The great thing about pakora which is basically any vegetable or meat dipped in a spicy batter and fried, is that it is almost as good reheated in the oven and it freezes beautifully. Any Glaswegian will tell you this; most of us have came back from the pub or club having picked up pakora as a scooby snack on the way home and fell asleep before being able to consume it. Being frugal, we'd then freeze it the next day for future imbibing. It's a right of passage.
Most of us have also participated in ordering enough Indian food...including pakora of course... to feed a small army when there are only two of you and end up reheating and living off the remains for weeks to come.
I shall be having a 40th birthday party soon no WAY I hear you all cry...no way are you 40! I know, I know, I'm some kind of baby faced freak...meh and whereas I'm still contemplating the venue, I know for a fact that the fayre will be Indian, the starter spicy and the drinks cold.
I used the spice mix that Pauline gave me but have sourced all the ingredients (except the dry mango...I'm attempting to dry some) to make my own mixes. The spice mix should be easy enough to find in one form or another although they may vary a little. The 'pakora masala' I uses is MDH which stands for Mahashian Di Hatti Ltd and is made in India.
I made two batters, one for the basic mix with red onions and spinach, the other a bit thinner to coat thinly sliced potatoes and halved mushrooms. This worked really well and tasted delicious. I think we now have enough pakora for the next three months, if we wanted to eat some every week!
2 chopped red onions
1 packet spinach, blanched and drained, water removed by pressing firmly whilst sitting in a sieve
200g gram flour
50g plain flour
half teaspoon baking soda
Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add water to make a thick batter. Add onions and spinach and mix thoroughly. Add an inch or two of oil to a pan and place spoonfuls of pakora into hot oil. Turn once brown and cook other side.
*spices-MDH spice mix or similar or else add the following: teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin, salt. Half a teaspoon dried chili or chili powder...or to taste. A good pinch of fenugreek leaves, bishop's weed and mace, if you can get it. Half a teaspoon each of ginger powder, ground cinnamon and a good grating of nutmeg. One clove and a few cardamom seeds, ground with a pestle and mortar along with a grinding of black pepper. Finally, some dry mango, although this may not be easy to find and you could easily do without it.
Helen's Indian Curry (Basically a slightly different version than Pete's from Jamie Oliver's Book but Pete got it from me (I think). Pete is Scottish, he no doubt came to one of my parties. Rip off merchant. :O) Only joking Pete, don't sue!
I usually make this with lamb; to replace with chicken, use 16 chicken thighs, most of the skins removed. Keep some on for flavour. I browned the chicken(8 pieces) and then added half the sauce from the oven-see below.
Use the sauce as a base for any curry, with meat or veg.
2 tablespoons butter
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
285ml/1/2 pint chicken stock
1.5kg/3 1/2lb leg of lamb**if using, I prefer to roast it slowly with garlic and rosemary for 3-4 hours, let it cool and then chop meat into large chunks before adding to sauce to simmer for a further hour. Soooo tender.
1 handful of chopped mint and/or coriander
285ml/1/2 pint natural yoghurt
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lime juice from 1-2 limes
Hot and Fragrant Rub Mix – (taken from Jamie Oliver's book)
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 a cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Curry Paste Ingredients -
3 inches fresh ginger, peeled
2 large red onions, peeled
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 fresh chillies, with seeds
1 bunch of fresh coriander
Preheat your oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
Lightly toast the fragrant rub mix; I place it all in a dry frying pan and shake every 30 seconds or so but you can place in the oven or under the grill. Grind with a pestle and mortar. Chop the curry paste ingredients roughly and, along with the ground rub mix, place into a food processor and puree.
In a large casserole pan (I use a pot and transfer this to an oven dish though), fry the curry paste mixture in the butter until it goes golden, stirring regularly. The smell is wonderful!
Add the tomatoes and the stock. Bring to the boil, cover with kitchen foil (if using a pot, remember and place it in an ovenproof container first) and place in the oven for one and a half hours to intensify the flavour. Remove the foil and continue to simmer on the stove until it thickens (put back into used pot, if that's the way you're doing it). This is your basic curry sauce.
Fry the lamb (or chicken etc) in a little olive oil until golden, then add to the curry sauce and simmer for around 1 hour or until tender. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and/or mint and stir in the yoghurt (if you want, to taste or serve raita instead). Season to taste and add a very good squeeze of lime juice and a handful of chopped coriander leaves. Enjoy!
This is a good curry, very easy and tasty. If you like your curry a little sweeter, add a teaspoon of sugar before putting into oven.
I split the sauce into two. One half was used for 8 pieces of browned thigh meat (with bones) and the other half had a good dollop or two of cream and a little sugar added. I covered the other 8 chicken thighs, skinned in a marinade of yoghurt, salt, pepper, curry powder, lime juice and coriander. I left them for at least an hour but if you were better prepared, then overnight. I baked them in the oven for approx. 15-20 minutes, until cooked through; I had to put them back after 15 so it depends on your oven. I then added these to the creamy curry sauce.
Instead of paratha, I made a basic chapati style bread but used gram flour with a little plain flour, salt and a spoonful of oil and butter. I made a batter with water and kneaded until soft, split into 8 and rolled out using a misshapen roller; I don't recommend this but couldn't find my proper rolling pin. How can you lose a rolling pin?? I placed the bread into a hot pan until bubbles starting to form, turned and cooked the other side. I then brushed a little oil on and turned, repeating this process another 3 times.
Rice was boiled and served alongside the rest of the meal. Raita is simply yogurt with a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper and a handful of chopped coriander leaves or chopped cucumber...both if you feel like it.