Punjab Curry with Yellow Sticky Rice

This summer, James and I went of a cookery course in London. It was a Christmas gift from my family, what a great idea! The location was stunning, St Katherine’s Dock, and the lesson courtesy of The Smart School of Cookery, run by ex Master Chef contestant Ann Hood. We had a great afternoon; we learnt a great way to finely chop onions and that you can keep ginger, lemon grass, chillies and fruit in the freezer to grate or zest from frozen. Other tips we learnt were to use rape seed oil to fry, as it burns at a much higher temperature than olive oil (a whole 60°C higher!) and that when buying oils, always go for cold pressed and good quality. We cooked three curries; Padang, Vietnamese and Punjab. They were all so tasty but my favourite was the Punjab, probably because it has nectarines in it.

Punjab curry and yellow sticky rice

One thing I found really interesting was that  all the curries used the same base, to which curry specific additions were added later. You can make large quantities of the base and freeze it in ice cube trays, to add a cube or two to a curry from frozen. A great time saving tip.

Making the base:

  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1-2 tsp of chilli powder, depending on how hot you want your curry

In a dry hot pan, toast the spices (careful not to burn them),  they will become very fragrant when they begin to toast. Once toasted, add some water a little at a time and stir to form a paste. If making a large batch, scale up accordingly.

Making the rice:

It makes sense to make the rice first as it cooks in the oven. Leaving you to get on with your curry, stress free.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 1 small-medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups of short grain (such as arborio) rice, (1 cup per 2 people)
  • 4 cups of boiling water (2 water : 1 rice)
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • A few strands of saffron

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place one cup of boiling water in a jug with the turmeric and saffron, stir and then leave for a few minutes for the saffron to work its magic.
  3. Sweat the onion in a pan, once it just  begins to colour, add 1-2 tbsp of water and the onion will go clear.
  4. Add the rice and onion to an oven proof dish with a lid (such as a Dutch oven or casserole dish), then stir in the cup of ‘yellow’ water, followed by the remaining 3 cups of boiling water. Stir really well as this helps to release the starch and make the rice sticky.
  5. Place the lid on the dish and bake in the oven for 20-40 minutes. Don’t touch it once it is in there, other that to check if it is cooked. I found mine took 40 minutes and coincided with my curry being cooked but yours may be quicker, depending on your oven.

Making the curry: 

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • Curry base (quantity made above)
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 400 ml of vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • Meat of your choice to serve 4, we used pork in this instance (could substitute vegetables if vegetarian, omit rub)
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 2 tsp of paprika
    • 2 tsp of grated ginger (these form a meat rub)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 nectarines (or peaches or  10 plums), chopped, can be used from frozen – this will make them even sweeter
  • 1 tin of passata or tinned tomatoes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, if you haven’t already for the rice.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, paprika and ginger and then rub onto the meat.
  3. Sweat the onion in a large pan and once it just  begins to colour, add 1-2 tbsp of water (the onion will go clear).
  4. Add the curry paste and turmeric to the pan and stir/reduce until it becomes sticky.
  5. Add the stock to the pan, stir and then leave it off the heat for 20 minutes to infuse (if you have time).
  6. Stir in the passata, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves and star anise.
  7. Add the meat (chopped or whole) to a deep baking tray along with the nectarines, then coat them with the curry sauce.
  8. Place in the oven to cook for 20-30 minutes, until the flavours have blended and the meat is cooked. Keep an eye on your rice. The rice will stay warm once removed from the oven, if left in its cooking container, until the curry is ready.
  9. Serve with the rice and enjoy.
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