Thai Apple Eggplant, Chicken and Cashew Curry

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Just a quick mid-week post here to share this tasty curry. It’s one of those recipes that is so lovely to make if you’ve got a quiet afternoon to yourself (rare at this time of year), to spend some time hanging out in the kitchen, drinking a nice cold vino and whipping up this  yummy meal. Also, the curry paste recipe makes twice as much as you need so that you can keep the other half for a night when your a bit less relaxed and you can just chuck in whatever you’ve got in the fridge and still end up with a yummy dinner.

I made this with the apple eggplants as they are abundant up in Darwin, but you can use any eggplant that is available in your area or even replace it with another veg such as zucchini or sweet potato, and you could replace the water spinach with regular english or baby spinach. It’s all about what’s available to you and hopefully grown locally!

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

Curry Paste
1 tsp peppercorns
2 tbs dried shrimp
1 tsp shrimp paste
4 coriander roots, chopped
3 stems lemongrass, white and light green part, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs ginger, chopped
1 tbs galangal, chopped
1 tsp fresh turmeric, chopped
2 long green chillies, chopped
2 small red chillies, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
3 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs coconut vinegar
2 tbs coconut sugar
The rest….
400ml can coconut cream (don’t shake before opening)
1-2 cups chicken stock
500g chicken thigh, cut into 3cm pieces
500g thai apple eggplant, tops cut off, quartered, smaller ones, halved or left whole, the pieces should be around the same size as the chicken
1 large bunch water spinach, leaves picked (reserve the stems for a stir fry or something)
230g tin water chestnuts, drained, sliced
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
1/2 cup thai basil chopped
Steamed long grain rice, to serve

Method
For the curry paste, in a large frying pan, over medium high heat, fry the peppercorns, dried shrimp, and shrimp paste (wrap paste in a small foil parcel), for about 5 mins or until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a mortar and pestle or a small bender, pound or process the peppercorns, shrimp and paste with the remaining curry paste ingredients.
You will only need 1/2 of the paste for the recipe. Keep the other half in the freezer for up to a month.
Over medium high heat, In a large/deep pan, pour the top half of the can of coconut cream and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for about 10mins, until the cream splits from the oil. Add the curry paste (remember, only half of what you made), and cook, stirring, for about 5-10 mins or until fragrant.
Add remaining coconut cream, 1 cup of chicken stock, chicken, eggplant and water chestnuts. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20mins or until chicken is cooked and eggplant is tender but not falling apart. Uncover, add the spinach and cashews and cook for another 5mins.
Take off the heat and allow to cool for about 10 mins. Stir through the herbs.
Serve with the rice.
Enjoy!

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Baked Okra with Spiced Stuffing (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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If you’ve ever heard anything about okra it probably hasn’t been anything good. It isn’t a commonly used vegetable in Australia despite it’s ability to grow well in a very hot climate. In Australia you will most commonly see it in curries or stir fries, which I’ve had a few of and thoroughly enjoyed. However, when they are cooked by this method they release a gelatinous fluid, great as a thickening agent but also a texture that lots of people don’t enjoy. So, to try something different, I started looking into some lesser known ways of preparing them and through some recommendations from friends, and some research, I came across a few recipes for stuffed okra or ‘ Bharwan Bhindi’. Bharwan Bindi is an indian dish of stuffed okra and is usually deep fired and served alongside curries and rice. I wanted to make them a little more healthy and so baked them, and rather than have them as a side, served them alongside other delicious deli goods, dips and flatbread as a kind of middle eastern mezze feast. It was so moorish and delicious. Fun to eat and share at a big table with some drinks and friends.

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Recipe

Ingredients

30-40 okra

4 tbs desiccated coconut

6 tbs chopped cashews

4 tbs sesame seeds

2 tbs chopped parsley

2 tbs chopped coriander

1 long red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh turmeric, grated

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and garam masala

3 prunes, finely chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

salt and pepper

lime wedges, yoghurt, harissa, olives, hummus, flat breads and any other deli goods, to serve OR, serve alongside a dahl or other curry and some rice, raita and flatbreads. (all optional)

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Wash the okra with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Leave on a clean tea-towel to dry while you prepare the stuffing.

For the stuffing, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and use your hands to really mix well and combine the flavours. Test if it’s wet enough by squeezing together in your hand, it should hold it’s shape. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add a little more oil.

For the okra, trim off the tops and cut a slit down one side, lengthways, without going through to the other side. Slide your thumb down through the cut to pry open enough space to put the stuffing in.

Use your fingers to press the stuffing into each okra, you will need about 1 tsp of stuffing per okra. Rub the outside of each okra with the mixture as well, it won’t stick but it will add flavour.

Lay them all on the lined tray, cut side up, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until stuffing is dark golden and okra is tender.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on tray for 5 mins before serving on their own or with your choice of sides.

 

Spiced Tarragon Chicken and Quinoa with Spinach and Tomato Salad, Pappadums and Yoghurt

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while you can probably see by now that I love putting food in edible ‘cups’, whether it’s lettuce, cabbage, pita, spinach leaves, pastry or pappadums, I just love piling all of the yummy textural ingredients into another textural ingredient and trying to take a bite without making the worlds biggest mess; which is impossible. But that’s part of the fun, neat eating is boring.

This is a great weeknight meal as you can just pick up a barbecue chook on your way home and whip this up in no time. Of course you could cook the chicken yourself too if you like; shredded poached chicken breasts work well. You will also need a microwave for the pappadums if you want to do it quickly. You can deep fry them too but I prefer the microwave method as it keeps them lower in fat. Come to think of it, I think pappadums are the only thing I ever use the microwave for! Use any colour of quinoa that you like, or even replace it with another pulse, legume or grain if that’s what you’ve got in the cupboard.

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 BBQ chicken, flesh and skin removed, shredded
3 tsp curry powder
2 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs black mustard seeds
1/2 cup tarragon leaves
3 tsp garam masala
2 long red chillies, deseeded, finely chopped
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups quinoa (red is best in my opinion)
1/2 cup green split peas
3-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
Punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 shallots, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped cashews
Greek yoghurt
Pappadums (cooked to packet instructions)

Method

Combine the chicken in a bowl with the curry powder and some salt and pepper. Use hands to rub into the chicken and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat and cook the mustard seeds, stirring, for about 3mins or until they start to pop.
Reduce heat to medium, add the onion, garlic and chilli, cook for another 5mins or until soft.
Add the garam masala and half of the tarragon leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 min, or until fragrant.
Add the quinoa, split peas and 3 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for about 20-30mins or until quinoa and peas are cooked and the liquid is absorbed. If liquid absorbs before the quinoa and peas are cooked, add some more stock and continue cooking.
Meanwhile, for the salad, combine the spinach, parsley, tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toss lightly to combine and set aside.
Once, quinoa mixture is cooked and liquid has absorbed, stir through the curried chicken and turn out onto a serving plate or bowl. Scatter with the other half of the tarragon and the cashews.
Serve with the salad, pappadums and yoghurt.
Enjoy!

 

Creamy Pea, Mint, Ginger and Coconut Soup with Kale Chips (Vegan)

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I can’t believe it’s this far into winter and I haven’t posted a recipe for a soup yet! It’s all I’ve been eating this week, along with lots of herbal teas and smoothies, trying to get rid of the killer flu from hell. It’s been so long since I’ve been sick that I totally forgot how horrible it is. It’s been three days now and considering how sick I was on the first day (think fevers so bad that you yell out ridiculous insanities at your loved ones in the middle of the night), I’m pretty impressed how much better I feel, just by consuming immune boosting foods. It makes me pretty proud of my body, and more inclined to keep being this healthy even once I’m over the flu.

Today has been the first day that I’ve had the energy to actually make my own soup, the others I ate were made by my beautiful friends. But my energy bursts are short lived so I wanted to make a simple soup that didn’t require too much chopping but still had enough flavour and texture for it to be interesting, plus the benefits of some immune boosting ingredients like ginger, garlic and mint. Even though there are few ingredients in this soup, the flavours are really interesting and I love how the consistency just perfectly coats your tongue so that you can really appreciate the flavours. Add the crunchy, earthy kale chips and the creamy coconut cream and you have a perfect bowl of goodness. I served it with some delicious Ancient Grain Rolls from my local health food store (got them for free cause they were one day out of date, BONUS!!), warmed in the oven, so delicious and nourishing.

You don’t have to be sick to make this soup, serve it up to your friends for a lazy lunch, or serve smaller portions for an entree. It would even be delicious served cold in the summer, just omit the kale chips, add a drizzle of mint sauce and serve with some tortilla chips.

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Recipe

Seves 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 spring onions, white and most of the green part, sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

5cm pice ginger, grated

1 tsp dried mint

4 baby potatoes, peeled and diced

1L vegetable stock

1kg peas

10 stalks fresh mint, large leaves chopped and small leaves reserved for garnish

400ml can organic coconut cream, 1/2 for soup and 1/2 reserved for serving

salt and pepper

1 bunch kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped into quarters

spray oil

salt and pepper

bread to serve, whatever kind you like

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celcius.

Arrange kale on two baking trays, spray with a little oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 10mins, swapping trays half way, or until crunchy and starting to brown at the edges. Remove from oven and leave to cool on trays.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 mins or until soft, add the garlic, ginger and dried mint and sauté for another 2 mins, making sure it doesn’t brown at all.

Add the vegetable stock and the potatoes and bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 mins.

Put the heat back up to high and add the peas, just bring to the boil and take off the heat. Add the mint and some salt and pepper. Use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Stir half of the coconut cream through, check for seasoning, add more if necessary and your ready to serve!

To serve, drizzle with remaining coconut cream, crumbled kale chips, extra mint leaves and some cracked pepper. Oh, plus your nice warm bread!

 

 

Pork Vindaloo with Pineapple Salsa, Coriander Yoghurt, Mini Paratha and the Perfect Rice



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Every time I make a curry or curry paste, I feel privileged to be a part of centuries old knowledge of flavour combinations and balances. How many years, experiments, failures, and triumphs must have gone into the classic curries that we know and take for granted today. It is so fascinating to me the processes that have been mastered over time to create these beautiful, colourful and aromatic spices and spice blends that we are so lucky to have at hand almost whenever we like. I get so much pleasure out of combining the spices and smelling the aromas as they all come together in the mortar and pestle, and then when they ht the heat of the pan…heaven!

 

I will often make up my own curry pastes with what I have at hand but when it comes down to it, following a good recipe like this one for Vindaloo, can’t be beaten. The balance is just right and the flavours are so beautiful. I found this one in a Women’s Weekly cook book when I was 21 and cooked it for one of my best friends’ 21st birthday dinner. Since then I have only used this recipe for Vindaloo and I always seem to use it as my go to crowd pleaser when cooking for someone special. I recently cooked it for my beautiful sister in laws’ birthday dinner and it went down a treat. Unlike Vindaloos that you find in your local Indian takeaway, there is not a lot of heat, just a whole lot of flavour.

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As always, i can’t help myself but to make a myriad of accompaniments to meals like this, and depending on the time of year, a fruit salsa goes perfectly. If it were summer I would use mango, here I’ve used pineapple, I once even used kiwi fruit. Come to think of it, banana would also be lovely.

 

Having a yummy flat bread is also important when eating curry, it’s essential for scooping up those last bits of goodness left on your plate at the end. If you don’t want to bother with making your own bread, store bought flatbreads or pappadums would also work.

 

Now, about the rice. Until a couple of years ago I was never a big fan of rice and only saw it as a filler for stretching out a curry/stirfry, etc, between a lot of people. Man, was I wrong. After some Goan people taught me the proper way to cook Basmati for curries, I enjoyed it immensely and started playing with different types of rice and how to use the right ones for the right purposes. Fluffy basmati is so beautiful with a thick curry like this, as the curry is quite a heavy texture, the rice is lovely and light. Make sure you buy good quality basmati and follow the cooking instructions in this recipe if you want to achieve the optimum result. The best thing is it’s one of the easiest ways to cook rice too!

 

I hope you give this curry a go and enjoy it as much as I did, do it when you have a day off and appreciate every moment.

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Recipe

Ingredients

Canola oil, for sautéing

1kg pork neck, cut into 3cm cubes

2 brown onions, sliced

2 cups beef stock

300ml coconut cream (this isn’t necessary but adds a nice creaminess and takes away a bit of the heat)

about 8 small, washed potatoes, halved

2 cups basmati rice

Curry paste

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground chilli

2 ttsp black mustard seeds

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp cracked pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Pineapple Salsa

1/2 pineapple, finely chopped

1 long red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves

juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp sugar

pinch salt

Coriander Yoghurt

1 cup plain yoghurt

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped coriander

1 small cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, finely diced

salt and pepper

Mini Paratha

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 cup chickpea flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

150mls lukewarm water

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

salt and pepper

Method

Combine all ingredients for the curry paste in a bowl and set aside for half an hour.
Meanwhile, heat some of the canola oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over medium high heat and, in batches, fry the pork until browned, about 2 mins. Remove from pan and set aside. Add more oil if necessary and sauté the onions until soft. Add the curry paste and fry, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 mins. Return the pork and add the stock. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to low, simmer, covered for about 2 hours or until pork is becoming tender. Add the potatoes and coconut cream and continue to cook, uncovered for another 45mins to an hour or until potatoes are soft and pork is very tender.

Meanwhile, to make the pineapple salsa, combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside for at least an hour, stirring every now and then.

To make the coriander yoghurt, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside, in the fridge, for at least an hour, stirring every now and then.

To make the paratha, combine the flours, cumin and seasoning in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the water an olive oil. Mix to combine and knead for a couple of minutes until smooth. Wrap in cling wrap and rest for an hour. Roll into 10-12 balls and roll out with a rolling pin to 1/2cm thickness. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat and fry paratha for about 30secs a side or until golden brown. Once cooked keep them wrapped in a damp tea towel so that they remain warm and moist, you can also re-heat them in the oven in the damp tea towel or some foil.

Once the curry is cooked, turn off the heat and cover.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Rinse the rice in a sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Add to the boiling water and stir immediately to prevent any clumps. Boil for about 10 mins or until just cooked. Pour into a strainer and sit the strainer back onto the empty saucepan (not on the heat). Allow to sit, without stirring, for about 5 mins, during which time you can put the curry, bread, salsa, and yoghurt on the table. Pour the rice into a serving bowl and add to the table.

Get everyone to the table and enjoy!!