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Guest Post: Vegetable Jalfrezi

May 18, 2011

One of the things I truly love about my mates is how much they love to get involved! You know that if you wanted to move an entire museum of furniture, they’d be there helping – given that there was some sort of beverage related pay. It’s exactly the same when it comes to each other’s passions: if you’re a musician, they will come and listen; a budding actor, they will watch; an aspiring foodie, they will eat! 

It was last April that Koenig suggested that some of our friends had some awesome recipes and so I have started asking some for their recipes. I find it flattering that some let me publish them on here, too!

Koenig and Jim McJim learnt this recipe in Mumbai at a lovely little cookery school and they have raved about it ever since. I was particularly lucky to taste the accumulated knowledge in Wales just a couple of weeks ago when Koenig created his own Chicken Curry with the things he learnt in Mumbai and over the last few months experimenting with flavours of India. I can tell you that this is well worth the effort!

One last thing, Koenig asked to plug the cookery school where this happened, because it was *awesome*! It’s called the Noble Indian Cooking Classes, they don’t have a website, but you can find out everything you need to know here: Lonelyplanet.co.uk.

So, without further ado, may I introduce Koenig’s Vegetable Jalfrezi… 

JimMcJim and I had the chance to have a cooking lesson when in India recently. We were shown several dishes, but the one which I keep coming back to is a vegetable Jalfrezi, as cooked in Udaipur.

You will need:

1/2     tbls Salt
1/2     tbls Curry Powder
1/2     tbls Red Chilli Powder
1/2     tbls Coriander Powder
1/4     tbls Cumin Seeds
1/4     tbls Tumeric
1/4     tbls Garam Masalla.
1       tbls Fenugreek (crushed)
1       Green Chilli
1       Large thumb Fresh Ginger
16      Cloves Garlic
2       Red Onions
1       Stick Cinnammon
3       Small Bay Leaves
3       Large Tomatoes
1       Handful Cashews (soaked in water for at least 1 hour)
1       Handful White Watermelon Seeds (optional, soaked in water for at least 1 hour)
1       Large Paneer (cut into smallish cubes)
2       Small Green Peppers (cut into chunks)
2       Potatoes, Cut thin slices
1       tbls Cream
1       Bunch fresh Coriander

First, we need to prepare some pastes. Almost every recipe we found out there was based in some way on a paste of some description.

1) ‘3G’ Paste: Blend the Green Chilli, Garlic and Ginger together with a hand blender (add water if needed)

2) Onion Paste: Blend the 2 red onions to a fine paste

3) Tomato Paste: Blend the 3 tomatoes (remove any green stalk) to make a smooth paste

4) Watermellon & Cashew Nut Paste: Drain the soaked cashews and watermelon seeds, and blend into a smooth paste, gradually adding water to smooth it out. I’ve not yet found white watermelon seeds in the UK (at least, in any ready supply), so I tend to just use cashew nuts.

Next, we need to deep fry our vegetables. If you’ve not got a deep fryer, heat a large pan about half full with vegetable oil. I tend to deep fry the veg in this order: potatoes, peppers, paneer. Don’t let the oil get too hot when you add the paneer, as is can react fairly violently.. Once all browned, put to one side and allow the oil to drain.

In a large pan or wok, fry the piece of cinnamon, the 3 bay leaves, and the 1/4 spoon cumin seeds for a minute. Then add the onion paste, and continue to cook for a further 3 – 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and continue to cook on a low heat for 4 – 5 minutes. If you’re feeling slightly naughty (which is JimMcJim’s default state) add a spoon of butter.

Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.

Now we have our tomato base, we can add some spice. Add the salt, Curry powder, Red Chilli powder, Coriander powder, Turmeric, Garam Masala and Fenugreek. Add a splash of water – it helps to stop burning the spices, and also distribute the flavour a bit.

Continue to cook for 5 minutes and stir gently.

Next, add the deep fried veg and Paneer, and continue cooking for 10 – 15 minutes.

Lastly, add the watermelon/cashew paste, 1 Spoon of cream and the chopped fresh coriander.

This recipe is as JimMcJim and I remember it. A few words of caution: several ingredients don’t translate particularly well. The chillis used in this recipe are actually very mild. The first time I cooked this I almost blew my mouth off using a ‘normal’ chilli – so exercise caution when you make the initial ‘3G’ paste. Red Chilli powder strength is another variable here – the chilli powder originally used was actually very mild – rich – but mild. British sourced chilli powder doesn’t really compare, so again, exercise caution. You can always add more spice, but pulling it back is basically impossible. If at the end you find it not hot enough to your liking, add Garam Masala and chilli powder in equal quantities. Lastly, Garam Masala is something which is made ‘per household’ in India; the particular blend we used had over 40 spices, so if you can, try and avoid the pre-packaged stuff.

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