Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Great Indian Experiment - Masterchef night 4

So this week I decided to have a go at cooking an authentic Indian curry - from scratch. Britain is pretty renowned for the Balti - Australia, unfortunately, is not. I have real difficulty finding a good take out indian that isn't too greasy or completely flavorless.

Soooo I decided to have a go at doing my own.. but not only a curry, also onion bahjis, naan, and pilau rice. If you do something, you have to do it right.

So I started out by going shopping, specifically, spice shopping. I heard an advert on the radio for an indian grocer just up the road, so I decided to check them out.

They were fantastic, the guy in the shop was so helpful, I walked in with a list as long as loo roll, and he helped me find everything I needed, and gave me great advice on making my very own curry. Just incase any one wants to go and get some spices heres his info..

Mirch Masala Grocers - 35 Duporth Ave, Maroochydore QLD 45558 tel: (07) 5479 4029

Not only were they really helpful, they were actually really reasonably priced. I will definitely be going back there!

Anyway back to the cooking. I started with the naan bread because it needs a few hours to sit and rest. I got a recipe from the net and gave it a go...however the dough was reaaally tough and heavy and just didn't seem right, so I decided to trust my instincts and make another batch with a completely different recipe. I figured if it did go wrong, I would have time to make some from scratch, so I had two batches so surley one would work out.

Heres the photo of the two different batches of dough...

As you can see they are rather different. So I let these site and rest for a couple of hours while I got on with my curry.


  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with 2 teaspoons salt.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat; partially cook the chicken in the hot oil in batches until completely browned. Transfer the browned chicken breasts to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-high; add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the oil remaining in the skillet and cook and stir until the onion turns translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir the curry powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of water into the onion mixture; allow to heat together for about 1 minute while stirring. Mix the tomatoes, yogurt, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and 1 teaspoon salt into the mixture. Return the chicken breast to the skillet along with any juices on the plate. Pour 1/2 cup water into the mixture; bring to a boil, turning the chicken to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle the garam masala and 1 tablespoon cilantro over the chicken.
  4. Cover the skillet and simmer until the chicken breasts are no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Sprinkle with lemon juice to serve.

I deviated from the recipe slightly... When I tasted the sauce after everything was added it was veeery spicy ( I may have been slightly generous with the spices, not thinking 1 teas spoon of certain ingredients was enough... Lesson Learnt.) I have a slightly higher tolerance for spice than Owz so i got him to sample it before I continued, and needless to say, he was rather flustered so I had to balance it out a bit.

I ended up adding another cup of yoghurt, and lots of cream to taste. The dairy products are effective at decreasing spice where as water is not. So after alot of taste testing it was more or less ready so i let it sit while I got on with the bahjis and rice.

Onion Bahjis Ingredients

100g / 4oz Chick-Pea Flour or Gram Flour
1/4 teasp Chilli Powder
1/2 teasp Turmeric
1/2 teasp Baking Powder
1/2 teasp Ground Cumin
1 Large Onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Green Chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
25g / 1oz finely chopped Fresh Coriander
Cold water to mix
Vegetable oil for deep frying


  1. Sift the flour, chilli, turmeric, cumin, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped coriander, onions and chillis and mix well.Preheat the deep fat fryer to 180ÂșC
  2. Gradually add enough water to the flour mixture to form a thick batter mixing very well so the onions are well coated.
  3. Very carefully drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil and fry until keep warm whilst you cook the remaining bhajis.
  4. Drain well on kitchen paper and serve very hot.
Mint Raita Dip for bahjis

2 cups of plain yoghurt
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1tsp finely chopped mint

Simply mix ingredients together and chill until ready to serve,

Pilau Rice Ingredients

1 Cup of Basmati rice
1 ounce butter
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 3/4 cups boiling water

  1. Soak rice in cold water for about 30 mins then drain well and rinse
  2. melt butter in saucepan
  3. add in all the spices and salt
  4. stir in rice until coated in butter and spices
  5. add boiling water
  6. cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for approx 15 mins on lowest heat setting. Do not stir in the meantime
And here is in the final product...

The naan breads were a absolute disaster. The first batch came out like cricket balls which I threw straight into the bin, and the second started off great then suddenly rose in the grill and tripled in height, they ended up really tough. I'm not even going to bother posting the naan recipe here as they were so bad.

Overall the Indian experiment was a success, the curry was so flavorful and there's nothing quite like making it from scratch. It was so much fun adding all the herbs and spices and seeing it transfer before you eyes. The only thing I really think I need to sort out is the naan bread. I will perfect them next time, and as I have a whole cupboard full of new spices to play with, I think that will be sooner rather than later!

1 comment:

  1. Haha those naans are great! I considered making my own the other week but didn't bother. I'm glad now!