#RecipeShed – Keema Aloo (Mince curry with potatos)

Many years ago, my wife (then we were but boyfriend and girlfriend) took me on a trip to Bradford.  We went to the IMAX theatre and saw a couple of movies then went for a curry in what is, for me, the finest curry house in the land: The Kashmir.  You walk past the posh seating area at street level, round the corner onto a side street, down some stairs into the basement.  Formica tables.  Tin plates.  Very plain, very functional and always very busy for a very good reason:  The food is excellent.  We vowed to repeat the trip.

In there, on the next visit, I had my first keema curry.  Rather than lumps of meat, keema dishes are made from mince.  Whenever I get the chance, I go back there for a keema madras, usually tying it in with a visit to what was then the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television and is now a branch of the Science Museum.  Well worth a visit if you get the chance.  2 Daleks, Morph, the Wombles and much, much more.

Anyway.  Fast forward a few years and I’m on a cookery course.  What do we want to cook next week?  I suggest a keema dish, the teacher agrees. I’ve got to say, it’s a dish that starts out very unpromising in looks and then pulls it all out of the bag near the end.  Here you go.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb lean lamb mince (best if you can make it yourself by taking a good slab of shoulder and trimming away as much of the fat as possible).
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (or paprika if you’re dialling down the heat)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic & ginger paste (equal quantities of garlic and ginger, blitz together in a food processor and add a little vegetable oil.  Keeps for ages so make it up in big batches. You’ll be amazed at how useful it is)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Large bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. In a large pan, put the mince, onions, salt, red chilli powder (or paprika), turmeric, cinnamon stick, black cardamom and a large glass of water.
  2. Bring to the boil.  Break up the mince with a wooden spoon to make sure there are no lumps.
  3. Put on the lid, simmer for half an hour.  Stir after 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid, allow the water to evaporate completely.
  5. Add the tomatoes and a half-ladle of vegetable oil.  Start to fry the mince, adding the chillies (if you’re  using them) and the garlic & ginger paste (for some reason my hands want to type “garlic & finger paste”.  Don’t use that.  That would be wrong).  Fry for 15-20 minutes.  Add a little water if it all starts to stick.
  6. Add the potatoes and keep frying gently for 10 minutes.
  7. Put on the lid, reduce heat to minimum and allow the potatoes to cook.  Usually another 10-20 minutes.
  8. Just before serving, sprinkle over the garam masala and the coriander, stir and remove from the heat.  Serve at once with fresh naans or chapatti.
Until you start the frying at step 5, this dish is plain ugly.  One thing I was told on the course I did:  If you’re cooking a meat curry, you want the onion to be invisible.  If you’re cooking a vegetable curry, cut it generous as you want to see it as an ingredient.  So, the finer you chop the onion, the better – I was given a couple of Kyocera ceramic knives for my birthday this year – I now know what finely chopped looks like.  I also know that if the knife is sharp enough you don’t know you’ve cut yourself until the blood is already staining the chopping board.  These knives show no mercy.  They are truly amazing things.
Now.  Head over to the Recipe Shed and see what amazing things others are doing with mince this week.  And if you know of any other good keema recipes, please send them my way.

Spring lamb curry #cookalongfriday

Back on familiar ground this week, though with a twist.  And, no.  That twist isn’t a Royal Wedding-themed curry.  To be honest, I’d be the man on the train into London wondering where everyone was going or on the M25 wondering why it was so quiet.  I know there’s been blanket coverage on the TV but these things just don’t register on my radar!

Anyway, today’s curry is a 3-part affair – preparation, the long cook and the final 5 minutes.  It’s also got an unusual ingredient that’s abundant in my garden at the moment…

Ingredients:

  • 2lb lamb, cubed (2cm/1in)
  • 4 onions, finely sliced.  Whenever a recipe says this I put them through the Kenwood although I do now have  a wonderful ceramic cleaver and I now know the meaning of “finely sliced”!!!
  • 3 tsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder / paprika
  • 4floz chicken stock
  • Handful of coriander, same amount of mint (there’s the secret ingredient)
  • 3 chillies (optional)
  • 3tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp sugar

The Preparation

Put everything from the lamb down to the chicken stock into a large pan.  That’s it.

The Long Cook

Fire up the hob to a medium heat, bring everything to a simmer then drop the heat to low.  Bang on a lid, leave it mostly alone for two hours (long enough to watch some of that Royal Wedding coverage!).  Check on it from time to time, removing any oil that comes to the surface.

Or…

Whack the lot in a slow cooker and ignore.

Or…

Put it in the pressure cooker.  Cook for half an hour with no pressure then 15-30 minutes at full pressure (your mileage may vary!).  Sometimes this works wonderfully, sometimes the stuff sticks like dried-on Weetabix and burns.  I’ve not worked out how to judge this one yet, I’m just starting on my pressure-cooker career.

The Final 5 Minutes

Add the rest of the ingredients (but not the sugar) along with a couple of tablespoons of the juice from the pan to a blender and blend until smooth.  Stir this into the lamb mix, bring it back to a simmer, add the sugar, taste and adjust seasoning, serve.

Cunning Tip Number 1 – You’re cooking for kids and adults and you want a full-heat version for the grown-ups.  Split the contents of the main pan and the blender in two (or whatever the ratio of kids to adults is), stir the un-chillied blend into pan 1, add chillies and blend again before adding to pan 2 for a full-heat, feel-the-burn, toilet-paper-in-the-fridge adults mix.

So there you go.  Nothing particularly hard or scary about this one, fully adjustable heat levels so you can watch the looks of amazement on the other parent’s faces when you say “Oh, yes, my kids eat curry” as if it’s something perfectly normal and they’re the weird ones for not eating it!  Personally, I love the fact that I don’t have to cook different meals for the adults and the kids.

Works wonderfully well with all that fine spring lamb that’s frolicking in the fields at the moment and the fresh mint that’s sprouting in the garden.

Enjoy and tell me all about it in the comments!

Fast Meat Curry (turkey/pork/chicken) 30mins end to end. #cookalongfriday

I’m a father of 5, so cooking has to be something that can either be safely ignored for a while without worrying about something burning, something that can involve 1 or more of the smalls, or something that takes hardly any time and can be done while the kids are distracted by the big, rectangular, babysitter in the lounge.  Today’s recipe is one of the latter.  It’s the fastest damn curry I know how to make, and the trick’s in the preparation.

This curry works well with any lean meat – your turkey, chicken or pork are the ones I’ve tried and they’re all lovely.

So, here goes.  The shopping list.  Check your cupboards first, there’s probably a lot on here that you’ve already got

Step 0 – The Shopping List

Curry Paste:

  • A dozen cardamon pods
  • 6cm ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 onion
  • 1tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander and garam masala

The rest:

  • 3tbs oil
  • 1kg meat (pork fillet/turkey breast, thigh or leg/chicken leg/thigh/breast, etc.)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 125ml chicken stock
  • 125ml coconut milk

Step 1 – 10 minutes work whilst the kids are distracted.

Get the seeds from the cardamon pods, roughly chop the ginger, peel the garlic and onion.  Roughly chop the onion (I normally hack it into quarters).  Then get all the ingredients for the curry paste, whack them in the food processor/blender (oh, yes – “Dad?  Why is a word processor called a word processor?”  “Well, son, you know what a food processor does to food?”) and blitz it until it’s fairly smooth.  Put it into a pot, stick that pot in the fridge, go and play with the kids some more.  If you’re really keen, multiply up the recipe and freeze it in suitable portions for use later, though it’s almost faster to make from scratch than it is to defrost.

Step 2 – Later that day…

Finely slice the meat – 5mm (1/4″) strips so it cooks quickly and evenly.  Chop the tomatoes.Get a nice, wide-bottomed pan on the gas, add 3/4 of the oil and fry off your meat in batches.  You’re not trying to cook it completely here, just seal it and start off the job.  Once it’s browned, set it to one side.  Once you’ve cooked off the meat, put in the rest of the oil and the curry paste and fry for about 5 minutes on a medium-high heat.  It should smell superb.

Put in the stock, tomatoes, coconut milk, reduce the heat and simmer with a lid on for about 15 minutes.  If any oil floats up, skim it off.  That assumes you’re paying attention throughout the 15 minutes and haven’t just stuck the oven timer on in the hope that you’ll hear the beep over the kids.  Always worth getting a timer you can carry around and put somewhere that’s both nearby and out of the kids’ reach.Finally, remove the lid, add the meat you first thought of and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the meat is cooked.  Season to taste.  Serve.  Or switch off the heat, put the lid back on and leave it until you need to heat it back up.

Most of the naan/paratha/etc. breads work really well with this.  If you’re going for stuffed parathas, go for a vegetable filling as you don’t want the different meats fighting.  Poppadoms also work well and you can have a lot of fun showing kids how they cook either in the fryer or the microwave.  We tried prawn crackers in the microwave once.  Not an experiment I’ll be repeating!

And there you go.  There’s no heat in this recipe so it’s good for the whole family.  It’s extremely tasty, takes half an hour or so from end to end and that includes time to play and keep the kids amused.  Or time to check Twitter, Facebook and the new releases on Esdevium Games.  Up to you.

Enjoy this one, let me know how you got on and I’ll see you in seven for another cook-along Friday.