Thursday, December 16, 2010

Phase 2 in the mission to convert my boyfriend to curry

Regular readers will remember that I recently reviewed 'I Love Curry' by Anjum Anand. You'll remember how taken I was with the breadth of recipes covered in this book. It has everything from bite-sized appetisers and all sorts of curries (made with vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry and meat) to Indian breads, vegetable side dishes, rice dishes and lots of different dips and raitas.

You'll also remember how I was hoping to use this book to convert my English boyfriend to the appreciation of curry. Despite the fact that he hails from a land where curry is worshipped, this man maintains that he HATES curry.

Chillies? Yuck, he says. Lentils? My tummy can't handle them, he maintains.

I refuse to accept this situation and I am on a mission to show him just how wrong he is about curry. I took my first step towards victory when I cooked Anjum Anand's creamy tomato fish curry last night.

I chose this recipe because it is described as being mild. It seemed easy to cook midweek. And from the glossy picture printed alongside the recipe, it looked delicious. It appeared to be the perfect recipe with which to launch my attack.

I assembled my ingredients and got to work. (The sheer amount of ingredients might lead you to think that this recipe is complicted but rest assured that it isn't. Most of the ingredients are spices and all you need to do with them is measure them and add them to the sauce.)

Ingredients: (to serve 4)

1 tsp turmeric
500g firm white fish steaks (halibut is recommended but I substituted monkfish.)
7tbsp vegetable oil
6 cloves
6 green cardamon pods
12 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, quartered and seeded (I didn't bother seeding mine)
10g fresh root ginger, peeled weight
6 fat garlic cloves
1/4 to 1/2tsp chilli powder
1tbsp ground coriander
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4tsp garam masala
2tbsp single cream
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Rub half the turmeric and a good pinch of salt into the fish and leave to marinate as you cook the sauce.
  • Heat 5tbsp of the oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the whole spices and the bay leaves and once they have sizzled for 10 seconds, add the onion. Cook until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes, ginger and garlic until smooth, adding a splash of water to help, if needed.
  • Add this paste to the pan with the rest of the spices (except the garam masala) and some salt to taste.
  • Cook over a medium flame, stirring often for 10 to 12 minutes, until the spice mix starts to release oil droplets. (I'd never seen this happen before and was unsure what to expect but you can't miss it.)
  • Reduce the heat and brown the paste for a further 6 minutes to intensify the flavours.
  • Add 500ml water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 or 7 minutes more.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  • Meanwhile, if you're using halibut, it's time to fry the fish. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan until hot and add the marinated pieces of fish, cooking on both sides for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Add the fish, the garam masala and the cream to the curry and simmer for another 3 minutes while the fish finishes cooking and absorbs the sauce.
  • If you're using monkfish, it doesn't need to be fried. Add it to the curry directly along with the garam masala and the cream and simmer for 5 minutes or so until cooked.
  • Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve scattered with chopped coriander.
I served this with nutty brown rice and some crunchy sugar snap peas.

The verdict? Because the recipe involved frying the whole spices and giving the curry sauce time to develop, there was a real depth of flavour to this dish. Layers upon layers of flavour in fact. I loved it.
And the curry-hating boyfriend? He loved it too!
Curry-hating boyfriend: 0
Sharon (with the help of Anjum Anand): 1
I think this is a war that can be won...

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