Curries have to be the best warming winter food, and they are easy to prepare and cook.

They use less expensive cuts of meat which become meltingly tender as they slow-cook, filling your home with a wonderful spicy aroma.

They can be bulked up with vegetables, helping to feed a hungry horde. Best of all, many curries improve on standing, so are ideal for preparing in advance.

You can grind and blend your own spice mixture or buy pastes and ready-mixed spices.

 

LAMB ROGAN JOSH

Serves 4

45ml oil

1kg lamb knuckles

1 large onion, chopped

10ml chopped garlic

10ml chopped ginger

5-10ml salt

3-5ml chilli powder

10ml ground coriander

5ml ground cumin

5ml paprika

a pinch of cayenne pepper

1 cinnamon stick

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

400g tin of coconut milk

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

fresh coriander for serving

Heat the oil and fry the lamb in batches until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pot and fry for a few minutes.

Add the salt, chilli powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and cinnamon stick and fry until fragrant.

Return the meat to the pot and coat with the spice mixture.

Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.

Add the potatoes. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is soft.

Adjust seasoning and serve sprinkled with coriander.

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CHICKEN MASSAMAN CURRY

Serves 4-6

1 cinnamon quill

1 star anise

45ml sunflower oil

1 sachet of massaman curry paste

1 onion, roughly chopped

1kg skinless chicken thigh fillets, sliced

400g can of coconut milk

3 sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed

60ml roasted unsalted peanuts

30ml fish sauce

60ml tamarind puree

30ml brown sugar

2 lime leaves

2cm piece of ginger, grated

125ml chopped fresh coriander, plus extra for garnish

Heat a wok or saucepan over medium-high heat, add the cinnamon and star anise and heat until fragrant.

Add the oil and the massaman curry paste and fry for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add onion and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes until softened.

Add chicken and cook for a few minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with basmati rice and extra coriander.

NOTE: Massaman spice paste is available from Woolworths or a good spice shop.

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BATTERED FISH IN CURRY SAUCE

Serves 4-6

2 onions, peeled

3 tomatoes

60ml cooking oil

10ml mustard seeds

5ml fenugreek seeds

1 fresh chilli, seeds removed and thinly sliced

a handful of curry leaves, ripped into small pieces

2.5cm ginger root, grated

5ml turmeric

5ml chilli powder

1 can of coconut milk

salt

15ml tamarind paste

1kg white fish fillets, cut into 3cm chunks

250ml flour

2 eggs

oil for deep frying.

Use a food processor to chop the onions. Use the same food processor to chop the tomatoes. Set both aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the mustard seeds. Cook them until they start to pop.

Add the fenugreek, chilli, curry leaves and ginger. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the onions and cook until they are golden brown.

Add the turmeric and the chilli powder. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the coconut milk and the tomatoes.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce is thick. Season lightly.

Add the tamarind paste and simmer until time to serve.

Dip the fish cubes into flour, then into egg and then again into the flour. Place a few pieces at a time into the cooking oil, cook until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper.

To serve, place the fish on a platter and pour over the sauce. Serve with Jasmine rice.

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CREAMY PANEER CURRY

Serves 4

1 onion, chopped

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped and blended

15ml chopped ginger

15ml chopped garlic

2 strands of mace

45ml cardamom pods, bruised and skins removed

60ml cashew nuts, chopped

30m tomato paste

250ml water

30g butter

1 bay leaf

red chilli powder to taste

1 whole green chilli

15ml honey

125ml cream

50g butter

500g paneer, cubed

salt

5-10ml garam masala

fresh coriander to serve

Put the onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, mace, cardamom, cashew nuts and tomato paste in a pot and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture reduces and forms a thick paste.

Put the paste into a blender with the water and puree until smooth.

Heat the butter and fry the bay leaf for 1-2 minutes.

Add the pureed paste with the chilli powder, whole green chilli, honey, cream and butter and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the paneer, salt to taste and garam masala and heat through.

Serve sprinkled with coriander.

* Paneer is cheese that looks similar to feta cheese used in Indian dishes. It is available from United Meat in Fordsburg, Johannesburg. It can be replaced with tofu.

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BEEF AND VEGETABLE CURRY

Serves 4-6

30ml oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

15ml grated fresh ginger

15ml ground cumin

10ml ground coriander

10ml curry powder

5ml turmeric

3ml ground cardamom

2ml cayenne pepper

5ml salt

1.5kg beef shin, cut into cubes

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

375ml beef stock

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

180g green beans, topped and halved

200g cauliflower, cut into florets

200g butternut, cut into cubes

30ml chutney

10ml garam masala

Tomato salsa

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 red onion, finely diced

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced

30ml chopped coriander

30ml olive oil

15ml lime juice

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.

Fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, spices and salt and fry until fragrant. Add the beef and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes, until browned. Add the chilli, tomatoes and beef stock.

Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1-2 hours, until the meat is tender. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and add the vegetables. Cook for 20 minutes, until they are soft.

Stir in the chutney and garam masala. Check seasoning.

Serve with salsa and basmati rice.

SALSA: Combine all the ingredients and mix.

Angela Day. The Star