Sunday, 25 September 2016



East Dulwich is on the other side of Peckham Rye from us - when we moved here 10 years ago we were very much on the 'wrong' side of the Rye, the Peckham side, the dodgy side.  Nowadays we are on the hip side, the groovy side, the oh so achingly let's have another upmarket barbers to look after all of those beards side.  Whatever. Lordship Lane is the main drag in East Dulwich and has a surprising number of restaurants - and a lot of them are Indian.  Our favourite is Jaflong, it has a few things on the menu you don't see elsewhere, the cooking is great and the staff are lovely.  It is also BYOB with no corkage which always goes down well.

It was at Jaflong I first encountered shatkora - or satkora, spellings vary - an Indian citrus fruit which seems to be a bit like a lemon, a bit like a lime, and has very thick peel and pith.  I have hunted far and wide for this and finally tracked down both fresh and frozen versions - in Taj Stores in Brick Lane - where else?   I bought a bag of frozen and this is my first experiment using it.  I think the delicate citrus flavour is very well suited to chicken so I have used chicken thighs for this.  A mound of fragrant basmati and maybe some bhindi would go well with this.


I tblsp. vegetable oil
4 black cardamom
I tblsp. grated ginger
1 tblsp. grated garlic
1 large onion very finely diced
1/2 tblsp. tomato puree
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garam masala
5 slices of satkora
500g boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the cardamom pods.  Sizzle for a minute or so then add the onions. Fry gently for about five minutes until soft then add the ginger and garlic, fry for another couple of minutes.

Add the tomato puree and spices and cook out gently for a another minute then add the chicken.  Continue frying for another couple of minutes then add the satkora and a mug of water, turn down the heat and let it all simmer for 40 minutes.  Taste, adjust seasoning if it needs a touch of salt, and serve.

Sunday, 18 September 2016


I love Indian food, I love eating it and I love cooking it.  I have always been intrigued by it and on the purchase of my first book by Madhur Jaffrey in 1986 (!) I set about trying to learn the secrets of the spicing and the textures, all so different to the food my Mum taught me to cook…
Since then I have tried many recipes and this has become my own curry, the one I cook when I can’t be bothered to follow a recipe.  I make no claims for its authenticity so I want no howls of outrage about my technique or ingredients but we love it.
As an aside, if you love Indian food I do urge you to book into dinner at one of Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express events – cooking the food she was brought up with and drawing on the cooking of Hyderabad and Calcutta it really is some of the best, authentic, Indian cooking you will find in this country.
This recipe gives a thick smooth gravy (apparently what ‘curry’ means) which is well flavoured but not particularly hot – if you like your curries hot add more dried red chillies to the spice mix.  I will also admit to the fact that I now buy frozen pureed garlic and ginger, makes life so much easier...
Curry Powder - 2 tblsp. cumin seeds, 4 tblsp. coriander seeds, 1 tblsp. fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tblsp. cardamom seeds (and yes I mean the seeds out of the pod - good Indian supermarkets will sell the seeds by themselves), 2 inch cinnamon stick, 4 dried long red chillies, 12 cloves.

2 tblsp. vegetable oil

5 cardamom pods
6 cloves

0.5kg lamb shoulder, cut into 2" chunks

3 red onions
1 tblsp. grated ginger
1 tblsp. grated garlic
4 large ripe tomatoes chopped
Handful of chopped coriander
1 tbsp. tamarind paste

Put all the spices in a frying pan and warm over a low flame until you start to smell them – don’t try and rush this stage with a high heat as it will burn them…they should be ready after a couple of minutes.  Tip them into a spice grinder and grind until you have a fine powder.
In a large frying pan heat half the oil and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes until the onions are soft.  Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple more minutes.  Once everything is collapsed blend it – I do it by putting everything in a bowl and using a stick blender but whatever works for you.
Give the frying pan a quick wipe out then add another tblsp. of oil.  Heat it then, once hot, add the cloves and cardamom. Once they are sizzling add the tomato onion paste, cook for a minute or two then add 2 tblsp. of the spice powder.  Stir everything round briskly for a couple of minutes, making sure it doesn’t catch, then add the lamb.  Keep stirring for a few minutes then add half a pint of water.  Make sure everything is well mixed then turn down to simmer for an hour.  Check from time to time to make sure it’s not getting too dry.
At the end of the cooking time check that the lamb is tender – if not, give it a bit more time.  Add the tamarind and coriander, give it all a good stir and taste – it might need a bit of salt.
I usually serve this with dal and a vegetable.  My current favourite vegetable is spinach and potatoes.  Take a large bag of spinach, put it in a frying pan and let it wilt in the heat then drain and chop. At the same time cut a couple of potatoes up into 1” cubes and boil for 10 minutes, drain.  Heat a tblsp. oil in a frying pan and add a teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon each of coriander and fennel seeds.  Toss the potatoes in this, once coated add the spinach, then add a dash of water and let the whole thing cook and homogenise for five minutes.  Add a bit of salt to taste.