Monday, 9 February 2015

Book review: Made in India

By: Mrs Robot

I mentioned in a post last year that for me part of the reason I've tried to learn to cook Asian food is to connect with the unknown parts of my ancestry. For Christmas Mr Robot bought me a copy of Meera Sodha's book Made in India, because as her family came to Britain via Uganda, he thought I'd enjoy her stories of family movements and the Indian diaspora.


And he was right; I loved reading the stories of Sodha's relatives, and also seeing how the cuisine of Africa and later the raw ingredients available in England had an impact on their family recipes. Also, it puts an end to all Mr Robot's objections when I put something creative in a curry and he complains that it's not traditional. (Well, it should. I think he's always going to object to swede curry.)

Meera Sodha's daily dal, plus a lamb curry recipe by Anjum Anand
Meera Sodha's daily dal, plus a lamb curry recipe by Anjum Anand

Since getting the book I've made plenty of recipes out of it. There's been Mum's Chicken Curry and Kachumbar, Daily Dal, and Pistachio and Yoghurt Chicken Curry plus Cinnamon and Clove Pilau with Cashew Nuts. At the start of the book Sodha has a joky bit 'Eat like an Indian, think like an Indian', which includes the advice "Feed the dog chapattis. Dogs love chapattis." I can confirm that Robocat does not like chapattis, but wouldn't stop scrounging tonight's tea, Wild Pheasant Curry, which I served with Sodha's cumin-roasted cauliflower and some pilau rice.

Fresh ginger and pistachios
Fresh ginger and pistachios

The recipes that I've tried from the book result in dishes that are more aromatic than spicy. I don't know if that's because the recipes I've tried use a lot more nuts than the ones I've done from other Indian cookbooks. The pistachio curry was especially lovely, rich in ground cardamom. We put the leftovers of that into toasted sandwiches! I'm not sure if I cooked the onion long enough for that one - that's a skill I'm still trying to develop.

Pistachio and yoghurt chicken curry with pilau rice
Pistachio and yoghurt chicken curry with pilau rice

I have also very much enjoyed the vegetable side dishes. I'm not sure exactly what makes them so much more appealing than the ones in other Indian cookbooks that we own, but we'll definitely be making the cauliflower again, and the kachumbar will be good to have over the summer. It'll go nicely with Mexican or Spanish dishes as well as Indian ones.

Wild pheasant curry, cumin-roasted cauliflower, pilau rice
Wild pheasant curry, cumin-roasted cauliflower, pilau rice

All in all, there's only one thing I'd change about this book, and that's the cover, which I'd make a wipe-clean one! I suspect my copy is going to end up plastered in tomato all too quickly...

All photos copyright Mr Robot, and the presentation is mine - I have been told it needs work! Trust me, though, this all tasted absolutely delicious.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Croquette and tubbies



By: Mrs Robot

We love Spain, and one of its very best products is jamon, cured ham. Along with simple slices of the stuff, one of my favourite tapas is croquetas de jamon, ham croquettes - cylinders or patties of bechamel and jamon, coated in breadcrumbs. I have to try not to order them too often when we're on holiday, as it's important to try other things!

We bought a whole leg of ham from Asda just before Christmas. It must have been some sort of special as they don't usually have them, but there it was, lying in the chiller cabinet. It's been living in our dining room ever since, covered in a clean tea towel to stop flies and dust getting on it. The packaging recommended wrapping it in cling film, but that's just an easy way to get a mouldy ham...

Today I carved off a chunk of the ham and turned it into croquetas. I didn't follow a recipe, as it was a simple matter of make bechamel (not forgetting a grating of nutmeg, but omitting salt as the meat itself is very salty), sling in finely-diced jamon, then later coat balls of the cooled mixture in breadcrumbs, egg wash and another coat of breadcrumbs. Mine were a bit large, as I haven't yet mastered the art of scooping small amounts (it's amazing how what seems like a little amount of mixture turns into a large cylinder). After a brief fry, they were ready to eat.

Going through the process of dicing, making bechamel and crumbing does seem a bit of a faff for a snack, but as the croquetas are pretty high in salt and fat that's probably a good thing.