Curry in a hurry!

Curry in less than 20 minutes? Here’s how.

The recipe featured on Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Curry Nation’ and was cooked by Mumtaz Khan Akbar of Mumtaz restaurant fame.

No actual recipe was given, so the amounts are guess work

Place the following into a cold wok

– 2 chicken breasts diced or sliced. I often use 3 or 4 chicken thighs instead
– 1 large onion very finely chopped or ‘whizzed’ in a food processor, along with ginger and 4 or 5 garlic cloves and a chilli if you want it hot
– 1/2 a 500g carton of passata
– large pinch of salt
– yogurt – I don’t know how much – I just use a ‘blob’
– 1/2 tsp asafoetida (not essential)
– 1/2 mug cold water.

Turn the wok on, bring to the boil and cook for 5-7 mins on a high heat.

Reduce the heat and add the spices – he used about a dessert spoon – maybe a bit more of ‘basar’ – if you don’t have that then use a heaped teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, paprika and garam masala and about half a teaspoon each of turmeric, fenugreek and chilli. Feel free to add more to taste! Also add another ‘blob’ of yogurt and 2 chopped tomatoes. At this point he also added a ladle full of oil! I don’t and the curry’s still fine though probably doesn’t taste quite as good. Lower the heat, cook for another 5 mins and add some chopped coriander just before serving. Feel free to add frozen peas at the end, or frozen spinach or tinned chickpeas when you add the spices.

Note: The amounts of spice are to your personal taste – I often use more than what I’ve said here.

Basar (or Basaar) can be found in all good Indian shops – in Doncaster, the shop at the bottom of Chequer Road sells it, as does Pak supermarket in Rotherham.

An easy curry recipe…

Time for a curry recipe. There’s not really a ‘name’ for it.

Slice a couple of medium onions (use more if they’re smaller) thinly and fry in 2 tsp of oil and a good pinch of salt. I use a nonstick wok but any large pan will do. Before they begin to burn, add a splash of water and continue to cook. Keep adding water and cooking until they become soft and medium/dark brown. Add 2 or 3 tsp ginger garlic paste (or the equivalent fresh) and 1tsp of fennel seeds and carry on cooking.

Once the onions are rich and brown, add 2tsp coriander powder, 2tsp cumin powder, 1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, 1tsp fenugreek powder, 1tsp garam masala, 1 tsp fenugreek powder, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1 tsp paprika* and some salt. The mixture will be quite dry so add enough water to form a thin paste and cook for a few minutes until the water evaporates. Add around 125ml plain yogurt (I use fat free), mix well and cook for a bit longer.

If adding meat or potatoes, add them now. cook for 5 mins or so and add water to make the gravy a curry like consistency. From now, the curry will need to be cooked for about another 20 mins, or it won’t hurt if you cook it longer. If adding pre cooked vegetables such as peas, kidney beans, chick peas etc, add them 10 mins before the end. Also add another 1tsp garam masala now too. Check the seasoning and serve.

I think chicken (thighs) work well with this, but white fish would work well do. Try it and see what you like!

* increase or decrease spices to taste, especially chilli powder.

Prague

Prague’s good for beer. The Czech Republic has a long history of beer and even though much of it is bog standard lager, scratch beneath the surface and there are some really really good beers to found. Tourism has had a big part to play in all of this, and it’s helped develop some really good breweries and beery places, but it’s also chucked out a load of rubbish.

A colleague once asked me about Prague and it’s beer and I told him “Stay away from the main square. Go even one street away and if you see Czechs, you’re not going to be far wrong”. When he came back, he grumbled at how much he’d paid for bottles of Corona from ‘English bars’ on the main square.

So – where was visited on this trip?

Pivovarská Restaurace Berounský Medvěd

Tyršova 135, 266 01 Beroun, Czech Republic
Mon 09-20; Tue-Thu 09-22; Fri, Sat 09-23; Sun 10-20.

Ever been to a pub in a scrap yard? How about a brewery? No? Well visit Prague and get yourself off to Beroun (40 mins from Prague by train). Leave the station, turn left and after two minutes you’ll be in a scrap yard. Pass the Tatra and Škoda lorries, keep going past the tank and you’ll find this small restaurant, bar and brewery. They even have a hotel on site too!

Step from the train and into the station still ensconced in the Communist era and head left, walking by the railway lines into the scrap yard.

Many a beer afternoon has been spent here sampling the two beers – Světlý ležák 11° and Tmavý speciál 13°. Also available were some new ones – Cyklopivo světlý 8° and Polotmavý speciál Grizzly 18°. They also had a couple of beers from other breweries – Podkovan 10 Kvasnikove and Klepacek Polotmave 14. The rather excellent and very cheap lunchtime food (CZK69!) was also sampled

It’s one of the standards for Prague beer – well worth a visit.

 

Zlý Časy

Čestmírova 390/5 140 00 Prague 4-Nusle, Czech Republic
Mon-Thu 11-23:30; Fri 11-01; Sat 17-01; Sun 17-23
Tram: Line 11, 18; stop Náměstí Bratří Synků (on the way to or from První Pivní Tramway)

Well – Zlý Časy. They stopped selling Big Brand beers something like four years ago, and now have 24 beers on tap along with more bottles (Czech, German, English, Scottish, Belgian…_ that you could shake a stick at. The range of beers is displayed on information cards across the top of the bar as well as a menu (tick list) presented to your table. Of course, it’s table service which at times can be a tad slow, but that’s usually because the bar’s full. Oh yeah – if you want to be guaranteed somewhere to sit, arrive early!

As far as beer selection goes, Zlý Časy is easy the best bar in Prague. Prices are very reasonable (much better than other establishments with a ‘decent range’ in the area) and is just generally a decent place to spend a few hours in an evening.

 

Hotel V Pivovaře Davle

Davle, K Pivovaru 1, 252 06 Praha západ
Mon-Thu 10:30-22; Fri 10:30-11; Sat 10:30-11; Sun 10:30-22
Railway station: Davle

I’ve been through Davle a few times, and even spent about half an hour there last year. I’d noticed the building but there was no sign of a brewery. A few months ago however, the building was transformed into a hotel, brewery and restaurant. Excellent! [Update: the beer is brewed elsewhere]

Leaving the station and crossing the Davelský Bridge, which was used as the bridge in the film ‘The Bridge at Remagen’ and turn left and the imposing building is just in front. Everywhere seemed pretty dead in the town when we arrived, but fortunately there was a chap serving beer. They seem to do a range of seven beers, but only the only one available on draught was the sedmnáctke – a 17° golden beer. It was rather good. The other beers were all available, but only in 1.5l bottles – perhaps a bit much when we only had 40 minutes between trains.

The beer has a small terrace overlooking the river which in summer months, I would imagine is most pleasant. The area is popular with walkers and in summer, there is a steam train service.

 

Pivovarský klub

Křižíkova 17°, Praha 8, Karlín
Mon-Sun 11:30-23:30
Metro: Line B, C; stop Florenc

Pivovarský dům is the oldest of the new wave of brew pubs and is incredibly popular with tourists. Pivovarský klub is it’s younger brother, concentrates more on beer than food (even though the former actually brews the beer) and is definitely less touristy.

With up to six draught beers to choose from and over 200 bottles, it’s probably the best stocked bar in the centre. They usually have one or two beers brewed at Pivovarský dům, but the rest are from small breweries across the country. As can be expected, the food is rather good too.

 

Havelská Koruna

Havelská 501/23, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město
Mon-Sun 11-18
Tram: Národní třída

Havelská Koruna is not strictly a beery place, (they only sell Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell). It is however a classic old fashioned Czech restaurant – my favourite since the one on Na poříčí was sold and turned into a Starbucks.

As you enter, you’re given a slip of paper that is imprinted with a stern warning of the threat of a 500CZK fine if you lose it!

Once you’ve overcome the shock of the threat of losing the piece of paper, you approach the array of serveries. At the hot food one, you have the choice of reading the menu on the wall in Czech or pointing to what you want, except that you can’t point to what you want as everything is covered with metal lids. Even though the style of restaurant is a bit of a throwback to the ‘olden days’, the staff now do have a smattering of English, although I was able to order the old favourite of ‘vepřo-knedlo-zelo’ (roast port, dumplings and sauerkraut), a beer and retire to the table. Everything you order is marked by number on the piece of paper which is then presented to the cashier on the way out.

If you’re in the centre of Prague and want good, homestyle cooking at a most agreeable price, go here.

První Pivní Tramway

Na Chodovci 1a, 140 00 Prague 4 – Záběhlice
Mon – Sun 14-00?
Tram 11; stop Spořilov (on the way to or from Zlý Časy)

Get off the tram at the terminus and immediately in front of you is a building. This is První Pivní Tramway. Walking time – about 2 steps.

This place is crowded. Even with only a few people in it’s crowded, but this gives you a good chance to sit with the locals and have a chat, for this place is definitely off the tourist trail (hurrah!). It’s got six beers with two or three exciting ones, again with good food at exceedingly good prices. Only downside – a touch on the smoky side.

 

Prague Beer Museum

Dlouhá 720/46 110 00 Prague 5-Old Town, Czech Republic
Opening hours: not mention on the web anywhere, but seem to remember them open much later than anywhere else
Tram: Dlouhá třída

Well, I was looking forward to this place. They had quite good reviews when they opened, but that seems to be long gone. Yes, they do have 30 beers on tap, but takeaway the national blands and they have less than Zlý Časy. Prices are very expensive – probably 10-20CZK more per 30cl beer than most other places.

The staff are a bit useless too – the one serving us just seemed to want to sell us the most expensive one – 69CKZ for a 30cl – that’s dearer than the UK! They also had a beer on called ‘Good Bulldog’ but no one seemed to know who brewed it and I was also advised not to try the house beer. It was also very smoky. If you’re a tourist, fine – you’ll like it. If you want a decent beer, find somewhere else.

Prashad

Over the last few years, a trip out involving curry has been on the agenda for New Year’s Day and this year was no exception, except that we went on January 2 instead!

Prashad, Bradford

86 Horton Grange Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 2DW
Mon closed; Tue-Fri 11-15, 18-22.30; Sat-Sun 11-22.30
01274 575893

Update – Prashad have moved. Read here

Prashad is a back street curry house (but on a main road) in a not particularly posh bit of Bradford where we had to exercise caution parking due to the amount of glass on the road.

Has that put you off? No? Oh well, read on…

Prashad recently featured in the final (and the preceding heats too) of Ramsay’s Best Restaurants and was just pipped at the post by the winning restaurant. That must be a bit of a clue to how good it is.

We arrived a touch early and were shown across the road to the ‘Punjab Lounge’ – a bit like a doctor’s waiting room but with the walls adorned with awards and a special display case full of Ramsey-ana! Sat behind the desk was the chatty waiter who now appears to be receptionist / front of house.

Soon we were seated in the restaurant and choosing our meals.

Even the poppadoms were a bit different – they were home made and made into a cone shape, served with a selection of chutneys and pickles.

Starters came in the shape of the ‘Mixed Platter’. I can’t really remember everything, but they all were absolutely stunning.

For main course, we shared Bhinda (okra) and Black Eyes Beans, with Jemma having Kichdi and me roti, all washed down with mango lassi. Again, the food was faultless, apart from the roti being a tad on the small side. The food was well spiced, but not overly hot. The blend of a just a few spices in both the dishes was just right.

Service was good too – the waiters were friendly and helpful but not pushy.

Unfortunately, part of the restaurant that used to be their sweet centre and deli has been converted into a restaurant seating area. They’re also looking for new premises, possibly in the Harrogate area. I just hope this doesn’t detract from their concept of excellent homestyle food.

Overall opinion? I’ll be back!

Curry

This blog is supposed to be about food as well as beer, so I’d better do something about a food post!

Curry is important. Sadly, most British restaurants and take aways, and also manufacturers of curry type products in supermarkets are just rubbish. The items they sell or serve are adaptations of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi dishes more suited to the British palate.

I like proper curry, and unfortunately, most restaurants round here fall into the British curry category. Getting proper curry means visiting somewhere like Karachi in Bradford or Tayyabs in London. The other alternative is to make your own!

There are a few techniques for curry making, but these can be easily mastered. Buying all the separate spices can be a little expensive, especially if you buy them in decent size quantities but once you’ve got them, they’re there for future use.

I tend to use a base recipe and then just modify it depending what curry I fancy, but I thought I’d post a couple of recipes I quite like. I’ll also have the address noted down somewhere in case I lose it!

Daal / Dal / Dhal – spell it how you like. This quick and easy way to make dal. I usually leave the curry leaves out as they can be quite tricky to get hold of.

Vindaloo – Vindaloo in English restaurants is just any old curry stuffed with chillis. Proper vindaloo is based on a Portuguese stew made with loads of garlic and vinegar too and although I’ve never tried it in India, I think this is probably very close to what it should be. Yes, it is hot, but not enough to stop you eating it! One thing to note is that it’s made with pork. Many Indians do not eat pork, but in the area of India that this dish originates, a great deal of the people are Christians and do eat pork. As most ‘Indian’ restaurants in Britain are run by Pakistanis or Bangladeshis, you’ll never find pork there!

=========================================================================
Daal Recipe (Vindaloo recipe further down…
Ingredients: (for 2 hungry people)

200g split red lentils
45g butter
6 curry leaves
1 green chilli, chopped
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp salt
pinch of asafoetida (if you don’t have this, you can use half a finely chopped onion & 2 cloves of garlic, also finely chopped.)

What to do next:

Bring 500ml water to boil in a large saucepan. Add lentils and return water to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes until mushy. Make sure lentils do not burn and add extra water if necessary (which I had to do, in small amounts).

Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add curry leaves, chilli, mustard seeds, turmeric, salt and asafoetida. Fry, stirring constantly for 30 seconds or until the spices splutter. Again, make sure they do not burn.

If you are using chopped onions and garlic instead of the asafoetida, then fry these first until golden brown before adding the other ingredients.

Stir into lentils, cook for another 2 minutes and serve! A little sprinkle of sea salt was needed.
http://www.worldfoodieguide.com/index.php/how-to-make-indian-tarka-dal-recipe/
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Vindaloo Recipe

INGREDIENTS (feeds 4-6 people)

1kg of Pork (preferably pork butt/shoulder)

For the Marinade
120ml palm vinegar (or white vinegar if you can’t find palm)
4cms ginger, peeled
4 fresh chillies finely minced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 black cardamoms (optional)

SPICES (If you don’t have whole spices, use pre ground, just make sure they are fresh)
5 cloves
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds
2 tsp chilli powder (kashmiri if possible)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
1 tsp gugar
½ tsp salt

1 large onion (sliced)

Oil for frying

METHOD

Trim the pork of excess fat, cut into 2cm cubes and place in a bowl.

Blend the ginger, chilli and garlic to a fine paste with a little water and salt and pour over the pork, massaging well into the meat.

Add the palm vinegar to the bowl and massage into the meat.

Roast the whole spices in a pan and toast until they begin to release their scent.

Grind them and add all the other ingredients except the onion.

Pour over the pork and massage well into the meat.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for at least two hours. This allows the spices to penetrate and the vinegar to help tenderise the tougher cut of meat.

When ready to cook, heat a little oil in a deep sided pan and fry the onions until golden.

Pour the entire contents of the bowl into the pan (watch out for the waft of vinegar steam that will shoot up.

Add 250ml of water, stir well and reduce the heat.

Cover the pan and allow to simmer on a low heat for about three hours, checking to see when the meat is cooked and that it does not catch at the bottom of the pan. If it does, add a little more water.

After two hours, remove the lid to allow the sauce to reduce. The end result should be quite a dry curry, perfect to serve with plain white rice.
http://www.doshermanos.co.uk/2010/09/pork-vindaloo-that-recipe-one-more-time.html

Euro beer trip day 1 – Getting to Praha

I’d started my journey from Doncaster on Monday afternoon after grabbing a few hours nap as I’d just finished a stretch of night shifts. No time for beer in London as there’d been problems on the trains. In fact I’d only get 14 minutes from my train arriving at Kings Cross to the Eurostar leaving St Pancras. Easy!

There was time for a quick beer at Bruxelles Midi before joining the Thalys service to Köln. In no time at all I was in the land of German beer. Unfortunately, there was some kind of concert type thing going on around the cathedral so after having a Kölsch beer (see more about Kölsch here) in Früh am Dom and decided there wasn’t time to eat there, I headed back towards the station to try my luck in Gaffel am Dom. After pondering over the menu with one of the small 200ml glasses of Gaffel Kölsch, the waiter, sorry Stange advised me that I could get the half metre long sausage with potatoes and whatever within 10 minutes. This would give me ample time for eat it and get to the station to get the overnight train to Praha.

Time ticked by and still the food didn’t arrive. Two more beers later, it still hadn’t arrived and the place started to fill up very quickly as the concert by the Cathedral had finished. With not much time to spare, I left a €5 note to cover the bill (€4,80) and legged it! The people who by then were sharing my table will have had a bit of a shock when my grub finally arrived!

Anyhow, a currywürst mit pommes quickly became my tea, scoffed down before joining the overnight train to Praha.