Category Archives: curry

Beef Masaman Curry – rich and delicious

Watching Rick Stein on his Eastern Odyssey around Asia, I couldn’t help but be inspired to recreate this amazing Thai dish.

It’s aromatic, nutty, warm with chilli, but far from blowing your head off, and it fills your home with the beautiful spicy fragrances of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

I was intimidated by the ingredient list – but one stop to my local Indian grocer and I was set. The lady at the shop was amazing – she whizzed around the little store with me looking at my list and grabbing everything I needed, including blade mase – which I had NEVER seen before. I strongly suggest you do the same – hit your local Indian/Asian grocer and the shopping list will no longer be a hassle!

I have to admit, I was also stressing about the chilli content – I mean 12 dried chillies sounded way over the top for a curry considered to be very mild in terms of Thai food. But, as you will see, this recipe calls for Kashmiri chillies – which I have since found out are hardly spicy at all. I’m glad I didn’t chicken out and reduce the amount of chilli, because at the end, it was just perfect.

This dish is definitely a weekend project – when you have time on your hands and just feel like having some “me” time in the kitchen with your mortar and pestle. It took hours to create this – but when we sat down and took the first bite – it was instantly worth it! Better than any jarred massaman curry I have ever tasted.

I have taken most of this recipe straight from Rick – but have added a few changes which I found worked well along the way.

Curry paste

  • 10 dried red kashmiri chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp green cardamom seeds (from about 20 green cardamom pods)
  • 16 cloves
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 2 large pieces of blade mace
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, soft inner core chopped
  • 1/4 cup of coconut cream

The curry

  • 1.5kg of chuck steak, cut into large chunks
  • 600ml of coconut cream
  • 6 black cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 8 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp of tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1/2 a cup of peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped


For the curry, place the beef into a heavy-based pan with 350ml of the coconut milk and an equal amount of water. Add the black cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and salt, then bring to a simmer and partially cover the pan with a lid, leaving just a small gap for the steam to escape. Cook for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just tender. While that’s simmering, you can tackle the curry paste.

Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the dried chillies and fry for 1-2 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent the chillies from burning, until the chillies are lightly toasted. Transfer the chillies to a spice grinder or mortar.

Return the pan to the heat and add the coriander, cumin and cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and blade mace and fry for a few seconds, shaking the pan frequently, until the spices darken slightly and release their aromatics. Add the toasted spices to the spice grinder or mortar and grind or pound to a fine powder.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry slowly over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until caramelised. Add the shrimp paste and spice mixture and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the mixture into a food processor, add all of the remaining curry paste ingredients and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside until your beef has cooked for the two hours set out above.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into large pieces.

Now that the curry has been simmering for two hours, remove the lid from the curry and discard the black cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, the potatoes, shallots, the curry paste, fish sauce, tamarind  and sugar and simmer gently, uncovered, for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes, shallots and beef are tender. Stir in the peanuts.

Serve with steamed rice and some fresh, chopped red chillies for those who like their curries a little hotter.

As for my music recommendation – due to the long process – I suggest your going to need an album … or three!

However, if you can get your hands on Adele’s new album called 21 – and if you appreciate a truly amazing voice and chilled melodies – you can simply play it over and over and … over again 🙂

In an act of support for how awesome this chick is, I’m linking to two of her songs – firstly Rolling Deep – which I admit is becoming a tad over-played.

But, here’s another awesome song from the album, Someone Like You. In this video, she also talks about her inspiration for writing this amazing song.

Happy cooking, eating and grooving!


Dinner parties – a great way to catch up with friends

Growing up, I always thought dinner parties were for “old people” – something your parents did with their friends on a Saturday night.

I’d always spend the afternoon prior to one of mum’s soirees watching her bake, stir and stress. We lived in Adelaide in a house that was more than 100 years old – and I loved to watch her get her very best dinner set, complete with crystal glasses, out of her antique sideboard cupboard (which I am proud to say has been passed on to me) to set the dining room table. This crockery never saw the lights of day, except for such an occasion.

The adults would always sit at the dining table, sipping wine and laughing with music playing in the background. I always loved how mum would get ger candelabras out and the way the tall candles looked so grand when they were lit and melting wax everywhere.

I always wished I could be a grown up too and sit at the table while they ate their prawn cocktail entrees out of little glass bowls. But, in the proper dinner party style that was the late 80s – we were sent to the other end of the house to watch TV, a movie, or play video games. Before desert was served (usually chocolate mousse or a Pavlova) – mum would usher us up to the dining room, where we said goodnight to dad and their guests and were swiftly put to bed. I always recall finding an excuse to get up again – toilet, drink, there’s a monster in my wardrobe – the usual excuses a child under 10 would use to not stay in bed when other exciting things where happening elsewhere in the house. But really, I just wanted to be a part of it all.

But, around two decades on, I understand why my parents wanted us in bed. That’s because it’s an occasion to be grown-ups – to enjoy some punch or a glass of wine, cook up a storm and enjoy each others company – and that’s what we did with four fabulous friends this Saturday night. It was fun to chit-chat while making the final preparations for the entree – to stand around the barbecue and laugh and to catch up on all the goss that’s happened since we last saw each other.

And, it’s also totally awesome for someone like me – who just loves to cook! I don’t cook as much as I used to (living with another woman who is a terrific cook makes this an awesome thing!) – so to get the chance to go a little berserk was very cool!

What was the menu, I hear you ask? Well – this is what we had – I decided I wanted to do a gourmet barbecue with dishes from all over the world. Lots of fun and variety 🙂


Mango, lime and ginger punch (get the recipe here)

Mussels and prawns in a white wine and tomato sauce with chorizo


Mediterranean marinated lamb backstrap (click here for the recipe)

Tandoori chicken

Italian marinated beef shazlicks

Barbecued corn on the cob with lime and chilli butter

Warm potato salad (click here for the recipe)

Cous cous salad


Yogurt and mint dip

Hommus (click here for the recipe)


Pavlova with summer fruits

While I have to confess that I didn’t actually make the desert – Matt’s mum whipped it up before she left (and it was sooo yum!!)- I made everything else from scratch. And as you can see, many recipes were from Uforic Food. Very proud 🙂

Over the coming days I’ll share the recipes for all these dishes – starting now with this fabulous tandoori chicken recipe, which I actually got from the Indian episode of Food Safari. However, I have modified it a little, as I added salt as per the recipe – and I thought it was too  much and ended up adjusting it. I also added tomato paste, as the turmeric and paprika alone didn’t give me the vibrant colour I was hoping for.

Tandoori Chicken


  • 1kg chicken fillets, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup natural yogurt
  • 2½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2½ tsp fresh garlic, grated
  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp
  • turmeric powder 
  • 5 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2tbs of tomato paste


Add all ingredients to the yogurt and mix well. Score the chicken fillets with your knife – about halfway through the flesh. This helps the marinade to seep into the chicken and reduces cooking time.

I always think it’s best to use your hands to massage the marinade into the chicken, to ensure it’s all covered and in the slits you have cut into the chicken.

Once covered with marinade, cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

I cooked this on a hot barbecue, for about 8 minutes on each side.
 Tomorrow I’ll share with you the delights of cous cous salad. It’s tasty and the leftovers make for a fabulous lunch!

And, finally, a big thank you to my wonderful friends Ruza, Sam, Laura and Matt for joining us for dinner. And, a big thank you to my Matt – for helping me when I started to get a little stressed that I had bitten of more than I could chew! Happy Valentines Day!!

Be Inspired~


Day 1: The ultimate fusion food

 Welcome to day 1 of The Inspiration Challenge – to share 30 Recipes in 30 Days.

So, I bet you’re thinking to yourself:

“Where the heck is she going to get all those recipes – unless she just copies and pastes them from the net.”

Well that’s what my dad said to me (in jest, thankfully!) when I came up with this notion. But no, that’s not my idea of inspiring people to cook.

The recipes I plan to post, including this one – have come from inspiration itself.

Funnily enough, I normally have a really, really bad memory – I have to think hard to remember the three things I was supposed to write on my shopping list. I even sometimes walk into rooms and forget why I went in there in the first place. You get the drift – I can be a bit distracted sometimes.

However, when it comes to food and cooking (and song lyrics, for some reason) – I can remember just about everything. So, if I watch an episode of Jamie at Home  and I get inspired by all the amazing recipes he does with leeks – then I go to the shop, buy the ingredients that pop into my head and make something using the ideas I saw.

I guess because food just makes sense to me. It’s a no-brainer to me to put bacon with leek, because they are “friends” – I know that if you combine tomato and basil, it’s going to taste damn good. Most people know that pork and apples are a marriage made in heaven. I have countless other examples – but you get my drift.

The recipes I see made on TV or in my countless cook books inspire me. They also come from an amazing meal at a restaurant where I have thought to myself “wow, these flavours are amazing” – so I go home and I start playing with similar flavours or cooking techniques.

“Some people say a recipe should be followed to the letter – I say they are there to inspire us to cook our own creations.”

To me, this quote from Nigel Slater couldn’t be truer. I mean, don’t get my wrong, I’m not a chef, just a person who LOVES to cook – and so the dishes never turn out  the same. They are always more rustic and have that homemade feel. But that’s because I’m not trying to re-create that exact dish – I’m trying to learn from them and explore the flavours.

Many will also be dishes my mum taught me growing up. These recipes have all evolved over the years – but they still bring back wonderful memories every time I cook them.

Anyway, enough story telling. Lets get stuck into the first recipe.

Here goes:

Day 1 – Tandoori Chicken Risotto – the ultimate fusion food.

This recipe was inspired by a visit to Geelong’s Carlton Hotel  – the menu there is absolutely fantastic and all the dishes are so well executed. I love just about everything they serve because it’s good, honest, flavoursome food with great surroundings and no pretence.

During a dinner there a few years ago now –  they had a Tandoori Lamb Risotto on the menu.

I have to say, I felt weird about it. It just didn’t seem right to change such an intrinsically Italian dish into India.

But I thought ‘what the heck’ and I ordered it.

Let me tell you this right now – fusion food can definitely work! It was like a mix between a risotto and a really wet biryani – which is sort of like the Indian’s version of fried rice. But it’s wetter, creamier and bursting with amazing flavours. This is my version – using chicken rather than lamb. As you will see, I use a jarred paste. I have made my own before and I honestly didn’t think it was worth all the effort.

Tandoori Chicken Risotto

  • 500gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of a good Tandoori paste (I like Sharwood)
  • 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 200gm of alborio rice
  • 1 cup of field mushrooms, sliced (thin or thick, doesn’t really matter)
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • Half a red capsicum, sliced into chunks
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • Half a cup of fresh coriander, roughly chopped


Mix the tandoori paste and yogurt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add a pinch or two of salt. Put the chopped up chicken in the mixture and stir thoroughly. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour, or overnight, if you have time.

Put the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil before turning right down.

Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook the onion over a low heat, until it is beginning to soften.

Turn up the heat and add your chicken (and all the marinade). Cook for about five minutes, then add the alborio rice.

Stir so that all the grains are coated and really hot. This is the point when the stock ladelling begins.

Put one ladel full of stock in at a time and stir each until each has absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 20 minutes. Ensuring your stock is hot before adding it will quicken the process.

After about 10 minutes (so the rice should be half cooked) add the mushroom and capsicum.

 The only way to tell that it’s ready it to taste it. Make sure the risotto is nice and lose and creamy – it shouldn’t be dry and stodgy.

Finish with the juice of half a lemon and a good handful of chopped, fresh coriander.

Serve with a good amount of natural yogurt on top.

Hope you enjoyed the first recipe in The Inspiration Challenge. One down, 29 more to go!

Be Inspired~


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