Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I don't do sadness, not even a little bit

Just don't need it in my life.

Unfortunately for me I don't seem to have a choice in that matter. The fog of depression that has enveloped me since the loss of my Grandpa doesn't seem to want to leave, and I seem to be left with no choice but to fumble my way through the days. Given the choice I wouldn't bother eating, but as I'm trying to stay upright these days I'm forcing myself (although could I just pass a thankful thought on to whoever invented Tunnock's teacakes as they seem to act as a great meal substitute). Forcing myself to eat has thus far involved making pancakes, naturally salmon, greens and rice in a bowl, and scones - well, the scones were mainly distraction but they were also yummy.

A friend passed on some home made curry powder to me, so I decided to partake in the monthly challenge on a foodie discussion board I participate on. The girls there are hugely supportive of me, and I wouldn't have got through the last few weeks without them. We were making a Malay Lamb Korma, as seen on Saturday Kitchen recently. An Atul Kochhar recipe, it looked amazing on screen and we were all desperate to try it, having mixed results with homemade curry.

Malay Lamb Korma, from BBC food

This recipe makes more curry powder than you will need. Store any leftovers in an airtight container and use within 2 months.

For the Malaysian curry powder
10 cloves
10 black peppercorns
4 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 dried red chillies
4 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 star anise
1 tsp turmeric powder
For the Malay korma
2 tbsp vegetable oil, or ghee
500g/1lb 2oz lamb leg, cut into 5cm/2in cubes
2 onions, peeled, thinly sliced
1cm/½in root ginger, peeled, grated
1 clove garlic, peeled, crushed
1½ tbsp Malaysian curry powder (see above)
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp saffron strands, soaked in 50ml/2fl oz warm water
110g/4oz cashew nuts, blended to a paste with 2 tbsp water
1 cinnamon stick
250ml/9fl oz plain yoghurt
2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
To serve
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
300g/11oz basmati rice, cooked according to packet instructions, to serve

1. For the Malaysian curry powder, toast all of the spices, except the turmeric, in a dry frying pan, for 30 seconds-1 minute, or until they become fragrant. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Grind the toasted spices and turmeric to a powder using a pestle and mortar.
3. For the Malay korma, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a lidded wok, add the lamb, in batches if necessary, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, or until browned all over. Remove the lamb from the wok and set aside.
4. Heat the remaining oil in the wok used to cook the lamb and fry the onion, ginger, garlic, 1 ½ tablespoons of the Malaysian curry powder and all of the chilli powder for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant (NB: Do not let the mixture burn).
5. Add the reserved lamb to the wok and season to taste, with salt. Stir until well combined. Stir in the saffron strands and soaking water, cashew nut paste, cinnamon stick, then pour in enough water to cover the lamb by 2.5cm/1in. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the wok with the lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1¼-1½ hours. (You may need to add more water if the mixture begins to dry out.)
6. Stir in the yoghurt and tomatoes and return the mixture to a simmer for 1-2 minutes.
7. To serve, spoon the rice into each of 4 serving bowls, top each bowl with some lamb curry and garnish with the coriander leaves.

Everyone that had made the curry in advance of me found it too wet, so I reduced the water a bit, but still got 4 generous portions. I must say that the lamb was amazingly tender, and just fell apart. Kudos to Sainsbury's meat counter for helping me with the lamb choice and for even chopping it all up for me. I know I say I would like a local butcher, but sometimes getting someone who knows what they're on about at the Supermarket really is just as useful. What was particularly nice with this dish was that, once refrigerated it kept beautifully and the flavours developed over the days as I used it.

However, it did seem to be missing something. That elusive oomph that I frequently find missing in home made curries. Friends have suggested that may come from ghee, but there's certainly a dimension missing. I wish I could work out what that was, as otherwise it was amazing. Using the ground cashew nuts to add texture and flavour was really different for me and I liked that. I still have more curry powder left, and am going to try it rubbed on as a dry marinade for chicken kebabs I think.

Next time, a Nigella recipe, salmon and singapore noodles.


Kavey said...

I'm sorry to hear about your depression, it's no doubt hard to be enthusiastic about the pleasure of cooking and enjoying your food when you're overwhelmed with sadness.

I hope it lifts soon and you can get back to loving life (and food) ASAP!

Libbs said...

I'd say that there is nothing wrong with replacing the occasional meal with tunnocks tea cakes! :D

I don't want to say feel better, I know how annoying that is, but I'm thinkng of you hunny xx


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