Friday, 31 August 2012

The Spice of Life

Yes I know LCF I agreed this post was going to be titled Dry Rubs but actually I have to pay tribute to my Momma who passed away in August at the age of 97 & I thought she'd be wanting to smack me aside the head with her wet dishcloth if I did that, so I'll use that title another day , when she's settled and busy later reorganising the chairs in heaven for God if that's OK! Thing is my Mum was a great family cook, English style, and her Mum before her who cooked for a living. Nobody could do rabbit stew, dumplings, yorkshire puds or sirloin of beef better than my Mum and hers. Not to mention spotty dick , treacle tart or cherry cake. And then there was the homemade jams! In fact I'm hopeless at yorkshire puddings - sometimes they'll rise to the heavens and other times they resemble lumps of playdough! So in celebration of the family genes that say I must be a food lover and cook I'm exploring new pastures. I'm looking for the perfect masala to make a great curry and I'm looking to make my own chappatis to go with it. I've been experimenting a while and the following is where I've got to: For the chappatis : Chaka Atta (whole wheat) flour (Tescos) Plain yoghurt ( preferably with probiotics but that's my choice) Mix flour and yoghurt to a dough consistency , I start with a cup and half of flour and then keep mixing in small portions of yoghurt until I get a decent bread like dough. (You can add in any herbs of your choice, salt, pepper, chilli powder, steamed vegetables like chopped spinach, cauli, runner beans in fine strips, finely chopped fried onions. Options endless. Roll into, not necessarily perfect, circles and then cook on hot lightly oiled (I prefer buttered) griddle (frying pan will do the job too) You can freeze these down and then take out as needed. Butter them on one side fold them over and put them in oven (I use a shallow terracotta dish with lid) for 15/30 mins. For that perfect masala & curry Step 1 - dry fry the following dry ingredients for 3/4 mins 1 generous teaspoon coriander seeds 1 generous teaspoon cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds 1 teaspoon black peppercorns 1 generous teaspoon mango powder 1 generous teaspoon turmeric 3 cloves 1 cinnamon stick 3 cardomom pods 3 bay leaves handful of mint leaves Cool and grind either in electric grinder or by hand. Then put back in frying pan with butter (or ghee if you can get it) and add the moist ingredients: 1 generous teaspoon ginger paste 1 generous Desert Spoon garlic paste 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste juice 1/2 lemon plus (Very Important) the grated rind!! Simmer for 5 mins Open Kitchen door or window to let in air and let out the gorgeous smell so that your neighbours will next time ask to be let in to try what you'r cooking! You now have the base of a good curry and need to make a gravy from it. I do it from red wine and boiling water but others will say that is sacrilege! When that is simmering nicely add your protein in cubes it can be fish, chicken,lamb, pork or beef. My favourite is pork because it absorbs the spices really well. Fish and chicken come a close second. You can either marinate your protein of choice in the cooled mixture overnight and then cook it next day or just put it in and cook it until tender. You can also add any vegetables that you fancy although I find cauliflower is particularly good at absorbing flavours in a curry. I still think I can improve on this - one can never achieve perfection - but the pursuit of it is very enjoyable! My Mum taught me that! Next thing is to find a good wine to go with it - I'm looking for that now. Cheers Mum! Love you!