Thursday, 8 March 2012

Curry Night

Last night myself and my housemate S had 2 friends over for catch ups, drinks and dinner.

I was in charge of cooking and we were having CURRY.

In the morning I popped into the shop to pick up the naan, poppadoms, yoghurt and cucumber for the raita, and everything else I was hoping I would be able to use up from the kitchen.

I knew I had 600g of pork chops, and I wanted to go a vege one as well. This is literally how blindly I went into this.

I looked in the cupboard and discovered we had lentils. Having never cooked with lentils before I read the side of the pack for cooking instructions and decided on dahl... curry... of some sort.

I began with onion, diced celery, garlic and chillies which I sauteed in olive oil. To this I added differing amounts of various spices, of which I have only a vague recollection of, cumin, tumeric, curry powder, pepper, lemon salt (from Dahab) to coat the vegetables, then I put aside while boiling off the lentils.

I created the a similar base for the pork curry, added the cubed flesh, one aubergine and one sliced apple and fried off.

I'd used apple in the last pork curry I made, and after a long cook, it breaks down and adds a lovely sweetness to the sauce. I added the aubergine, just cause I love it, and was really keen to see what kind of consistency it would take on.

You know what I really love... when you've been cooking long enough that you have the balls to just TRY something, with the confidence that you could probably bring it back to life in a worst case situation. It's also the thing I love about recipe-free cooking.

My ballsy maneuver... coming up with a replacement for canned tomatoes, which would generally be added at this point, and of which I did not have.

Solution: tomato juice.

I let this boil down for a bit, tasted and re-seasoned. It was really nice.

After maybe 30 or 45 minutes I added the lentils to the curry base and stirred through with half a bag of baby spinach leaves, around a cup of red wine, a veg stock cube, hot water and seasoning, and brought to the boil.

At this stage I made up the table.

And prepared my accompaniments: raita: which is just yoghurt and finly diced cucumber. Chutney, home made by my friend Miss A, a tomato and onion salad and a banana and coconut salad.

It is at this stage I would like to give my sincerest apologies. I have either forgotten to take, or did take and somehow managed to lose all the completed meal photos. My head has been so foggy with the cold I have picked up. I literally spent 90 minutes doing a full system restore in the hopes I had just deleted them. I feel like a big dork.

After all the prep was complete I turned the burners off to allow them to cool, and hopefully trick the curries into thinking they had been left overnight (cause they always taste better the next day).

About half an hour before my housemate and guests arrive I warm the curries through, they both taste magnificent. The lentil curry has softened and the flavours developed. I add the remaining half bag of spinach, a touch more water and stir though.

The pork curry have become so rich. The flavours are all quite delicate, the sauce has become wonderfully creamy (despite the lack of any creamy product addition) and the aubergine has become almost at one with the sauce, but when you do locate a chunk it is pure bliss. I am surprised how tender the pork has become. And I am so pleased with the lingering spicy heat.

As my guests arrive, Miss C has heard about my man-flu... undoubtedly all the whinging I have done to anyone who would, and often to those who wouldn't listen... and brought me a sign to wear around my neck. I love this.

Once housemate S arrives I ask him to cook the rice, as cooking rice really scares me, and we just haven't gotten around to getting a rice cooker in the house. We put the naans in the over 5 mins before the rice is ready, and place the poppadoms on the table. The rice comes out quite sticky, but it is so tasty and works great as it stays together when shoveled up on a piece of naan.

My favourite was the creamy pork curry, but my guests love the lentil curry. All the food turned out great and I was so happy my guests enjoyed it all.

Lets hope my head clears up before my next post.

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