Spice Kitchen : Murgh Hara Masala

Sundays are all about the chicken in most households, admitidly it’s usually a roasted. In the house I grew up in, our weekends didn’t culminate in a Sunday roast but a variety of spiced dishes. So if you ever come to mine on a Sunday it’s fairly unlikely that that I won’t  serve you a roast dinner, don’t get me wrong I enjoy a roast but I’m not bound by tradition of having one every Sunday or every month. 

If you don’t fancy a roast dinner try this dish that I wrote about when I was Malabar Aaanaa, it will liven up any dull Sunday.

This weekend was the first time I’ve had chance to get back on the spice trail to try something new and delicious. I did a fair bit of trawling through my recipe books and came across this tasty recipe for Murgh Hara Masala and being the person I am, I played about with it slightly.


Ingredients :

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion , thinly sliced

1 inch fresh ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp masala chat

2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

2 chicken breasts, diced

2 chicken thighs, diced

100ml plain yoghurt

350 ml chicken stock

1 small handful of fresh mint, finely chopped

1 small handful of fresh coriander

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 banana shallot, finely chopped

1tbsp lemon juice

100g fresh spinach, blanched and puréed

Salt to taste

1 stalk of fresh curry leaves

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium flame and add the sliced onions. Brown the onions and then add the garlic and chilli and fry until the raw smell has gone.

In a small bowl mix the chat masala and Kashmiri chilli powder and add a little water so not to scorch the spices, add this mix to the onions , garlic and ginger. Cook out the spices for 1 minute.

Add the chicken and seal the meat coating it with the spice mix.

Add the chopped mint, coriander, lemon juice, shallot and green chilli to the chicken and cook out for 2 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick add a splash of water.

Add the yogurt and bring to a simmering point and cook for a further 2 minutes

Add the stock and spinach and cook until the chicken is tender for 10- 15 minutes.

Add the curry leaves and season with salt, cook for a further minute.


Serve with rice and chapatti.

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Upma – South Indian breakfast recipe

Upma is a typical South Indian breakfast made from semolina and vegetables. I’ve made this dish many times for Tiffin Brunches and Keralan Kitchen pop ups under Malabar Aaanaa,  it’s propabably one of my favourite dishes  and is best served with pappad and chutneys, it also goes well with my Kerala Mutta Curry recipe.

Upma , South Indian breakfast recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups coarse semolina
1 red onion chopped

1 small green pepper, finely chopped

1 small carrot, diced

3 green chillies, de-seeded and thinly sliced

4 stalks curry leaves

1 x 2 inch cassia bark

1tsp cumin seeds

3 cups boiling water

1tsp brown mustard seeds

1/3 cup of cashew nuts

2 dried kashmiri chillies (broken)

salt and peper to taste

1 tbsp coconut oil

In a dry frying pan roast the semolina over a medium heat until golden. Once this has been done remove from the pan and put to one side.

In another pan heat the coconut oil over a medium heat, first add the cashew nuts, whole spices and curry leaves and temper until the aroma develops then add the onions, chillies onions, peppers and carrot, fry until soft and golden.

Add the semolina to the onion mixture and combine, add the salt and pepper to taste.

Slowly add half of the boiling water once this has evaporated, add the remaining water and stir using a metal spoon. Try not to stir the mixture too much as the mixture will become stodgy.

Remove from the heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Fluff the mixture with a fork to separate the grains and serve with coconut and coriander chutney, and pappad

Enjoy.

Kerala Mutta Curry – eggs baked in masala 

Here’s a great brunch dish that will add spice to any weekend . I  made this for a clients 30th birthday brunch when I was running Malabar Aaanaa, all who attended loved this dish and said that the brunch added to a very special weekend.

Most of the egg curries I’ve had in Kerala have used hard boiled eggs. I feel the curry looses out on the silkiness of a soft yoke and a certain richness when combined with the masala, so with this in mind I cook the egg from the scratch in the masala sauce giving the dish a more enjoyable flavour and texture .


Kerala Mutta Curry – Baked Eggs in a Masala Sauce 

Ingredients

6 eggs, organic

For the Masala Sauce

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onion, sliced

2 sprigs of curry leaves

2 tsp coriander seeds, ground

2 green chilli, deseeded and split lengthwise

1inch ginger, minced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

5 fresh medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground

1 tbsp cumin, ground

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 inch cinnamon stick

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and temper following spices: cinnamon stick and curry leaves for 2 minutes, then add the sliced onions.

Fry the onions until soft and translucent then add the garlic, ginger and green chilli, cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the spices ( but not the garam masala) and cook until the tomatoes have broken down , add a cup of water gradually to stop the mixture from sticking.

Once the masala sauce has cooked down sprinkle with garam masala and season with salt and mix.

Pre-heat the oven to 180c

Transfer the sauce to an ovenproof dish and crack the eggs into the mixture, I find it handy to make a little well in the sauce to hold the egg.
Place in the oven and cook until the egg white is just set and the yoke is still soft.
Serve with Upma, Paratha and chutneys
 
  Note:

Instead of baking the eggs, you can just poach the eggs in the pan on the stove. To poach just cover with a  lid until  and cook over a medium heat until the egg white is cooked and the yoke is soft.
 

Brunch: Bombay Toast Kerala Style 

Sweet Bombay Toast….Sweet Bombay Toast with Banana, Coconut, honey and Tayberries I first discovered this delicious breakfast treat in a very special place in Kerala called Varkala 10 years ago. This dish was expertly prepared for my husband and I by a lovely old guy called Babu, who also made us gallons of Masala chai and who offered to let us stay at his house for 100 rs a night the next time we visited. My husband and I reflect fondly about Babu and how proud he was to show his spices and prepare food for us. I should mention Babu’s version of Bombay Toast was a delicious spiced French toast lightly fried in coconut oil and topped with slice banana, freshly grated coconut and drizzled with honey.
After leaving Varkala we visited Kovallam and to our delight we discovered Bombay Toast was on the menu….. it came …..and what lay before us was an oily soggy pale limp piece of bread…. Oh the disappointment!! On arriving back home I made it my mission to cook this special dish in the style of Babu for my friends and family, who thoroughly enjoyed it and have reproduced the dish for their friends too.
I have returned to Kerala a number of times, but I have yet to return to Varkala to find Babu to ask him if his offer still stands and if he would kindly make us Bombay Toast.
This is my version in honor of Babu
Serves 4
Ingredients
4 thick slices from a stale brioche loaf

4 eggs, free range organic

1/8 cup double cream

2 tbsp golden caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp Masala chai spice blend

2 tsp coconut oil

2 large ripe bananas sliced

100gms freshly grated coconut

4 tsp of runny honey, I like to use orange blossom

12 tayberries optional

Method
In a shallow bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and masala chai.
Heat a large frying pan over a medium flame, add the coconut oil.
Dip each slice of the brioche into the egg mixture remove and place in the frying pan.
Cook each slice of brioche until golden on both sides, taking care not to burn.


Place on a serving plate, top with sliced bananas coconut and a drizzle of honey.


Top with Tayberries


Serve straight away with a smile and enjoy.