My mother is an incredible cook. And, I know we all say that, because there really are just certain dishes that no matter how hard we try, we just cannot get it quite like Mum used to make.
In my instance, it’s not just about her signature dishes, but really her approach to cooking & food that left an impression on me & why I believe she is such a whizz in the kitchen.
Besides her expert-level nose for spices, the most important lessons I’ve learnt from her over the years are:
- Following a prescriptive recipe doesn’t allow you to experiment with flavour on your own. I never saw my mother open a recipe book to cook, ever. Although I remember many recipes cobbled together in an old book, in her handwriting, I never saw her use one. Even trying to get this curry recipe out of her, was like pulling teeth (so results may vary) She always says, “I cook by taste, my child. I can’t be remembering exactly how much I’m putting in…!” SMH, this woman, lol!
- She has always had a “do-to-learn” approach to cooking. Now don’t be fooled guys – my mother worked full time. It’s not like she was at home waiting to coach me through a cooking lesson when I got home from school.In fact, it was more like…a quick 3pm phone call to the house, to make sure my bothers and I weren’t killing each other, with some loose instructions on how to “put the rice on” and “make the mince” latched on to the backend of the conversation.
Needless to say, it took many (many…) pots of burnt rice for me to learn how to make the perfect pot, LOL.
- She made sure she always bought the best quality ingredients she could afford. This was quite a feat in the 90’s and early 00’s – when almost everything came in a box with about a gazillion unpronounceable words in the ingredients list.
- She was, and still is, a firm believer in fast, tasty and healthy food. Because she knows, life is too short to be standing over a stove all day! And healthy food, doesn’t have to be boring or complicated.This “foodology” brought us some of tastiest most nutritious food growing up – where veggies were all super brightly coloured, never smothered in butter, cheese or sugar and just the right kind of al dente – progressive, even by today’s standards!
A lesson I have successfully carried into my own home 🙂
And so, to honour my mommy, here is a version of her very famous curry – No seriously, people put in requests for this stuff!
It will warm you up from the inside out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you – this baby is a burner, and NOT for the faint hearted (or weak stomached) 🙂
Some Cherol tips before we begin:
- Making this the night before you intend to serve it is not a bad idea – the curry flavours will deepen even more for a richer taste – so flippin’ good! If you decide to do this, bring the pot up to a slow reheat on the stove top before serving.
- To keep the overall meal lower in carbs, especially because curry can be quiet rich, Cherol uses canned butter beans in a tomato sauce, instead of potatoes, for a less heavy, but equally as filling, alternative.
- A cast iron pot works best for this recipe.
- Trying to get the best quality meat is important. Cherol’s original recipe uses Lamb. Her first choice is Woolworths free range Lamb knuckle. Alternatively, Checkers’ free range stewing Lamb is a good second, but be sure to try and get a pack with as little visible fatty parts as possible.
My Way: I have opted to use chicken, for a lighter curry that can be whipped up in shorter timeframe.
- Try to source your curry powder & other spices from a legitimate Indian spice provider. If you can’t get to Durban to get some Gorima’s Mix (a real spice brand, I kid you not), try your local neighbourhood market. Cherol’s favourite is Durbanville Market. The authentic mixes usually don’t have labels on them, so look out for the clear plastic bags (probably with an Indian aunties name on it 😉 )
Alternatively, good-ol’ Rajah (a mix of Hot and All-in-One) is still her pick from the conventional grocery isle shelf.
- Cherol often serves her curry with a basmati or wild brown rice.
My Way: I’ve done a cauli-mash to accompany this version.
Right, let’s get cracking…
Total cooking time: 25 – 35mins (40 – 50mins, if you’re making Lamb), regularly checking in.
8x packs Free Range Chicken breasts
A half thumb of Ginger
3 larger cloves of Garlic, crushed
Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
1x yellow Onion, cubed
1x sachet of Woolworths liquid chicken stock. This will ensure you don’t need salt or pepper
Half glass of Red Wine
1 can Butter Beans in tomato sauce.
Half a cup water
The spice mix:
1 and a Half Tbs Gorima’s Leaf Masala Mix. If you’re using Rajah, use 2x Tbs
Half a level tsp Cumin
1 level tsp Gara Masala
For the cauli-mash:
1x Full head of cauliflower. Or a bag of already chopped cauli-pieces
1x Tbs salted butter
1x tsp dried Garlic Flakes
A bit of fresh Coriander
Half a glass of Coconut Milk
Set the pot on the stove at a medium heat. Pour a good glug of olive oil into the pot, coating the bottom of the pot & empty the stock liquid into the pot.
Dice your onions, peel & grate your ginger, and crush your garlic cloves with the back of your knife. Add into the pot.
Roughly chop 1 sprig of fresh mint & add to the pot as well. Let that all sweat for a few minutes.
Add all the spices to the pot now, and mix through with the onions – allowing the spices to warm & the aroma’s to come through
Dice the chicken into cubes.
Add the can of beans. Add the meat. Add the wine, and the water. The wine will tenderize the meat as you cook, and the sugars in the wine, will sweeten up the curry a bit.
Mix through all the ingredients in the pot, thoroughly and turn down the heat of to low.
Place the lid on pot & let it go for a good 30mins.
Checking in and tasting regularly.
After about 30mins or until the meat is cooked through, remove the curry from the stove, and let it cool for another 30mins or just before serving. Chop the coriander & sprinkle over the curry before serving.
For the mash, if using a full head of cauliflower:
Grate head of cauliflower into a shallow bowl. Steam in the microwave for about 5-7mins
If using an already bagged version, you can just follow the instructions on the bag.
Once softened, add butter, garlic flakes, coriander & coconut milk to the bowl.
Use a stick blender to mix everything together.
Serve with cauli-mash in a shallow bowl, with a spoon.
If you’re not serving the curry immediately, remove from the stove and place on a grid, where air can flow under the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle the coriander on, once the curry is completely reheated and ready to eat.
Enjoy this with family, over a healthy Sunday Lunch debate 🙂 …Or on the couch watching Netflix on a winter afternoon. You know, whatever you prefer 🙂