I thought, 'I can do better than that, I can take photos as well!!' So today I made it.
The recipe I use comes from this book 'Indian Food Made Easy' by Anjum Anand:
It's actually a recipe for North Indian Lamb Curry but I don't like lamb (yuk, it's greasy and has a weird aftertaste...) so I make it with beef instead.
Because I'm a lazy mare, I can't be arsed to actually type out the recipe itself, but here it is in the book. Click on the picture to make it larger. I follow the method but make life easier by using ready made products rather than having to do things yourself - it's much quicker that way. I should point out that this is a very, very quick meal to get started, but because it's beef I find it best if it then cooks on a low heat for a very long time, like 2.5 hours at least so the meat falls apart. You can, of course, make this as originally intended using lamb and then it only takes about 35 minutes to cook. Chicken, I would imagine, would probably be the same. Pork I don't know about as I don't care for that much so don't tend to cook it but feel free to have a go with it.
INGREDIENTS with pictures for the hard of thinking showing you exactly how I make it:
Black Cardamom pods. These are important but they're also the hardest thing to find. If you have Asian shops near to you then you'll probably get them there. They weren't in any of my local supermarkets but I found them in a farm shop. Alternatively you can get them online at www.spiceracktrader.co.uk - well, that's what it says on the label. These are lovely things - they're like giant mutant black versions of your standard green cardamoms but they smell like bonfires. I reckon they add a smoky flavour.
Green Cardamom pods. These are your bog-standard ones and available pretty much everywhere these days.
Dried crushed red chillies. Or you can use fresh ones, it's up to you.
Turmeric. It's yellow. That's about all I can tell you about it. I wonder why the box seems to have pictures of ginger roots on it? Ah, Google is my friend, it's because it's a member of the Ginger family. Pretty obvious, really.
Ground Coriander. Gorgeousness in a jar. You use this a lot in Indian cooking and in large quantities too.
Garam Masala. This is actually a mixture of lots of other ground spices, all in one jar.
Ready made garlic paste. I'm a lazy, lazy mare and just buy it already pounded into a paste.
Ready made ginger paste. See comment above.
A carton of chopped tomatoes from Sainsbury's basics range. It has the same quantity as a standard sized tin.
440g pack of casserole steak. This will make enough to feed two people.
Apart from the above, you'll need vegetable oil, a finely chopped onion and salt.
Shall we get started?
You'll need a large pan with a lid, say, a big saucepan or casserole. I have a large frying pan that I use:
Into this you need to pour a glug or two of vegetable oil, then add 2 black cardamom and 2 green cardamom pods, and a bay leaf:
Oh, a word about the quantities of spices used here. The original recipe is for 6-8 people and uses the relevant amount of spices for that amount of people. When I first made this recipe with beef I only used a third of the quantities of spices listed, because I was only making for 2 people. I found this was not enough so, over the many times I've since made this, I've gradually increased the quantities until I find I'm now using the quantities she says. I don't find the flavours overpowering at all, in fact they're just right. So these are the quantities I'm using here - don't be alarmed.
So, into the pan of hot oil go the cardamoms and the bay leaf:
While they're heating, finely chop a medium to large sized onion and put that in as well:
On a gentle heat, cook the onions until they start to go a golden colour. This can take a surprisingly long time, as much as 10 minutes, so you might as well find something to do during this - personally I practice my ukulele or go and poke one of the cats. Eventually they will start to turn colour (the onions, not the cats):
You now add your meat to the pan, stir it around and let it start to cook. Don't worry about getting all the sides brown, after all you're going to be simmering the bugger for a couple of hours and if the meat hasn't cooked through in that time I'd have a word with your butcher:
This is the fun bit, where you start to add the spices.
We'll start with the two ready-made pastes. If you want to make them yourself, then you get a couple of cloves of garlic and mash them to a pulp in a pestle and mortar. Similarly cut off and peel an inch or so of ginger root and bash that to bits in a pestle and mortar. You now have your pastes. Alternatively, open a couple of jars and use 2 teaspoons of each. Two teaspoons of garlic paste is about the equivalent of a couple of cloves of garlic. Two teaspoons of the ginger paste is, I dunno, an inch of garlic root?
So add them to the pan.
Next (although it doesn't matter what order you do this in, this was just the way I did it today), add to the pan half a teaspoon of Turmeric (I have these little yellow measuring spoons that I use):
One tablespoon of Ground Coriander powder:
One teaspoon of Garam Masala:
A sprinkle of dried crushed chilli flakes (it's always a gamble as to how hot this curry will turn out as I never really measure how much chilli flakes to use, I just shake the jar over the pan until I'm happy, but perhaps best err on the side of caution here and don't be too exuberant unless you like to get sweaty when eating it):
And finally add some salt, just a bit, mind. You can always add more later if you think it needs it.
Normally I would sprinkle all the spices evenly over the whole surface but for the purposes of this post I sort of did them in strips across the meat so you can see the comparative quantities (sort of):
Well, that doesn't really work, does it? Oh well, just give all a really good stir and you'll see that the dry, powdery spices start to soak up the liquid in the pan. This is what is meant in the printed recipe where it says the pan goes 'dry':
Next add your tomatoes. These can be from a tin or a carton. Anjum stipulates that if you use fresh tomatoes, go for really cheap tomatoes, not fancy ones with loads of flavour. This is why I use the Basics range:
So you stir all that in:
Put the lid on, turn up the heat to bring it to a boil:
And as soon as it reaches a boil, turn the heat down as low as it will go. I mean, really low:
And then go and do something else for the next 2.5 hours.
When you come back, it will look like this:
The sauce will have reduced a little, but not very much because the lid was left on, but the flavours will have intensified. You need to taste it now to check for seasoning. This particular one, at this point, definitely needed more salt. And don't forget to fish out the black and green cardamom pods and the bay leaf.
The recipe proper now calls for adding chopped coriander which I would highly recommend because I love coriander, but TLH isn't keen so there's none in this one. And if I remember to buy a packet of fresh coriander, I just add some to my bowl after I've dished it up, but I forgot to get some this week.
Make up some Basmati rice, and serve:
The beef is so tender you can cut it with a spoon - yum!
You can, of course, make this go a lot further if you add side dishes and poppadums/naans and pickles but even without all that, this quantity will easily feed 3 people. Unless they're very greedy, like us, in which case it's two.
Anyway, that's it - I would urge you to try it because it's really very, very simple and tastes as good as a restaurant curry.
Remind me to put up my Chicken Korma recipe sometime - now that really is a cracker....