... outside my office window on Great Newport Street in the heart of London's Covent Garden it is complete and utter christmas madness... the pretty, twinkling lights and festive music wafting in from the many shops and restaurants beneath us do very little to calm to frenzied behaviour of those still on the seasonal hunt and when you dare to step outside you have to know which way you're going to walk before you join the stream of crazy folk for fear of being swept in the maelstrom of wrong direction...
... and even though we're in the heart of this christmas shopping city i've done all but one bit of shopping on-line this year as we've been that busy i've barely had time to leave the office... mind you, all the gifts have been sent to the cottage so lord only knows if they've been delivered, where they've been delivered and if not, whether I still have time to go and pick them up from wherever they've been abandoned... i'm hoping my dear neighbour Tracey has taken them inside for me... if she hasn't then anyone passing the cottage could have a good rummage through the garden shed for a stack of goodies and not have to do any shopping of their own... probably shouldn't be posting this information on-line but it's all too late now!
mushroom, cauliflower and potato jalfreze with homemade naan
well yes, it's the countdown to christmas and a curry is possibly the last thing on your minds right now but I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all the festive madness this week so i thought a nice, simple vegetarian curry was the way to go before even thinking about prepping for the big day, plus I think it's nice to totally push against the oncoming flow of roasting turkey and buttery flavours with something strong and spicy... this curry would work with any collection of vegetables, I happened to have mushrooms, cauliflowers and potatoes in the fridge...
I was recently sent some very interesting Holy Lama Spice Drops to review... the idea behind the product is that the little droppers contain highly-concentrated extracts of the spices which add an immediate spice infusion to your cooking... one drop is equivalent to 1 teaspoon... I was slightly wary at first but the product is totally natural and has a three year shelf life which is always good... they also do a range of concentrated teas that you drop into hot water or milk...
for the jalfrezi
1 medium onion - finely chopped
1 large box of chestnut mushrooms (or any mushrooms that are firm and meaty) - cut into quarters
1 medium cauliflower - divided into florets
6 charlotte or small potatoes cut into quarters
3 garlic cloves crushed (or 3 drops of spice drops)
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger - thinly chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried coriander
1 tsp garam masala (or one drop of spice drops)
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 pint good quality veg stock
for the naan (makes 6 to 8)
400g plain flour
1 tsp fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili flakes
place the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl
dry-fry the spices in a pan for about 3 mins until beginning to warm through, then remove from the heat and add to the bowl along with the water and about 3 tablespoons oil
bring together in the bowl and then tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for roughly 10 mins or until smooth... place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and set aside until doubled in size
whilst the naan is proving you can make your jalfrezi by lightly sauteing the onions in a little olive oil and butter and then when they're nearly soft add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute or two more, then add all the spices and stir into the onions and let the whole thing sweat together for about 5 mins until the aromas become quite intense as which point you can add the vegetables and stir together
place a lid on the pan and let them sweat for about 10 minutes before adding the tomato and the stock, place the lid back on and turn the heat low and let the whole thing simmer away for at least an hour
meanwhile knock back the naan and divide into 6 or 8 pieces and roll into balls
heat a pan and add a little oil then flatten out a ball of dough into a rough oval shape and fry in the pan for about 4 mins on both sides... you should see the naan puff up a little and I think it's also nice to get nicely dark in places but this is entirely up to you
serve immediately, eat and of course, enjoy!