Sunday, 19 June 2011


As mentioned before, I love cooking Indian food.  And I love lamb.  So no surprise that fairly often I cook a lamb curry of some sort or another.  I am a disciple of the great Madhur Jaffrey and it is through her books that I have developed my basic curry making methods.  The idea of using pumpkin with lamb came from an unscheduled trip to the Humaira Indian Restaurant near Kings Cross – we popped in there to eat something before meeting up with people for drinks and were pleasantly surprised.  The star of the show was a lamb and pumpkin dish…I can’t remember the name but thought I’d have a go at something like it at home.  So here goes….

Lamb and Pumpkin Curry

1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2” piece of garlic, finely grated
I tsp. fennel seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
5 black cardamom pods
750g lamb shoulder cut into chunks
3 medium tomatoes chopped
Small handfulof chopped fresh mint
300g pumpkin, peeled and cut into same size chunks as lamb 
1.  In a wide based sauté pan or wok heat a tablespoon of vegetable and gently cook the onions garlic and ginger until softened and golden brown – it usually takes ten minutes to get it really melting.
2.  Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan for a few minutes and they start releasing their aromas then grind in a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder. Add to the onion mixture and cook for five minutes. Add the black cardamom pods.
3.  Turn the heat up and add the lamb, stirring in the spice mixture for five minutes until browned.  Add the tomatoes,mint and half a pint of water and simmer for 45 minutes. 
4.  Add the pumpkin and cook for a further 30 minutes, uncovering towards the end of the cooking time to reduce the sauce.

I served with potatoes and spinach (recipe in a my blog of 18 April), plain steamed basmati and a very simple daal made with channa daal cooked with onions and garlic, with a tarka of hot oil in which garlic slices and coriander seeds have been cooked.  And very nice it was too!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Chilli for a Friday night


Chilli is a Friday night favourite in our household. A perfect excuse for a Margarita and a plate of nachos to unwind after the toils of the week.  I make no claims to the authenticity of this dish that, like many ‘peasant’ dishes, takes many forms.  Some people say you shouldn’t use kidney beans, or tomatoes, but I like the variety of texture and flavour they bring,and I use fresh green chillies rather than chilli powder because they impart a distinctive flavour as well as heat. I often use stewing steak chopped up very small instead of mince and have even been known to use a tin of ready cooked onions but don’t tell anyone.  I do think the secret is to cook it for a long time, at least an hour and a half, so that the meat becomes really tender – it’s often assumed that mince doesn’t need long cooking but just think what cuts of meat butchers use to make mince…it won’t be fillet steak.  And if is, that’s a crime! 

I serve my chilli with guacamole, brown and wild rice mixed together and pitta bread. I make my guacamole by combining the flesh of two avocadoes, half a finely chopped shallot, tablespoon of chopped coriander, finely chopped flesh of a large tomato, a splash of cream and lime juice, salt and black pepper to taste.

So feet up, sit back, and relax into the weekend....


2 finely chopped onions
1 clove garlic crushed
1kg minced beef (I use 10% fat)
1 tblsp. flour
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
400 g tin of kidney beans
5 green chillies, chopped (including seeds)
1 tblsp. tomato puree
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
Ground black pepper
Salt if needed

1.         Gently fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft and pale golden.
2.         Turn up the heat and add the minced beef and brown it off, breaking it up as you go. 
3.         Once the mince is cooked and the fat has come out sprinkle the flour into the pan, stir round to absorb the fat, then stir in 250ml of water until it all becomes smooth again.
4.         Now add the beef stock, tomatoes, kidney beans, chillies, paprika, cumin and black pepper.  Give it all a good stir, bring back to simmer, and cook for an hour.  You may need to add water from time to time and it does have a tendency to stick, so keep an eye on it!
5.       Taste and see if it needs more heat.  If so, add hot smoked paprika.