Thai Green Curry (serves 4)

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

When I was at work yesterday I found myself pondering over what I was going to make for dinner. I knew I had a pack of chicken breasts in the fridge, but I was a bit fed up of making the same chicken dishes over and over again. However, I remembered that I had a thick chunk of fresh root ginger in the fridge as well as a jar of minced lemongrass in the cupboard, so I found myself thinking about making a Thai curry.

I’ve never made a Thai green curry from scratch before because I’ve always thought that they require ridiculous amounts of individual ingredients and, let’s be honest here, sometimes after a long day at work you can’t be bothered with all of that faff-on, can you? However, after a brief mootch in the Thai cookbook section at work (one of the benefits of working in a bookshop!) I actually realised that it doesn’t really take that much to make a Thai green curry after all and that, with the exception of having to buy fish sauce and a packet of mangetout on my way home, I was all set.

Now, I’m going to offer a word of advice here and I really hope you take it. I’ve never cooked with fish sauce before so I added it after sweating off my spices, ginger and lemongrass, but this was a huge mistake. IT FREAKIN’ STINKS!!! I’m not kidding, this was an ‘open all of the doors and windows’ job. This was a ‘thank God the living room door was closed so the smell didn’t meander up into any of the bedrooms’ jobs. It was horrific. So my advice is: only add the fish sauce after you’ve already added the coconut milk so that it blends into the curry sauce without releasing its infernal pungent aroma into your kitchen.

After I’d added the coconut milk and allowed my nasal passages to dissipate the strong stench of the fish sauce I steeled myself and tasted the curry sauce and… it was delicious. You couldn’t taste any aspect of the fish sauce whatsoever, but it had definitely added a richness to the Thai green curry that it would have sorely lacked had I omitted it. Please trust me and use the fish sauce, just don’t smell it. Ever.

I loved this Thai green curry and so did my family. It’s rich, multi-flavoured and very satisfying and it makes a nice change from the usual Indian curries I tend to make a lot. Its coconut milk base carries the delicate notes of root ginger and lemongrass without overpowering the chicken and making it taste too sweet. I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m making this for dinner again, but you can be damn sure I’ll be adding the fish sauce AFTER I’ve added the coconut milk. I won’t make that mistake again!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsps minced fresh root ginger

1 tbsp minced lemongrass (or 2 crushed lemongrass stalks)

1 mild red chilli (finely chopped)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp asafoetida

1/2 a bunch of fresh coriander (chopped)

1/2 a bunch of basil (chopped)

2 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps lime juice (or the juice of 2 limes)

1 tin of coconut milk

1/3 of a block of coconut cream (around 75g)

4 chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)

200g mangetout (cut into bite-sized pieces)

Rice

Method:

In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil and once hot add the ginger, lemongrass, chopped chilli, cumin and asafoetida.

Add the chicken pieces, tin of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce and leave to simmer for 10-15 mins.

Start your rice cooking.

Add the mangetout, basil, coriander and coconut cream and cook for another couple of minutes.

Drain your rice.

If you used whole lemongrass stalks then just before serving remove them from the Thai green curry.

Serve on top of the rice with fresh basil (and a bit more chopped chilli if you like).

Thai Green Curry by The Fat Foodie

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Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) (serves 4)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

I love aloos, potato-based Indian dishes, because they’re so hearty and flavoursome and they make a lovely light alternative to heavy dairy and meat-based curries. I’m particularly a fan of aloo palak, a potato and spinach curry, because the addition of spinach leaves makes the dish very fresh tasting and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

I know a lot of people who would never dream about making a curry from scratch because they think it’s too hard or that it involves too many ingredients, an attitude I can understand because some curries are pretty labour and ingredient intensive. However, this aloo palak is really easy to make and its ingredients list isn’t that extensive either.

The beauty of making a curry yourself lies in the fact that you can use fresh flavours that really pack a wallop, such as minced ginger root and fresh coriander leaf. Accordingly, you’re rewarded with an aloo palak that tastes much nicer than a curry sauce that comes from a jar. As an added bonus there’s no onion or garlic in this recipe because asafoetida powder is used to impart those flavours instead, so it’s FODMAP friendly.

Although this aloo palak is vegetarian, it’s substantial, requiring little more than some crisp and crunchy poppadums to accompany it, but even though there’s no meat in it it’s rich and stuffed full of a variety of flavours. It’s a vegetarian curry that’s well worth making.

Ingredients:

800g potatoes cut into small cubes (peeled weight)

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp hot madras powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps sesame seeds

2 tbsps dessicated coconut

200g fresh washed spinach

Fresh coriander and poppadums for serving

Method:

Parboil the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until just soft and then drain.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add all of your spices and cook for a minute.

Add the potatoes and desiccated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted down and add a little water if you’d prefer the curry to be a bit saucier. Taste for seasoning (it might require a generous seasoning of salt at this point).

Serve with freshly chopped coriander and crisp poppadums. (It’s also lovely with fresh chopped chilli and a cucumber and mint raita.)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

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Beef Madras

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Now that spring is creeping in, with its sporadic sunny, but chilly days it’s tempting to get work done in the garden. However, I know fine well that if I’m going to be working in the garden all day the last thing I’ll feel like doing when I get in is cooking a decent meal from scratch. I think a hot bath to take the chill from my bones (helped along by a warming glass of wine or two) will be a much stronger calling. So it was with a great deal of foresight that I prepared this beef madras in the slow cooker before I headed outside the other day.

The beauty of using the slow cooker to cook a curry is that it allows the spicy flavours to permeate into the casserole beef throughout the whole day while the slow cooking process also tenderises the meat. As a result, you’ve got a wonderful meal to come home to after a hard day’s work with very little effort and minimal prep work involved.

Upon tasting this beef madras, I discovered that it was a bit on the spicy side for my family so I kept my (dairy-free) portion aside and added double cream into the rest. I don’t mind quite a generous amount of heat in my curries, but the addition of the cream seemed to be a resounding success with my family because it tamped down the heat of the chilli in the curry while adding a luxurious richness. Equally, you could omit the madras curry powder and use a garam masala curry powder instead, which will add flavour, but not heat.

If you like meals that involve very little work to prepare and curries with plenty of body and flavour then this beef madras is definitely one for you to try.

Ingredients:

450g Casserole beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2tsps hot Madras powder
1 tsp (heaped) ground turmeric
2 tsps Marigold stock boullion powder
1 tsp salt
2 peppers (diced)
1/2 packet coconut cream (grated)
1/2 pot Elmlea double cream
Serve with basmati rice
Method:
Set your slow cooker on low and put the beef, chopped tomatoes and coconut cream in.
Put the stock, Madras curry powder, salt and ground turmeric in a jug and add around 100ml of hot water to it and stir before adding to the slow cooker. Stir until everything is mixed together.
Leave the beef madras to putter away all day. About twenty minutes before serving add your diced peppers. Taste to see if you need to add any more salt. Make your rice.
When you’re ready to eat, serve as it is or add double cream (or a dairy-free cream) if you feel it’s a bit too spicy or if you just want to make it richer.
Serve with rice, naan breads or poppadums and fresh coriander.
Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

Beef Madras by The Fat Foodie

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Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry (Serves 6)

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie

Last night’s dinner was a variation of another helping from The Happy Pear cookbook, mainly because I still had loads of vegetables left in the fridge from the last ‘big’ shop I did and I didn’t want them to go to waste.

It was only when I was doing the dishes afterwards that I realised that I hadn’t eaten any meat at all that day and was surprised at how satisfied I felt after eating what was actually a completely vegan dinner. I think it’s easy to become brainwashed into thinking that a ‘proper’ meal can only be the ol’ meat-and-two-veg combination when, in actual fact, dishes based on beans, lentils and starchy vegetables can be just as satisfying and tasty.

Although I’m normally a fan of heavier Indian curries, such as kormas, tikka masalas and dansacs, this makes a gorgeous curry that’s got a lovely zingy fresh flavour to it, curtesy of the addition of lime juice and a couple of lemongrass stalks. The addition of almond butter was a taste revelation too. I’d never have thought of using a nut butter in a curry before, but man does it work well, adding a creamy savoury nuttiness that makes the curry more satisfying. Perhaps it replaces the tongue-pleasing fattiness that a meat, such as beef, would usually provide?

Like many other recipes in The Happy Pear lads’ cookbook you can adapt the ingredients according to what you’ve got at hand. In my case I left out the aubergine and leek they recommend and used onion and sweet potato instead.

It made a very generous quantity so we’ll be having this again for dinner tonight, although I’m sure it’ll be even tastier seeing as the flavours will have been marinating together in the fridge overnight. I’ll also be making some stuffed flatbreads to go with it, the (very entertaining) video for which can be found here.

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash (peeled and cut into bite-size pieces)

1 sweet potato (peeled and cut into bite-size pieces)

1 red pepper (deseeded and cut into bite-size pieces)

1 onion (diced)

3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 cm piece of fresh ginger (finely chopped)

¼ tsp of chilli flakes (adjust to taste)

2 lemongrass stalks (bash them a bit with a rolling pin to release the aromatic oils)

4 tbsps. of oil

6 tbsps. soy sauce

4 tbsps. almond butter

1 400ml tin of coconut milk

1 400g tin of black beans (you could use any type of bean you fancy though)

Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsps. honey

2 tsps. ground turmeric

2 tsps. paprika

2 tsps. ground coriander

1 tbsp. ground cumin

2 tsps. salt (adjust to taste though)

½ tsp black pepper

To serve:

Boiled rice

4 spring onions (finely sliced)

Flaked almonds

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200°C/180C Fan/400°F/Gas mark 6.

Prepare your vegetables as per the ingredients list.

Put your squash, sweet potato and red pepper on a baking tray and sprinkle over the soy sauce and 2 tbsps. of the oil. Mix so the veg is evenly coated and spread out on the tray. Put in the oven for about 25 mins until the veg is cooked.

Put the remaining oil in a large saucepan and put on a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and lemongrass and cook for about 10 mins, stirring every so often.

Add the coconut milk, almond butter, lime juice, honey, spices and salt and pepper and mix well before simmering it gently for 10-15 mins. Add a bit of water if you think it’s too thick.

Start to boil your rice (if you’re having it as an accompaniment to the curry).

Add the black beans and roasted vegetables (and any cooking liquor left behind in the tray) to the pan and cook for 3-5 mins more.

Drain your rice and portion out into serving bowls, top with the curry, spring onions and flaked almonds.

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie

Vietnamese Sweet Almond Curry by The Fat Foodie