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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

Method

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!

The Weekly Cook Up: Australian fusion food


Aussie food to me is all about fusion. Australia is a multicultural extravaganza of flavours from across the world, reflecting our population – people who have come together from all over the world to call this beautiful country home.

In the 1950s you might have said Australian cuisine was about meat pies, fish and chips, snags on the barbie, the Sunday roast  … and, of course, let’s not forget Vegemite!

But since then our pallets have been wowed by the fabulous flavours of countries like Italy, China, India and more recently, the wonder that is African food.

As you walk down the streets of any of Australia’s beautiful states and territories, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to world cuisine – and then there are those restaurants which classify themselves as “Modern Australian”.

It is this term which I think really encompasses what Aussie food is all about in 2011. It’s about flavours and techniques from across the world coming together to compliment and enhance the things we love and do well here, like seafood, lamb and chicken and an array of fresh produce.

I also think it’s important to embrace indigenous culture and flavours and bush herbs such as lemon myrtle, which is a feature of my recipe, have become really popular.

World famous chef Rick Stein’s pursuit to find Australia’s Top Food Blogger and the country’s ultimate dish inspired me to create this recipe. It embraces our wonderful produce, and the flavours and techniques from all over the world which has influenced our cuisine so much.

Rick Stein Food Odyssey Live On Stage

The chicken in this recipe is succulent and infused with the flavours of basil and lemon myrtle. The potatoes are crispy and delicious, just like you’d expect from a perfectly cooked Sunday roast. The sausages give a really authentic Aussie touch, with a Balkan twist, and the beans don’t only add colour, but a crispy freshness. When brought together, it’s un unpretentious dish that is fragrant, moist and bursting with flavour.

In a nutshell – it’s the kind of food everyone just loves to eat.

BAKED FUSION CHICKEN

Serves 6-8

Marinade:

  • 16 organic chicken drumsticks (you could also use maryland or thighs, if you like)
  • 2 tbs of basil pesto
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of lemon myrtle
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs of olive oil

Combine all of the marinade ingredients. Massage into the chicken, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 6 small, skinless pork sausages (also called chevaps, which are actually Balkan), broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 mushrooms, halved
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 large handful of beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 of a cup of water
  • 1 tbs of flour

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 for fan forced). In a baking dish, combine the marinated chicken, red onion, potatoes, sausage pieces, mushrooms and garlic with a few good glugs of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss with your hands so the marinade coats all the ingredients.

 Bake for 50 minutes, checking after 35 minutes to see how it’s progressing.

After an hour, add the tomatoes and beans and stir through. Try to ensure the potatoes are mostly at the top, so they don’t go soggy in the juices, letting them to go golden and crispy. Taste the sauce to check for seasoning and add more, if required. Bake for a further 15 minutes – enough to cook the beans and tomatoes, but so the tomatoes hold their shape. 

Serve onto plates, but leave most of the juices in the pan. Place the pan on your stove-top and bring to a gentle boil. Mix the flour and water in a small bowl and add to the simmering juices. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Once a good consistency, spoon over the chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.

I think this dish doesn’t only reflect the flavours that have been brought to Australia over the past 60 years – but it also reflects the kind of food Australians like to eat every day- food packed with flavour, but without fuss and pretension.

I hope this dish is something my Food Hero, Rick Stein would love! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

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