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Posts Tagged ‘indian’

chicken dhansak

For years and years I’d always order the same dish whenever I went for a curry. Chicken dhansak, a hot and sour parsi dish of chicken in a thick, spicy sauce with lentils, was recommended to me by a friend and afterwards I never tried anything else. Lentils make the sauce healthier than when cream is used, add to the fibre content of the dish and fill you up faster so you don’t eat as much… except that never happens to me when I go for a curry – papadums, naan, rice and of course a refreshing cold beer are all accompaniments and I rarely leave without consuming an entire day’s calories in one sitting.

I’ve tried cooking chicken dhansak few times in the past, but never with much success. The first time was when I was at university and after tearing the packet of lentils when trying to open them (and covering the floor with tiny red blobs) I eventually ended up making enough to feed an entire household as I got my quantities wrong and forgot to consider that lentils absorb water and expand. Sadly it didn’t taste too great either and I begrudginly ate the leftovers over the forthcoming few days, mostly because I couldn’t afford not to.

There’s a pack of split red lentils in the cupboard so I thought put them to good use and try making dhansak for dinner tonight. Whilst browsing the internet for inspiration and recipies, I came across a video on videojug called ‘how to cook chicken dhansak‘. Initially I wasn’t that impressed – there are plenty of recipes online and this one didn’t appeal – but after watching it again I realised that I know the restaurant that the lady in the video came from. It always used to be busy so, taking that into account, I thought it must be worth a try.

The recipe was simple to follow although I was confused about the order of some of the steps in the method. It states to start frying the chicken (which takes 20 minutes) before boiling the lentils (which take 30) and as such I ended up cooking the chicken for thirty minutes. Although it was over a low heat this was way too long and not surprisingly it ended up quite dry.

After an hour or so of cooking it was time for dinner. I was very impressed – it was the best dhansak I’ve made by far. There wasn’t as much sauce as I’d have from a takeaway so next time I’d add a few more lentils and a bit more water, but apart from that (and the dry chicken) there was not much wrong. In the future, I reckon it would be better frying the chicken 5 or so minutes before the cooked lentils are added.

Still not as good as the takeaway but it’s a start!

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Vegetable bhuna curry on steamed basmati rice

I never used to like curry. It was partly down to the fact that I didn’t like spicy food (that’s changed somewhat over the years, although I still don’t like things too hot) and so people would try to get me to “try something mild, have a korma”. Now, the problem with this approach is that kormas obviously have a very distinct flavour and, as far as I’m concerned, not a very nice one! It wasn’t until my housemates dragged me to an Indian buffet during my final year at university that I started to appreciate this great cuisine. At the buffet, the curry that really won me over was a chicken bhuna and I’ve been a great fan ever since.

When we were planning what to eat this week there was a chance that a vegetarian friend of mine would be joining us tonight so we decided that a vegetable curry would be in order. We’ve done curries from scratch before, but decided to try out a curry paste tonight (we’ve previously just used them for marinades).

Thinly slice 1.5 red onions and put them in a heavy-bottomed pan with a tablespoon of oil to soften over a low heat. Then added slices of a large carrot, chunks of a medium sweet potato and pieces of a whole cauliflower (we were going to use courgette too, but forgot). Add a few tablespoons of water to stop the vegetables from sticking and pop the lid on for a 10 minutes or so. Stir in 140g (half a jar) of bhuna curry paste (we used Pataks), 2tbsps tomato purée, a tin of chopped tomatoes and 200ml of water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for 30 minutes (or until the cauliflower is getting towards the softness you like!) stirring occassionally. Add some mushrooms and tomato wedges and simmer uncovered for a further 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. We served this with steamed basmati rice (two nights in a row!) and a tomato, onion and cucumber salad dressed with lemon juice and a pinch of cumin.

We intended for this to make enough for four (we’ll freeze the rest), but there are still at least three if not four portions left!

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We’ve been trying to organise our online recipes. I have a Recipe Binder on the Good Food website, but that’s only useful for recipes on the site, Rob and I have both been bookmarking but such things tend to get disorganised and forgotten about. So the solution? We’ve created a Grubs Up account over at Delicious (the bookmarking site rather than the foodie magazine!) where we intend to save all the lovely recipes we come across. For new recipes, we have a “not-tried” tag, and that’s where the inspiration for tonight’s dinner came from.

Tandoori chicken skewers with pea shoot, cucumber & red onion salad, and chapattis

The original Chicken Tikka Skewers recipe calls for a marinade of natural yoghurt and hot curry paste, which we substituted for tandoori paste that we already had (hence our rather pinker skewers!). We also left out the coriander leaves from the salad; a cardinal sin for some, but I can’t stand the stuff and will avoid noticeable amounts of it at all costs! Other than that, we followed the recipe to the word, trying pea shoots (nice and fresh with a delicate sugar-snap flavour) and chapattis for the first time.

And the verdict? Absolutely delicious, very light and a definite one to have again – would also make a perfect cold lunch (unfortunately we only considered this when it was too late to buy extra chicken!).

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