Triple take

Random ramblings of a British guy that's moved to Australia. And now back to UK.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Something different today. Lets cook something!

Spicy Punjabi Beans. Aka Witheridge curry (Just don't ask why). Aka "My meat-free monday" contribution...

Ends up something like this: (No, the photo does it no justice, I know)

This looks complicated when you see it written down but that's only because I've gone into painstaking detail (even when to drink during cooking). It's the first authentic punjabi dish I ever had and it's been a staple part of my diet ever since. It's really, really simple and you can easily vary it. I've gone onto variations at the end. I never thought I'd ever post a recipe as I don't do quantities, I just cook. But I've made the effort to do this one "Live" and vaguely measure quantities/timings/temperatures this time, so someone please try it and let me know how you get on!

The whole thing took me about an hour but that can be shortened if you do things like using garlic paste or omitting the ginger.

Edible Stuff you need (optional ones have a * next to them)
1 large tin kidney beans (840g)
Medium onion
clove or two Garlic
*knob of ginger (About same size as garlic)
couple or few chillis (depending on size and taste)
*1 capsicum (pepper)
tin of tomatoes (400g)
1 beef stock cube
Ground turmeric
Chilli powder
*Ground Cumin (I always buy whole seeds (Cos I love rice with whole cumin seeds)then grind them in a pestle and mortar if ground are required)
*Ground fenugreek
Garam Masala
*Some salt

None edible stuff you need
Wok/deep frying pan
*pestle & mortar (If you need to grind up cumin seeds or dried chillis in lieue of chilli powder)

Preparation (Don't worry about the length of this section, this is "nearly-all-prep" recipe, the cooking is dead simple. Having an ample supply of beers to sip on while doing the prep, and a good playlist also helps it seem like a fun activity rather than cooking....)

Crack a tinnie and let's go:

Make two small holes in the tin of kidney beans and stand upside down in the sink to drain.

Finely chop the onion. The finer the better. I cut it into thin slices then lay these flat and cut as finely as I can vertically and then horizontally. I call this "criss-crossing" because my mates always want to help me cook and it's easier to teach them that one technique then do things like throw an onion at their head and yell "Hey Bud! Criss-cross this!"

Finely chop the garlic. (Criss-cross is good again but it's not so much fun to lob small things at your mates heads) If you don't like smell of garlic on your fingers then a table spoon of garlic paste or inch of garlic puree can be used instead when required.

Shit. First tinnie of the day always goes quick. Maybe it evapourated. Crack another one eh?

Finely chop the ginger. Again, fine as possible - criss-cross each slice to make tiny ickle cubes.

Chop the chillis. These are difficult to criss cross so I normally slice in half lengthways and then slice them up. Today I then sliced them in half lengthwise again because they were pretty big ones, about 5 inches long or so and half an inch thick. If you're using something like Thai green chillis these are only about an inch long so you can get away with just slicing them. If you want to reduce the heat in this recipe cut them in half length ways first and use the flat of a knife blade to scrape the seeds into a bin. Avoid the temptation to use your thumb nail as it'll burn and itch later. (And even after washing your hands it will burn like crazy the next time you go for a pee. Trust me on this)

All the above are going to be cooked at the same time, so the same chopping board is fine.

Separately, chop the capsicum (pepper) into approximately kidney bean sized pieces, perhaps a little larger. Put to one side as they'll be added a little later.

grind about 1 tsp of cumin seeds in your pestle and mortar.

Open the tin of tomatoes.

Get your spices out ready.

Put a roll of toilet paper in the freezer ready for tomorrow morning.

That's all the prep done. I'll go and do it now and tell you how long it should take...

OK, 16 minutes. That's not too bad is it? Open another tinnie, check your playlist isn't about to repeat and then we can get on with the cooking...

The cooky bit
Put some oil in the wok to heat up. Usually I use sunflower oil but today I'm using olive oil. That's probably a safer bet as it smokes at a cooler temperature and if it begins to smoke you know it's too hot. Enough to coat the flat bottom part of the pan is fine. We'll maybe add more in a minute. My hotplates have a scale of 1-12 on the heat settings and I put it on 12 to get started quickly, then turned it down to eight as soon as I could smell the oil. Get ready for about a minute of continuous stirring with a wooden spoon:

Chuck in the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic, stirring all the time. Nothing should instantly brown. Get it all covered with oil as quick as possible. Add more oil if you need to so that everything is shiny looking but not boiling in oil. Too much will make the whole dish greasy. Gently stir fry for about 2 minutes. A proper chef person would say something like "Fry the onions until they're transparent" or some bollocks like that. They mean about 2 minutes.

Pause stirring for a moment and get your spices.

Sprinkle over about 1 level tea spoon of turmeric. Turmeric is a natural antiseptic.

Sprinkle over about 3/4 teaspoon of chilli powder

Spinkle over about 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek

Sprinkle over about 3/4 teaspoon of ground cumin.

(Basically all your spice EXCEPT the Garam masala)

Get your wooden spoon back in there and stir until everything is coated with the spices. At this point the mix was bit powdery for me so I splahed in some more oil. Again, no exces required, but nothing should look dry. The spices are all different colours so if you spot any area of the wok with a concentration of one colour you've not stirred it enough. Put some water in the kettle (Not much, half a cup full is fine so long as such a small amount wont cause your kettle to blow up or anything)

This whole bit took me about 4 minutes and I then poured in half the tin of tomatos. Only add half at one time otherwise you'll cool the pan contents too much. It'll probably sizzle when you first pour them in, but that's fine. Let it get back to gentle bubbly heat (only a minute or so, long enough to get another beer out of the fridge) then add the other half. By the way, I used a tin of chopped tomatos, but if you've bought whole ones then you should chop them up during the prep stage. An easy way to do this is to just stick a sharp knife in the tin and swizzle it around lots. They don't have to be delicately or evenly chopped or anything. Keep the tomato can, don't bin it just yet.

Once the whole tin has been added chuck in the chopped capsicum and once that's been duly stirred in, add the kidney beans.

Crumble one or two stock cubes into the tomato can. (In the UK one Oxo cube is fine, but in Australia the cubes are half the size so I used two). When the kettle has boiled pour enough into the can to about half fill it. Stir it up to dissolved the cubes fully and then pour this into the pan. Yeah, I only use the tomato can so save washing anything else up. You can bin it recycle it now.

That's about it really. I leave it about 3/4 temperature for about 15 mins, stirring every few mins, and then turn it down to about 1/4 temperature for another 15 minutes. It's ready once the stock juice has evapourated away - hence steam is good but definately not bubbling frantically. I normally do the washing up in the stage so that when it's cooked there's nothing to do but serve and eat.

Now add the Garam masala. Today I found some mushrooms in the fridge that needed using so I chopped up three mushrooms and chucked them in at this point too. Mushrooms aren't natural to India of course, but they get used a lot in European indian cooking because they are "flavour sponges" - They absorb spicey flavours really well and add a great texture so long as you add them near the end of cooking. It's now ready, although if you can leave it to cool and reheat it later, the whole dish benefits by absorbing the spices a little more.

How to serve
If you want it the traditional way, put some onto a plate and then serve with a side of a raw onion chopped into quarters (two quarters is plenty) and two quarters of apple too. I know it sounds mingy, but it's honestly really good. Unless you suffer with IBS in which case your body really won't appreciate the raw onion in addition to the spices. Also add a generous spoon of mango or lime pickle/chutney to the plate and a pitta bread. Don't use knives or forks, just tear up the bread and use it to "pinch" the beans. A pinch of beans, bite of onion or apple, perhaps dipped into the chutney. Lovely. Honestly, don't knock it until you've tried it! If you come to my house this is how I'll serve it to you!

If you're more normal, then just serve it in the middle of a ring of rice like any other curry.

A strange thing I like to do it add some grated cheese on top of the beans. For some reason that seems to compliment it really well but that's my own thing, certainly not traditional!

Oh, and with beer if you've drank it all during the cooking stages....

Tinned potatoes make a great addition to this dish. Particuarly if you want to "bulk it up". If you don't like tinned potatos (I hate them for everything apart from this dish) then of course you could use par-boiled fresh potatoes. Another really nice addition, which I tend to add whenever I have some, is a handful of dried sultanas. If you're going to use either of these, then add them just after pouring in the stock. If you add them before there's not enough "juice" and it may burn.

All chilli's, chilli-powder and Garam Masal are different, so it's hard to give quantities. I've already realised that this particular batch is much milder than the one I'd usually cook back in the UK, so something here is definately milder. I think it's the chilli's. Generally the larger ones are milder and these were humungous. Next time I'll add a little more chilli powder to get the heat up.

Play with the spice mixes until you get it the way you like it. Adding salt takes away the intensity of the spice.

If you ever make a curry that's too hot then don't bother drinking water to cool your mouth, chilli is insoluble in water. Eat some fruit, especially cucumber or banana.

This made four servings for me. Of course it depends on how large you like your servings, I know that some of my mates would manage to eat virtually the panfull in one serve.

It freezes well too. I had one serve after cooking it, put another in the fridge for lunch tomorrow and the other two into freezer packs for another time. If you reheat in a microwave do it on a low setting otherwise the beans explode and make a horrible fucking mess of your microwave, especially if it's a totally overpowered 1000w beast of a machine. Or so I'm told.....

Oh, and once you're done, done forget to use kitchen towel to wipe oil all over your wok if it's steel. Otherwise it'll rust and be a bitch to clean next time you use it. Even if that is tomorrow.


Blogger vuboq said...

I'll have to try this at some point! (or just send me some of yours).

and, beer should never be "optional"

and, *meat-free smooches*

12:56 am  
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12:41 am  
Blogger Only me said...

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1:15 am  

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