Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lamb Madras

Madras curry is one of the most popular curries to order at the local Indian restaurant. The curry originated in Madras which is now called Chennai. The sauce is a traditionally hot curry, using a large amount of fresh chilli's or chilli powder, and has a balance of sweet spices and sour tamarind.

Lamb Madras
(Serves 4)

850g diced lamb
2 tspn ground turmeric
1 tspn fennel seeds
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn garam masala
1/4 - 1 tspn chilli powder*
1/2 tspn sweet paprika
5 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm piece of ginger, grated
500mL coconut cream
8cm cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 tbsp tamarind puree

* Add as much or as little as you like, depending on how hot you like your curry!

Massage the turmeric into the diced lamb. This will tenderise the meat. Put it in a bowl, cover with cling wrap then put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Dry roast the fennel seeds in a hot, dry pan. When they begin to pop, remove them and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion for 5-10 minutes until it has softened. Add the ground spices, garlic and ginger and cook for a minute until aromatic. Add the meat and toss well to coat it with the spices. Brown the meat then stir in the coconut cream, bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer.

Add the fennel seeds, cinnamon stick and star anise. Season well with salt then cover and simmer the curry for 1 hour, stirring occassionally. If the curry begins to look too dry towards the end of the cooking time, add a bit of water so it remains quite saucy and liquid.

Dissolve the tamarind in 1/3 cup of boiling water then add to the curry. Stir it in well and taste for seasoning.

Serve the curry over steamed basmati rice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ugly Mudcake


The word brings about memories of rich chocolate cake purchased from the "gourmet" bakery in the "better" suburbs for a girly afternoon tea, usually to celebrate a friend's birthday.

Unfortunately, as beautifully decorated as these cakes usually are with their shiny layer of chocolate ganache and curls of white or dark (or sometimes both) grated chocolate, the insides would often be dry, dense, sickly sweet and taste a little bit processed. Bakeries often use a variety of cake/bread improvers, sugar syrups, preservatives and artificial flavours in their products to make the product more "stable" when baking, to make it last longer and to make it cheaper to produce.

So instead of trying to replicate a beautiful but tasteless cake, I'm going to tell you how to make the most gorgeous-tasting, but super ugly, chocolate mudcake!

Ugly Mudcake

(Serves 8-10)

220g butter
320g chocolate buttons (milk or dark)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs (only use 3 if they are 60g each or more)
1 cup self-raising flour

Preheat your oven to 150C. Grease a round cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate with the water. Let it cool for a few minutes, then mix in the cocoa powder and sugar.

Gently stir in the eggs, followed by the flour.

Pour the mixture into the pan and let it sit for a few minutes before putting it in the oven. This will let some of the air-bubbles that have been stirred in rise to the surface so your cake will bake evenly.

Bake the cake for 1 1/4 hours (or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly, with only moist crumbs clinging to it.) Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

The result will be a mudcake that is NOT pretty. It has a habit of sinking a little in the middle no matter what I do. I've tried using more flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda - nothing will help it look prettier. But for all its ugliness, it's one of the BEST chocolate cakes I've ever made.

Ice it with a simple chocolate ganache if you'd like, but I never do. I prefer to cut a wedge, heat it a little in the microwave then serve it with some double thick cream or vanilla ice-cream.