I hadn’t really thought that I would be making supper this evening, but mum had a huge stack of Christmas cards to write and my mind was too frazzled to write (which I really should have been doing).
The main attraction was a fish curry. I cut a sizable fillet of defrosted cod into chunks and made simple curry with ginger, garlic, tomatoes, onions, cumin, and turmeric and a little water. The fish recipe is from an ancient book of mum’s by Michael Pandya and published by Hamlyn – and despite its dated appearance, is actually excellent. I have given the recipe below in Mum’s words from when she once wrote it down for me. I had to use fresh tomatoes instead of paste because, extraordinarily, we had run out – and they worked a treat. Curry is a good way to use fish that has been frozen – its loss of succulence is not as fatal, as were it served grilled on its own.
To go with the fish curry I made up a potato one with some greens (chard) that had been retrieved from the garden, and it was a rich and reportedly delicious addition to proceedings.
Plain Fish Curry – serves 4 with sides
butter or ghee or oil
2 onions, one grated, one finely chopped
1 inch, ginger, mashed up
around 12 small ripe tomatoes, halved, or/ 4 tablespoons of tomato purée
¼ pint, water
6 fresh tomatoes, for garnish
1 teaspoon, cumin,
1 teaspoon, tumeric,
1 teaspoon, garam masala
1 ½ pounds (680g) white fish, cut into chunks (or chicken if desired)
How to Make:
Heat butter and gently fry fish for 5 minutes. Be careful the fish does not fall apart – treat it carefully. Drain on kitchen paper. Add chopped onion to pan (not grated yet) and fry until colden. Add all the spices and cook for 10 seconds. Add grated onion, garlic, ginger and tomato purée or halved tomatoes. Fry gently for a few minutes. Add water and add salt to taste. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Add fish and then return to heat an simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh tomatoes.
Potato and Greens Curry with Coconut Milk and Almonds
5 small/medium (ideally red, waxy) potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish chunks
1 bunch greens (e.g. chard, or spinach, or greens), roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, very finely chopped
4 cardamom pods
1 piece, cinnamon bark
½ tablespoon, turmeric
1 teaspoon, garam masala
½ chilli, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tin, coconut milk
2 heaped tablespoons, ground almonds
½ tablespoon, vinegar
How to make:
In a heavy bottomed, lidded pan melt a knob of butter (or ghee) and gently fry the cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, bay leaves and ginger for a minute. Add the garlic, onions, chilli and others spices and cook until soft. Add the potatoes and coat in the spices. Add the coconut milk and almonds, which should cover the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are cooked. When they are cooked, add the vinegar and season with salt to taste. Then add the greens and put the lid on and steam the greens on top until tender. Mix the greens into the potatoes. Serve.
4 tablespoons natural yogurt
½ teaspoon, fresh pounded ginger
1 whole garlic clove, skin on
1 teaspoon of dried mint or 1 tablespoon, finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon, nigella seeds
How to make:
Mix everything together, garnish with the nigella seeds. Do not eat the garlic clove! Place in the fridge until needed.
Rinse basmati rice very, very thoroughly in fresh water. Place rice in a lidded, heavy bottomed pan with a good pinch of salt and add water until it is around ¾ inch above the level of the rice. Cook on a medium heat with the lid on until the water has disappeared. Leave with the lid off to rest for a few mins and then serve. You can add a cardamom pods, cloves, turmeric, or bay leaves with the water to make it fragrant. I used turmeric and cardamom in this case. Turmeric also gives it a lovely colour.
If you don’t have naan bread, you can use white pitta breads. Always warm them in the oven, and to make them more delicious, drizzle over a bit of melted butter and a sprinkle of nigella seeds, which are used to make naans.
Gewurztraminer. Shredded lettuce salad with ½ lemon to squeeze over.