice tip for crispy tofu steaks is after draining and marinade (30 min),  dust the steaks with a little corn flour around the edges, top and bottom right before cooking them in your hot pan for 2 minutes each side and seal around the edges.  Serve immediately with the dish/salad of your choice.

Here is the salad I made.  It’s super easy to make as you don’t need to cook anything except the rice and egg, of course 🙂 (The egg is optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (1 1/2 cups when uncooked)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh herbs (I use coriander and sweet basil and fresh mint)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 (cut into 1/8s) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped roughly)
  • sprinkle of Konbu dashi powder or bullion powder to taste
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. When the rice has finished cooking, allow it to cool.
  2. In the mean time combine all other ingredients in a large salad bowl
  3. Mix in the cooled rice then chill until ready to serve.

Curried Tomato,Soybean & Rice One-Pot


I think I’ll keep this post short and sweet with a little added spice today.
Annoyingly I have come down with a nasty chest infection which has forced me to take a day off work. I suppose it’s not such a bad thing to stay at home and rest instead of spreading my smelly germs around the school. However, I really can’t handle being cooped up in the flat all day. Sadly, I have no energy to do much, but I’m sure there is a little left in me to write a post on a one-pot rice cooker dish I made last night. I really wanted to share this one. “It’s up there”, as Andy groaned in enjoyment to me last night. I hope it’s up there for you too.

I actually wasn’t so sure how this meal would turn out as I was purely experimenting, but not in an extremely adventurous way though. In saying that, I think I have a fairly good idea on ingredients and flavours which work well together without following a recipe so kind of knew it might taste half decent. I also hadn’t made a full dish in my rice cooker for a while, so thought, since I was feeling out of energy and steam, it was the perfect meal to make, offering me the goodness I need to get better.

By the time the dish was ready the sun had completely set leaving me no natural light to show off my food in a photo. Dull cooker hood lighting is what I settled for. This made my dish look not to dissimilar to a rice and baked beans combo. I swear to you though, baked beans were no where near this dish or my house thankfully.

I would have preferred to use chick peas, but I just had to use what I had on hand. Since I have been asked to make it again there will be ample oportunity for modification. Hopefully, by then, the sun will be shining to show off the goods with a mouth watering snap. For now, here’s an Idea of what it looked like last night.

This dish was so full of flavour you don’t even notice an absence of meat. It contains enough protein and nutrition without adding meat. In saying that I never miss meat, but I’m sure Andy does.
This dish was just too easy. With having such a heavy schedule at times, it’s perfect for me.

The aroma it releases whilst cooking really waters your mouth, but the true joy is in the eating. Give it a go, you’ll see what I mean. What you can’t see in the photo above are the crunched almonds I sprinkled on top before serving. They really make this one memorable for me. Those and the cottage cheese, Yummmm…

What I enjoy most about cooking is when dishes are easy to prepare, but offer amazingly delicious results good enough to impress. I also love knowing what’s in my food and the benifits it can give my body. Got to stay beautiful and healthy if I want to continue traveling the way I do.

I don’t know if it’s because of the restaurants I choose to eat in, but I never feel satisfied after a meal. Of course I’ll feel full but I either leave with over powering guilt that I’ve gone way over my calorie limit, or annoyed that there wasn’t enough goodness in what I had eaten due ti it being destroyed with butter, oil and salt. Living in Japan, does offer a lot of healthy option in restaurants adding soba noodles, sashimi and tofu and an array of salads. However, even Japanese chefs can take short cuts by adding unnecessary oil or lard to their soups for flavour, or over dress and drown their salads or by deep-frying and over seasoning their vegetables. I have found a couple of cafes which offer the goodness I look for especially he one I visited on my birthday. But finding cafes like those are like finding a needle in a hay stack.

For me I prefer to cook at home, more satisfaction for the money in my opinion. Living in the country offers you the freshest of vegetables, which you’d be a fool to pass up.

So, back to the one-pot, this dish couldn’t be easier. If you have a rice cooker and love to experiment like me, give this one go. I have never used a pressure or slow cooker before, but I’m sure it would also work in any of those. If you do like the sound of it and try it out, please let me know what you think. Or if you have suggestions to make it even better my coments box is always open.

Oops I must have had more energy than I thought as this post is possibly longer than the others I’ve written.

Appologies if I went on a bit too much.
Happy cooking 🙂

Here you, go;

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 tin of organic plum tomatoes
  • 500mls water
  • 2 sachets of Konbu Dashi
  • 1 inch of fresh root ginger (chopped)
  • 2 plump cloves of garlic
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 100g soy beans (Garbanzo/chick peas would also be fabulous)
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 2 tbsp crushed almonds (they make the dish. They beautiful flavour and texture)
  • 2 tbsp cottage cheese

Directions:

  1. Simply put all ingredients into the rice cooker leaving out the spinach and coriander
  2. Set to the porridge setting and press cook.
  3. After 20 minutes, open the cooker to stir the ingredients again. Close and wait for the music. (My cooker plays twinkle twinkle little star when the food is done :D)
  4. Stir though the herbs and spinach
  5. dish up the risotto style dish on smallish plates
  6. Top with the cottage cheese and crushed almonds and enjoy.
  7. I also squeezed a little lemon juice on my portion (only because I love citrus flavoured curries)