“Curry, curry, curry!” – a guest post by John Moola

My beloved has requested (many times) that I contribute to her delightful blog as a ‘guest’ and I must say that after reading the delights of her menu’s of late I have often wondered over the weeks how many of those recipes are mine or that we have created together out of nothing over the past few years. So here goes…my contribution, enjoy if you dare!

They say what you eat defines you! Well, if that’s the case then I’m a culinary mongrel as I eat almost ANYTHING… LOL! Food is the essence of life as we know it and I live & love to eat! Like the wifey, I consider myself a foodie, but I actually enjoy cooking for us, family & friends and watching those around me eat to their heart’s content  without eating much myself, that’s the joy I get. It’s amazing when I watch my wife eat. Silence is bliss 😉

Being of Indian/Mauritian decent, I adore spicy yet flavoursome food. I love chilli, correction I’ve had an ongoing affair with chillies from a very early age, chilli is my mistress. I have been known to carry a few in my pocket or have some in my office drawer – just in case! I have also taken traditional non-spicy dishes (from any cuisine) and made it into something that makes my taste buds go bonkers and as much as my wife berates me for ‘moolarising’ something so precious, yet she scoffs the lot!

I consider myself a creative cook. I tend not to write recipes down (much to the annoyance of my wife & our friends) as I constantly tweak as I go along. To me recipes are just guidelines (unless I’m baking) and I have often been found standing in the kitchen looking in the fridge, store cupboard and spice tin for a while and then within an hour conjure up something that looks, smells and tastes divine (or so I’m told!).. Although she has never complained

I love all types of cuisines and comfort food especially. Although my roots do gear me towards Indian dishes and the like. I adore Moroccan, Middle-eastern, British, Thai and Mediterranean dishes. Don’t’ get me wrong, European, American and other Far-Eastern cuisines also have a place in a part of my heart (or stomach) but they are not always on the top of my list – I may include some favourites in a future blog (if I am allowed!). I am also very big into my roasts and naturally the caveman in me goes wild in the summer with BBQ’s. I will spend all day in the kitchen a day or so before the BBQ just to make sure the meats are marinated. We had a home-warming BBQ last summer and I was warned ‘NOT TOO SPICY!’, but it was the best 2 days I spent in the kitchen whilst her ladyship rested and took care of the other BBQ foods – salads, drinks, nibbles etc.

One rule I live by is that I must allow whatever cut of meat or poultry to be marinated for as long as possible – sometimes up to 48 hours and then slow roasting for a good few hours, sometimes as much as 8hrs on a very low heat which leaves the aroma’s permeating thru the flat.

So I will contribute one recipe a week for the moment to the wifey blog and if you want more do let her know. My recipe choices contain some of my favourites; a mish-mash of things that have evolved over the years from the time my late beloved mother introduced me to cooking (I was grounded and was irritating her, so she got me to chop some vegetables and the bug took over!) I have also decided to share a couple of my own curry recipes in the weeks to come that I probably should have shared with my wife first, but hey-ho.

Moo’s Kicking Lamb Curry

Curry, curry, curry… Oh come on, I am Indian! Doh! This is one of my favourites and slowly cooked for several hours, allowing the flavours to develop around the lamb means you won’t go back to a jar for your sauce. Be warned – this is a spicy lamb curry and having it on the bone gives an amazing extra depth of flavour. It’s very similar to a Kashmiri/Rogan Josh ‘style’ method naturally with a few tweaks of my own. Do use lesser amounts of chilli for a milder version.  It is important to marinate the meat, ideally for 24hours, overnight or at least 6 hour for amazing results.

This recipe serves 4-6 decent portions.

Marinade Ingredients:
1kg – 1.5kg Lamb on the bone – cut into approx 1inch pieces, use boneless if preferred, but the bone adds more flavour.
4 large juicy cloves garlic (chopped)
1 large thumb size piece of ginger (chopped)
Zest & juice of one lemon
2 tsp each of red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder. Salt, garam masala
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
Good dash of Worcester sauce & ketchup (yes, that’s what I said!)

Method:
Blend the ingredients together in a mini food processor or if you’re feeling energetic in a pestle and mortar until a slightly loose paste consistency and mix well into the meat. Cover and leave in fridge overnight or 24 hours if you can.

Curry sauce Ingredients:
2 large red onions (finely sliced or chopped)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 small piece of ginger crushed.
2 black cardamom pods (black works best with red meat, green with poultry, fish and desserts)
1 good size cinnamon stick
4 dried red chillies (use Indian, Naga or Kashmiri – seep in hot water for 30mins before use, drain and then finely chop)
6 fresh red birds-eye chillies chopped
2 tins of chopped tomatoes (empty into bowl and mush them with your hands so it becomes pulpy)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil or ghee
2 teaspoons each of chilli, coriander & cumin powder
1 teaspoon of turmeric, salt & dried mint.
1 large handful of fresh coriander – finely chop stalks for curry sauce and put leaves to side for later.
500 mls of stock – chicken or beef works well or just use water.
Juice of one lemon

Curry sauce method:
Heat oil/ghee in large pan or pot on a medium heat

Add the cinnamon sticks, black cardamom pods until the aromas are released.

Add the chopped onions and finely chopped coriander stalks and sweat down for about 15-20mins or until the onions are lightly browned.

Add the crushed garlic & ginger with the dried mint and stir for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the dry spices and salt with a dash of water to help the process and avoiding a ‘bitty’ taste, cook for about 2mins.

Add the marinated meat into the pan and stir well into the mixture for about 10mins (this will allow the meat to brown and the meat marinade to cook into the mix adding an extra zing!).

Stir in chopped tomatoes and fresh chillies with the tomato puree and stir for a further 10mins making sure all the meat is coated and taking on the flavour of the mix.

Add the stock, just enough to cover the meat (not completely), stir and cover pan/pot. Bring to a gentle boil and then turn down the heat and just let it simmer away.
Leave to cook for 90-120 mins on a low heat or until meat is tender and sauce consistency is thicker – cook longer without lid on if you want a thicker gravy/sauce.

Stir the curry occasionally and scoop off excess oil from surface. After 90 mins add one final teaspoon of Garam Masala and the lemon juice and stir.

When you are happy with taste and consistency of the sauce and meat, add the fresh coriander leaves (roughly chopped), stir and leave for 10 mins You can add some new potatoes into the curry after 45mins of cooking – just wash them and cut into same size pieces as meat.

Serve with rice, naan bread or roti! For the ultimate taste, once the curry is cool, cover and leave in fridge overnight and eat the following day – the flavours intensify and the meat is much more succulent – your choice!

Tune in next week for another Moo-special! 🙂

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