WARNING: This recipe will leave you salivating and desperate for a delicious spicy dish.
The best curry I ever tasted cost me 0.50p.
Bit of context, Rosie and I were gate-crashing the honeymoon of two great friends of ours. This is, of course, not really a normal thing to do, or a good way to keep good friends, but their honeymoon was 3 months of travelling all around India.
Now India had always been on our hit-list as a holiday destination, mainly as you can legitimately eat three curies a day without being considered weird. So one Friday afternoon, we popped over to Heathrow (Rosie straight from a full day’s teaching of course) and headed to Kerala for a week.
Among many amazing experiences throughout the week, a highlight was a lunch one day, when in the humid heat, we hired scooters and braved the streets of Fort Kochi, the capital of the region. We drove around searching, without the power of GoogleMaps for a legendary food market. Couldn’t find it anywhere. It was getting towards 2.30pm, and I was getting towards hanger. We gave up our search and were about to turn back when one of us spotted a small hand-written sign saying “Homely Meals”. Following the sign down an alleyway, we ended up in someone’s front garden! That someone, whose front garden it was, appeared, and didn’t look too bemused by our presence. So we asked her for some “homely meals”!
We were then given a huge dish full of multiple curries, rice, naan, poppadoms, chutneys, etc. etc. All just delicious! We wolfed down the plate, and to the surprise of our polite British predispositions, she came round and refilled the entire plate for free!
As I mentioned earlier, the bill came to c. 0.50p per person. I’m not sure if it was the hanger, the cheapness, the “homely meals” sign, or simply the tastiness of the food, but it remains in top spot of my “Greatest Curries of All Time” leaderboard.
One of the dishes was a Spinach Paneer dish. Here’s my humble attempt at recreating it.
1 Onion finely chopped
1 Aubergine/Eggplant cut in to c. 3cm cubes
100g Paneer cut into c. 2cm cubes (alternatively use Tofu or Chicken breast depending on which way you eat)
Rogan Josh Curry Paste
Handful of Cashew Nuts
1 tin of coconut milk
Tsp of Ginger finely chopped
1/2 a chilli finely chopped
Handful of Fresh Coriander leaves, chopped
Turn the oven to 180°C. Pop the aubergine/eggplant on a roasting tray, and generously anoint them with olive oil. Whack them in the oven, turning them over once or twice, for 20 mins or until they are nicely browning on the edges. At the same time as this, dry roast the cashew nuts for 5-10mins max. Take the nuts out and leave them to cool then crush in a pestle and mortar, or just chop them up with a knife.
While the oven is doing it’s thing, soften the onions in a large frying pan, after 5 mins or so, add the ginger and chilli. Let these all mingle for a bit. Meanwhile fry the cubes of Paneer in oil in a separate pan, on quite a high heat, making sure to seal all the sides.
Add a few tablespoons of Rogan Josh paste to the onion mix. Stir it all around. After a few minutes of spice infusion, pour in the entire tin of coconut milk. Once that’s stirred in to create a beautiful sauce, pop the spinach leaves on top. Using a large spoon or ladle, slowly work the sauce on top of the spinach, giving it a chance to wilt a bit.
Once it looks like there’s enough room in the pan, pop the aubergine and paneer in. Mix til it’s hot, and a thick enough consistency.
Serve with rice and/or your naan of choice, and don’t forget to sprinkled with the coriander,
I was going to put a picture up to accompany this, but I clearly eat this dish too quickly to be able to take one.
Keep happy, keep eating, keep singing!
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