I can't quite recall when my love affair with curries began. Perhaps it was the introduction through my mums Thai green chicken curry, made with the sachet of Masterfoods Thai green curry paste to which she would then add a few extra veggies for some added texture, that excited my tastebuds and left them wanting more. I can almost taste it as I remember how the crisp green snow peas would go crunch in my mouth. That creamy coconutty goodness swirled through the white rice that sat at the bottom of the bowl and trying to scrape every last little bit up on the tines of the fork. Which is always quite hard to navigate, a fork can simply not curve around the bowl like a spoon can which results in said fork being replaced with an index finger to steal those last remaining tiny grains.
I think it has a lot to do with that moment where the spices hit the hot pan, sending a glorious cloud of lingering aromas into the air. A concoction of flavours that work their magic while ever so slowly simmering away. As my cooking has evolved over the years and I have learnt more about which flavours go with what, I am more inclined to replace the store-bought curry pastes with ones that I create myself. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a time and a place for the store-bought variety. Especially when camping, yes, they come in very handy when one wants something warming and delicious while sitting around the camp-fire. I used to think that creating my own would involve a myriad of ingredients and take up quite a bit of time. But, by keeping it simple and allowing each ingredient to meld into the next you really can create some magic, especially getting the satisfaction that you have created your very own.
It all comes together to create something that it so full of flavour. I ask you, is there a more comforting feeling than being tucked up tight in your home; steaming hot curry in your lap and a plate full of warm, soft flatbreads to mop up those saucy bits that leave a pool of deliciousness in the bottom of the bowl?
It conjures up memories of ordering Indian take-away. That sound as the lids are pulled off the containers and lined up on the bench; steam escaping from the torn bag of roti breads. Falling into the couch in front of the TV as the Daal Makhani, Lamb saag and the onion bhaji are slowly devoured.
The recipe for this slow-cooked lamb and cashew curry has been one that I have been playing around with for a while now. Each time tweaking it here and there, adding to it and taking away from it. Scribbling notes all over the lined paper. I am not one for a kitchen full of gadgets, but my slow-cooker certainly has had its fair share of cooking some delicious meals in it. Especially as the seasons change to cold, crisp days and icy evenings blanket the sky. Where wood-smoke billows from the surrounding chimneys and the pot slowly simmers away throughout the day, filling our home with the most mouth-watering aromas as the lamb becomes ever more meltingly tender and dinner cant quite come quickly enough!
I really love serving this with the brown rice and lentil salad, as I am a huge lover of the whole meat and dried fruit partnership. The tiny little currants in the salad provide the perfect pop of sweetness and the curried yoghurt dressing is one that is also quite delicious, even if its just dolloped right onto top of the curry itself.
Flatbreads in my opinion are a must, they take only minutes to create and provide the most perfect "tool" for wiping up every last drop of saucy delciousness. I hope your plates are wiped clean and your tummies are left in a world of happiness as you sit sround the kitchen table (or perhaps plonked on the couch) surrounded by friends or family, enjoying each others company, sharing stories and filling your home with memories.
Slow-cooked lamb and cashew curry
Serves a lot!! A great one to freeze.
1.5 – 1.8kg lamb shoulder, bone in
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 brown onion, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
Bunch of coriander root, washed well and chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
A good grinding of black pepper
A good pinch of chilli flakes
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon curry powder (I quite like the Keen's curry powder)
1 tablespoon light olive oil
Dash of water
Pinch of salt
1 medium or 2 small sweet potatoes, washed and cut into large chunks
2 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
8 cardamom pods, crushed
400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup dry-roasted cashews
400g tin of coconut milk
Juice of 1 lemon
2 big handfuls of spinach
For the curry paste, place ginger, onion, juice, coriander, seeds, spices, oil, water in a food processor and blitz until its formed a coarse paste.
Heat a dash of olive oil in a frypan that is large enough to fit the lamb in and brown it on both sides until its turned a lovely shade of that golden goodness.
Place the potatoes and sweet potato in the bottom of your slow cooker and place the lamb on top. Rub the curry paste all over the lamb and dollop the remaining down onto the potatoes.
Add the tomatoes and ½ fill the tin with water, give it a good swoosh around and pour this in, add the cardamom pods, stock or water and give it a bit of a stir. Pop the lid on and turn it onto low. Let it work its magic for 8 hours.
Once its done, ladle out most of the liquid and pop into a medium saucepan over a medium heat and simmer away for at least 30-40 minutes or until it has reduced by half. Add the coconut milk and lemon juice and salt if needed.
Shred the lamb, using two forks and remove the bones, then add the liquid back in along with the cashews and spinach and give it all a really good stir. Place onto a lovely serving platter and scatter over some coriander leaves.
200g spelt flour
200g Greek yoghurt
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Mix everything together until it forms a dough. Then divide into about 6 even portions. Roll out onto a floured surface, place a non-stick frypan over a medium heat and cook each flatbread for about 1 minute on each side. They will puff up and you will be tempted to just tear off a sneaky little egde. Do it, they are delicious! Wrap in some baking baper or a clean teatowel to keep them nice and warm.
Brown rice and lentil salad with currants and curry yoghurt dressing
½ small cauliflower and its leaves, broken into florets
1 cup brown rice
5 cardamom pods
1 tin lentils or 1 cup of dried lentils
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 brown onions, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup currants
1 tablespoon honey
The juice of ½ a lemon
Pinch of salt and a good grinding of black pepper
Sprinkle of chilli flakes
A good handful of coriander leaves, chopped
½ cup Greek yoghurt
½ teaspoon curry powder
Zest of ½ a lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
Place cauliflower florets and leaves onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle a good amount of oil over the top, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. Roast for about 30 minutes until golden and just starting to become crispy.
Cook rice. Fill a saucepan with water until it comes just up to the crease on your pointer finger when you rest it on top of the rice. Bring to the boil, stir and then reduce down to the lowest heat, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave to sit with the lid on.
Drain and rinse lentils or you can use dried lentils as well., just cook in a medium saucepan with a bay leaf until they are tender. I usually use the du puy lentils.
Over a low-medium heat, add the coconut oil to a fry pan and add your sliced onions. Cook until they are lovely and golden, this usually takes me about 20-30 minutes. Add the seeds, turmeric and chilli flakes, continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Now add in the vinegar, currants and honey and cook until the liquid has evaporated, squeeze in the lemon juice, add salt and pepper if needed. Finally stirring through the coriander.
For the dressing combine everything in a small bowl.
In a large bowl add the rice, lentils, onion mixture and the cauliflower. Mix this carefully together. Place onto a serving platter and dollop with the dressing.
Pop everything onto the table and let everyone help themselves.