Tag Archives: Birthday

Best friends, cookbooks and curry

16 Feb

Best friends who know too many secrets about you are worth holding on to. If they share a history with you going back to school days, consider yourself very lucky indeed. Especially if they also believe that you can never own too many recipe books. My best pal, Ria, does a grand job each year of fuelling my obsession with  cookbooks and Christmas or Birthday (and sometimes both…I’m not complaining) a new book will find its way to me and I’ll enjoy months and then years of experimenting with new recipes.

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We talk most days on the phone, which Big Man finds both incredible and hilarious (“what on earth were you talking about for the last half an hour?”…”oh, nothing much, this and that”). Our conversations invariably end with “so, what’s for dinner tonight?” and we’ll happily chat for a further 10 minutes about what we’re cooking, planning to cook, wishing we had the energy to cook, or what we took out of the freezer put by from when we were more organised with our cooking a couple of weeks back.

Lately, I’ve been cooking up a good few curries from my birthday present cookbook. Curries from all over the place and this chicken curry from Pakistan really was fantastic. Definitely dinner party quality, but also simple enough for a family meal. The description of the recipe explains that it was a Special curry because in the fifties and sixties,  if you were invited to dinner and served this, you would know the hosts had spared no expense in your honour because chickens were hard to obtain and expensive.  Luckily for most of us, this is no longer the case, but if your purse runs to it, buy the best you can.

Desi Murgh Curry – Special Chicken Curry (serves 4)

  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp each of garlic and ginger paste
  • 4 tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped (or use tinned, as I did)
  • 50g plain Greek style yogurt
  • 1 ½ tsp hot chilli powder (or more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 large cardamom pods (the recipe calls for black ones but I used green)
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 chicken approx 1.2kg, skinned and jointed (I used 8 skinned chicken thighs, bone in)
  • Chopped coriander to garnish

Heat the oil and fry the onions until golden brown, take your time doing this, it’s worth it. Remove the onions and when they have cooled slightly, grind them to a paste. I did this using my stick blender with a splash of water added to the mix.

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Add the ginger and garlic pastes to the oil and fry gently for a few minutes then add the tomatoes and next the yogurt. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the onion paste, the spices the bay leaf and a little salt.  Continue to cook gently until the oil separates out.

Put the chicken pieces into the pan, spoon the sauce over and add about 500ml of water. Cover the pan and cook slowly for about 50 minutes until the meat is cooked through and tender. You may need to add a splash more water so keep an eye on it.

Remove the lid, check for seasoning (adjust the salt if necessary) and continue to cook for a few more minutes without the lid until the oil separates out again.  Garnish with coriander, and serve. Don’t forget to call your best friend to tell her how good it was and you’re sorry there’s not a portion waiting for her in your freezer as you ate the lot…oops!

Mung Bean Dhal (9)

If a veggie curry is more your thing, hop over to take a look at my Mung Bean Curry.

What I did on my holiday….

23 May

Do you remember those essays you had to write after the holidays at school? I used to love them and then you could draw pictures and stick things into your exercise book too. No exercise books anymore in my life, but the joy of sharing via the blog.  Here’s a quick tour of our recent time out with friends and family from Spain to celebrate Big Man’s and my Mum’s birthdays.

May Day in Hastings with (Not So) Traditional Morris Dancing

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Hastings Fisherman’s Huts

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They’re Changing Guard At Buckingham Palace….

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Time for a Reviving Beer

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View from The London Eye

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South Coast of England (East Sussex) Countryside and Beach – all in one!

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Climbing Mermaid Street in Historic Rye

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Classic Motorbikes

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You can’t have birthdays without cake (I know it looks like we were celebrating a 706th Birthday, but the shop only had one “0” so we had to adapt for a 70th and a 60th!)

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And we couldn’t not have a dodgy  “selfie” of Chica and Big Man on his special birthday at Windsor

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Exhausting but fun….hope you enjoyed the tour with us!

 

We’re back Up Our Mountain!

18 May

Yes, we’re back! Not quite from outer space, but it’s been a long time. It was a long and horrible journey and we arrived late last night. I just wanted to say a quick “hello” to you all, show you one little snap of the kitchen (not quite finished, but nearly there) taken the night before we left.

Forgot to take the protective film off the chimney hood, so it's ot such a funky colour really..oh yes, and we haven't painted the picture rail yet either...

Forgot to take the protective film off the chimney hood, so it’s not such a funky colour really…and the over the counter lights need to be connected…oh yes, and we haven’t painted the picture rail yet either…

We managed to have a little housewarming party for Big Man’s Birthday and to say a proper hello and thank you to all our lovely new Bexhill friends and neighbours.

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I’m very, very behind on posting, reading and commenting but we now have months and months of catching up, relaxing, cooking, sewing, eating and vegetable growing to look forward to, so once I’ve caught my breath….I’ll be back properly!  Thanks for all your kind words of support over the last few months and for sticking with me.  What good pals you all are, I need to organise another little party….

Falafel – Chick Pea Patties

1 Mar

My birthday falls at the end of January.  A month of cold and damp here and after the excesses of Christmas, it feels like a time to shy away from more celebration.  Especially when you´re suffering from bronchitis like I was.  Big Man asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my birthday and I told him I wanted to be like the Queen of England and celebrate on a second date, preferably when the weather was warmer.  Anyway, last year he surpassed himself and surprised me with our rescue puppy, Luna, so I didn´t think a bottle of perfume or a box of chocolates was going to tick the boxes for me. Selfish moo that I am.

The local town hall often organises “cultural activities” for the village folk, not something I have ever been interested in.  Probably a bit of smug self importance creeping in, thinking I´m already culturally aware enough already and mixed with a healthy dose of a severe fear of group activities of any kind.  When Big Man surprised me (again!) on my birthday by telling me that we were going to join 35 other villagers on a three day trip to Tangier at the end of February, I wasn´t really sure what to think.  It´s a destination I´ve always wanted to visit, but Big Man had always said it didn´t interest him, and we both hated anything that involved coaches and tour guides.  I decided to keep an open mind about the whole thing, dose myself up with cough medicine and make Falafel to get us in the mood.

Here´s how we got into the Moroccan vibe and made six Falafel.  Enough for 2 as a light lunch or 6 “tapas” sized servings:

  • 1 tin (400g) or jar of cooked chick peas
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Salt
  • Half a teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Half a teaspoon of ground coriander
  • Large pinch of chili powder (optional) or a chopped fresh green chili
  • 2 level tablespoons of flour plus extra for dusting.
  • Parsley (enough to chop down to about 2-3 tablespoons according to taste)
  • Oil to fill a frying pan to a depth of about 1cm (I used olive oil)

Serving Suggestion

  • Pitta or flat bread and chopped lettuce and mint, a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

This is a dish which is very fast to prepare if you have a food processor.  It took me longer to wash up than to whizz the ingredients.  It can also be done by hand with a potato masher and a bit of fine chopping and mixing in a large bowl.

Put all of the ingredients apart from the oil and serving suggestions in a food processor and whizz them up for about 30 seconds then pulse until they reach the texture of grainy, wet cement. If it looks really sloppy add a little more flour but it will still be fairly wet when it´s ready.  Add salt to your taste.

Put a couple of tablespoons of extra flour in a bowl and drop in a heaped tablespoon full of the chick pea mixture and using two spoons get it lightly covered in flour.  If you can work quickly just drop this straight into your frying pan of hot oil, or if you prefer to work more slowly, prepare the falafel first and put them onto a plate, then heat the oil and drop them in.

Sizzle those Patties!

Make sure your oil is hot, let is start to smoke then turn the heat down slightly.  You only want to get a nice crust to the outside, the chick peas are already cooked.  Flatten the balls of mixture down as you put them into the pan and after about a minute flip them over (but make sure they´re nice and browned first).

The second side will take slightly less time, so just check on them, take them out and place onto kitchen paper to blot the excess oil and you´re ready to serve.  They´re great with a squeeze of lemon juice then stuffed into pitta bread with some finely chopped lettuce and mint and a spoon full of natural yogurt mixed with an equal quantity of mayonnaise.  I´m not sure how authentic that is – but it´s delicious!

The Missing Falafel was Eaten By The Chef!

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