16th May 2023 - Aaron Bulging
Taster Session - Indian Cookery.
An Indian Feast. Mick and Karl. Cooking.
Another Kirklees College Cookery course.
My oldest friend Mick's wife Cathy sent him out to learn some cookery, and I went with him for moral support. And of course because of all the cookery I like to do.
It was great fun, if a little hectic, and as per usual I was one of the last to finish up. At least this time I have someone to blame it on!

A Feast of India
Onion Bahjis
A classic starter to whet the palate.
Chicken Balti
Can't go wrong with an Indian dish backed by centuries of tradition. Oh, wait...
Naan Bread
Something to scoop it up with.
Cucumber Raita
And something to take away the pain 🙂

Onion Bahjis
curry side veg vegan
Onion Bahjis with a hint of potato.

Makes about Ten

Pre-heat a deep fat fryer to 170°C.
Halve the onion, cut the ends off then slice thinly lengthways.
Peel the potato unless you're Aaron, quarter then slice thinly. I think it might work better if grated.
Chop a bunch of coriander, stalks and all, add a slice a clove of garlic and mix everything together with a good dash of salt.
Season with your choice of powdered spices.
Mix in a half dozen heaped tablespoons of gram flour, or more to generously coat the onion, then gradually splash in water until the mixture coheres.
Shape into balls or discs, slightly smaller than a golf ball, and deep-fry for about 5 minutes until they're nicely golden.
Drain on kitchen roll, and serve immediately with raita dipping sauce.
You may have to adjust the oil temperature, size or frying times to get them cooked all the way through - cut the first one in half to have a look. If you make them as large as tennis balls they'll definitely have raw onion and chickpea flour in the middle.

Chicken Balti
main curry fowl
Aaron introduced me to a couple of novel approaches as he guided us through making this curry:

The first was the sheer quantity of ground spices he used - somewhere between ½ and 1 cup in total! I have ordinarily used only about one teaspoon of each of my spices, but here Aaron must have used a heaped tablespoon (though probably not including the chilli!).
Perhaps one day Aaron will respond to my emails and let me know?
Breaking: Aaron responded to my emails!! And it only took 3 months.
I've updated the ingredients list to reflect the spices he used. Grind up the whole seeds and add them to the powders.

The second was Aaron's suggestion of (carefully) dry-frying the ground spices before using them.
I have often dry-fried whole spices to better release their oils and flavour before grinding them to powder, but had never tried doing it with the already-powdered spice.
Aaron suggested this would be effective at reducing the unpleasant powdery quality he often finds present in curries. Perhaps this is somehow related to the enormous quantity of ground spices he's inclined to use?

My extensive research suggests it's uncommon to dry-fry the ground spices, and that doing so may greatly reduce their more volatile flavours. Which may explain why such large quantities of them were required or at least, were not then overwhelming.

Still, there's no arguing with the result - which was excellent!

Serves 4

Measure out your preferred vast quantities of the ground spices into a bowl.
Peel the ginger unless you're Aaron and slice or mince.
Peel the onion even if you're Aaron and slice or dice.
Peel the garlic and slice or mince.
Cut the chicken into fat bite-sized chunks.
Quarter the tomato vertically, and remove the hard core unless you're Aaron - probably.
Slice the chillies and de-seed unles you're Aaron - (the hottest part of the chilli is the pith around the seeds).
Core and de-seed the bell pepper even if you're Aaron and slice it.
It's better if you can have about a pepper's worth of different coloured pepper pieces. I sliced mine lengthways, along with the chilli.
Heat a large frying pan and briefly dry-fry the ground spices without burning until their aroma develops, then tip them out and leave to one side.
Add a generous puddle of oil to the pan over medium-high heat and fry the onion, then add the ginger, then add the garlic. You want to end up with some caramelisation around the edges.
I fried my ginger first because I think it works better to cook the bitterness out of it and turn it golden. The garlic I barely fry at all, though it is OK to caramelize it - just don't let it burn.
Add the powdered spices and stir until any harshness cooks off and the spices are fried through.
I like to mix water (or vinegar) with the spices to make a paste before adding them to reduce the risk of burning.
Add the chicken and stir through until sealed.
Stir through the tomato puée and cook off any bitterness, then add the tinned tomatoes.
Stir thoroughly, mix in enough water to lubricate, add the pepper and fresh chilli. Lay the tomato quarters on top.
Reduce the heat to low and allow the curry to cook off for half an hour or so until the sauce is rich and thickened, almost dry.
Add more water if necessary, but avoid stirring too much so as not to break it up.

Naan Bread
curry staple bread
Makes 2

Heat a dry frying pan over medium heat.
Mix self-raising flour, a dash of salt, and a couple of teaspoons of baking soda into the yoghurt until it coheres into a slightly sticky dough.
Add any extras you might fancy such as garlic, flaked almonds, chopped coriander.
Flour a work surface and roll into a circle or an oval. Dry-fry until the surface darkens, flip and fry the second side.
Serve immediately.
They didn't rise or puff. I've made better naans to be honest.

Cucumber Raita
curry sauce veg
Cut a section of cucumber into quarters lengthways.
Cut away the watery seeds from the centre of each quarter.
Chop the cucumber as finely as you like.
Strip away the mint stalks and slice or mince the leaves.
Mix them all into the yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon and salt to taste.
Never really understood the appeal of the this yoghurty cucumber. But each to their own.