Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A spicy supper

The wonderful tomato harvest continues - this is the haul from the allotment on Sunday. In the top container we have the San Marzanos, which have finally ripened, and Amish Paste. Both are cookers.
Setting aside a good number for salads during the week, I got to work on a tomato sauce that would be the basis for a rather mongrel curry. My normal sauce has a base of slowly cooked onions; then in with the toms, some salt and maybe some herbs from the garden. Then I strain the whole lot through a sieve to give a silky texture.
To add heat and spice, I decided to use a couple of spoonfuls of my black (or goda) masala - a wonderful discovery from Anjum's New Indian. It's a mix of dry roasted dessicated coconut, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin and caraway seeds whizzed together with pepper corns, star anise, cloves, black cardamon, chilli flakes, cinnamon and bay leaves. It smells absolutely heavenly. I made up a jar in the spring to use in a biryani, so this was a bit of an experiment...which worked. The sweetness of the masala seemed to suit the toms. I added a spoonful of yoghurt just to balance up the sourness of the curry.
Then in with a couple of hard boiled eggs - I get eggs every week with my Abel and Cole veggie box, and this week's have a particularly yellow yolk.
Accompaniments were one of my favourite rice dishes: lemon and cashew rice. First cook your rice then set it aside to drain. Add some oil to a saucepan and fry a handful of cashews until they're golden. Then add half a teaspoon of turmeric before bunging in the rice. Mix carefully with a fork then add the juice of a lemon and some curry leaves. Let it heat through. To my astonishment, Tesco are now stocking curry leaves, which are up there with kafir lime leaves for aroma. Don't eat them though - they're there to add flavour by scent alone.
In the garden, I discovered an overlooked mini cucumber which had swollen to improbable size, and a recipe from Anjum looked like a good way to deal with it. Chop up your cucumber and remove the seeds. In a pan of hot oil, add cumin seeds (you can add mustard seeds too); then add your cucumber and some fresh or frozen peas. More spices go in - turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander. Let that lot cook for around five minutes, then add a spoonful of yoghurt. Finish off with some chopped mint leaves.
And finally, some coconut and coriander chutney. This is unbelievably yummy and easy. I'd always adored it when it appeared in Southern Indian restuarants, but never made it until I found a recipe in Vicky Bhogul's A Year of Cooking Like Mummyji. In a little oil, fry some black mustard seeds until they pop - then whip them off the heat. Then mix them together with yoghurt, grated ginger and finely chopped garlic, garam masala, half a chopped green chilli, salt and lime juice. Finally, stir in some chopped coriander leaves.
I love this so much that I sneak down to the fridge and eat it by the fingerful. This version isn't very green as my coriander in the garden has bolted, and the new seedlings aren't ready for harvest yet.
Off to Hertford later today: on the train to St Margaret's then a walk into Hertford along the Lea Valley Way.

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