Bloke in the Kitchen. Curry and… not necessarily rice

kitchen

Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking

Rice, pappadums, nan bread, chapattis etc.

In many countries, including the UK, it is assumed that you have rice with your curry, and indeed it goes perfectly.

Long grain rice, that is. The small stuff is for rice pudding. Get ordinary long grain, or Basmati if you like and are prepared to pay a bit more.

rice 3
Neat pile of rice but messy plate. A professional would wipe round the edge with a cloth to make it look better

METHOD

Cook it according to the directions on the pack. Or (if for instance you have been at the pre-dinner drinks and can’t focus, or have already thrown the bag away) use twice as much water as rice, bring to the boil, turn down to simmer with the lid on the pan at a jaunty angle.

Give it 10 minutes or so and check it. If the rice is dry but not cooked, add more water (boil some in a kettle to speed up the process). If it’s cooked but still wet, put it in a sieve and drain it.

If using wholegrain (brown) rice, add more water because it takes longer to cook.

If using parboiled rice, that means part-boiled, so it’s partly done already and will cook more quickly.

COWBOY Q&A 1

Why do you not put the lid on the pan properly?

Because if you do it will froth up and boil over, making a mess on the stove and smelling like you’ve set fire to your underpants.

COWBOY Q&A 2

What if it boils dry while I’m not looking?

If it has only just happened, scrape as much of the loose stuff off as possible and hope it’s enough. Smell and taste it to see that it doesn’t smell/taste burnt. If it does, throw it away and start again – and pay more attention next time, if that’s not too much to ask. But then again, it’s your problem. Do what you like. Just don’t come running to me etc. etc.

BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE RICE

All the other stuff you can buy ready-made. Pappadums (or poppadoms, or… spelt all sorts of ways) are often served as a kind of appetizer, with dips (chutney, tomato salsa, whatever, really – buy some appropriate ones ready-made). But you don’t usually use pappadums as the main bulk/stodge/fibre/carbohydrate for the meal – you need something more substantial.

Nan (naan) bread, chapattis etc. are used in their country of origin instead of rice, not in addition to it. But if you want to have them in addition, you’re in charge. Just remember it’s like having a western meal with potatoes plus bread plus pasta etc. Do you really need that?

nan bread
People who call their grandma Nan probably add an a here, making this naan bread

COWBOY TIP

If you don’t have any rice, having burnt it all, and also have no nan bread etc, having forgotten to buy it or ruined that too, do some mashed potato. To make it look like you meant it, put a helping on the plate, make a hole in the middle, smooth the outer edges into a circle and put the curry in the hole. Swear blind you serve it like this all the time because they do it in some remote area of the Himalayas, then listen to the happy grunts as people agree that it really works. Because it does.

 

What drinks go well with curry?

Beer is the popular choice because people appreciate the soothing qualities of all the water it contains. And it doesn’t have a subtle flavor that your spices will destroy (discerning beer drinkers may disagree).

If your curry is mild in terms of chilli, by all means wheel out the wine of your choice. If the curry is fiery, don’t waste your money – you won’t be able to savour it because the curry will have blasted your taste buds to hell anyway.

 

 

 

Bloke in the Kitchen. Chilli con carne (AKA chilli)

kitchen

Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking

Ah, chilli con carne. Sounds quite fancy, doesn’t it?

Chili pepper
All chillies are hot but some are hotter than others, so be careful. Rule of thumb: small is deadly

Chilli is the hot stuff. It comes as fresh peppers, dried and chopped or – stroke of luck for us – as powder. GET SOME (hot, not mild -– if it’s too hot, use less next time). Carne is Spanish for meat. ALWAYS HAVE SOME MINCE IN THE FREEZER. Beef or lamb (you see turkey sometimes but it’s got a very strong flavour and can take things over, so it’s not the best option).

This recipe makes enough for today and three or four portions to freeze.

In the time it takes Chelsea to go 2-0 up against Barcelona, you’ll have enough chilli to last most of the week.

INGREDIENTS

An onion.

Garlic if you like.

Cooking oil (sunflower maybe – nothing fancy)

A pack of minced beef or lamb, fresh or frozen

1 tin chopped tomatoes (one of those cans about 6″ tall)

1 small tin condensed tomato soup (optional)

2 tins red kidney beans

Stock cube (beef, lamb or chicken)

Chilli powder

Long grain rice – wholegrain (brown) or white

METHOD

Defrost the mince if it’s frozen.

Cut the onion in half, lay the halves flat side down and cut one way, then crossways, until you have little fragments. Heat a little oil in a biggish pan (this stuff may spit, even when you’ve turned the heat down later). Fry the onions over a medium heat until translucent (if they go brown it’s not the end of the world). Mince, crush or chop a garlic clove or two , add it and fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the mince and break it up with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle chilli powder on the meat (about a tablespoon to start, and check later to see if you can handle some more). When the meat is cooked (it goes from the pink of raw flesh to a kind of grey/brown), splosh in a bit of red wine (quarter of a glass or so) and mix it up.

Add the tomatoes, tomato soup if you’re using it, and beans.  Turn heat down and let it bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try a bit and add what you think: tomato relish or chutney, more wine, Worcestershire sauce, reggae reggae sauce, or nothing at all: it’s your dish). Keep it on a low heat while you do the rice. The longer you cook it (gently) the smoother and richer it will be, but if you’re in a hurry it will be okay as soon as the rice is done.

Chilli dish
And it should look something like this

FOR THE RICE

Pour some into a pan and cover with cold water (for two people, one cup of rice, two cups of water, something like that). Bring to the boil, cover (with lid not closed, but at a slight angle to allow steam to escape), turn down heat and cook gently until all or most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Strain if necessary.

COWBOY TIP: If it’s not thick enough, stir in some porridge oats or even crush some bran flakes and use them, but nothing too sweet or flavoured. The aim is to thicken, not alter the taste.