Aromatic rice with tandoori lamb steaks

When my husband and I met, I was going through a cooking phase of making a lot of Indian curries from scratch. I still cook these, of course, however not as often as I used to back then. This particular rice is one of my favourites, and it comes with an amusing story. We were attending a friend’s BBQ party, and I brought all the ingredients for the rice with me, as well as marinated lamb cutlets, to finish the cooking at my friend’s house. The rice and the lamb were a huge hit,  and the rice became the most talked about topic of the whole party. One person, who was a vegetarian, said she was going to try it, and I mentioned to her that unfortunately it does contain chicken stock. She said she was still going to try it regardless, because everyone at the party was raving about the rice so much. She ended up asking me for the recipe.

Tandoori lamb
250ml natural yoghurt
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped (about a thumb size piece)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
lamb

1. Mix all prepared ingredients together with the yoghurt. If you want the marinade mixture to be smooth, you can blend it in a food processor. This would normally be enough for at least four portions of meat.

2. Add the meat to the mixture, and make sure the meat is fully coated. Cover, and marinade in the fridge overnight, or as long as you can: you could prepare this in the morning, to cook later in the day.

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3. Fry the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side in a griddle pan with some oil, or on a grill (as I only used two steaks, I had a lot of leftover marinade. I poured it on a pan, and cooked it, to use as sauce).

Aromatic rice
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, bruised
2 bay leaves
2 dl shelled pistachio nuts
3 dl uncooked basmati rice
5 1/2 dl chicken stock
1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

1. Wash the rice thoroughly, until the water doesn’t isn’t cloudy anymore (this gets rid of the excess starch). Drain well.

2. Prepare the stock. You want this to be warm when you use it.

3. Prepare / measure other ingredients. I usually tend to measure all dry spices that get used at same stage, in one cup. Best way to bruise the cardamoms is to place the flat surface of a wide knife on top of the pod, and bash it with a fist.

4. Heat the ghee / oil in a pan. Cook the onions, garlic, spices and nuts, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the onions are browned slightly and the mixture is fragrant.

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5. Stir in the rice and stock, and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer 15 minutes, covered. Once cooked, mix with a fork and stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

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Butter chicken curry

A lot of people seem to think that curry always means spicy, and if they don’t like spicy food they’re not interested. You couldn’t be further from the truth thinking this way. It is true that it can often be spicy, but there is so much more curry (or Indian food) can offer. I think the main thing about Indian food is flavor, spicy or not. I’m actually a friend of spicy food, however this is one of my favourite non-spicy curries. It’s amazing the fragrance you will get when cooking this food, certain to awaken your appetite. Last time I made this I thought the sauce itself was too runny, so I reduced the liquid in todays’ recipe, however I thought it might have been too thick to my taste this time. The recipe is for my cooking today, and if you want yours slightly runnier just add a bit more of the liquids. Cooking Indian curries can usually be a little bit time consuming in terms of needing you to be organized well in advanced, needing preparations a long time before cooking, but I can promise you it’s all worth it.

2-3 chicken breasts
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100ml natural yoghurt
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh root ginger (about half a thumb size piece, then cut the skin off)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp tomato puree
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50g butter
1 cinnamon sticks
3 cardamom pods (bruised)
1 medium onion or a few shallots
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground paprika
1 dl chicken stock (click here for recipe)
1/2 – 1 tin of tomato puree (I used a small tin of 140g of double concentrate)
150ml cream

1. Finely chop garlic and peeled ginger, and mix all marinade ingredient together. Chop the chicken to desired size pieces. Mix into the marinade. Cover with cling film, and cover for overnight, or 6-8 hours (I have done this for less time when I haven’t been organized enough, but the longer you marinate the better it’ll be).

2. Finely chop onion. Heat the butter in a pan, and add the onions, cinnamon and cardamoms. For bruised cardamoms, put a knife over the pods, resting the knife flat side on the pods, and hit the knife with your fist. Cook until the onions become translucent, stirring.

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3. Add the chicken marinade, and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Add all remaining ingredients apart from the cream, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Then add the cream, and cook for another 10 minutes.