Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tandoori-style salmon

I'm not really sure why I've never made this before. I like salmon, I like salmon with lots of Indian spices, but somehow it has never occurred to me to try and make a tandoori-style version. Until last week! I've learnt my lesson after my previous ready made paste disappointment, and made my own marinade, which was actually perfectly straightforward. I marinated the fish for a couple of hours, and then cooked it under a hot grill. It wasn't exactly the heat levels of a tandoor, but I did end up with a few nice charred bits with the rest of the fish staying succulent.

Recipe (enough for 2 as a main meal):

4 salmon fillets with skin left on
2 spring onions
1 inch-ish, thumb-sized piece of ginger
3 fat cloves of garlic
2 small green chillis
4 tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt
Juice of half a large lemon
4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground corriander
1.5 tsp tumeric
1 tsp paprika (or Kashmiri red chilli powder if you can find it)
0.5 tsp salt
A couple of grinds of black pepper
A few tsps of sunflower oil

Blitz up (or pound) the spring onion, ginger, garlic, and chilli into a paste and tip into a bowl with all the other ingredients except the oil. Mix it all well and pour over the salmon so that all its surfaces are covered. Leave to marinade in the fridge for around 4-5 hours, so basically if I want to have this for dinner I'd try to get it in the marinade by lunchtime. Take the salmon out of the fridge around 30mins before you want to actually cook it, so that it comes up to room temperature. Then heat up your grill, put the salmon fillets on a tray. Spread any remaining marinade in a thin layer over the fish, and lightly brush each fillet with a little oil and sprinkle a bit of extra salt over too. Cook the salmon for around 7-8mins on each side depending on how hot you can get your grill and how thick the pieces are. The fish should have a few dark charred bits, but be just cooked through in the centre.
And that's it really. I serve this with some plain rice, green vegetables, and maybe a raita of some sort. The acidity of the lemon and yoghurt contrasts with the richness of the salmon, and this is such a robust fish it's great with loads of spices. And if you can get all the preparation done in advance this really can be a super-simple and speedy dinner.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bengali-style egg curry or dim er torkari

So here's some real Indian home-style cooking, which is perfectly suited to the recent chilly weather we've been having. This curry is one of my mother's original speedy dinner dishes that I've been eating for several decades now, and is essentially made with store cupboard ingredients. There are versions of this egg curry from all over India, and I'm not exactly certain that this one is particularly Bengali. But as the person who cooked it is, that's what I've called it.

The dish basically comprises some hard boiled eggs in a tomato-based gravy, and for me is the epitome of hearty and warming. It is also pretty quick to make, especially if you have you eggs boiled and ready beforehand.

Recipe (enough for four as side dish):

4 hard boiled eggs, shelled and cooled
Around 1 tblsp plain flour
1.5 tsp turmeric
2 tblsp oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
1 green chilli, pierces several times with the tip of a knife
Small thumb-sized piece of ginger, crushed to a paste
Around 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp tomato puree
A dried bay leaf
0.5 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp salt
3-4 tblsp fresh, or frozen and defrosted peas
About half a mug of water

Start by halving the boiled eggs, and lightly dusting them with the plain flour. Heat up a tablespoon or so of the oil (ideally in a non-stick pan) until its hot but not smoking, and carefully place in the egg halves in. Sprinkle over half a teaspoon on the turmeric, and when the eggs are lightly browned on one side turn them over until the other side matches. The turmeric means that the eggs should be golden by this point, and when they are take them out of the oil, and put to one side.
I should say that this 'frying the eggs' stage is optional, but I do find that it adds a slight crispy texture that I really like. But if you can't be bothered then just start with the below.
Put the rest of the oil in the pan and heat, before adding the bay leaf and the onions. Once the onions have started to soften, add all the ground spices including the rest of the turmeric. Stir well and then add the chilli, ginger and garlic. Cook this over a medium heat for a few minutes. Next throw in the tomatoes, and continue to cook until they've softened. Then add the tomato puree and enough water to create a thick gravy. Once it's gently bubbling put the eggs back in, tip in the peas and season with salt. Let this cook for few more minutes until the eggs and peas have heated through.

You can add some cubed, cooked potatoes to this too which makes it more of a main dish, or perhaps increase the number of eggs per person. Otherwise serve with rice and something else (I made a cabbage dish with ginger and cumin which you can just see peaking through in the picture above). Also feel free to adjust the spicing according to taste. I remember this egg curry as quite a mild dish, but if you fancy more of a kick chop up the chilli and fry it with the onions rather than keeping it whole. If you prefer things mild, don't accidentally bite into the whole chilli (I speak from experience).