It felt great when Noel asked me to write something for his blog. I love food with a passion especially dishes cooked using local ingredients where is possible but dishes I love to cook are Indian and Asian for different combinations to create great flavours. I think this stems a bit from my dad who opened on the sixties the first Chinese restaurant in Ellesmere Port although we have no Chinese heritage. Unfortunately he had a great foresight to see that Asian restaurants were becoming extremely popular but not the foresight to see that his business partner was not a good choice and he was forced to sell the restaurant. This was my first experience of restaurants and kitchens and as youngster I got to taste what customers wanted in front of house and the traditional food cooked by the chefs for themselves. One of the first lessons I learnt was preparation was essential as with Chinese food the cooking can be very fast and the second lesson was that the Chinese cook pork belly very well.
My introduction to Indian food came while I was working in the Sudan and our house manager was from Goa. He showed me some great dishes and a great insight into spices and how to achieve great flavours to which I was grateful. Again the lesson of preparation was essential to help achieve great food . So I have included two dishes that show that preparing ingredients can produce fabulous flavours on a plate. The first being a traditional chicken korma and I assure you if you try this dish you will never buy a sauce from a supermarket again.
TRADITIONAL CHICKEN KORMA
1.5 kg of chicken thighs deboned and skin removed
For the coconut paste
125 grams of fresh coconut flesh or frozen grated
50 grams of blanched almonds roughly chopped
4 tsp of white poppy seeds
For the masala
1 medium onion roughly chopped
2 tbs of vegetable oil
6 green cardamon pods bashed
3.5 cm cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chilli powder
200ml of water
125ml of thick yogurt mixed with 125ml of water
3 black cardamon pods seeds only crushed
Blend all the ingredients for the coconut paste in a mini processor add a touch of water to help it bind. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based wok or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cloves, green cardamon pods and cinnamon stick and fry for 30 seconds. Stir in the onion and salt and fry for 10 minutes till the onion just about browns, add the chilli powder. Then add the chicken pieces and fry to brown the chicken, add the water and the coconut paste bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Take the pan of the heat and stir in the yoghurt and water mix then return to a gentle heat and cook for 30 minutes uncovered. Make sure the mixture does not stick to pan add water if needed. After 30 minutes stir in the black cardamon seeds and serve with Basmati rice.
My next dish really needs preparation because the cooking of the prawns is so important you can’t start looking for ingredients or the prawns will over cook and spoil the dish. The dish has origins from Cambodia I have just put my twist on it but my friends have cooked my recipe for their friends and have had excellent feedback. It’s a great dish once prepared is so quick to cook so you don’t keep your dinner guests waiting.
PRAWN, PINEAPPLE AND MANGO CURRY
1 firm mango but not over ripe
1 Tsp corn flour
1 medium sized pineapple
2tbs of vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
100 gram of shallot finely chopped
1 red birds eye chilli (more if you want more heat)
500 grams of fresh king prawns peeled
Juice of one lime
1tbs of fish sauce
1tbs of light soy
Hand full of fresh coriander chopped
White pepper to season
Peel and cut the mango into 10cm squares and do the same with the pineapple. Mix the corn flour with a touch of water and set to one side. Heat the oil in a wok to a medium heat add the garlic and allow 1 minute to sizzle till it just changes colour but does not burn. Then add the shallots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, add the chilli and prawns turning the heat to high and cook till the prawns just turn pink about two minutes. Add 2tbs of water, lime juice, fish sauce, light soy and the corn flour, stir fry for a few seconds just to thicken the sauce. Then add the pineapple and mango and cook just too warm through. Stir in the coriander and season with the white pepper. Serve with Basmati rice.
I hope you try these two dishes but hope that you take on board “It’s all in the preparation” and again I thank Noel for letting me write for his blog a great chef who is inspirational to many.
many thanks to David for a brilliant piece . you can follow david on twitter @Diddy186Davis for much more