Monday, 27 April 2015

[The Best] Curried Potatoes

Potato curry is such a perfect dish, the potatoes are superb consistency just waiting to soak up the delicious flavours of your curry sauce. These curried potatoes are genuinely some of the best I have ever eaten (that is a really tough call!). It's made here with potato as the absolute star, but you could adapt it to be a more general veggie curry by using a range of different vegetables. This is the perfect dish to make for a potluck or party though, just exactly as it is.

The chilli in it is definitely optional, in fact I think it's just perfect without it. But you can throw in the jalapeño if you really don't like your curries mild! This recipe makes a fairly large serving, perfect for taking to a potluck or serving up at a dinner party. If you're making it for a smaller crowd or as a side dish for a family diner, try just making half.

Curried Potatoes

1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 lg carrot, diced
1kg chat potatoes, peeled and halved
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup vegetable stock
1 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Shallots (green parts only), to garnish

To Make
1. Heat oil in a wok and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add the curry powder and allspice and fry for about another minute. Then add the carrot and potatoes. Cook for a further 4 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, jalapeño, balsamic vinegar and one cup of water. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat. Simmer, covered for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and cooked through.
4. Serve with rice and garnished with fresh chopped shallots.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Orange Teacake Biscuits

It's only since I started blogging that I realised how much I love orange. It had never really occurred to me before, but since I label each post according to key ingredients and the list appears in the side bar to your right, I've discovered that 'orange' is one of my most frequently used labels. In fact, I've got almost as many recipes labelled 'orange' and I do 'chocolate'! I glanced down the list, they're a fairly equal spread of sweet and savoury. When people ask me about my favourite ingredients I never think of orange, but it turns out I use it a lot more often than many of the ones I would list as favourites.

Part of the reason is because I'm a bit addicted to home made orange curd, and use it on a lot of things :) But actually I think the main reason is the use of oranges across the whole world to add flavour to such a broad variety of dishes. Many of my orange recipes on this blog are actually part of my world food challenge posts, recipes from all different parts of the globe which use orange as a central flavour to their cooking, it's amazing when you think about how far ingredients spread around the world to be adapted and interpreted by so many different cultures. Here are a few examples of the Orange posts from all over the globe, just to highlight my point:

The Netherlands - Dutch Orange Bitters (Oranjebitter)
Tunisia - Orange Flavoured Doughnuts (Yoyo)
Brazil - Fried Rice Balls flavoured with Orange, Olive & Brazil Nuts (Bolinhos de Arroz)
Nepal - Chilli, Grapefruit and Orange Salad
Egypt - Orange & Olive Salad with Cumin
Samoa - Chocolate Orange Rice Pudding (Koko Rice)
Costa Rica - Orange & Passionfruit Pudding

We could actually add Russia to that list now, because I found and adapted these lovely Orange Teacake Biscuits when researching Russian recipes for the blog.

Orange Teacake Biscuits

1 cup nuttelex (or other vegan friendly margarine or butter)
1 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp orange extract
2/3 cup apple sauce (or you can use an egg replacement such as 'no egg"'to the equivalent of 2 eggs)
3 cups wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
Large granule sugar (sometimes called 'coffee sugar'), for decorating

To Make:
1. Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer (or some nice vigorous elbow grease, which is my most common method). Add the orange zest, juice, extract and the apple sauce and mix until completely smooth.
2. Sift in the flour and the baking power and mix well. Form your dough into a ball and wrap in cling wrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. In the meantime preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Cut your dough into 3 pieces and roll out the first one on a floured bench to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out whatever shapes you like and arrange on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Press a sprinkling of the large sugar granules into the top.
4. Bake in batches for about 8 minutes, or until just lightly golden in colour. Turn the tray around about 5 minutes into the cooking to ensure even baking. If you're using smaller than average cutters, they will need a bit less cooking time.

Makes 25-35 biscuits, depending on the size of your cutters.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Make Your Own Garam Masala

A little while ago, I had a kitchen epiphany. I had a lovely dish brewing in my brain, it was going to be gorgeous and spicy. I headed to my spice rack only to find none of the star ingredient I had in mind - garam masala. Much as I hate making a trip to the shops for just one item, down I went to get the all important garam masala, only to find the shelf completely bare. I was irrationally frustrated by this, and grumped my way back home. It took a surprising amount of time for me to realise that, of course, garam masala is just a blend of spices which are all present on my insanely well-stocked spice 'rack' (I use the inverted commas there because no one rack could possibly contain all my spices, so they are in fact in there separate clusters all around my kitchen).

I couldn't quite believe I'd been so silly. So I made some myself. I have not bought garam masala since that day, because making it was easy, fun and meant that I could tweak it to include more of the spices I love the most. Making spice blends also has the benefit of making your house smell ridiculously yummy. Plus - look how much darker and richer my home made mix is compared to the months-old stuff that has been sitting in the supermarket.

My Garam Masala Blend

2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns

To Make:
1. Combine all spices in a frypan and dry roast gently until fragrant and just toasted. Allow to cool slightly and then grind into a fine powder using a spice grinders, a mortar and pestle or a food processor which has a spice grinding attachment. Keep in sealed jars and use generously.

NOTE - If you don't have whole spices and don't want to go out and get them all, you can combine the same quantities of ground 
spices in a jar and use that. However, roasting them yourself before grinding really adds richness and brings out the flavours, so it's definitely preferable.

Friday, 3 April 2015

African Kachumbari (Chadian Tomato & Onion Salad)

Kachumbari is a common salad eaten in various African countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Congo and Chad. As part Chad Month (which was all the way back in February 2012!) I made this lovely fresh African salad (for other recipes see the links at the bottom of this post - but excuse the photos, it was right when the blog first started). I've remade it now because I really felt like eating it again, and because I thought it deserved some better photos! This time I've used a combination of red and yellow small roma tomatoes, because it just looks so pretty and these lovely yellow roma tomatoes are at my local supermarket at the moment. You can make it with a mixture of any heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or just regular tomatoes (which would be most authentic). Given that tomatoes are the hero of the dish though, I'd encourage tasty vine-ripened ones, as if you buy tomatoes which taste like nothing then your salad won't taste like much!

The main elements of the dish are tomatoes, onion and citrus juice. There are lots of variations depending on region, this version includes cucumber and fresh chilli. If you like hot, add an extra chilli or just leave the hot bits in (the placenta -which is the white bit which the seeds are attached to - is the hot part of the chilli, not the seeds).  This salad is perfect paired with the Chadian Sweet Potato Fritters (see link below) and is a light and tasty addition to any gathering, potluck or group meal.

African Kachumbari


1 small red onion, thinly sliced (or diced)
4 tomatoes, sliced (or diced)
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced (or diced)
1 chilli, seeds & placenta removed and sliced
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
The juice of two limes

How to make:

1.Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss until well combined
2. Serve immediately.

Serves 3-4.

Check out our other Chadian recipes: