FOOD

4 Curry Recipes: The Ultimate Winter Warmers

Butter chicken, dal or garlicky fish curry, anyone?

11/07/2017 4:09 PM AEST | Updated 11/07/2017 4:19 PM AEST

Now that it's truly winter, we're all looking for ways to thaw out and keep warm -- drinking endless cups of tea and hot chocolate, straddling the heater, never leaving the soft confines of your bed. You know, the usual.

One of the best ways to warm up from the inside out is by tucking into a bowl of curry. Filled with spices, slow cooked meat, veggies and filling legumes, curries are satisfying, rich and delicious.

Curries are also super meal prep-friendly -- simply make a big pot, portion out servings and freeze until required. It's that easy.

Here are four tasty, hearty Indian curries to make for cold nights in.

Photographer: Martin Poole

1. Classic butter chicken

Serves four.

INGREDIENTS

For the tandoori-style chicken pieces:

  • 6 skinned, bone-in chicken joints
  • A slice of unsalted butter, melted
  • A little paprika or Kashmiri chilli powder

For the chicken marinade:

  • 2½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 rounded tsp salt
  • 120g full-fat plain yoghurt
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 Indian green finger chilli deseeded
  • 15g roughly chopped root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 1½-2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika (for colour)
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cumin
  • 1 rounded tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the butter chicken sauce:

  • 20g finely grated root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 80g unsalted butter, plus more if needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2cm cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 600g vine tomatoes, blended to a fine puree
  • 3-4 small green chillies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar, or to taste (depends on the sweetness of the tomatoes)
  • ¼-½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, finely crushed with your fingers
  • 1 rounded tsp garam masala
  • 80ml-100ml single (light) cream, to taste

METHOD

  1. For the tandoori-style chicken pieces: Slash each piece of chicken three times down to the bone at the thickest parts of the flesh. Place in a bowl and marinate in about half the lemon juice and half the salt for 30 minutes, if possible.
  2. Blend together all the ingredients for the marinade until smooth (add the extra lemon and salt if you didn't marinate as above). Add to the chicken and leave to marinate for as long as possible -- preferably overnight, covered in the fridge, but at least for 3-4 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes or so before cooking. Preheat the barbecue to a medium-high heat, or preheat your oven grill to a fan-assisted high setting and line a baking sheet with foil.
  4. Place the chicken on the barbecue and cook, turning often and moving around to prevent burning and hot spots, until charred -- around 18 minutes. Or place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet under the grill, and grill until charred on both sides and cooked through; it should take the same amount of time. If it is cooked but not very brown, move closer to the grill bars for a few minutes at the end of cooking time. Baste with the butter mixed with the paprika or Kashmiri chilli powder.
  5. For the butter chicken sauce: Blend together the ginger and garlic using a little water to help the blades turn.
  6. Heat the oil and half the butter in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the whole spices. Once they have sizzled for 15 seconds, add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until all the moisture has evaporated, and the garlic smells cooked and looks grainy. Add the tomatoes and cook down until the resulting paste releases oil -- around 20 minutes.
  7. Now you need to brown this paste over a gentle heat, stirring often, until it darkens considerably, for 6-8 minutes. Add 250ml (one generous cup) water, bring to the boil, then pass the sauce through a sieve into a bowl, trying to extract as much liquid and flavour from the tomatoes and spices as you can. Discard the very few, very dry solids. Set the sauce aside.
  8. Cut or peel large chunks off the chicken pieces and reserve with any juices and charring that is still on the cooking foil.
  9. Heat the remaining butter, throw in the green chillies and cook for one minute. Add the sauce, salt and a good splash of water and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken, with any juices and charring from the foil. Add the sugar, chilli powder, paprika, fenugreek and garam masala. Simmer, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, adding a little water if it is too thick. It should be lightly creamy. Take off the heat and stir in the cream, then taste and adjust the salt, sugar, cream or butter to taste as you need.

Photographer: Martin Poole
Serve with rice or naan bread.

2. Mixed vegetable Kadhai

Serves four.

INGREDIENTS

For the Kadhai masala:

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • ¾ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1–2 Kashmiri dried chillies (these are mild, if you don't have them, use 1 red chilli, or give them a miss)
  • 8 black peppercorns

For the sauce:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely grated root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 medium-large tomatoes, blended until smooth
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed between your fingers
  • 2–3 tbsp single (light) cream
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves, to serve

For the vegetables (this is the classic version, but vary them as you like):

  • 1 potato, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 small carrot, cut into half moons
  • 100g 3–4cm cauliflower florets
  • 480ml boiling water
  • 100g frozen peas, defrosted

METHOD

  1. In a small frying pan, gently dry-roast the spices for the kadhai masala, stirring often to avoid any burning. Once the coriander seeds have coloured a little, pour everything into a spice blender and grind to a fine -- or even slightly coarse -- powder.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan, add the onion and cook until golden on the edges. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for one minute, or until they smell cooked. Add the blended tomatoes, turmeric and salt, and cook over a medium-high heat until the mixture has completely reduced and releases oil back into the pan.
  3. Stir in the potato and carrot, cover and cook gently for five minutes. Add the cauliflower and boiling water and return to the boil. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked, adding the peas for the last couple of minutes.
  4. Add the garam masala and fenugreek leaves to the pan and give it a stir. Take it off the heat and sprinkle over and shake in the cream and coriander. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve.

Photographer: Martin Poole
Use naan bread to soak up all the delicious juices.

3. The best tarka dal

Serves four.

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g yellow lentils
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 20g finely grated root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 3 medium-small tomatoes
  • 2½ tbsp vegetable oil, or ghee, or both
  • Tiny pinch of asafoetida
  • 2.5cm cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 4 cloves
  • 1-2 dried chillies
  • 1 rounded tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • Knob of unsalted butter
  • Good handful of chopped coriander
  • ½-¾ tsp dried mango powder (amchur), or to taste (optional)

METHOD

  1. Rinse the lentils in several changes of water to wash well. Place in a large pot and pour over enough water to come 5cm over them. Bring to the boil, then skim off all the scum that forms on the surface. Add the turmeric and ginger and continue to boil for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are just soft. You might need to add some water if it cooks off.
  2. Meanwhile, score the base of each tomato with a knife, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave for 30 seconds, then drain off the water. Their skins should just slip off. Chop and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the asafoetida, cinnamon, cloves and dried chillies and cook for 10-15 seconds or until they puff up. Spoon in the cumin seeds and cook until they colour and smell roasted. Add the onion and cook until it has golden edges. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for one minute, or until it smells cooked.
  4. Now tip in the tomatoes, salt and ground spices (except the dried mango powder) and cook over a high heat for 10 minutes, stirring and mashing them often, or until the masala releases oil into the pan. If the tomato is dry, you will need to add a splash of water from the kettle to help.
  5. By now the lentils should be cooked and, when stirred with a spoon, the water and lentils should start to become homogenous and slightly creamy. Pour some lentils into the tarka pot with the onion and chillies, then pour it back into the lentils, making sure you scrape every last bit of flavour from the saucepan.
  6. Cook for another 3-5 minutes to bring it all together, adding the butter to enrich the dal. Stir in the chopped coriander, then taste and adjust seasoning, adding the dried mango powder to taste if you would like it a little more tart.

Photographer: Martin Poole
You can add whichever veggies you like to this dish.

4. Dad's fish curry

Serves four.

INGREDIENTS

For the spice blend:

  • ¾ tsp cumin seeds
  • ⅓ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, or ground coriander

For the curry:

  • 3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 15 large garlic cloves (yes, 15)
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 dried chillies
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ tsp brown mustard seeds
  • Salt, to taste
  • 600g trim white fish, cut into steaks (Dad's favourite is rohu, or sea bream)
  • 3 Indian green finger chillies, stalked removed, pierced with a knife
  • 2 handfuls of coriander stalks and leaves, roughly chopped

METHOD

  1. Grind together the cumin, peppercorns, mustard and coriander seeds until fine.
  2. Blend together the tomatoes and garlic until smooth, add the spice blend, chilli powder and turmeric and blend once again.
  3. Head 2½ tbsp of the oil in a large non-stick karahi, wok or saucepan. Add the dried chillies and the fenugreek and mustard seeds. Once the popping starts to die down, add the blended garlic tomatoes and some salt. Cook over a medium-high flame, stirring often, until the paste releases oil -- around 10–12 minutes.
  4. Move the paste to the side of the pan, or remove it entirely for lighter flavour, and add the remaining oil. Add the fish and fry for 1–2 minutes on each side. Then add enough water to cover the fish (around 500ml/2 cups), the green chillies and coriander and bring to the boil. Cook for 4–5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits, because the fish absorbs the liquid. In the end it should only be a little creamy but not thick.

Photographer: Martin Poole
Garlic lovers, this curry is for you.

This is an edited extract from I Love India by Anjum Anand (published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $39.99) and is available in stores nationally.

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