Robert (Holly’s dad) and I just did a great day of cooking at Food at 52 which is a great little cookery school that caters for small, intimate groups, we had only twelve people on the day we went. The cooking takes place around a big communal table, supervised by the owner and chef John, and within ten minutes we had all introduced ourselves to each other as we all, as a group, set about cooking eleven courses, some for an early lunch and the rest for an early supper!
The day course, with as much wine as you could drink (and we may have had the odd glass) centered around Southern Indian dishes and boy were we in for a treat. John and his small team know a thing or two about specialist ingredients and it was really interesting to learn about items I hadn’t heard of before such as Asafoetida and Snake Beans.
Robert and I were tasked to make three dishes and I have recreated them here (with my sous chef Harry!) for you to try and enjoy, all of the spices you will EVER need in life can be bought from Plentiful Foods Indian Spice Shop, Drummond Street NW1 the people there are so friendly and will be only to happy to help and advise you on what you need and don’t need!
For a great starter:
Keralan Prawn Curry for 6
– 1kg fresh shell on prawns
– 1 ½ tsp turmeric
– 2 tsp mustard seeds
– ½ tsp cumin
– 1 tsp asafoetida
– ½ tsp ground cloves
– Handful of curry leaves
– 2 sliced red onions
– 1 red chilli. chopped
– 1 inch ginger cut into thin batons
– 1 can coconut milk
– 3 tbsps tamarind pulp, try and do it yourself instead of concentrate
– Juice of a lemon
– Coriander to garnish
Prep your prawns by removing the head and sand veins (simply run a knife down their back and remove the little black vein and discard, keep the tail on, keep the shells and heads for your stock.
Gently heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy pan and add the mustard seed until they pop, add the asafoetida, ground cloves and curry leaves, stir for 30 seconds then add sliced onions, pinch of salt and heat until softened.
Add the chilli and ginger, remaining turmeric and heat for around 2 minutes until fragrant, stir in coconut milk, tamarind and 200ml of your prawn stock. Simmer for 5 minutes then add prawns until they turn pink. Taste for seasoning add lemon juice and tamarind to taste
Garnish with the coriander and serve with pilau rice
Nadam Kozhi Chicken (this should taste like a korma) for 6
– 2kg skinless chicken thighs
– 1 white onion, chopped
– 45g fresh ginger
– 8 cloves garlic
– 6 green chillies
– Handful curry leaves
– 2 tomatoes, chopped
– 300ml coconut milk
– 2 tbsp tamarind paste
– ½ tsp turmeric
– 1 tbsp coriander seeds
– 2 ½ tbsp garam masala
– ½ tsp black mustard seeds
– 2 dried torn red chillies
– dash curry leaves
– 50g soaked cashew nuts
Combine the onion, ginger, green chillies and garlic until a smooth paste, in a blender or grinder. Fry off this paste in oil in a heavy bottomed, large pan for about 5 minutes. Add turmeric, coriander seeds, garam masala and heat for 1 minute, nice and gentle do not burn.
Add tomatoes, ¼ cup hot water, coconut milk, i tbsp tamarind and the chicken, season and simmer, lid off for 40 minutes tasting for seasoning as you go (but you know that anyway).
Grind half of the cashews and stir into finished dish, add remaining tamarind to taste.
Separately, fry the mustard seeds, dried chillies and curry leaves in a little oil for about 4 minutes place on top of your finished dish and remaining cashews.
Serve with rice and Naan bread
Aubergine Chutney for 4
– 1 large Italian aubergine
– 2 tsps mustard seeds
– 1 tsp asafoetida
– 2 tbsp urud dal
– 2 tbsp tamarind paste
– 2 green chillies
– 1 bunch coriander
– 2 tbsp oil
Roast the aubergine in a hot oven (220c) for 30 minutes and allow to cool, then cut lengthways and scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.
Heat half the oil and saute the mustard seeds and asafoetida, once the seeds pop remove from the heat.
Saute the dal in a separate pan until light brown, be careful it burns easily !!
Mix the tamarind paste with the aubergine flesh, add the chillies, coriander, mustard seeds, asafoetida and salt and blend until smooth, add dal and blend briefly.
Serve as a side to chicken dish or any curry dish.
If these dishes don’t excite your tastebuds and make you a superhero with your friends, then it’s time to get on that one way ship to Mars.