Sunday, 26 April 2009

I like it hot

Here's my cast iron casserole. Possibly he most important piece in my kitchen. It weighs a ton, but you can cook huge meals for 10, and also use it to fry up tiny little always has a good even heat.

".....I'm writing this to you because for some reason this was the best lentil curry I have made, creamy and simple as it is. I don't want to forget it." To Val, 20/09/06.

I've never cooked it again, though.

Lentil Curry
Chop 1 onion and fry in plenty of oil. Soften well. Add 2 whole cloves of garlic and a large Tbs hot Durban masala. Fry together for a bit. Add half a tube of tomato concentrate, half a box of washed puy lentils and a tray of cherry tomatoes. Add one tsp of powdered vegetable stock. Cover with boiling water and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Serve with brown rice and a tomato salad. Or with crispy lamb chops.

Durban Curry
This is probably my signature dish. I'm always so grateful that I grew up in Durban. Apart from the sea, the sub-tropical climate and the jolly mix of Zulu Indian and English it is the home of Durban Curry....obviously, the best curry in the world!

As ever, start with lots of chopped onions - at least three. Plenty of oil. Gently simmer for ages, then add the curry powder. I always use two different powders or paste, a hot Durban masala and a garam or something else. Three large Tbs altogether. Fry for a bit. Then add the meat. My special is braising steak in biggish chunks and a pack of oxtail. The bones give the curry a nice depth, and I really only eat the oxtail - it is the best bit - creamy and tender. After the meat, all the other ingredients: plenty garlic cloves - whole; 2 tins of tomatoes, plenty tomato concentrate, diced ginger, whole green chillies, curry leaves - which I keep in the freezer; 2 organic beef stock. Place in a lowish oven and let it gently cook. After an hour, add peeled halved potatoes (by now the casserole dish is getting VERY full, but no matter). Return to the oven, and gently bubble for another two hours. Long and slow of course. Fresh sheep's milk yoghurt and chopped fresh coriander on top....well you can't beat it.

Samp is something you eat as a child in South Africa. It's what the Africans cook every day. On the farm they do it in big round black potjies, three legs over the fire, with the smoke giving it that little bit extra. They always share it, because all kids love it. Some call it stamp, and if they were Xhosa, they called it gn"d"oosh. That little "d" denotes a click from the front of the mouth "nnn"d"ooosh". What a satisfying word for a child! Made from mature corn, it is creamy white with big tough kernels. We soak the samp overnight and boil it for hours on the stove. A little salt at the end, maybe some cream. It's a creamy, chewy, chunky porridge, and it goes a treat with boerewors. Boerewors is a farmhouse beef sausage with a good spicy bite to it. Not fatty at all, so don't overcook.

Chakalaka is the wonderfully named chillie tomato sauce that developed in the townships. They add baked beans as well as a few other vegetables, but this simple recipe went down a treat.

".... we had the most wonderful dinner tonight......baked boerewors with a lovely slow-cooked samp with butter added afterwards, and a wonderful first attempt at chakalaka: fried onions / garlic / red chillie / beef stock / tomato puree and two tins of chopped tomatoes....delishhh!"

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