I have just returned from the Good Food and Wine Show in Durban, and I have to say it was a wonderful event and I had a fabulous time interacting with friends and fans and look forward to my return. Durban is where I was born and it holds such wonderful memories for me.
Growing up in Durban, there was Indian food all around me. An Indian family lived next door to us and became very good friends, and there were several Indian traders in our neighbourhood. So knowing the cuisine and loving it, whenever I smell Indian food I want to eat it straightaway.
Miriam and her husband Omar ran a little greengrocer on the corner of the street where I lived. They started very early in the day and ended late, and took all their meals at the back of the store, where Miriam had set up a small space with a table and a two-plate stove. She had two young sons and her oldest son, Imran, played with my son Wade. He spent most of his time with me while they worked and my reward was cooking alongside Miriam a few times a week.
I loved watching and learning from Miriam as she enveloped my kitchen with aromas that filled my head and mouth with a longing to taste India for real.
She taught the magic of tempering and blending spices that would transform the simplest of ingredients into the most mouth-wateringly delicious dishes.
She taught that there was rice other than long-grain; I was introduced to basmati and she showed me how to cook it, plain or infused with saffron and cumin, curry leaves and coriander. She took plain yoghurt to new heights for me by stirring in toasted cumin, freshly chopped chillies, mint or coriander, grated carrots or cucumber to serve beside a dish. And she taught me that a curry could be made from vegetables and pulses and not just from meat alone.
Here’s to you, Miriam. Thank you for all you imparted on me.
Lamb, Brinjal and Butter Bean Curry
Serves 4 to 6
I just love the silky flesh of brinjals. I also make this curry with minced beef and serve it with roti, so everyone gets to make their own Indian wrap.
Ingredients for the Curry:
2 long, large, firm brinjals, cubed
3 Tbs vegetable oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3 large onions, thinly sliced
5 cm piece fresh ginger, grated
15 ml coriander seeds, toasted and ground
15 ml cumin seeds, toasted and ground
5 cardamom pods, toasted and ground
5 ml turmeric
10 ml chilli powder
1 fresh green chilli, slit
1.5 kg lean cubed lamb or lamb knuckle
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt, to taste
About 1 ½ cups boiling water
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups cooked butter beans
10 curry leaves (optional)
3 Tbs chopped fresh coriander
Ingredients for the Raita:
2 cups thick Greek yogurt
1 medium English cucumber, washed
1 tsp roasted ground cumin
1 Tbs chopped fresh mint
1 Tbs chopped fresh coriander
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
To make the curry, salt the Brinjal cubes and let them sweat for 20 minutes.
Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and brown the brinjals lightly – don’t cook them completely. Set aside till needed.
Heat the butter and one tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and let them cook gently till they reduce down to two-thirds of their original size. Add a few drops of water if need be to stop them from burning.
Now stir in the ginger, ground coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric and chilli powder, and cook stirring for a few minutes to release the fragrance of the spices, adding a few spoonful’s of warm water at a time to stop them from burning.
Stir in the fresh chilli and lamb, and cook with spices for 5 minutes. Don’t let it stick. Add the tomatoes and garlic, season with salt and cover with a lid, simmering for 20 minutes. Lift the lid and add the boiling water, just enough to cover the lamb, and stir in the cinnamon. Simmer till the lamb is tender; about 50 to 60 minutes.
While the curry is simmering away, make the raita. Place the yogurt in a bowl. Peel half of the cucumber and chop very finely. Dice the other half (with the skin on) and stir all the cucumber into the yoghurt with the cumin, mint, coriander and lemon juice. Season with salt and add a little more cumin if you like. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
Just before you are ready to serve, add the beans, brinjals and curry leaves to the lamb, and cook till warmed through. Stir in the fresh coriander and serve with roti or steamed rice, and the cucumber and mint raita.
Tip: Cook the onions nice and slow till they cook right down. The sugars cook out of them this way, giving you an amazing curry.
© Jenny Morris 2014 -2016