Xanthan-Free Zone

Real food, incidentally gluten-free.

Archive for Curry

Pineapple Peanut & Kale Stew

This is my favourite kind of recipe, one that sounds so weird it must be gross, but is actually delicious. When my brother saw the giant purple kale I bought at the markets, he insisted I cook this recipe, which gave me an excuse to borrow his Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home book, from which this recipe is derived, and which is awesome. This recipe uses tinned pineapple but, no offense to Golden Circle, I think it’s sad to use tinned pineapple in Queensland. (The book also contains a recipe for how to cut up a mango. So sad!).

1 onion, chopped (I prefer red)
2 garlic cloves, chopped up
1 bunch of kale
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup peanut butter
couple of chilis or tbsp tabasco sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
salt to taste

Crushed peanuts and spring onions as a garnish.

Saute onion, garlic and chilis (if using) in oil until lightly browned. Remove stems from kale and cut up finely or shred. Add pineapple to onions, then add kale and cook until tender. If it seems to dry out, just add some water (but you know that already, don’t you). Kale can be pretty tough and need a good blasting, so it’s good to taste it and check. Add peanut butter and tabasco (if using), and coriander. Salt to taste. Serve with rice and garnishes and enjoy!


Easy Eggplant Curry

I made this curry tonight for some friends who came over and the recipe was requested. It’s another one adapted from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. Reading over the recipe after dinner I’ve realised I never really read the recipe all the way through in the first place, so mine was a lot more different than I had intended. Mine was good, though.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp urad dhal (optional)
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 dried chilli, seeds removed and shredded (or more chillis as you like)
1 large eggplant, diced in 2cm cubes
salt to taste
12 curry leaves (actually I forgot to put these in, so I guess they are optional)
1tsp tamarind pulp or juice of half a lemon (also forgot to put this is – I’m not daft, I was just distracted by the three other things I was making at the same time).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Fry chilli, lentils and coriander seeds until fragrant and browned, 2-3 minutes (be careful not to burn them). Add eggplant and curry leaves, and fry until all the oil is absorbed. Then add about a quarter cup of water and cover for a bit. Cook until the eggplant is soft and mushy. You’ll need to stir it around a bit, and may need to add water again if it looks like it’s catching. If using tamarind, dissolve it in the water before adding. If using lemon juice, just add it at the end.
Add salt to taste and serve. Enjoy!

Quick Halloumi Curry with Tomatoes and Spring Onions

Halloumi is one of the great cheese of the world, and when I found a cheap, bulk source of it, I couldn’t wait to make Indian paneer curries with halloumi. Paneer is a cottage cheese which you can make by boiling milk and then adding acid (lemon or vinegar), draining and compressing it. My local supermarket stocks paneer but it’s very expensive and also I find it quite dry and chalky. What I usually do is buy ricotta, cut it into small pieces, coat it in a small amount of oil and bake in a moderate oven about half an hour.

But halloumi is much nicer – chewy, salty, flavoursome. Mine was a little too salty, but I just took it out of its brine and soaked it in plain water in the fridge for a few hours and that leached enough salt out. It can also leach out in the curry if it’s cooked for a bit, so it’s good to remember not to add salt.

This is another one adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s book. It makes use of a homemade spice mix which might seem troublesome but is really what makes it a cut above the rest. It’s the only part that’s not so quick, but once you’ve made it you can keep it and use it for other recipes.

Serves about four.

250g halloumi (pre-soak your halloumi in plain water for a few hours or overnight if very salty)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cummin seeds
250g finely chopped spring onions, including green tops (about 1 bunch)
250g nice ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
2 fresh chillies
1 tsp Balti masala 

Balti masala spice mix:
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cardamon seeds
1/2 tsp nigella/kalonji seeds
3 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the spices for 1-2 minutes. Pay a lot of attention and be very careful not to burn them. The mustard seeds should start popping, the fennel should get brown-tinged and the coriander and cumin should get even browner. They should also smell overwhelmingly fantastic. I fried mine one at a time, so I could grind them separately in a mortar and pestle, which is easier because of the different sizes and hardnesses of the spices. Toasted spices, I found, are much easier to grind, and grinding the toasted cinnamon sticks and bay leaves is pretty fun. If you have a spice grinder or appropriate blender/food processor, you can use that. In any case, Raghavan recommends letting the spices cool before you grind them.

Making the curry

Slice the halloumi and fry in a little oil on medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Or you can cook it under the griller. Then slice into bite-sized pieces.

Combine all ingredients except oil and cumin in a bowl. Then heat oil in a wok or large frying pan, and fry the cumin seeds for 10 seconds, before chucking in everything else. Stir fry over a moderate heat until the spring onion greens have all collapsed and everything is well-combined. Then serve!



Cashew Curry

Who would have thought you could make a curry from cashews? It’s indulgent and delicious. This ridiculously easy recipe is from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.

Serves six to eight, probably best served as part of a meal with a vegetable curry or something because it’s quite rich.

2 cups raw unsalted cashews
400g tin coconut milk (or slightly smaller tin coconut cream)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
12 curry leaves
6 cardamon pods
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Bring cashews to the boil in a saucepan of hot water, then take the pan off the stove and leave to soak for two or more hours.

Drain the cashews then combine all ingredients in the saucepan. Bring the the boil and cook on a medium heat for 30-40 minutes.

Eggplant and Split Pea Dhal

This recipe is adapted from a new cookbook I bought – 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. I had an eggplant, I wanted to make dhal, and the index supplied me with this recipe. It is delicious.

One thing you will need is a mechanism for grinding up spices and a tablespoon of raw lentils. I use my mortar and pestle, which is a large heavy one made of what I guess is granite. If you have a good sort of blender or food processor that will probably work, or a spice grinder, but one of those small ceramic mortar and pestles will just not cut it.

1 cup and 1 tbsp yellow split peas
2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 or more dried chillis, depending on your taste
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
12 curry leaves
1 large eggplant
salt to taste

Rinse the 1 cup of split peas in cold water then bring to the boil in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of water. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for half an hour.

While it’s boiling, chop dried chilli and remove the seeds unless you want it very hot. Heat oil in a small frypan or saucepan and add chillies, coriander seeds and the tbsp of split peas. Fry until the coriander seeds are browned, maybe 1-2 minutes – be careful not to burn them. Remove the stuff from the pan with a slotted spoon or (my preference) strain the oil through a metal sieve into a larger frypan (which you will use in a minute). Put the spice-pea-chilli mix aside to cool.

Chop the onion and garlic, heat the oil from before and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds are popping, add the onion and garlic and fry on a low heat. When the onions are soft and have lost that raw smell, add cubed eggplant and fry until it collapses. You can keep it on a low heat for a while, and just add a spash of water if it catches.

While this is all cooking, grind up your spice-pea-chilli mix. This takes 5-10 minutes in a good mortar and pestle and is quite fun.It should end up a gravelly paste consistency. Add to the split peas, then combine this with the eggplant and onion. Cook another 10 minutes, boiling down to a thick consistency. Add salt to taste. If you’re not ready to eat it right away, you can keep it on a low simmer for ages. It will get even more mooshed up and soft.

Serve with basmati rice. Serves about 4.