Indian is one of my favourite cuisines, and I don’t know how I have managed to blog so far without posting anything about Indian.
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 meat, 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 2. A cheap coffee grinder which has never seen a coffee bean – freshly ground spices are so much better than pre-ground. 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. 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, the dhania/jeera and the mushroom bhajee.
There will be more Indian recipes to come – this is just to get you started.
Green Masala Paste
100g green chillies stalk removed – you can remove some of the seeds if you are a ‘lightweight’
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.
500g mushrooms (I use the white round mushrooms, but you can use any)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (Rai)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (Jeera)
2 large teaspoons green masala paste
1 tablespoon dhania/jeera powder (see above)
1 onion chopped medium fine (however you like it)
2 tomatoes chopped and peeled (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric (Haldi)
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
oil such as sunflower, peanut
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan, and add the black mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Fry quickly for a minute or two – they will crackle, and this initial spice/oil mixture is called a ‘vagaar’.
2. Fry the onions in the vagaar, until they begin to soften slightly, then add the green masala paste, dhania/jeera and turmeric.
3. Now add the mushrooms and mix well to coat them with spices. Put a lid on the pan.
4. After approx 5 minutes, add the tomatoes (if using), butter, stir in the coriander leaves and cook on low for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft.
5. Taste, and add salt, pepper and a sprinkle of garam masala if needed. There should be enough to serve 4 people as a side dish.