Gourmet Home Cooking, Indian Style

Himself had a birthday recently, and what do you give the man who has everything? Cooking classes! Not one, not two, not three but four of them!

Lesson one, food duly arrived, everything weighed and measured and packaged. Recipe came printed out and with video instructions as well. He is a good pupil, and watched diligently the video .

Indian fusion is the name of the course and is given by Atul Kochher. He has held two Michelin stars and now has several restaurants ( as they all do) with the latest ones, being in London and Marlow Buckinghamshire..

Lesson one , Kadhai Murgh, Courgette Masala and Paratha. There was an enormous quantity of herbs and spices, some of which seemed to be superfluous, as Himself followed all instructions meticulously. The ingredients included chapati flour, grown in the Punjab. Also typical of the Punjab is the big use of ghee and fenugreek leaves.

The courgette masala was particularly interesting and will definitely make it again. Am always looking for alternative vegetable recipes and ideas.

  • About a kilo of courgettes, cut into 2 cm pieces
  • a largish onion finely chopped
  • A green chilli finely sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, turmeric powder, chilli powder black mustard seeds
  • Pinch Garam masala, pinch or two of salt
  • Small handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 6 dried curry leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons water

Heat the ghee and add the cumin and black mustard seeds, add the chilli, onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add the curry leaves and courgette. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, Garam masala and the coriander leaves. Add the water and cook for another couple of minutes.

Ease itself and another way of including vegetables into your repertoire.

The paratha was stuffed with dates and I would also make this again.

All in all, it was a great dinner and I am looking forward to the next delivery in a couple of weeks time.

Mackerel? Do you like it?

Personally, I don’t like mackerel. I eat almost all fish, but am not keen on smoked haddock although with a poached egg it is ok. Not over keen on Shark, would never choose it but like or love almost everything else. My condemned mans last meal would be Fish and Chips ( though I am very choosy about how it is cooked and the chips have to be triple cooked). Himself ? He likes most things, will try anything as long as there is no fat or gristle ( memories of childhood). And really likes mackerel. it being one of the oily fish, it is really good for you!

The first time I had mackerel was many years ago in Berlin , where himself was studying and myself a mere tourist. Didn’t grab me them and doesn’t grab me now.

However, I am always on the lookout for ideas and inspirations and have recently tried a new one which involves Nduja and chickpeas.

Quiet by chance I had some Nduja in the refrigerator and naturally had all of the other ingredients as well, including the fish.

Nduja is a spicy spreadable sausage from Calabria in southern Italy, though other regions in Spain and France have something similar. The roasted hot chilli peppers give it a deep red colour and a fiery taste and has become popular in the USA and the UK.

For 2 Servings

  • 2 +2 tabs olive oil
  • Small onion chopped
  • +/- 75 grams Nduja
  • a tin of cherry tomatoes or a good handful of fresh cherry tomatoes (I used fresh as I had oodles of them)!
  • Can chickpeas drained
  • A couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Small bunch parsley chopped
  • 1/2 lemon including zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2-4 fillets of mackerel depending on size
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and add the onion until, soft but not coloured
  • Add the garlic and then the Nduja, cook for about 5 minutes breaking it up as it softens.
  • Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, cook until the tomatoes are soft. Season to taste .
  • Mix together the parsley and lemon juice and zest.
  • Dust the filets with the paprika
  • Heat the remaining oil and cook the mackerel skin side down until crisp , quickly flip over and cook for a quick minute.
  • Spoon the chick pea, tomato mixture onto a plate or a bowl. Top with the fish and then the parsley (oops I forgot to add the parsley)!

So if you like fish then give this one a try. Obviously with a strong tasting fish like mackerel thIs works well, but I really don’t see why it wouldn’t work with other fish as well, especially Salmon. I will give it a try!

Broccoli Love it or Hate it ?

Who doesn’t like Broccoli? It would seem many people but the most famous being George H.W.Bush the 41 st President of the USA, though apparently his wife liked it enough to eat his share. Here in our Tower, I think indifferent is the word used for broccoli, though Himself expresses a dislike for purple sprouting broccoli and Kale, whereas son in law dislikes Brussels Sprouts. Each to their own I guess. My own son has always disliked baked beans and willowy blond detests mushrooms. When they were younger and I made Spaghetti Bolognese I would take whatever vegetables were in the refrigerator, blitz them in my food processor and incorporate them into the sauce. My son recently accused me of making my sauce RED, well maybe I did, but it would be the result of carrots and tomatoes!

These days, we occasionally have broccoli but I have to admit not often. However, when I choose my delivery from the lovely Watts Farm, I troll through the vegetable options and will always choose a variety, including broccoli. I have been meaning to try alternative recipes for it and have found one, which I adapted to use other things that were in my refrigerator

For my Broccoli Salad I used

  • A large head of broccoli, blanched and and cut into small florets
  • A handful of toasted nuts ( pistachios, peanuts or hazelnuts)
  • Some chopped mint leaves
  • Some chopped coriander leaves
  • Some chopped dates
  • A squeeze of runny honey
  • Half teaspoon chilli in oil
  • Any other salad type ingredients, such as baby tomatoes, spring onions, chopped celery.

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice ( bottled is ok)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • 1tablespoon rice vinegar
  • A piece of fresh ginger about a thumb length
  • 50 mls sesame oil ( or olive)

Throw all of the dressing ingredients into a blender or hand blender and whizz until well blended.

Mix together all of the salad ingredients, and toss with about half of the dressing, serving the rest on the side.

Some useful information:-

  • A good source of Vitamin C
  • Useful amounts of beta carotene which the body converts to Vitamin A
  • Some folate, iron and potassium
  • The darker the florets and stem the better the Vitamin C content
  • Much better to steam, stir fry or microwave to retain most of the vitamin C

A Birthday Lunch and a Gentleman’s Relish

Another year, another Birthday, but in the same restaurant, albeit several years apart but weirdly enough with some of the same dishes still on the menu! Is this complacency or is it because these dishes are just so good that they can not be removed from the menu. To my mind it is the latter!

A few years ago we ate at Dinner for dinner, en Famille, at the Chefs table but this time we ate at Dinner for lunch and just Himself and Myself. The service is just as good ( he sneezed and tissues appeared by his side, my handbag was on the floor, a table hook appeared, with apologies and bag was duly hooked onto table). And the food? We took the lunch menu and yes the dishes that were on the menu last time, were just as wonderful as before.

We started with Hay Smoked Salmon, which had its inspiration from 1730 and was served with Gentleman’s Relish.

Next came the pièce de resistance. The Meat Fruit from the 13th -15th century. When is a Clementine not a Clementine? When it is a meat fruit. This wonderful concoction looks like a Clementine but is in fact chicken liver parfait.

Duck and Turnip from absolutely ages ago written about in the edible History of Pompeii Ref Apicius

Of course Heston being Heston, he is not satisfied with one Pièce de Resistance but there are two. The second being the Tipsy Cake. This dates from the early 1800’s as in the English Cookery Book by J.H.Walsh. I don’t often eat dessert, but this is absolutely DIVINE. A kind of Brioche in its own little cocotte with I think a hot crème anglaise and hot roasted pineapple, Umm Umm !

Himself also discovered a red wine which , we decided it was very tasty.( I did have a sip).

Gentleman’s relish was a 19 th century gentry’s favourite and was called Patum Peperium. Why? A play on words, Patum for paste or pate and Pererium from Greek for pepper. The fact that it is made with lots of anchovies and garlic and butter is indeed neither here nor there !Maybe a 19th Century version of Anchovy butter?

To make your own relish you will need

  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • About 25-30 anchovy fillets, best to buy tops quality Ortiz is the best
  • 150 grams unsalted butter softened
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • A good grind of good black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme.

Simply blend all of the above either in a mortar and pestle, with a hand blender or in an electric blender, until smooth . Put in a pot, you can refrigerate it but take it out before using to soften, spread on toast, add to Welsh Rarebit, add to Caesar Salad dressing, put onto grilled fish, stuff mushrooms and so many options! And of course the exact recipe is a closely guarded secret. At Dinner it is a bit of a hybrid as they mix it with fine mayonnaise.