Today's recipes are: Meatball Curry; and Lentil Curry
How about a Curry Extravaganza for your next dinner party? My menu included: Potato Curry Soup – a total winner that even non-curry people love as it is velvety smooth and delicately spiced – as a Starter, then for the main course a Prawn Curry, Meatball Curry, Lentil Curry, Compressed ginger rice, and Green beans with sesame oil. You can prepare them the day before if you like, as curries definitely improve if you let them sit a bit. But first some stories…
Our Irish friends, Helen and Scott, (who you should know from the d’Artagnau post) had their son, Ben, and his (almost) wife, Lisa, over to visit for a few days so I decided to make a curry extravaganza and have them over. And while I was at it, why didn’t I invite a few more people, like 12…I just don’t know when to stop. But thank goodness for that as we had great fun and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Ben and Lisa have a Bushcraft business (you can find them at www.woodsmoke.uk.com) and run survival courses in Cumbria, England, and Namibia, Africa. They teach people how to collect and catch their own food in the wild – we were informed that rabbit was best kept off the menu as they have eaten too many badly prepared campfire versions of this. No problemo! (In the following photo, Gordon is on the left and Ben is on the right.)
Also there was, Suzie, my identical twin – there are few minor differences, amongst others being that we have different parents, she comes from a different country and that she is a mere 10 years (maths never was my strong point, Suz) older than I am. Other than that, identical – we are both true blondes. She sent an email to thank me for the lovely evening she had here and mentioned that it was great how everyone moved around all evening. Normally at dinner parties people stay put all evening, but at our party everyone moved around all the time. Hmmm.
Hmmm, again. I have a theory about this. I think they were trying to get away from me. Every time there was an open seat, I sat down and the person next to me moved off! Call it coincidence once, twice, three times, but 9 times! That’s 3 times 3 (my math is improving). Everyone said that they had a really good time…probably ‘cos no-one had to sit next to me. Sulk. (On a more serious note, it was actually a lovely evening!) (In the following photo, Helen is on the left, then there's Lisa and Suzie.)
It was quite time consuming preparing all the curries – I made 5 different curry dishes, all with their own crushed spices (no pre-mix stuff for a change!) and magic touches – but (I felt) it was well worth it and everyone (including the skinny ones) asked for seconds. I actually have a track record with curries as I ADORE all things curry. Curry is not something we often had at home. For my darling, beloved Mother, a curry involved adding a tin of curried vegetables to a huge pot of stew. We all loved it, but the only way you would know it was a curry was to read the label of the tin. I managed a restaurant that had previously been owned by Indian people and they taught our cooks how to make proper curries. I ate curry for breakfast, lunch and supper for months – oh, how I miss those days!
My curry ego also landed me in a tight spot on one occasion. I had prepared a lovely tomato curry for some friends a few years ago and we were discussing curries with some new people we had met when one of the guests boldly declared that I made the best curry she had ever had. Well, I was pretending to be shy and say “oh, that can’t be”, but inwardly I was basking in my praise. One of the ladies asked me how I made it and I was being a little coy and then she said she was born and raised in India herself and had been taught from birth onwards how to hand pick, toast and crush her own spices…Bugger. I promised to have them over for a curry soon…that was 7 years ago and I’m still to afraid to have her over!
But my Curry Buffet for non-India born people went exceedingly well and I had a ball crushing my own spices. I often bring over a special spice mix from Cape Town market where this lovely Malay lady mixes the spices right in front of you. But Cape Town is not on my day to day shopping route, so I do have to make other plans sometimes. And anyway, with my Magic Bullet, crushing spices is a breeze. “The Bullet” will be discussed in another blog post, but suffice to say, it is a small food processor that would even crunch up your cell phone if you put it in – I don’t know why you would, but hey, knock yourself out.
I am going to start you off with the Meatball Curry and the Lentil curry recipes as I gave you a soup recipe last week and it’s time for something else. You will be getting all the recipes, including the soup, in my next posts, but I don’t want to spoil you and give them all to you in one go. Go make some curry!!
1,25kg minced meat (ground hamburger) SEE NOTE
1 big onion, finely chopped
Thumb size piece of ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 level tsp salt
2 - 4 chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
8 cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded
3 tsp fennel seeds
1-2 tbsp oil
3 onions, finely chopped
10 carrots, finely diced
3 tsp coriander seeds
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp curry powder
2 chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
2 tins stock (use the empty tomato cans)
1 pkt (60g) coconut powder (you can use coconut milk or just cream if you don’t have it)
1-2 tbsp sugar
(NOTE: It is best to use a mix of ground beef and ground lamb or pork as this keeps the meatballs moist and less solid. I do use only beef if I can’t get hold of ground lamb or pork, but the balls are definitely firmer and slightly less tasty.)
1. Grind the cardamom seeds (which you have removed from the pods) with the fennel seeds. I use my Magic Bullet, but you can use a processor or a mortar and pestle. Mix all the meatball ingredients together and form into walnut size balls. It makes about 60 balls.
2. If you are going to fry the meatballs in oil, it’s best to let them rest for an hour before doing so. I do not fry mine, but them on a greased baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 20 – 25min, turning them once. I find this easier and it uses no extra fat without sacrificing taste. Once cooked, add to the curry sauce and gently mix in so as not to break up the balls.
3. Sauté the onion in the oil for a few minutes, then add the carrots and sauté for a couple of minutes more. Grind the cloves and the coriander seeds and add along with the cinnamon sticks, curry and chillies. Allow the flavors to mingle for a minute and then add the tomatoes and stock and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.
4. Add the coconut powder or cream (or crème fraiche or creamy yoghurt), sugar and salt to taste. These additions will thicken the sauce and help to tone down the chillies! I also make my curries in the morning and reheat them later, as this allows the flavors to develop and any over spicing can be “cured”.
1 tbsp oil
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled & grated
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp Garam Masala
200ml coconut milk
200ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 x 800g tins of brown lentils (SEE NOTE)
1. Sauté onion, ginger, garlic and chili in oil till softened. Put the coconut milk and stock in a separate pan, bring to almost a boil, lower heat and reduce by half.
2. Add the garam masala, reduced coconut milk mix and lentils to the onion mix, stir to combine and allow to gently simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
NOTE: I used tinned lentils as I could not find my dried ones! If you would like to use dried lentils then replace the last 3 items as follows:
250g dried green lentils (do not use the red ones as they fall apart much sooner)
500ml / 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
400ml tin of coconut milk
At step 2, add these items and gently simmer for about 40 minutes till the lentils are cooked, but not falling apart. Remove the lid and continue cooking of there is still a lot of liquid.