Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Indian feast

Yesterday I spent the day in Waikanae with my friends Anna, Tim and Charlotte. For dinner we hoped to have crab curry. Charlotte and Tim our hunter gatherers set forth into the ocean with hearts full of hope and a crab pot loaded up with squid.

After 45 minutes of eager anticipation, the crab pot was retrieved from the sea to reveal a total yield of one medium sized crab and one runt. Tim decided we couldn’t justify sacrificing two crabs, so the lucky pair were set free and they quickly scurried back into the ocean.

To ease our disappointment Anna whipped up an Indian banquet – home made naan bread, chicken curry, carrots and baingan ki sabji eggplant curry with raita. It was a delicious feast and totally made up for the lack of crab!

Below are the recipes courtesy of Anna:

Naan bread (modified from Annabel Langbein recipe):
1 c warm water
1 t yeast
1 t sugar
3 c flour + more
Yoghurt – ½ cup or less if you want to save some for the curry or raita

Mix water, sugar and yeast and leave for at least 5 minutes to foam. Then beat egg and add egg, salt (which I always forget), oil (or melted butter) and some yoghurt to the water mixture, stir briefly and add the flour. Stir in, get your hands all gluey and get someone to pour some flour on to the bench for you. Tip on to bench and knead away, for as long as it takes everyone else to get the crab pot ready and handle the squid (or until it is nice and soft and round). Leave to rise in oiled/buttered bowl.

Take slightly bigger than gold ball size balls and roll out thin. The thinner you get them the more they will puff. Heat grill (or get tandoor oven hot) and cook a couple at a time, watching for burning as they puff up against the surface of the grill.

Grated carrots
Cumin seeds
Lemon juice
Combine quantities for look and taste.

Chicken curry
Chicken (a whole one cut up – more flavor with the bones and better value for money) or pieces if you prefer
Garlic - a few cloves – to suit really – chopped finely
Ginger - a centimetre knob chopped finely
Chillis – to suit. I usually start with one and then add more flakes
Ground tumeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, pepper (can also use curry powder) – just dumped in to taste but about a teaspoon of the first three spices and a little bit of cinnamon
Tomatoes – can or fresh but then you have to skin them (see why use canned)
Red lentils
Green Veg
Garam Masala
More chilli

Cut up whole chicken. Brown in a little oil and then take out of the pan. Add a little more oil (or butter or ghee) and slowly soften finely chopped onion. When it looks good add garlic, ginger and chillis finely chopped. Soften, stirring and not burning.

Add spices and fry briefly. Put chicken back in the pan and fry, then add tomatoes, lentils and water. Just make sure there is enough water for the lentils – you can always simmer it off. Simmer away for awhile covered until the chicken is cooked and the lentils are soft – the longer the better. Taste and season as required. Add some green veg – I usually use silverbeet, spinach or green peas. Add approx 1t of garam masala. Simmer, taste for as long as desired. Take off heat, stir in a dollop of cream or yoghurt and sprinkle with coriander.

Additional comments – many people toast seeds in the oven and grind with mortar and pestle for fuller flavor. You can also use a few mustard seeds in this with the spices.

Baingan Ki Sabji (eggplant & red chilli curry)
From Cuisine Magazine Jan 2010
2 tablespoons tamarind block
1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons ghee
8 curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 long red chillies, sliced lengthways into quarters
1 teaspoon gram masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely sliced mint leaves

Soak the tamarind in 2 tablespoons boiling water for 20 minutes. Push through a fine sieve and set aside. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 8 wedges then cut each wedge in half. Heat a wide saucepan over moderate heat and add the ghee. When melted, add the curry leaves and cumin seeds, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the eggplant and brown each wedge on all sides. Add the chillies, garam masala and salt, and cook for 5 minutes or until eggplant is soft then add the strained tamarind, stir through, add the shredded mint and serve immediately.

Cucumber chopped finely
Mint chopped finely
combine all above ingredients and serve with curry


  1. what a delicious looking feast, the beach house must have a well stocked pantry to enable such an impressive banquet to be rustled up?! I love the photo on the beach...sounds like you had a lovely wee day indeed x

  2. You should have scarified the crabs. In my younger years surfing on the Kapiti Coast they frequently attempted to scarify my toes!!

  3. Anna is welcome at my house anytime. I"ll even go fishing down at Seamart for some crabs.


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