Chop some good fresh vegetables, crush a clove of garlic, add a bit of spice and what have you got? Curry, as easy as that!
|Yellow curry with fresh baby corn|
DOUBLE-QUICK BEEF and BROWN LENTIL CURRY
(with red lentil dhal, flatbread and spicy fruit pickle)
If you keep a rump steak or two in the freezer, or a supermarket pack of trimmed stir-fry beef (or other red meat), this is a great curry to whip up when visitors drop in at lunchtime. Left overs can be packed into a lunch box to take to work next day.
Time: 5 minutes to prepare; 20-30 minutes to cook
Serves: 4 - 6 with rice or bread, dhal and a side dish of vegetable curry.
You will need: Heavy-based frypan or large pot; chopping board for onion and a board for meat; sharp knife.
250 gm rump or other beef steak, cut into thin strips or 2cm cubes
1/2 cup brown or green lentils (not red lentils)
½ cup sweet fruit chutney (or 1 cup diced unpeeled fresh fruit - apple, plum, peach)
1 large onion (or ½ cup shallots/chives)
2 teaspoons tumeric
2 teaspoons garam masala or other mixed spice
¼ cup vegetable oil
1. Place lentils in bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water.
2. Meanwhile, chop onion roughly. Trim any fat from meat. Place the pan over medium heat.
3. Put oil, onion, spice and meat in pan and fry until beef begins to brown.
4. Add lentils and soaking water, chutney or fruit, and another 1 cup water.
5. Stir well, bring to a gentle simmer, put the lid on and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
6. After 10 minutes check the pot and taste. Add salt and more water if needed, and continue to simmer until beef is tender.
LET’S TALK ABOUT SPICE, SIMMER SAUCE AND CURRY PASTE
Unless you are a purest, and have time to freshly grind all your own seeds and spices, it is hard to go wrong when using well-stored dry spice or a good curry paste, whether home-made or bought. I find it convenient to use a combination of dried and fresh, and even when making curry paste am not shy about admitting to that. As long as I have fresh root ginger and fresh garlic, I’m a happy little frog.
Dried spices keep flavour and aroma best when sealed well and stored in the fridge or freezer. As many spices are made from ground seed, they contain natural oil which will degrade, especially in a centrally-heated house or hot climate.
I keep spice, including unopened packets, in an ice-cream container in the main part of the fridge so that all the spices are to hand at once. In the pantry are small cans of coconut cream and good-quality canned Australian tomato. From these, along with fresh ingredients such as ginger, garlic, chillies, citrus and various leafy things from the garden, it is possible to replicate almost any recipe from the vast array of cuisine that we loosely call “curry”. Somehow, Kangaroo Madras doesn’t sound truly authentic, but at our table it passes muster. We like it best with a side dish of Dry Potato, Eggplant and Caraway
MILD YELLOW CURRY PASTE
This recipe makes enough for 2-3 dishes each using 1 kg chicken or vegetables. Store excess in the freezer. A few teaspoons of homemade paste won’t take up much space, and it will be there when you want it, and you’ll know it has no added salt or sugar or thickener or saturated fats.
Very easy but can be messy. (Anything with tumeric has the potential to be messy.)
Time: 5 - 10 minutes
You will need: Chopping board and knife; juicer; blender or stick-mixer and high-sided bowl or jug.
6 cm knob of fresh young ginger root, grated or sliced into rounds (to break long fibres)
4 - 6 large cloves garlic, roughly diced
6 small red chillies, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons tumeric powder
2 stems lemon grass, peeled and chopped (or 2 teaspoons grated lemon or lime rind)
¼ cup (60 ml) lime juice (or lemon)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, about ¼ cup.
1. Puree all ingredients in blender or with stick-mixer.
So, what about SIMMER SAUCE...
Simmer sauce you buy in a jar is not curry paste. The main ingredient is water. The sodium (salt) content is often high. In the supermarket today I looked at few labels on jars (and actually bought one home to taste). I choose brands with no artificial flavours or preservatives. On average they contained 15% protein (some from dairy), 13% fat, 13% sugar. At four serves per jar, one serve of the sauce, without added meat or vegetables, provided ½ the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat, and more than ¼ recommended amount of salt. Additionally, a 500 gm jar of simmer sauce contains about 250 ml water (over 1 measuring cup). After protein, fat, sugar and water are removed, what remains are the ingredients we call curry - spice, chilli, garlic and the few extras which lend a distinct flavour - lemongrass, shrimp, tamarind… The label on the jar I brought home says, 'Contains 1% tandoori spices'. 1% equals 5 grams. (1 teaspoon of water weighs 5 grams).
So, I feel as if I have paid an awful lot for a very small portion of what I really wanted - the flavour of a good curry. Unfortunately, I didn’t even get that.
Next post, look out for the our very yummy and easy Yellow Chicken and Corn Curry, which we teased you with in the first photo. And there will be a vegetarian recipe option of Yellow Potatoes and Baby Corn.
Written and compiled by two frogs.