Lamb & Spinach Curry

Lamb & Spinach Curry

I have created a curry monster…! When Hubby first arrived on these shores with his American palate, his spice tolerance was firmly skewed towards all things Mexican.  His first curry confused his tastebuds what with being all spicy but in a way he wasn’t used to, but he soon overcame that and now gets a little grumpy if he goes more than a week without a curry. Which probably explains why I feel like I’ve made a curry every weekend for the last wee while, because the curry monster has been a bit demandy-pants!  

So I’ve been trying out some new recipes, with Hubby as guinea pig, and two are proving to be quite good. There’s a chicken pathia that I’m still working on that is almost there (but not quite!) and then there’s this lamb and spinach one, a particularly great find from the peeps at Olive Magazine.  And since it’s National Curry Week, it seemed like a good time to blog it!

My favourite curries always seem to be lamb ones, that slight gaminess that lamb has just seems to partner perfectly with lovely aromatic Indian spices.  Lamb is even better when you slow cook it for hours, which is the biggest adaptation I made to this recipe, extending the cooking time from an hour to two and a half.  The result is a sweet melt-in-the-mouth lamb that almost falls apart when you stick a fork in it.  And the spinach wilts perfectly into the spicy sauce to add a lovely layer of flavour as well as a bit of texture to the dish.

Another thing to highly recommend this recipe is how easy it is to make, with the help of a food processor to save you time chopping the onions, garlic and ginger.  There’s also no need to skin or deseed the tomatoes (which always takes ages!) as they melt down into a lovely sauce. And if you don’t have any fresh tomatoes to hand (or can’t be arsed dealing with them!) a can of chopped tomatoes will do the job just as well. Honestly, all the hard work is done by the slow cooking, leaving you free to put your feet up and enjoy the lovely aromas coming from the pot or, as in Hubby’s case, be driven mad with hunger by them for the better part of a weekend afternoon!  But don’t take my word for it’s deliciousness, take Hubby’s, who has demanded this curry two weekends in a row and declared it his (new!) favourite 🙂   

Lamb & Spinach Curry
Serves 4
A slow cooked melt-in-the-mouth lamb curry to celebrate National Curry Week.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 min
Stuff you'll need...
  1. thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  2. 3 cloves garlic
  3. 2 onions, roughly chopped
  4. 2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp ground turmeric
  7. 1 tbsp ground cumin
  8. 1 tbsp ground coriander
  9. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  10. 600g lamb neck fillet, cut into bite-sized cubes
  11. 4 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can chopped tomatoes)
  12. 1 tbsp tomato purée
  13. 100g spinach, chopped
  14. 1 lamb stock cube
  15. pinch sugar
  16. Ghee (optional)
Cook!
  1. Throw the ginger, garlic and onions in a food processor and pulse blitz everything until it's somewhere between a liquid and a paste.
  2. Heat about 1 tbsp oil (or ghee) in a stewpot then add the blitzed onion mix, sliced green chillies and 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Next, add the spices to the pot and stir well until the spices are mixed throughout the onions, and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add the lamb and keep stirring until the cubes are browned.
  5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, a pinch of sugar and 2 cups of water, then bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover and cook for at least 2 and a half hours - lamb neck fillet loves slow cooking!
  7. About an hour into cooking, add a lamb stock cube and stir until it's melted into the sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning and add more cayenne if required. If the sauce is looking a bit thin, continue to simmer without a lid to help it thicken up.
  8. Add the spinach for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
Notes
  1. Serve with rice and naan bread.
Adapted from Olive Magazine
Adapted from Olive Magazine
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Pasta

Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Pasta

I love aubergines (aka eggplants)!  They are one of my favourite vegetables if not my favourite vegetable (although they are technically a fruit, but let’s not quibble over that just now).  I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to them!  They are crazy versatile, as evidenced by the myriad ways to have them, and I don’t think I’ve come across an aubergine dish yet that I didn’t like. My mum is totally to blame for my aubergine fondness, she makes this mean Chinese chilli aubergine that when I was a kid I used to pick at the leftovers, stone cold straight out of the fridge, and then tried (and failed!) to cover up the holes I’d left…

Aubergines are in season still so this is a great recipe for a quick and satisfying Meatless Monday supper, or an any night supper.  The dish is full of that unmistakeable smoky aubergine flavour, perfectly complimented by the spicy tomato sauce.  And cooking the aubergines in the oven avoids all that oil soaking up that they love which, whilst it does make them much tastier, isn’t brilliant for the old waistline.   The fresh basil bridges late Summer and early Autumn, and makes a lovely difference so while you can substitute it for dried basil I would recommend trying not to.  

Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Pasta
Serves 2
Smoky roasted aubergines in a simple spicy tomato sauce over linguine makes for a perfect Meatless Monday, or any day, supper.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Stuff you'll need...
  1. 2 medium aubergines/eggplants
  2. olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped
  4. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  6. 1 tbsp fresh oregano, or 1 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  7. 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes, plus extra for finishing
  8. 1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil, plus extra for finishing
  9. 1/2 tsp sugar
  10. Balsamic vinegar
  11. 1/2 packet linguine
  12. Parmesan
Cook!
  1. Preheat the oven to 220° C/425° F.
  2. Slice the eggplants into 1-inch thick slices, then cut again until you have large cube-ish pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet or roasting tray. Salt well and season with black pepper before drizzling over with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Toss the aubergine cubes until they are well coated .
  3. Pop the aubergine cubes in the oven and roast until they're tender and browning, which should take about 20 minutes.
  4. While the aubergine is roasting, heat 3 tbsp olive oil on low heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sautée for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are soft.
  5. While the onions are sautéeing, put a large saucepan of water on to boil for your pasta.
  6. Add the garlic and sautée for another minute before adding the tomatoes, oregano, chilli flakes, sugar and basil. Add a couple of good slugs of balsamic and then turn the heat up until the sauce is simmering.
  7. At this point, give the aubergine a good shake to toss everything around again and then pop back in the oven.
  8. Give the sauce another 10-12 minutes, until it has thickened up.
  9. When the eggplant is ready, remove it from the oven and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer gently on very low heat.
  10. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt well before popping the linguine in. Cook per the packet instructions, until al dente.
  11. When the pasta is ready, drain and drop into the sauce. Gently fold in the sauce until the pasta is well coated. Dish up and top with chopped basil and chilli flakes to taste. Serve with grated parmesan.
Adapted from Food52
Adapted from Food52
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Jambalaya

Jambalaya

My kitchen is a happiest when there’s something spicy going down in it. I actually don’t think there’s much that Hubby and I cook that doesn’t involve some sort of spice, whether it’s of the fragrant variety or the heated.  This delicious recipe is full of both, and while it may look like quite the longest ingredients list don’t be put off by that as you can premix the dry spices ahead of cooking so it really isn’t as complicated as it might look, and the end result is well worth it.

A bit like the questionable authenticity of my Fish Creole, this jambalaya is more “Creole” than Cajun (it’s a tomato, or lack of, thing apparently!) and one of my favourite suppers that Hubby makes.  That said… it’s never quite the same twice because Hubby just can’t leave well enough alone, bless.  So this version is a foodie snapshot of how he makes it now. It’s not quite the way he made it six months ago, and no doubt it won’t be quite the way he makes it six months from now, but it is always delicious no matter how much he tinkers with it 🙂

You can make this with any combo of prawn, chicken, smoked sausage, ham hock or chorizo.  Hubby tends to go with two, three max, one of which is inevitably chorizo – it just adds another layer of flavour that compliments the paprika in the dry spice mix.  Fresh chorizo is okay but it has to be really good quality otherwise dried is better, just remember to peel off the tough outer layer of skin if you’re using dried chorizo before cooking with it.

Hubby eats this with potato salad… for seriously… He swears it’s a recognised accompaniment, and a quick Google seems to back him up, but that’s just one carb too many for me (something Hubby never thought he’d hear me say!).  I like to give mine a good squeeze of lemon all over instead, the sourness is a lovely counter balance to the spiciness of the Jambalaya.

As to why I like this quite as much as I do?  There’s lots of rice, which is always made of win in my book, the flavours are crazy intense, and it reheats really nicely the next day, which is just as well as there’s always tons of leftovers!

Jambalaya
Serves 4
A comforting bowl of rice, creole style, full of spice and all things nice.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 red onion, diced
  2. 1 white onion, diced
  3. 1 green pepper, diced
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  5. 2 dried chorizo sausages, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  6. 1 package smoked sausage, cut into bitet-sized pieces
  7. 1 can tomatoes
  8. 2 tbsps tomato ketchup
  9. 2 tsps dark soy
  10. 1 tsp fish sauce, more to taste
  11. a few dashes of Maggi liquid seasoning (optional)
  12. a drizzle of Ketjap manis (optional)
  13. 1 beef stock pot/cube dissolved in 2 pints boiling water
  14. additional water to top up
  15. 1.5 cups long-grain rice
  16. 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  17. 1/2 tsp onion granules
  18. 1/2 tsp thyme
  19. 1/2 tsp oregano
  20. 1/2 tsp chilli powder (mild)
  21. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  22. 1/4 tsp celery salt
  23. 1 tsp ground coriander
  24. 1 tsp heaped smoked sweet paprika
  25. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  26. salt & pepper to season
  27. Plus oil to cook
  28. Lemon wedges and/or potato salad to serve
Cook!
  1. Heat a drizzle of oil in the stewpot on a medium heat and cook the chorizo until lightly coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Do not drain the oil from the stewpot.
  2. Add a bit more oil to the stewpot and bring back up to medium heat. Add the onions and peppers, lightly salt and stir to coat for about a minute. Turn the heat down and continue to cook gently for about ten minutes, stirring occassionally.
  3. Turn the heat up again and add the smoked sausage to the onion and pepper mix and cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Stir well before adding the tomatoes, dry spice mix, ketchup, soy and fish sauce. Stir again.
  4. Next, tip in the rice and mix well. Cover with the beef stock, stir, and add a bit more water to top up if need be. You don’t want it too wet, but it needs to have enough liquid to cook the rice.
  5. Bring everything to a boil before covering and reducing the heat until you’ve got a low simmer. Leave for 30-45 minutes, stirring after the first ten minutes. You may need to scrape the bottom to free any stuck bits of rice but this is ok, the caramelised bits of rice just add to the flavour mix.
  6. Stir every twenty minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is moist and tender. Serve hot.
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Fish Creole

Fish Creole

I’m not entirely convinced that this recipe is in any way authentically creole, but it is authentically delicious and isn’t that what really matters 😉  It’s also another one of my mum’s recipes that I’ve been cooking since Uni (at least) but I’d always made it with chicken…  Until now!  Mum made us her fish version last month and the whole family were completely converted, so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever make it with chicken again – tasty as that was, with fish it’s even tastier 🙂

This is a properly comforting dish and is perfect for chasing this last lingering bite of winter away.  The warmth of the paprika and chilli just goes so well with the garlicky tomatoey stew, and its heartiness is a perfect contrast to the delicate flakey buttery cod.

Speaking of butter… This is a dish that loves butter, and lots of it.  I’ve tried subbing corn oil in an attempt to make it healthier but ended up with a pale shadow of the real thing, so much so that I’d rather not have it if I can’t go all out on the butter in a James Martin stylee (!)  My compromise, then is to just not make this too often 😉

If you do want to make it with chicken instead then use thighs not breast (so much more flavour!), keep the pieces pretty big and sautee off to seal and brown before cooking in the stew for 30 minutes.

PS – how cute are my little fishy bowls!  They’re actually measuring cups but serving fish in them was too good an opportunity to miss!!

Fish Creole
Serves 2
Cod in a rich, spicy, garlicky tomato stew, comfort food Creole style.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 400g cod fillets (or other firm, white fish)
  2. 1 white onion, sliced (chunky rather than fine)
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 green pepper, cue into vaguely triangular shapes
  5. 1 can chopped tomatoes
  6. 1 tsp paprika (not smokey!)
  7. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  8. 1 chicken stock cube or pot
  9. pinch of sugar
  10. butter
  11. juice of 1 lemon
  12. white flour
  13. salt and pepper
Cook!
  1. Put a wok, or large saucepan, over a medium-high heat and melt a generous tablespoon of butter until it’s starting to bubble and saute off your onions for a couple of minutes until the edges are starting to brown. Add the green peppers until the skin has blistered a wee bit and then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, taking care not to let the garlic burn.
  2. Add the tomatoes, spices, chicken stock cube and a generous pinch of sugar. Fill the empty tomato can about a quarter full with water and give it a good swirl to pick up any last bits of tomato, and add.
  3. Now, the measurements I’ve given for the spice is probably a little cautious. That and I’ve long since stopped using actual measures of spice for this dish so don’t actually know what the measures are! Taste and add more parpika and/or chilli to suit.
  4. Leave the tomtoey stew to simmer away for 30 minutes.
  5. When the time’s up, pat the cod fillets on kitchen roll until they’re as dry as you can get them – this stops them from tasting fishy (apparently!) Cut the cod into generous sized chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches which should hold them together while cooking. Shake some flour onto a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper. Roll your fish chunks in the flour to just coat them, and then lift out with a shake to get rid of any excess flour.
  6. In a frying pan, melt another generous tablespoon of butter and as soon as it starts to bubble lay your fish chunks gently in the pan. Give them 2-3 minutes and then gently turn over. The flour should colour up nicely so that you’ve got some lovely brown bits on the fish. Give the other side 2-3 minutes as well and then move the pieces of fish from the frying pan into the tomatoey stew. Add the lemon juice and then give everything a gentle stir before leaving to simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Add a final tablespoon of butter to give the sauce a lovely glossy sheen, stirring until it melts.
  7. Serve on a bed of fluffy white rice, and try not to think of all that butter… 😉
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Sweet & Spicy Prawn Noodle Salad

Sweet & Spicy Prawn Noodle Salad

I struggle with what to make for lunch.  Sandwiches are the obvious choice but a limited rota of fillings makes them get boring really quickly.  Even at the weekend when I’ve got more time I’m generally quite stumped as to what to make.  Left to my own devices I’d probably just rustle up a bowl of ramen noodles every day (and chorizo pasta every night!), but Hubby keeps pointing out the inherent unhealthiness of that, so… I’ve always got one eye out for new and interesting things to make for that meddlesome midday meal whenever I’m flicking through foodie mags or watching foodie progs.  When I saw (the very lovely!) James Martin make his Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles one Saturday morning I knew I had to give it a go – not just because it looked tasty good but also because it looked like it could be Eat’s Spicy Crayfish Noodles, crab crayfish swap notwithstanding, which are awesome!  Sadly, the only Eat in Edinburgh is inconveniently way out at the airport which is why I’m happy to have found a recipe that is tantamount to making my own…

 

Other than the obvious fact that this is not a sandwich, I love this for lunch – the sweet spicy noodles are delicious cold and the whole thing tastes lovely and fresh thanks to the coriander and zingy lime juice.  Despite the long list of ingredients it really doesn’t take long to make these, and that wee bit of effort the night before will totally pay off the next day when you tuck into these for lunch 🙂

My take on JM’s original recipe cuts down the sauce:noodle ratio quite a bit as the Eat noodles I’m trying to recreate are eaten cold, and too much sauce with cold noodles = claggygedon.  You’ll probably still need to give them a good shoogle to loosen them up before eating (a fresh squeeze of lime juice all over helps), especially if they’ve just come out of the fridge

Sweet & Spicy Prawn Noodle Salad
Serves 2
Delicious cold noodles in a light sweet and spicy sauce, set off perfectly with zingy lime juice.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
  4. 1-2 red bird’s-eye chillies, finely chopped
  5. 75ml tomato ketchup
  6. 50ml Thai sweet chilli sauce
  7. 50ml hoisin sauce
  8. 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
  9. 50ml hot water
  10. 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  11. 1 packet king prawns, cooked and peeled
  12. 600g fresh egg noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
  13. 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  14. 2 limes, juice one, quarter one to serve
Cook!
  1. Heat the oil in a wok before adding the ginger, garlic and chillies and stir-frying them for 2-3 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, hoisin sauce and fish sauce. I find it helps a little to melt the sugar in the hot water separately before adding that to the bowl and whisking everything together.
  3. Add the sauce to the wok, stir well to incorporate the ginger, garlic and chillies, and then bring to the boil before reduding the heat and simmering for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  4. Add the prawns first and coat them in the sauce, and then add the noodles, coriander and lime juice, and stir/mix/shoogle until you’ve coated everything in the sauce.
  5. Decant into lunch containers, leave to cool, and then pop into the fridge until needed. Best eaten at room temp with some fresh lime quarters to squeeze over.
Adapted from James Martin, Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles
Adapted from James Martin, Singapore Chilli Crab Noodles
fifigoesnom http://www.fifigoesnom.com/

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