I developed this Lamb Rendang recipe because, in the spirit of spring, I treated the family to a Sunday dinner which consisted of a leg of lamb with the usual roasted vegetables etc, but I didn’t realise just how much meat was actually on it! There was loads of tender meat left over so I thought it’d be nice to use it in a slow cooked curry. One of my favourite ways to cook lamb is in a Lamb Dansac, but I wanted to make something new for a change so I went for a lamb rendang instead.
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!
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)
400g of tinned coconut milk
80g desiccated coconut
6 chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
60g mangetout (cut into bite-sized pieces)
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).
One of my favourite meals is a Moroccan tagine, so the other day when I was searching for inspiration in the fridge and I realised that I had quite a few vegetables that needed used up I decided to make a vegan Moroccan tagine recipe. Whenever I’ve made tagines in the past I’ve always used lamb in them and cooked them in the slow cooker for hours, so it felt a bit odd to make this vegan Moroccan tagine within an hour. However, it turned out to be really tasty, with a wide variety of spiced vegetables incorporated within it, and it was pretty substantial thanks to the inclusion of chickpeas.
It’s easy for non-vegans to discount vegan food as being bland or boring because they think that the omission of meat from a dish equates with a lack of flavour, but I think the opposite can often be said of vegan food. A dish without meat can frequently surprise you because it allows the unique and delicate flavours of the vegetables, pulses and spices to sing due to the fact that they are not being overpowered by the strong taste of meat.
If you enjoy Moroccan flavours and fancy a light, but hearty vegan tagine then this is the recipe for you. One of the benefits of this meal is that the choice of vegetables can be altered to suit whatever you have in the fridge and whatever suits your FODMAP needs. You can tweak the recipe to suit your own tastes too, so add less cinnamon if you’re not a fan of it or feel free to go to town with the fresh chilli if you’ve got a mouth made of asbestos. It’s all about cooking something that works for you.
I was concerned in case it would be very spicy so I served my family’s tagines with a dollop of crème fraiche resting on top, but you could use coconut yoghurt if you can’t tolerate dairy and want to keep it a completely vegan Moroccan tagine. I also served mine with a generous scattering of toasted flaked almonds, a component I would wholly recommend you use because it adds a lovely nutty crunch to each spoonful you munch. You can serve it with rice, cous cous, flatbreads or on its own, but either way, it’s just a really easy, big ol’ comforting bowl of spicy, tasty veg that’s just the ticket on a cool, drizzly autumn evening.
200g red bell pepper (cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 carrots (cut into bite-sized pieces)
4 tbsps. soy sauce (or tamari – a gluten-free soy sauce)
1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tsps. ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsps. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. fresh ginger (minced)
½ a fresh red chilli (deseeded and thinly sliced, but optional)
The juice of ½ a lime
300g of tinned chickpeas (drained & well rinsed)
700g of tinned chopped tomatoes
To serve (optional):
20g flaked toasted almonds
Freshly chopped coriander
Chopped fresh chilli
Lactose-free crème fraiche or coconut yoghurt
Rice, cous cous or flatbreads.
This is a really easy one that doesn’t really require much work apart from the veg prep.
Prepare all of your ingredients as directed.
Put a large pan over a medium heat.
Put the soy sauce and water in the pot and then add all of your vegetables.
Cook for 10 mins and then add all of your spices and the lemon juice. Stir thoroughly and cook for another 10 mins.
Add the chickpeas and chopped tomatoes and stir well.
Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook for another 15-20 mins.
Put your flaked almonds in a dry frying pan and toast them, stirring frequently so that they don’t burn. Once they’re golden brown remove them from the frying pan.
Garnish each bowl of tagine with chopped fresh coriander and flaked almonds and add any other accompaniments as desired.
Yesterday, in a determined effort to eat a bit healthier, I made a cracking vegetable coconut curry. The main reason for making it was to use up some mangetout I’d had sitting in the fridge, but sadly I forgot to add them! Although the curry lacked a bit of greenery (hence its overall orange glow!) it was still packed to the gunnels with mixed vegetables and was held together with the addition of coconut, making it taste really creamy and decadent even though it was dairy-free.
Most curries rely on a base of fried onion and garlic to add that sweet, caramelised background note that’s so prevalent in Indian cooking, but they’re like napalm to my digestive system so there was no way I’d put them in my curry. However, I’ve recently discovered a fantastic spice called asafoetida powder which tastes exactly the same as onion (and has garlic flavoured tones through it too) and it genuinely adds the flavour of garlic and onion into my cooking without having any negative effects on my tummy. Try it, guys. Asafoetida is amazing!
I made quite a large pot of the vegetable coconut curry, so there were plenty of leftovers. I froze a couple of portions to take to work for lunch throughout the week, but I think we’ll also be having this for dinner tonight too. I’m really looking forward to it though, because the flavours and spices will have been marrying overnight so it’ll taste even better today. (I always think curries taste better the next day, don’t you?)
I’m also having a bash at making my own naan breads for the first time. The dough is rising in the kitchen as we speak (so to speak). I intend on making two types: a sesame seed one and one sprinkled with nigella seeds (aka black onion seeds). Sadly, as much as I’d love to give it a whirl, I think attempting a peshwari naan (a filled naan stuffed with a mixture of ground pistachios/almonds, raisins/coconut, and sugar) might be a little ambitious at this stage.
I’m sure you’ll hear in a future blog post how I get on, but in the meantime wish me luck!
1 tsp of asafoetida powder
400g of tinned chopped tomatoes
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (crushed/minced)
4 tbsps of oil
2 large potatoes (cubed)
200g sweet potato (cubed)
2 large carrots (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1/2 a chilli (seeds removed and diced finely)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tbsps curry powder (I used madras)
1 tsp of salt (add more to taste if necessary)
1/2 tsp black pepper
400g of coconut milk
60g of desiccated coconut
Put the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the asafoetida powder, ginger and chilli and continue to fry for 5 mins, stirring frequently.
(Have a good ol’ sniff at this stage because it smells fantastic!)
Add the tin of chopped tomatoes along with the turmeric, curry powder, desiccated coconut and salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 5 mins, stirring frequently.
Add all of your prepared vegetables followed by the tin of coconut milk. Gently simmer until the potatoes are soft to the touch and cooked through.
Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander and serve with rice, naan breads or poppadums.