Alloo Bodi Tama – Nepalese Potato and Black Bean Curry

For those Curry aficionados, and I count myself blessed to be one, there is a growing number of Nepalese Restaurants  in the UK offering something different from the [ I think boring as hell!] usual fare of ‘Tikka Masala’ or ‘Bangalore Phal’ – hot as possible, cos I’m a REAL MAN!

To those who enjoy such bastardised dishes, fine.  But they are a world away from the subtle spiced delights of the Asian Sub-Continent.  This is a staple Nepali dish, fine as a main course for vegetarians, or as an accompaniment to Lamb or Goat dishes.

Ingredients:

200 ml of organic Sheep or Goat’s Yoghurt; 400 g Bamboo Shoots [if you have a choice select those broader thick shoots, similar to thin leeks], cut to thin slices then cross-cut smaller if necessary;  400 g tin of Black-eyed peas or beans rinsed [or overnight soaked if dried];  400 g tin of organic tomatoes, chopped;  1 lb potatoes [waxy new varieties if poss.] peeled and cut to about 1/2″ pieces;   1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly;  2 fresh red chillies sliced into rounds, seeds and all!;  2 cloves garlic finely chopped;  1/2″ fresh ginger finely chopped; 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper;  1 tsp cumin powder;  1/2 tsp turmeric [or better still one short piece of fresh turmeric finely chopped]; 200 g thick yoghurt;  1/2 pint organic veg stock;  handful of fresh, roughly chopped Coriander as garnish;  2 tbsp Rice oil.

Heat the oil in a deep fry pan, with a lid if possible.  Throw in the red chillies and stir ’til darkened, then add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry ’til soft on a low heat.  Turn the heat up slightly and add the spices stirring ’til incorporated into the mixture.  Turn back down and then add the potatoes and saute for about 10 minutes covered, just checking that they don’t start to burn.  Add the beans, bamboo shoots and tomatoes, stir and allow a few minutes to heat through.

Mix the yoghurt with about half of the warm veg stock.  Add carefully as it will have a tendency to curdle if the stock is too hot.  If it does use a fork and…..beat it within an inch of it’s life!   Add to the curry and stir in well.  Turn up the heat ’til you see it just beginning to boil then turn down and allow to low-simmer for about 20-25 mins.  If the sauce gets too dry add a little at a time of your remaining stock.  Then when the potatoes and beans are tender and ready, garnish with the coriander, and enjoy.

Naan bread or similar Roti are all you need to go with this.

Ayo Gurkhali!

I shall be following with reviews of two of my favourite Nepali restaurants, one in Edinburgh, and one in Spalding, Lincs. !!!!

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Spicy Crisp Broccoli

I find this a great accompaniment to richer curries as, done properly, it retains the fresh clean flavours to cleanse the palette between mouthfuls.

Ingredients:

A good sized head of Broccoli, a little over a lb in weight, and make sure the florets are dark green.  Cut the florets off and don’t waste the stalk.  Finely slice it into thin rounds.

2 tbsp light oil [I have had good results using Rice Oil with this]; 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced; 2 tsp cumin seeds; 2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and sliced into thin rounds; 1 heaped tbsp gram [chickpea] flour; 1 tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp ground coriander; 1 tsp ground cardamom; 1/2 tsp sea salt;  3 tbsp water.

Mix the gram flour, salt, ground cumin, coriander and cardamom together in a small bowl.  Use a largish frying pan, with a lid, and heat the oil.  Add the cumin seeds, chilli and garlic, then stir-fry for a couple of minutes, taking care the garlic browns but doesn’t burn.  Then add the broccoli, turn up the heat and stir-fry for about 3/4 minutes.  Turn the heat down low and add the gram flour mixture, sprinkling it evenly and stirring it in.   Add the water and stir then cook for a further 6/7 minutes.  Serve immediately.

apanē bhōjana kā ānanda!

Keralan Lamb Stew

A tasty curry which, though mild enough to serve to the wimpiest non-curry aficionado, I find myself being asked to cook again & again by even hardened India hands.

About 3 lbs  of stewing lamb, neck or shoulder is best, either left on the bone or trimmed and cut into small chunks;  4 tbsp rice or veg oil; cinnamon sticks in 2″ pieces, about 2 or 3; 10 cloves; 10/12 green cardamom pods; 2 tsp black peppercorns; 1 lb onions finely sliced; 2″ fresh ginger, peeled then finely sliced and cut into ‘matchsticks’; 6 whole long green chillies slit down the centre; 1 lb potatoes, peeled, big enough to cut into 4 lengthways and give you thick wedges; 1 pint thin coconut milk; 1/2 lb ‘banana’ shallots, peeled and thin sliced; a handful of fresh curry leaves or about 2 tbsp of dried; 2 tbsp lime juice.

For this you will need a large casserole.  Heat the oil and when hot put in the cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamoms, and peppercorns.  Stir to coat with oil, then add the onions and ginger.  Cook until the onions are translucent, then add the lamb, green chillies and 1 pint of the coconut milk.  Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for about 35 mins.  Add the potatoes, bring back to the boil and then fast simmer for about 20 mins or until the potatoes are soft enough to push a fork into but not falling apart.

Heat a little more oil in a small pan and saute the shallots until they are nicely browned.  Add the curry leaves and stir through. Put in the remaining coconut milk and when it comes to a simmer add the whole pan to the stew stirring it in along with the lime juice.

The result will be a delicious creamy stew, the chillies will have lost all their heat, the lamb will be mouth-wateringly tender and just watch people fighting over the potatoes!  Serve in large bowls,  just accompanied by Naan Breads to wipe up the last bit of juice!