Tag Archives: Curry

Palak Paneer

Palak PaneerHalfway between two homes doesn’t sound like one or the other. If you stick a pin between my two motherlands of Aotearoa and old Albion, you are still 14 hours away from each of them. However, this doesn’t mean long pit stops lying on your hand luggage in airport transit, nor contortionist efforts to fit into terminal lounge chairs for a few winks. It means stepping out into another dimension where sights, sounds, colours and most of all smells dominate your senses. A place that has been home on a number of occasions, India.

My best memories of eating food throughout India are always a shared meal, eating with my hands. Or meals that make steam shoot from your ears, that no Kingfisher beer or yoghurt will quench. And always a colourful, divided plate of taste explosions on a thali dish. But one sure-fire dish that I can always rely on is the palak paneer. Put originally on my radar by Mr Beaver’s brother, the veggie king.

Serves 4


500g spinach

1 inch ginger

1 tsp cumin

30g butter

1 bay leaf

1  onion, finely chopped

7 cloves garlic, 4 finely chopped, 3 whole

2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

3/4 tsp chilli powder

1 cup water

1 tsp garam masala

300g paneer, chopped into 1cm cubes

1 tbsp yoghurt

 Start by preparing your ingredients. Put on your rice. Next add the spinach to a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Put the lid in and leave for 3 minutes to wilt. Then drain in a colander, and add to a blender. Also add 3 whole cloves of garlic and the 1/2 inch of ginger. Whizz until a smooth paste.

Next heat the butter in the large saucepan you used earlier on a medium heat, and add the cumin to brown off. Next add the bay leaf and the chopped onion, until the onion browns. Now add the tomatoes and cook until they soften. Add the turmeric and chilli powder, stirring in. Then add the spinach puree. Stir well. Add the cup of water and boil gently for about 5 minutes.

As this boils, brown off the paneer cubes in a frying pan. No oil is needed. Then add the garam masala, paneer and yoghurt to the sauce. It should be quite a thick consistency. Serve and enjoy.


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Machchi Kari

IMG_2354Simply fish curry. But in Hindi it sounds more attractive and authentic than fish curry. But on the other hand, maybe it’s a bit like a Wetherspoons pub calling their mash “purée de pommes de terre”…

I’m not going to lie, it took me a long time to make curries from scratch that tasted half decent. Too watery, too much chili, not enough cumin, too much turmeric. I won’t profess to get it right every time still. What I’m looking for is a balance. Too often is a decent prawn or fillet overpowered in a curry to the point that it simply becomes texture. But this recipe is delicate and smooth, with the right balance of flavours bursting through whilst still being able to actually taste the fish.

The basis of this recipe is embellished from the encyclopaedic Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon, and I’ve given it the slightest of  tweaks to give it something extra delicate. Please don’t be put off making a curry from scratch, it will taste much fresher and as you will see it’s not difficult, and if you don’t have the ingredients in your cupboard already, you should!

Serves 4

4 fillets of white fish, chopped in 1 inch cubes
(approx 500g monkfish, cod, hapuka, snapper, pollock)
2 tbsp oil
6-8 curry leaves
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger grated
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 can coconut milk
Salt to taste

Prep you ingredients first. If you are cooking brown rice this needs to go on as you start.

Heat the oil in a wide saucepan and fry the curry leaves until brown. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry until soft and golden. Add all the ground spices, stirring until fragrant. Add the coconut milk and salt and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 10 minutes uncovered. Only add the fish 4 minutes before you serve, simmering to cook through. The secret here is the fenugreek so don’t miss it out.

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