Freelance food writer Dan Toombs launched The Curry Guy to share his love of Indian food and curries. Through his blog The Curry Guy, Dan experiments with different spices and flavours to bring a twist on traditional Indian dishes.
This one is all about the garlic and paprika! You use a lot of both but neither over powers the dish. So don’t let the amount of garlic scare you because it mellows as it cooks. The paprika and tomato give the curry a beautiful deep red colour which looks spicy hot but it’s not. Most mild curries at curry houses are quite creamy and can be very fattening. No need for cream here. This is one of the healthy, mild curries I used to cook for my kids a lot when they were young. Now they make it for themselves.
Don’t let the garlic scare you. Just peel it and you’re ready to cook.
Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Infuse the whole spices in the oil.
Fry half the garlic until lightly browned but not burnt.
Add the garlic and onion paste, remaining paprika and the turmeric
Stir in the marinated chicken and the tomato puree.
Add 250ml water and let this simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens.
Add the vinegar and simmer for a further three minutes or until happy with the consistency.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yoghurt with two tablespoons of the paprika and minced ginger. Stir the chicken in and make sure it is evenly coated with the marinade.
Peel the garlic. Place half of it in a food processor or spice grinder with the chopped onion and just enough water to blend into a thick paste. Set aside. heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok over medium high heat. Stir in the whole spices and infuse them into the oil for about 30 seconds.
Add the remaining garlic and the anchovies to the oil and break the anchovies up with a spatula. Fry the garlic until light brown but not at all burnt. Stir in the onion and garlic paste and the remaining paprika and turmeric. Now stir in the marinated chicken and the tomato puree. Add just enough water or stock to cover.
Simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the vinegar and simmer for a further three minutes.
To finish, season with salt to taste and garnish with chopped coriander.
While my wife Caroline and I were in Kerala recently, we were invited to breakfast at the home of Shihabudeen V M and his family. This was no ordinary breakfast! In fact it was one of the most amazing home cooked meals Caroline and I have every experienced. Shihabudeed and his wife Ruvaida cooked up an incredible feast with no fewer than seven different dishes. We were in food heaven!
One of the dishes was this aleesa. Aleesa is a wheat and chicken dish that is also often made with mutton. It’s origins are from the Middle East but it is a very popular dish with the Muslim community in Kerala, especially during Ramadan. Caroline and I loved it so much I just had to get the recipe and thankfully, Shihabudeen was happy to send it to me.
This is the perfect dish for children too as it’s not at all spicy. I made it for my family when I got home and they’re already asking me to make it again. I think I might just do that really soon. If you would like to read more about our morning meal and afternoon spent with Shihabudeen and his family, click here. It was a real highlight of our trip to Kerala. Experiences like this are what make holidays for me.
Shihabudeen is a professional chef who has had his own television show in Kerala and has just recently started his own Youtube channel. Some of the recipes are in Malayalam but I highly recommend checking his videos out and subscribing as you will understand what’s going on even if you don’t understand the language. I subscribed to his channel when I got home and wait eagerly for each new video. The man knows his stuff!
Tie up the spices in a clean cloth.
Soak the bulgur for two hours and then place in a pan with the chicken and tied spices.
Cover with water and then cover the pan. Simmer for about 40 minutes until the bulgur is really soft.
Toast some cashews or flaked almonds in ghee. Remove and keep aside for a garnish.
Fry up those shallots
Remove the chicken meat from the bone and then pour the bulgur and chicken into the pan with the shallots.
Add a little water to the pan and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so until the chicken is so soft it become mushy.
You can make it all extra mushy using a potato masher.
Tie the star anise, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon in a clean cloth. Place the tied spices in a large pot with the soaked bulgur and the chicken leg. Cover with water and cover the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 40 minutes until the chicken is falling off the bone and the bulgur is nice and soft.
Meanwhile, toast the almonds or cashews in the ghee until lightly browned and then transfer the nuts to a bowl to use as a garnish. This is optional.
In the same ghee, sauté the shallots until lightly browned and add the turmeric. Stir well to combine.
You can remove some of the chopped shallots to lose as a garnish as well.
Remove all the meat from the chicken bone and place it with the cooked bulgur in the pan with the browned shallots.
Cover with water and simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes until the chicken and bulgur are like much. The finished dish should have the texture of cooked oatmeal. You can use a potato masher to mash it all up really well.
Season with salt to taste and garnish with browned nuts and shallots if you like.
This was no ordinary breakfast! I will never forget this fantastic experience.
Every now and then, I get to experience a meal that is so amazing it stays with me forever. On my recent work/holiday to Kerala, my wife Caroline and I got to do just that. My friend Jomon Kuriakose, Chef de Cuisine at the brilliant Lalit London just happened to be visiting family while we were there and he arranged for us to meet his friend Shihabudeen VM and his family at their home in Arookutty, a beautiful suburb of Kochi.
Outside Shihabudeen’s home. We loved these people!
Have you ever been invited to someone’s home for a meal and then been blown away by the work they put into it? These great people must have worked for hours creating that masterpiece of a meal! We appreciated it so much and every bite brought something new and wonderful. This was food perfection.
When we arrived, Shihabudeen showed us around the grounds outside. This too was an experience that any Indian food fan would love.
What I could do with these! Curry leaves being grown in the family garden. The aroma was amazing.
Shihabudeen, Jomon, Caroline and me next to the family fishing hole. Shihabudeen catches fish from the pond and cooks them on his Youtube channel.
Fruit from Shihabudeen’s nutmeg tree.
Shihabudeen pulled a fruit from his nutmeg tree and split it open. I wanted to show you this as it was the first time I had seen nutmeg this fresh. The brown bit in the centre is the nutmeg and the red bit that is wrapped around it is mace. Both are dried before using. Then there was the fruit that incased the nutmeg and mace. We tried some and it was really good. As you might expect, it tasted of nutmeg but in fruit form. This fruit is used a lot to make pickles.
Then came that fantastic meal which included no fewer than twelve different dishes. If that were the only meal we had in Kerala, we would have still have gone away happy. Shihabudeen very kindly gave me a few of his recipes we tried that day. You have to try his aleesa which is a chicken and wheat dish enjoyed year round but it is especially popular at Ramadan. I shared the recipe for you here. It will be in my fifth book “The Curry Guy Bible” that is out in December 2020. He also gave me the recipe for a chicken and rice dumpling curry that was out of this world gorgeous. I’ve made it too but haven’t typed the recipe yet. That recipe will be on my blog soon so WATCH THIS SPACE! I think it might just be in the book too.
After that fantastic meal, it was time to move. Shihabudeen planned a canoe trip for us all in the backwaters of Kochi. To do this, we had to get an old ferry to the other side of one of the waterways which was a fun experience in itself. It was a scorching hot day so umbrellas were essential out there on the water. We travelled by canoe out to a group of islands and docked up on one of the islands which is now a yoga retreat. We relaxed there for about an hour in the sun and were served some delicious fruit drinks that were made by the chefs. We don’t do yoga but I could see Caroline and me staying there for a few days in future. No internet, no phones, just quiet relaxation.
Then we travelled around a few other islands where we saw what used to be spectacular holiday retreat hotels but are now abandoned. Times change and these remote islands are just a bit too difficult to get to, to make them viable as a holiday destination. Still, we could see why someone took that business gamble as these islands were beautiful.
On our way back to the car, we happened by a fisherman who was catching and selling fish. Shihabudeen purchased a few pearl spot for his family’s dinner. If you ever get to Kerala, that is a fish you need to try. I didn’t know it at the time but Caroline and I got to try some pearl spot later that afternoon at Cheenavala Seafood Restaurant in Kochi and I highly recommend not only the fish but that amazing restaurant.
What a day!
Me with Shihabudeen’s sons Irahad and Arshad on the island.
I would like to thank Shihabudeen, his wife Rubaida, mother-in-law Aisah Umma and sons Irahad and Arshad for their hospitality and making this such a memorable day in Kerala. We can’t wait to come back and see you again.
What a spread!
Chef Jomon Kuriakose – The man who brought us all together.
Chef Jomon Kuriakose has a fantastic Facebook page where you can see and try some of his recipes. You will find it here. Jomon went out of his way to introduce us to his Kerala and we are forever grateful.
You can visit Shihabudeen’s new Youtube channel here. I highly recommend that you do. Not all of the videos are in English but you will get a good idea about how to make the recipes which are all spectacular.
This is one of my favourite seafood curries. In Kerala it is usually made with Kingfish which is difficult to find in the UK. I used cod and found it to be equally as delicious. In Kerala, this can be a fiery hot curry. I toned it down some for my family. I love it spicy hot but when I cook for the family it’s got to be a lot milder! Feel free to use more Kashmiri chilli powder and omit the Paprika. These two spices are what gives the curry its characteristic red colour.
Infuse the oil with the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
Fry the onions for about 5 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients up to the turmeric and fry for a further 5 minutes.
Add the fish and simmer, covered for a further 7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
If using kokum, wash and then soak them in 400ml (1 ½ cups) water until needed. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat and add the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Infuse these ingredients in the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped onions and fry until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sliced garlic and ginger and fry for a further minute and then add the chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder and stir to combine.
Now add the chopped tomatoes and the kokum and the water they were soaked in OR 2 tsp tamarind concentrate and 400ml (1 ½ cups) water. Bring this to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the fish pieces and cook, covered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. A little more water could be added if you prefer a thinner sauce. Add a handful more curry leaves (optional) and stir them in and then add salt to taste to serve.
Since returning from Kerala, I’ve been going sprouted lentil and bean crazy. Many of the restaurant my wife and I visited had a great and colourful selection that could be added to salads. These sprouts are also often cooked into curries or made into kofta. Watch this space. I have many more recipes using sprouted lentils and beans for you.
Although I say this recipe serves 4 to 6, there is a good chance you will have some left over. A little really goes a long way. No worries there though. It keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days and just seems to get better with time. I love having this healthy salad on hand.
The most difficult part of this recipe is waiting for your sprouts to be ready. It takes about four days but it’s all passive work so just wait it out. The sprouts can be served raw but some people find the raw flavour a little bitter. I like it but here I suggest boiling the sprouted moong for 5 minutes and then draining. This will get rid of the bitterness.
HOW TO SPROUT MOONG LENTILS
Rinse about one cup whole green moong lentils under water and then place in a large plastic bottle. Pour fresh water in and soak overnight. The following day, make about 20 small holes in the bottle with a sharp knife above the soaking lentils. This will allow air in and also make it easier to drain water. Pour the water out and then place the bottle in a warm location but not in direct sunlight. On the next day, pour some more water over the lentils in the bottle and drain again. Do this for the next three days and watch those sprouts grow. On day four, cut off the top of the bottle and you’ve got healthy sprouts that will keep in your fridge for about a week.
Start by soaking about 1 cup of moong lentils in water in a plastic bottle overnight.
On the fourth day, your moong sprouts will look like this. Follow instructions below.
Use about 300g (2 1/2 cups) sprouted moong for this recipe.
You can eat the sprouted moong raw but they might be a bit bitter. Boil them for 5 minutes to get the bitterness out.
infuse the whole spices, dried chillies and curry leaves in 1 tbsp oil.
Pour the tempered spices into a bowl and whisk in the lemon juice, cumin powder, salt and pepper.
Mix the dressing with the sprouted moong and other veggies. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
Check the sprouted moong for any lentils that did not sprout and remove them. Rinse the sprouts in a colander. Let the water drain. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and simmer the sprouted moong for about 5 minutes. This is optional. The sprouts can be eaten raw but they can be too bitter for some people. The cooking takes the bitterness away.
Drain the cooked sprouted moong and put aside.
In a small pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, add the the dried red chillies and curry leaves. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cumin seeds and turmeric. After a minute, turn off the heat.
Pour this flavoured oil into a mixing bowl and whisk in the minced garlic, lemon juice and ground cumin. Taste this dressing and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Add the sprouted moong and the diced tomatoes, cucumber and chopped onion. Toss this well and check for seasoning. Garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro.
Any minced meat can be used in this recipe. Keema is usually made with lamb, mutton, goat or beef but here I have used turkey which is of course a low calorie option. Many people have asked me how to make keema like the smooth saucy keema you find at good takeaways and restaurants. Add water to the meat as described below and you will love how it turns out. I like to make this recipe with minced venison which has half the fat of lamb but is just as delicious.
For the photographs below, I was cooking for a large group so I doubled the recipe. Note how much onion is used. This is one of the ways to make an amazing keema. Use the same amount of onions in weight as you do meat.
Mix the minced turkey with the water and whisk with a fork.
Temper the spices in the oil for about 30 seconds.
Fry the onions until lightly browned and then add the garlic/ginger paste and the chillies.
Pour in the watered down minced turkey and stir regularly to brown.
Stir in the ground spices.
The stir in the tomato puree.
Stir in the peas and cook them through. Season with salt to taste and serve hot.
Begin by preparing the minced meat. Place the meat in a large bowl and then pour the water over it. Stir well with a fork until the meat has soaked up all the water. Set aside.
Heat the oil over medium high heat until visibly hot. Add the cumin seeds, smashed cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and black peppercorns and let these whole spices temper in the oil for about 30 seconds. Now add the finely chopped onions and sauté for 5 – 7 minutes until soft, translucent and lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds and then add the finely chopped chilli and fry for a further minute. Now add the minced turkey and fry for about five minutes to brown.
Add the ground spices followed by the tomato pureé. Stir in the peas and cook through. To serve, season with salt to taste.
The marinade goes well with almost any fish. I used sea bass and bream.
Tandoors and BBQs offer an excellent, healthy way to cook seafood. In this recipe I show you how I did it in my tandoor but there is not reason you can’t skewer your fish up and cook them on the barbecue. The trick is getting the skewering right which I will show you how to do.
The marinade I used is a recipe I learned in Munnar, Kerala. It is quite spicy but can be toned down by adding more yoghurt. Personally, I like it spicy. Any unused marinade can be served, warmed as a sauce with the fish.
By the way, I hold tandoor classes at my home in North Yorkshire where you can cook in a real tandoor oven. The 4 hours classes are a lot of fun and you won’t go away hungry. For more information, please click here.
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Marinate the fish in the roasted tomato marinade for about 20 minutes.
Skewer the fish as described in the recipe below.
Over hot coals on the BBQ or in a flaming hot tandoor, roast the fish for about five minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to drip for five minutes and then place back on or in the heat to finish cooking.
Make shallow slits on each side of the fish and smother with the marinade inside and out. The marinade, as it is is quite spicy. Stir in one or more tablespoons Greek yoghurt to taste if you prefer a milder heat.
To skewer the fish, stick your skewer in the mouth end and guide it down the spine of the fish out the tail end. I have found that this is the best way to do it especially in a tandoor oven. I have never lost a fish that way!
If cooking in a tandoor, skewer a potato at the end to stop the fish from sliding into the fire.
Place your skewers either over direct heat on the bbq or into a flaming hot tandoor oven.
Cook, turning often if on a BBQ for about five minutes. Then take the fish off or out of the heat for five minutes to drip. This is important as it will prevent flareups and also help achieve crispier skin. If you like, you could brush some more marinade on the fish at this time.
Place it back on or in the heat to continue cooking for about five minutes. Serve immediately with some of the warmed roasted tomato chutney.
Great as a dip or spicy marinade! Give this a try.
This one is a real crowd pleaser. Not only is it amazing used as a dip for crudites or papadums, it also makes a delicious marinade and sauce for grilled meats and fish. I was introduced to the fantastic chutney by Chef Sheak Sahaban Ali, Head Chef at the Panoramic View Hotel near Munnar. Now, I always have some on hand for those last minute, unexpected guests. It keeps really well in the fridge for up to a week.
Note: The photos for this recipe don’t match the written recipe below. Both work!!
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Toast the chana lentils until they are light brown in colour.
Roast your tomatoes on the BBQ, on a gas hob or under the broiler.
Grind the roasted lentils and then blend the roasted tomatoes.
Infuse the whole spices with the oil and then add the green chillies and garlic to fry for a minute or two.
Add the ground spices and bring this all to a simmer for about five minutes.
Add the coriander and lentils and cook for a further 5 minutes. Then blend it all up. Add a tablespoon or more yoghurt.
Roast the tomatoes in a large pan or, better yet, directly over a gas or open fire flame until blackened. You will need to turn regularly while doing this. Set aside to cool slightly and then dice them. Now, in a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the Bengal gram (chana lentils) for about five minutes, stirring regularly until toasted and brown in colour. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Meanwhile, add one teaspoon oil to the pan and stir in the cumin and garlic cloves and sauté well for about a minute. Add the green chillies, coriander leaves, roasted Bengal gram and diced, roasted tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the chilli powder, chaat masala and amchoor (mango powder). Stir well and then add the yoghurt. Blend this to a smooth paste. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt to taste.
Try the chutney. If you find that it is too spicy, stir in more yogurt until you are happy with the spice level.
Mutton mappas can also be made with lamb but I love the mutton!
The first meal I ever ordered in Kerala was Mutton Mappas. It was our first night stay near Munnar. We sat outside enjoying the scenery and asked for the restaurants specialty dishes. Mutton Mappas was one of them and we could see why!
This is so delicious but a bit difficult to eat as the mutton is cut into small pieces and cooked on the bone until melt in the mouth tender. You need to really get in there with your hand and savour every last bite. Although it looks like a lot of meat, there really isn’t much as most of the weight is in the bones. Good Asian butchers will be able to supply you with the exact cuts you need but if eating meat in a curry on the bone isn’t your thing, just ask them to cube it for you. I recommend giving mutton on the bone a go though.
The sauce is spectacular, spooned over rice and I rarely eat much of the meat as this one is all about the tasty sauce the bone-in mutton produces. You could also make this recipe with chicken. Mappas curries are all about the coriander powder. There’s a lot of it in this recipe.
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Infuse the curry leaves with the oil and then add the chopped onions and chillies and fry until light brown.
Add the garlic and ginger.
Add those ground spices! Lots of ground coriander in there!
Brown the meat for a few minutes.
Cover with water for long, slow simmer and then add the coconut milk and some fresh curry leaves to for additional flavour if you like.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, add about 20 curry leaves and infuse them in the oil for about 30 seconds. Then add the chopped onion and fry over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until turning light brown in colour. Now stir in the green chillies, ginger and garlic and give it another good stir. Then add the diced tomatoes and the ground spices.
Add just enough water to cover and let the meat simmer for 90 minutes or longer. The meat is ready when it's ready so don't rush this. It needs to be super tender which takes longer with mutton than it does lamb.
To finish, stir in the light coconut milk. Season with salt to taste. This curry is a lot like a good stew. The flavours are amazing. It can be served over rice or just eaten as is.
Super easy to make! Andhra chicken curry is also low in calories!
This curry is perfect for those who don’t like terribly spicy curries. There are a lot of warming spices in it which produce a delicious flavour but nothing too fiery hot. I like the subtle flavour of the mint sauce. If you are pressed for time, you could marinate the meat for just a few minutes and it will still be delicious.
This is another in a series of light recipes that I’m writing. Taste it and you’ll never know it’s a diet recipe!
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Whisk the marinade ingredients together and stir the chicken in.
Infuse the whole spices in the oil for about 30 seconds.
Add the onions and fry for about five minutes until translucent and lightly browned.
Stir in the tomatoes and chillies and fry for a minute or so.
Add the chicken and fry for a few minutes. Then add just enough water to cover. Add the mint sauce and cashew paste to finish.
Plate up and enjoy with Basmati or Keralan red rice (Matta rice).
1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder (more or less to taste)
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
10g mint leaves – finely chopped
Place the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Rub the marinade into the chicken pieces and let stand for at least 20 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, blend the cashews and coconut with just a drop of water until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
Pour the oil into a large pan or wok bring to a sizzle over medium-high heat. When hot, stir in the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Let these ingredients infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped onions and green chilli. Fry for about five minutes until the onion is soft, translucent and lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger paste and the chopped tomato and fry over medium heat for about three minutes until the tomato is beginning to break down in the sauce. Stir in the chilli powder and garam masala.
Now add the marinated chicken and all the marinade. Move it around in the onion mixture to coat and then add just enough water to cover. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
To finish, add the mint leaves and cashew paste and stir well. Reduce the sauce until you are happy with the consistency and add salt to taste.