As a sendoff, I cooked biryani: a lavish rice and curry layered dish drizzled with butter and saffron (as far as I understand it, anyway). It’s a non-trivial dish with raw spices, including the most expensive spice in the world!
Add 1/2 cup water. Simmer for an hour, until reduced.
Rice: Soak 500g (2.5 cups) basmati rice for 30 minutes. Drain. Cook rice with 4 cups water with 2 bay leaves, 3 green cardamom pods, pinch salt, until 75% done, 7-10 minutes. Drain.
Saffron water: Infuse generous pinch saffron in 2 tbsp hot water.
Assemble: In deep casserole dish or pot, brush with melted butter. Layer rice and lamb plus sauce in thirds, drizzling in saffron water with layers. Drizzle top with saffron water, 1-2 tbsp melted butter, 1 tbsp chopped mint. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. OR Layer in pot, cover, cook on low for 15 minutes.
Garnish with 1 tbsp coriander. Serve with red onion rings, lemon wedges, mint chutney.
Puree 2 cups cilantro sprigs (1 bunch), 1 cup mint leaves, 1/2 cup chopped white onion, 1 green chili, 1/2″ ginger, 1 tsp sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup water as needed.
I’m quickly learning that making curry is not as intimidating as it first seemed. Now that I’ve built a reasonable spice cabinet, it’s a matter of dicing onion, mincing garlic, grating ginger, and adding the right brown/yellow/red powders and/or seeds.
This time, a fish curry, which is actually probably the first time I’ve cooked fish in a year.
Started from bbcgoodfood.com but adjusted to taste. Which is audacious for me to say because I don’t actually know what the component spices taste like haha.
Goan Fish Curry
Saute 1 onion.
Add 1 green chili sliced, 4 cloves garlic minced, 1” ginger grated, 3” stick cinnamon, 1.5 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 pods cardamom, (1 bay leaf). Fry 2 minutes until fragrant.
Stir in 1 can coconut milk, 1 (15 oz) can tomatoes chopped, 1/4 can wateras needed. 1/2 tsp salt, some pepper, 1 tsp sugar if needed. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add 1 lb white fish (haddock, tilapia, cobbler), cut into chunks. Optionally add veggies. Cook until done, about 5-10 minutes.
Add 1/2 lime of juice. Sprinkle with fresh coriander.
I learned about this Muslim-influenced Thai curry made with chicken potatoes, and peanuts. Thankfully I got the timing right so that the potatoes were soft but not mushy, the chicken cooked through but moist, the peanuts still crunchy, and the tomatoes just falling apart. Except I didn’t have plum tomatoes so I used my (ridiculously good) pearl tomatoes eighthed instead.
I’m growing fond making curry from scratch! I’ve got a big spice pantry to consume now anyway.
This project was meant to push comfort zones, and venturing into Indian curries from scratch definitely did that. Exotic spices from a specialty store, hand-mincing ginger and garlic as finely as I can, marinating chicken in yogurt and lemon, frying whole spices, pretending a hot wok is a tandoor oven.
Turns out that butter chicken is like a global interpretation of Indian cuisine, but it still starts with tandoori chicken, a bunch of spices (many which I hadn’t heard of before), and — of course — butter. Preferably ghee, or clarified butter, but I was baking too!