Tag Archives: coriander leaves

South Indian prawn curry

I do like cooking with prawns because they take so little time to cook. Today I made a South Indian curry sauce for the prawns, a ridiculously simple recipe but incredibly fragrant and absolutely delicious. It might look ingredient-heavy, but believe me when I say that there are no complicated steps. So on to the recipe.

Ingredients:

250gms fresh water prawns, cleaned and shells removed
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup tomato passata or tomato sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Fry in 1/2 tsp oil for 30-45 seconds until fragrant and slightly darker in colour :
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1-2 mild dried red chillies, or use 1 tsp paprika

Grind together to a smooth paste, using a little water:
1/4 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
1 small tomato, quartered
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1cm piece fresh ginger
the toasted spices

Method:

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds and let them pop (about a minute on high heat). Then stir in the minced onion and fry for a minute or two until it softens.

2. Turn down the heat to medium, add the ground spice-coconut paste and fry it for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the milk and passata and let it cook for 5 minutes, without letting it burn. You can add a couple of tablespoons water along with salt to taste at this point, if the paste looks very thick.

4. Add the prawns and stir to coat with the sauce. They should take 5-7 minutes to cook through (they will turn pink). Stir in the lime juice and taste the sauce to make sure the flavours are balanced. Sprinkle with the fresh coriander and serve hot with steamed rice or Indian flatbreads.

Verdict: Pete thought the sauce was incredibly delicious with the prawns.

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Fish pie

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Four steps. That’s all it takes. (Apart from the sub-steps for each of the four steps..;. but that’s all, honest. And at the end of those few steps and sub-steps, you get this gently spiced pie with a crisp cheesy mashed potato topping. You can use whatever fish you like in this, I guess. I bought a fish pie mix from the supermarket, so there were two-inch pieces of salmon, cod and smoked haddock.

If you’ve read the recipe and you’re wondering why I didn’t add salt to the mashed potato or to the white sauce, it’s because I found out the hard way that salt water fish are salty in themselves, unlike fresh water fish. I’ve come close to making a fish dish inedible because I added salt… so I’m now a little less ignorant and passing on my wisdom (!) to you.

I don’t have anything else to say on this topic, so shall we move on to the recipe? Yep… I thought you’d want that.

Recipe for: Fish Pie

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Easy chicken korma, UK-style

I’ll be honest, I don’t like korma. I’m not even particularly fond of proper Indian kurma, but it’s the British korma that I really do NOT like. Why not? Because it’s usually far too sweet (almost like a pudding) and usually far too greasy as well, and it has no chillies to counter that cloying taste. But Pete likes korma rather a lot for precisely that reason. Well, each to his – or her – own. I’m happy enough to make korma at home for Pete as long as I don’t have to eat it. I do not add extra sugar (which is something I’m sure is done in restaurants), which probably allows the coconut milk to provide its own natural sweetness. I say probably, but that’s because I don’t taste it at all and never have. So it’s kind of tricky, really, cooking non-vegetarian items for my husband… but more often than not, whatever I cook turns out rather well. It’s quite rare that he has to add extra seasoning. Touch wood.

So, enough of blowing my own trumpet and on with today’s recipe. This korma is quite simple and is perfect for a weeknight supper. Yes, it looks like a long list of ingredients, but I promise that if you exercise due diligence with your mise en place before you start cooking, this curry can be ready in 20 minutes. The more complicated, authentic Indian kurma is a recipe for another day, and another blog.

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Ingredients: Continue reading

Sweet and sour chicken

Pete’s favourite cuisine of all is Chinese. I’ve cooked Chinese stir fries for him at home… but here’s a confession – the sauce has always come from a bottle, so strictly speaking, it’s not cooking as such. It’s just prepping the veg and meat or chicken. When he says “Babe, this is good”, I get a sneaking feeling of guilt at the praise because I feel it’s undeserved. Hell, anyone can “cook” like that.

So this recipe is my attempt at a sauce that’s not from a bottle – it’s from several bottles and a can, haha. No, seriously – I know that sweet’n’sour is probably the most ubiquitous of all Chinese takeaway items. I don’t know if “real” Chinese would be surprised to learn that this is “their” cuisine, much as Madrasis would be surprised to learn that there’s a “Madras curry” in the UK that has literally nothing to do with South Indian food!

Authentic or not, sweet’n’sour is Pete’s favourite recipe, so I’ve tried to make it, with no extra sugar added. All the sweetness is strictly from the pineapple (and whatever is in the ketchup).

One extra tip: Before you add the chicken pieces, taste the marinade sauce to make sure it’s to your liking. You can add a bit more of whatever you feel is lacking. 

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Whole steamed sea bass, Chinese style


I have a cookbook that deals entirely and only with fish, which I bought on Ebay after a fraught bidding war. I really, really, REALLY wanted that book! The book is simply titled “Fish”, and the author is Sophie Grigson. What I really like about this cookbook is that there is a very informative foreword on the various types of fish that are (or could be) available, and the recipes all have suggestions for substitutions in case you don’t have the particular type of fish required. That to me is invaluable, because I’m not at all knowledgeable about which fish are alike in texture/taste, etc.

This recipe is from her book, and is absurdly simple if you have a steamer. That was handy because I wanted to try the electric steamer (which my husband had bought for using in the campervan, not at home – too bad), because I’d never used one before. It’s got two compartments, and I steamed the whole sea bass in the top compartment, following the suggestion given on the steamer for cooking time, which was about 25 minutes. Easy enough to set the timer for 25 minutes and forget about it thereafter, to be reminded again when it pinged “done”.

The fish tasted fine, but again, it was really quite bony. Ok, it’s not as if I was going to eat the fish… but still, I still prefer my food to be easily accessible and eaten without discomfort – which means not having to pick out the bones carefully from every mouthful before eating. I know I’ve said this before, but seriously, eating such fiddly things seems like such a pain in the wrong place! Much simpler to get fillets which have been de-boned.

Anyway, this is a very healthy way to cook fish, and I was quite pleased with how well it worked out. I served it with Chinese-style fried rice. Simple flavours, maximum taste. I don’t suppose it can get better than that.

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Pan-fried garlicky sardines

I’m very nervous when it comes to cooking fish. Most of them take so little time to cook… and there seems to be such a narrow window of opportunity for that perfect moment between undercooked and overcooked fish. Plus there’s the added anxiety of getting the side dishes ready at the same time as the fish so that there’s no waiting for one or the other. (But this could well be just MY problem.)

Anyway, I bought three medium sardines for Pete’s supper yesterday. The fishmonger at Morrisons kindly beheaded the fish on request and cleaned out the guts. The bones, however, were very much in the fish. They were tiny but definitely hard enough to make their presence felt. I was kind of worried about this, but Pete assured me that it was not a problem, that he would eat the fish carefully, and that yes, most fish-lovers would eat around the bones, picking them out as they went along. It seemed (and I continue to feel that way) like a heck of a lot of trouble to go to – but evidently most people are not as lazy as me! Besides, according to Pete, sardines are very very tasty fish.

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