Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Baked Prawns in Creamy Garlic Sauce

I've been making a lot of in-and-out dishes lately. That is, dishes that require you to zoom into the kitchen, do some quick stirring, and zap back out. This is One Such. Here's the how-to:

Take ten or twelve shelled and be-headed (and de-tailed, if you like) prawns. Not enormous ones. If they are large, cut them along the vein to make one into two. Wash and clean then, then leave them alone to dry. No marinade! Now, prep the other ingredients thus: mince about six cloves of garlic. Aww, no no, stick to three if that's all you can handle. Chicken. Yes. Anyway. Take six cloves of garlic. Peel and mince them. Now, either make a paste of dry red chilies (with a green thrown in to take the edge off), or, if you're sensible and avoid dry red chilies, just wash and chop about three green chilies (unless, that is, you're all delicate like. In which case you'd best abandon this ship now. It's going to get worse). Finally, chop a couple of shallots/green onions, stalk and all.

So, after you're all prepped, heat a tablespoon of butter in a wok.

Aww, I kid! Sunflower oil will do just fine.

No, really. One tablespoon of butter. In this, when warm and liquid, add the minced garlic. When fragrant, add the chilly paste, or the chopped green chilies. Stir quickly for about a minute. Add the chopped green onions. Just the onion parts, mind. Show some more wristwork. Then, stir in the prawns and if you're flame wasn't already on simmer, do it ASAP or the prawns will harden. After lightly tossing the prawns in the garlicky, warm butter and watching their juices mix with it for a minute or so, add a cup of fresh or heavy cream. If using fresh cream, whisk it lightly before adding to the wok. Stir this well. When it's been folded in well, add the green stalks of the green onion, toss, taste for salt and heat, add chili flakes if you want, and take it off the flame.

NOTE: this sauce can stand the addition of a lot of mild-flavoured cheese, but I'm watching out for my poor ole heart these days, so I skip it. No reason why you should, though :-)

This sauce is ready to eat straight off the wok, with a baked potato on the side or a small bowl of rice. It goes wonderfully well with pasta of most descriptions, too. However, I prefer it best baked. You can either bake it on a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, topped with cheese or breadcrumbs (or both), or you could bake the sauce-mixed-pasta, with a similar topping. I've even had it baked on top of a layer of mashed potatoes. It was divine.

Go on then, try it. And tell me how it was. Utterly delicious, or merely very good? ;-)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chicken with Red Chilies and Coconut Milk

This is a very quick update of a very quick recipe, perfect for this damp, chilly weather. It's a steaming, aromatic pot of fiery red chicken curry, tempered delightfully by the light tangy sweetness of coconut milk.

First, wash the chicken and marinate in salt, minced garlic, lemon juice and holud/turmeric. My greataunt has converted me to an ardent turmeric user this winter (I never did before). According to her, it practically cures cancer. Anyway. So you marinate the chicken, and let it steep for half an hour or so.

In the meanwhile, prep the spices. It's tres simple: take a handful of dry red chilies, depending on your personal threshold. You should use at least five, in my opinion. Personally, I use about twelve, plus a couple of green chilies to temper the flavour (dried red chilies have a harsh undercurrent that I don't enjoy). To this, add a level teaspoon of sugar (a little more if you prefer); three or four pinches of salt; about an inch of ginger, peeled; five or six gloves of garlic; three-fourths a large or one medium onion. Grind them together in a thick paste.

Now, the cooking. Lightly saute the chicken and then keep it aside. In the same wok, add a little more oil if you need it -- I'd prefer sunflower/canola for this dish -- and pour in the paste. There really shouldn't be more than a teaspoon of oil in the wok when the paste goes on, so you'll have to cook it on a simmering flame. Once the paste becomes lightly fried and fragrant, add almost a whole teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powders, or half a teaspoon each of their homemade paste. Cook the entire paste till the oil separates from it, and then add four or so tablespoons of coconut milk. Scrape up the sides of the wok. Taste the simmering mixture for salt/sugar balance. Make adjustments. (Some say dark soya sauce is wonderful in this mix as well, but I've never tried it.)

Now, add the sauted chicken back into the wok. If the flavour of coconut milk in large quantities is too overpowering for you, add water enough to immerse the chicken. Cover and cook till tender. If you're not averse to the flavour, add more coconut milk and just a little water. Cover and etc. When the chicken's done and you still have too much gravy left -- unlikely -- then boil it off at medium flame. When it's reached the consistency you want, turn off the heat, sprinkle half a teaspoon of garam masala powder (slightly less if home-ground and potent), mix it in, and cover. Let it infuse for a few minutes. Serve with steaming rice :-)

It. is. deee. licious.