Beautiful kale


Photo updated 13 March 2010


A few weeks ago, at a dinner at a local restaurant, I ordered a main of duck accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and  ‘winter vegetables’. When the food arrived, we realised that, hilariously, ‘the winter vegetables’ consisted of one single small leaf of kale! Hilariously, I say, because we were in a good mood regardless, and in the good company of my brother! I don’t want to even begin saying what and why was wrong with the rest of the food, but that one small leaf of kale did leave an impression. Simply braised and soft, it had a lovely deep flavour, and I was hooked instantly.  

A few days later, I bought some gorgeous purple and green kale at the farmers’ market. I  remembered seeing a recipe for aloo palak (spinach with potatoes) at Vegeyum, and also at Hooked on Heat recently, and thought kale would be a good substitute for spinach. Good? – It was even better! This is my version of this classic dish. Lightly spiced, with cumin seeds and turmeric, with a background of onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies, allowing the flavour of the potatoes and kale to shine through. It’s a fantastic side dish that I’ll be cooking a lot this autumn and winter! 

One word of warning. Normally, if using spinach, I would precook potatoes, but this is not necessary here because the kale takes quite a long time to cook. It is at its best braised gently until soft. 

This is my entry for Eating with the Seasons: November. For details on how to take part in this event that celebrates seasonal food, check out the introductory post!   


RCI Hyderabad: Murgh/Gosht Tamatar (Lamb/Chicken with tomatoes)

Regional Cuisines of India (RCI) is the blogging event started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine, to celebrate the rich and diverse cuisines of India. It’s been a while since I had time to take part in what is probably my favourite event. This month we’re exploring the cuisine of the princely state of Hyderabad. Our host this month is Mona, from Zaiqa.

I know I should be making a byriani, the celebrated dish of the Royal Hyderabad, for this event. But the time is a little tight, so my second entry for this event is a simple, light and aromatic lamb curry with tomatoes, coriander and curry leaves. I made it twice in the last two weeks, the second  time with chicken (see photo). I think I prefer it with lamb, though. It goes really well with Hyderabadi Coriander and Mint Chutney.




Hyderabadi Lamb with



(Timatar Gosht)


SOURCE: Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘The Ultimate Curry Bible’


COOKING TIME: 1 – 1.5 h 

CUISINE: Indian – Hyderabadi



500 g boneless lamb, cubed

1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

6 cloves of garlic, peel and crushed

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt (or according to taste)

3 desert spoons of ghee

210 g chopped yellow onion

1 can tomatoes (or 450 g fresh tomatoes, peeled and crushed)

6 green chilies, chopped

15 – 20 fresh curry leaves

2 – 3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped



1. Marinate the meat with garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and some salt for 30 minutes or longer.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the onions. Then, heat the oil to high medium heat. When hot (it sizzles when you put a wooden spoon in it), add onions and fry until brown.

3. Add the meat with its marinade and stir-fry for a minute or two. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook in its juices for another 8 – 10 min. Keep an eye on the pot, so the meat doesn’t burn. If it starts sticking badly, add a little water to the pan and stir.

4. Now add the tomatoes, the chilies, the curry leaves and coriander and bring to simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low, then cook for another 30 – 40 min or until the meat is done, and the tomatoes turned into a dark, luscious, thick sauce. Serve with rice or roti.



It’s worth seeking out fresh curry leaves (though use dried curry leaves, if you have to), because they make a difference to the flavour.

I might try this with fresh tomatoes next time.

The chilies are boiled in the sauce and therefore very very mild. I loved biting into them, though. I think I’ll try and add a few more next time, to add more heat to the dish.   



  Murgh Timatar – For the chicken version (pictured above), replace the lamb with the same amount of chicken. I used chicken thigh.


RCI Hyderabad: Hyderabadi Mint & Coriander Chutney

It’s been a while since I had time to take part in what is probably my favourite event – Regional Cuisines of India (RCI), the blogging event started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine, to celebrate the rich and diverse cuisines of India. This month I’m back, and exploring the cuisine of the princely state of Hyderabad. Our host this month is Mona, from Zaiqa.

Mona has a whole host of mouthwatering Hyderabadi recipes on her blog, and many of them caught my eye. One of them inspired me to create this lovely chutney, based on a treasured family recipe that Mona’s grandma used to make. I kept the ingredients the same as Mona’s, apart from substituting Thai red chilies for green chilies only. I also adjusted the quantities of tamarind to suit our taste, and the fact that I was using concentrate: I reduced it, otherwise it would have killed off all the other flavours. Also, my curry leaves were tiny, so I added a few more to give them a more prominent role in the chutney. All of this really shows how it’s necessary to work with the ingredients at hand, taste them to get to know them, and adjust the quantities accordingly.


Coriander and Mint Chutney 

(Hara Dhaniya aur Pudine Ki Chutney)


SOURCE: adapted from Mona’s recipe at Zaiqa


COOKING TIME: 2 – 3 min

CUISINE: Indian – Hyderabadi




1/4 – 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 tbsp sesame seeds

a little groundnut oil

1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, washed and dried, roughly chopped along with the tender stems

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves – 1 cup, washed and dried on paper towels, roughly chopped, only leaves

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

6 green finger chilies, washed and roughly chopped (or fewer, according to taste)

8 – 10 fresh curry leaves

1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate

Salt to taste



  • Heat the oil on medium high heat, and as it warms up, add the shredded coconut and the sesame seeds, and roast them both together till light brown and aromatic. Let it cool. Keep aside.
  • Put the coriander leaves, mint leaves, garlic pods, red and green chillies, curry leaves, tamarind pulp, sesame seeds, shredded coconut and salt in a blender, and blend it till nice and smooth. You can add about half cup of water to aid in the blending if needed.



Tamarind is very strong-tasting and it can overpower other flavours. It’s best to add it cautiously.

The chutney keeps well in the fridge for up to a week. However, with time, all flavours fade, except for (you’ll guess) tamarind. You’ve been warned!

I served this with a fragrant and simple Hyderabadi tomato-based chicken curry (Hyderabadi Murgh Tamatar), which worked really well and perked up the dish considerably.



Fragrant and tasty chutney, with vibrant, clean spicy notes of the green chilies. Enjoyed it, & will make again!

Cooking a hated vegetable dangerously


Image: Wikipedia Commons


Cooking a hated vegetable dangerously. This is what the Significant Someone would say if he saw me now. But my policy is: the one who is not here doesn’t get a say in what’s for dinner. So I do it my way. Or rather Madhur’s way. Dangerously cooking a plum purple aubergine on an open gas fire! Praying I don’t burn the house down (I suddenly remember that I was born a Catholic). Making baigan bharta, the Punjabi dish of aubergines, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, onions and chilies. Flavoured with a generous sprinkle of coriander. Yum!

Apart from the danger element, simplicity is the name of the game. Simple spicing and flavour, but utterly delectable results. This is my second try at it. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t have the nerve to cook it properly the first time around. Yes, I copped out, and baked it in the oven on high heat. And that was fine, but it didn’t have that characteristic charred taste. Still very nice, if you don’t have a gas hob.

And the danger? It really is not half as bad as it sounds. The first time I cooked this, I watched it like a hawk, but after I realised I wasn’t going to burn my home down, I relaxed. Still, be watchful and careful if you cook it on the gas hob.

This is my entry for my event Eating with the Seasons – July. Aubergines are in season in Britain at the moment. Enjoy them!

Beautiful flower, isn’t it.

Image: Aubergine flower (Wikipedia Commons)


Baigan BhartaIndian Aubergine Pate

SOURCE: Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Flavours of India’, my wording


COOKING TIME: about 20 – 30 min

CUISINE: Indian (Punjabi)

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish



1 aubergine

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 cm peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

3 green chilies

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I tend to leave it out)

1/2 can plum tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

3 – 4 tbsp finely chopped coriander



1. Wash your aubergine and wipe it clean. Remove the stem, and prick it with a knife a few times. Now this step is vital. If you fail to do this, you may have a hot and dangerous aubergine bomb exploding all over your kitchen!

2. Place the aubergine on top of a burning gas flame, and cook moving around until charred. Or simply bake it in the oven until soft to touch. Leave to cool, and then peel.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in the pan until it starts sizzling when you dip a wooden spoon into it. Then throw in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds, and when they’ve released their lovely warm aroma, add the onions.

4. When they turn golden, add the garlic, ginger and green chilies. Fry for two minutes until the ginger and garlic mellow a little.

5. Add the tomatoes and cayenne if using it, and season with salt. Cook the tarka (the tomato and onion mixture here) until it becomes shiny dark orange and the oil starts oozing out.

6. Now add the chopped aubergine and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables come together. You can do this for a bit longer if you wish.

7. Add the fresh coriander, stir and remove from heat.

I sometimes add a touch of garam masala at the end.

Serve it with any Indian meal, or even as a dip at parties, or a delicious spread on crusty bread.



This is a lovely way of cooking aubergine. Fragrant, and rather fresh tasting. Mildly spiced, so that the flavour of vegetables really come into their own.



Other aubergine recipes at Maninas:

Ajvar – aubergine and red pepper relish  V

This lovely relish is probably the most popular condiment of the former Yugoslavia.


Kerala-style Coconut & Vegetable Curry

Yeap, this is another one of those spontaneous posts  when I invent a dish, forget to take the photos because I’ve eaten it too quickly, decide it’s worth sharing, and then go and post it! Just like now!

This gorgeous coconuty curry is loosely based on a recipe for Fish in Coconut Milk (Fish Molee) by Camellia Panjabi (50 Great Curries of India). What I loved about this recipe, apart from the fact that is coconut-based, is the emphasis on the wet masalas (onions, chilies, ginger and garlic), with mere hints of whole spices (black pepper, green cardamom, clove). I made it this weekend with fish, and loved it, so I made it again today, changing it quite a bit. Firstly, I used vegetables instead of fish, and cashew nuts to add some protein. Secondly, I used 12 green chilies (instead of 6), but with seeds removed, because I wanted to get the maximum chili flavour as well as the heat. Speaking of which, the heat was quite interesting. Medium hot, but well distributed throughout the curry, because the chilies melted into the curry (you can discard the skins, but I left them in). As a result, the heat was lovely and warm, but not aggressive. Then, I changed the quantities of spices a little by adding 1 more cardamom pod, and one more peppercorn, along with using 18 instead of 6 – 8 curry leaves. I also added a hint of garam masala to the dish, and lemon juice. In the original recipe, the fish was marinated in lemon juice and turmeric, but since I didn’t use the fish, I added the turmeric and lemon juice straight to the dish!

And the verdict? What can I say, we loved it! You try it, and let me know what you think!




Kerala-style Vegetable and


 Coconut Curry



SOURCE: adapted from the recipe for Fish in Coconut Milk (Fish Molee) by Camellia Panjabi (50 Great Curries of India)



CUISINE: Indian – Kerala

SERVES: 2 hungry people



1 tbsp ghee, or vegetable oil

1 large or two small yellow onions, sliced 

12 green finger chilies, slit in half, and seeds discarded

6 x 2 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped or grated 

5 medium cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 -1 tsp turmeric, or more to taste

3 small plum tomatoes from a tin, mashed with a fork

3 black peppercorns

1 clove

3 green cardamom pods, bruised

18 dried curry leaves

150 ml coconut milk

1 sachet of creamed coconut (50 g, I think. You can use only coconut milk though, just add another 100 – 150 ml)

1 – 1 1/2 tsp ground almonds (optional)

a pinch of ground black pepper

freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon or lime (or less, according to taste)

2 medium courgettes

2 small carrots

a handful of cashew nuts

1/2 tsp garam masala



1. Heat the ghee in a medium pan, and when it’s hot enough, add the onions. Fry until they start to brown stirring occasionally, being extra careful so they don’t burn.(I normally chop the garlic, chilies and ginger while the onions are frying.)

2. When the onions are browned, add ginger, chilies and garlic, stir well and fry for a few more minutes, until the garlic starts going golden.

3. Then add the whole spices and curry leaves and stir for 10 s. Then, add the turmeric. Stir once, and add the tomatoes. Keep stirring for 2 – 3 minutes, until a thick paste is created.

4. Now add the coconut and continue cooking on low heat for 10 – 12 minutes. The onions will fall apart, and create a thick coconut paste.

PLEASE NOTE: If using coconut milk, add the coconut cream from a non-shaken coconut milk can at this stage, and after the past is cooked, add the thinner milk that’s left in the can.

5. When the paste is done, add about 3 – 4 dl water to it, depending on how soupy you want it (see the note about serving). Then, add the almonds if using, lemon juice and ground pepper; cook for a few minutes.

6. At this stage, I brought the mixture to boil, added the cashews and the vegetables, and took it off the heat while I cooked the rice. I put the lid on the curry, to capture the flavours! When the rice was nearly done, I reheated the curry, and added the the garam masala to it. This way, the vegetables stayed fairly crunchy.

I made my curry rather soupy, and served it with Thai jasmine rice, which worked really well. The rice is slightly glutinous, so it soaked in the sauce, and it was absolutely gorgeous! I also sprinkled it with fresh coriander. Yum!!!



Other courgette curries on Maninas:

A simple courgette curry

Other coconut, non-vegetarian curries at Maninas:

Coconut Chicken Masala

Hariyalli Chicken

For other Indian recipes at Maninas, click HERE, or check out the Recipes by origin page.  ___________________________________________________

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