- 1tbsp cumin seeds
- 1tbsp coriander seeds
- 10 cardamoms
- 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 6 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil - or other neutral-flavoured oil
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 400mls coconut milk
- Small handful of curry leaves
- 2 tsp tamarind paste
- 16 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and cores removed
- 2 branches fresh green peppercorns
- A tsp or two of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes
- 6-7 healthy sprigs coriander
Lemon Pilau Rice
- 40g butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 200g basmati rice [I always use Tilda and don't wash it]
- 320g water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small lemon, zest removed with a potato peeler in thin strips and the juice squeezed into a small jug
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- A small knob of extra butter
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and grated
- 1 tsp salt
- 300g plain yoghurt [not Greek]
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1 heaped tbsp chopped mint
- Using a frying pan, lightly toast the first 7 whole spices until aromatic; take care that they don't scorch, however.
- Heat the oil in a wide and shallow pan and add the whole spices. Fry for a couple of minutes over a moderate heat then add the turmeric and salt.
- Pour in the coconut milk, curry leaves and stir in the tamarind paste. Bring up to a simmer and allow to quietly cook for about 15 minutes.
- Now, using a stick blender, blitz the mixture for a few seconds, just to break up the spices (any longer and the spices will fall through the sieve). Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and return it to the [washed up] pot.
- Remove the peppercorns from their branches and add 1 tbsp of them to the sauce, then return to a low heat. Core the tomatoes and then submerge in a bowl of boiling water to loosen the skins. Drain, and then carefully remove the skins.
- Put the tomatoes into the sauce removed core side down. Allow the tomatoes to simmer in the sauce until softened and also that the sauce has reduced and become a touch thicker; about 15-20 minutes. Finally, taste the sauce to see if it needs a touch of sugar or more salt. Add the chopped coriander leaves when you are ready to serve.
Lemon Pilau Rice:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
- Melt the butter in a roomy pot that also has a tight fitting lid. Add the onion and cook gently until lightly golden.
- Tip in the rice and stir around a bit in the butter and onion until well coated. Finely cut the strips of lemon zest into small slivers and stir into the pot.
- Pour in the water, season with a little salt and pepper and add the bay leaf whole. Bring to a simmer. Once the rice is simmering, put on the lid and slide into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, don't lift off the lid, and leave to sit for 5 minutes. Now take off the lid, fluff up the rice with a fork while also pouring in the lemon juice. Lay a tea towel over the pan and then clamp the lid on tight. Leave be for another 5 minutes; this allows the rice to steam, which will then be absorbed by the towel.
- Finally, remove the lid and towel - wonderful fragrant niff now emanating - and stir in the knob of butter to glisten the rice.
- Coarsely grate the cucumbers and sprinkle over the salt. Mix well, put into a colander and suspend over a deep bowl. Leave to soak and drip for about 30 minutes - or a bit longer, it matters not.
- Manually, squeeze out excess moisture from the cucumber, then place it in a bowl and mix in the yoghurt, garlic, chilli and mint. Decant into a serving dish and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.