Today I made a mushroom bhajee. I wanted something to go with a home made curry in the week, and I usually make a vegetable mix of spicy cauliflower and potatoes, but I fancied mushrooms and was thinking of how I could reproduce the lovely buttery mushroom bhajee from UK takeaways that I know and love. My Indian friends will be laughing at me now, wondering why I need to have veg to go with my curry – they tend to have meat curry and rice or veg curry and rice, and think it strange that I want to have meat curry with a veggie side and rice. It’s just what I am used to though – my idea of a balanced meal is some protein, some veg and some carbs.
Because I love indian food so much, there are some basic things that I have in my house:
1. A Braun multiquick blender – ideal for whizzing up curry pastes. It comes as a set with lots of attachments:
This is the attachment that I use for my pastes:
2. A cheap coffee grinder which has never seen a coffee bean – freshly ground spices are so much better than preground. If you get used to grinding your own spices, you will be making your own curry powders and garam masala, and you will love the aroma. You can buy an expensive one if you like, but I got a cheap one in Kmart for around $15:
When I have finished grinding spices, I wipe out as much residue as I can and then grind some plain dry rice to clean it and pick up the last bits of spice.
3. A supply of green masala paste in the fridge – this paste is so versatile, I use it to make everything from curries to veggies, and you can even mix it in with basics like beans on toast and scrambled eggs to give them a touch of spice 4. A pot of dhania/jeera – this is coriander and cumin in a nice proportion,
roasted, ground and ready to use
5. Good curry books like Madhur Jaffrey recipes and Ramola Parbhoo’s ‘Traditional Indian Cooking’.
6. Plastic pots with snap-on lids to keep your spices in – spices degrade quickly in non-air tight containers, and I love the plastic ones – I just write the name of the spice on them in marker pen, and wash the writing off when the pot is used up.
Here are the recipes for the green masala paste, and the dhania/jeera.
There will be more Indian recipes to come – this is just a few store cupboard staples to get you started.
Green Masala Paste
100g green chillies stalk removed – you can remove some of the seeds if you prefer it less spicy
40g garlic peeled
50g fresh root ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch of turmeric
Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor (I use my Braun multiquick) until you have a lovely green paste – doesn’t it smell good ? Transfer it to a suitable size jar or tub, press it down a little so that the surface is even, and pour a little oil on top. Store in the fridge.
65g coriander seeds (dhania)
35g cumin seeds (jeera)
Learn the indian names of spices – it helps when you are in the indian supermarket.
Gently roast the spices in a dry frypan over a low heat for 2 minutes. You should smell the aroma. Transfer them to a coffee grinder and grind them until you have a medium coarse mixture. Store in an airtight container.