Thursday 22 December 2011

A Christmas Curry

I seem to have overindulged on Christmas Cooking Specials this year.  Thankfully, I have always managed to miss them before, too busy dealing with the kids and Christmas and cooking, I suppose.  Yesterday, however I watched what seemed like several hours of Jamie cooking his Christmas eve, day and boxing meals.  And then tonight I somehow managed to watch another three, almost in a row.  Starting with Nigella, moving on the Nigel Slater and finishing with Kirsty.  I think I have seen enough Christmas cooking to put me off the meal for the rest of the year and there is still two days to go the actual event.  

I do find all these programs strangely addictive but Jamie just seems a bit too spoilt now, in his vast mansion in Essex, surrounded by stunning countryside and his beautiful walled garden and a kitchen twice the size of mine, in lean-to in one of his many out-houses.  I know it is not the season to feel jealous, but I do!  In fact, as the program drew to an end and he was cooking up something in one of his many  greenhouses, scattered around his estate, for the first time ever I simply couldn't take any more, turned it off and went to bed.  

As for Nigella, I have missed most of her previous programs so I can't be sure but I got a feeling that she has been re-housed.  I'm sure her previous set could have passed for a stunning town house in Belgravia but she seems to have down-marketed, to a still very large terraced house in possibly Kilburn.  I don't know who lives there, but I am sure she certainly doesn't.   I wondered whether this was a recognition from BBC 2, that endlessly watching programs about super-rich "chefs" is just getting a bit sickening.  

Of course that is the trouble with these lifestyle cookery programs.  We buy into the whole perfect dream and believe that if we make Nigella's Chilli Jam, our lives will somehow be transformed into her perfect one; that we too will be cabbing round the West End, looking beautiful and drinking Expresso in Italian coffee shops, after a late boozy night out at yet another glamorous party, before effortlessly entertaining for some influential and impotant friends at home, instead of the reality which is being stuck at home, watching T.V.

As for Nigel Slater, I can't believe, in this day and age that the BBC can't be a little more honest about his lifestyle.  Why are there these awful shots of, clearly, someone else's family inserted into the program every fiveteen minutes.  Can't you have Christmas if you are gay.  Are you not allowed to celebrate if you don't have a wife and kids.

Anyway, as I said, I now feel so inundated by this Christmas cooking overkill that I decided to make something a bit different.  A Christmas curry.  This is not as mad as it may seem.  With it's blend of delicious spices; ginger, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, chilli and bay, it really is as seasonal as mulled wine.  It is infact a classic Massaman Thai curry and very delicious.  

Massaman Curry
This recipe comes for Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey which I have adapted for the slow-cooker but can just as easily be made in a casserole.
1.5kg blade or chuck steak (cut into 5cm chunks)
2 tins coconut milk
2 cinnamon sticks
300g waxy new potatoes (such as Charlotte)
8 shallots
1 quantity Thai massaman curry paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Tamarind
1 tbsp palm sugar
75g roasted peanuts
Handful of Thai sweet basil leaves (optional)

Cut the potatoes into even size chunks. Peel the shallots.  Leave them whole, if they are not too large. Fry the beef  in a frying pan in small batches in vegetable oil, until brown on all sides. Drain of excess oil and tip into the slow cooker.  Add the shallots and potatoes to the slow-cooker. Pour off any excess oil from the frying pan add the curry paste and briefly fry.  Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. As soon as it is boiling, remove and pour over the meat in the slow-cooker. Add the Tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce and cinnamon sticks.  Cover and cook for 10 hours on slow or 6 hours on high. If you do not have a slow-cooker, cook slowly on the stove top.  Make sure you have a heavy bottomed saucepan and that you check often to make sure that it does not catch.  When meltingly tender, stir in the peanuts, scatter over the basil if using and serve.

Massaman curry paste
15 dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tbsp cumin seeds, ground
1 stick cinnamon, ground
1 tbsp cardamom seeds
3 cloves, ground
5 peppercorns, ground
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 tbsp Tamarind
1 heaped tsp shrimp paste
1 - 2 sticks lemongrass, chopped
1 large knob of ginger, chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce

Soak the chillies in water for 10 minutes and then de- seed.  Dry-fry the dry spices in a wok to release the flavours and then grind to a powder in a coffee grinder. Add all the other ingredients and grind or blitz to a fine paste with a hand blender.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months.

Sweet Heat is being hosted by Lemon Clouds and Lemon Drops this month with a Christmas Theme.  I thought this spicy Christmas curry was worth an entry.


  1. I love the idea of a Christmas curry and this looks so good!

    Thank you for taking part in this month's Sweet Heat Challenge - I hope you had a lovely Christmas : )

  2. I know exactly how you feel about tv chefs and overdosing on Christmas cooking shows. I think this recipe is a great antidote but still has the lovely spices in.

  3. I didn't watch any foodie tv this Christmas. These tv "chefs" annoy me all year round - it's all about shifting books and other merchandise and I get cross about it. The last one I watched was Lorraine Pascale and her ridiculous icecream bombe that used several tubs of expensive icecream and no skill or anything of interest at all!
    Your curry looks delicious!
    Happy new year :o)


I love to hear from you. Thank you so much for any messages.