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Lesley Waters - Cook Dorset!

PUBLISHED: 10:59 04 December 2013 | UPDATED: 11:05 04 December 2013

Madras butter beef curry

Madras butter beef curry

Archant

It may come as no surprise to you to know that - I love to cook. I love to think about food, write about food, eat food and cook food. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to spend my life cooking my favourite foods, for such a lot of people, in so many different places.

Mostly its relaxing, (sometimes a bit of a challenge!), but ultimately it’s always a pleasure. In amongst it all my favourite cooking is still for my family and friends. The sheer pleasure of placing a delicious dish in front of a loved one and seeing their excitement and anticipation of the forthcoming meal is unbeatable. And what can be better than a table groaning with dishes ready for the hungry onslaught of adults and children who have gathered to talk, eat and laugh.

On occasions like these, social dishes designed to be self-served always work the best. It means that each person can take as much or as little as they wish, hopefully covering all tastes the food contributes to, rather than dominating the conviviality around the table. Each family has their favourite meals and ‘chez moi’ we love a bit of spice. So when feeding a gathering, a curry is often my dish of choice, along with lots of tasty accompaniments on the side (which, by the way, are always the biggest hit with any young children at the table!) The banana and lime relish is a must, as are fluffy naan breads, crispy poppadams, and cool minty, yoghurt raita. And of course curry style dishes are great made ahead, allowing the flavours to mingle and develop, so that means that you, the trusty cook, are free to join in the fun with everyone else.

So, what are you waiting for? Issue the invites, cook up your family favourites, then sit back, relax, watch and enjoy. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.

Spicy Beef Curry, Serves 4

900g lean braising (chuck and blade) or stewing (shin and leg) steak, cut into 5cm cubes

3 tbsps sunflower oil

2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 x 5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2 tbsps sun-dried tomato paste

2 tbsps Madras curry paste or similar

200ml coconut milk

200mls water

2 small cinnamon sticks

1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped

fresh coconut shavings, to garnish (optional)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 3 /170°C / 325°F. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan. Brown the meat in batches then transfer to a large heatproof casserole dish.

2 In the same frying pan heat the remaining oil and cook the onion over a low heat for 15-20 minutes or until softened but not coloured. (This will be helped by covering the pan with a cartouche and lid). Add the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook for a further 5-6 minutes until the onions are lightly browned.

3 Transfer to a food processor or mini blender and process until smooth. Return to the casserole dish and add the remaining ingredients except the coriander and coconut shavings.

4 Bring to the boil, cover and transfer to the oven for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally. Before serving, remove the cinnamon sticks, then garnish with the freshly chopped coriander and coconut shavings and serve with basmati rice.

***

Two fruity relishes…

Banana, lime and chilli relish

2 ripe bananas, chopped; 2 tbsps unsweetened desiccated coconut;1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped; grated rind and juice 1 lime;

black pepper to season

Simply combine all the ingredients together. Spoon into a dish and serve.

Onion, orange and coriander relish

2 large oranges, peeled, pith removed and roughly chopped; 2 red onions, chopped finely; 2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped; ½ tablespoon virgin olive oil;salt and black pepper

Place the orange with all its juices in a bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste. Allow the orange relish to stand covered for 30 minutes before serving.

***

Butter baked rice with bay, serves 3-4

1 large onion, chopped

55g (2oz) butter

225g (8oz) long grain rice

450mls (3/4 pint) hot vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/180c/375f.

2. In a large oven and hob proof pan gently heat the butter. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Stir in the rice and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the hot stock, add the bay leaf and season. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice cooked.

3. To serve, stir the parsley through the rice and serve at once.

***

Naan Breads, Makes 8

450g (1lb) plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 x 7g sachet easy-blend yeast

180mls (6floz) warm milk

60mls (2 1/2floz) warm water

1 teaspoon honey

4 tablespoons natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

Method

1. In a large bowl mix together the flour and salt. Add the easy blend yeast and stir in well.

2. In a jug mix together the milk, water and honey. Pour into the bowl, along with the yoghurt and oil and bring together to form a soft, wet dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approx. 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place for 1½ -2 hours.

4. After proving, knead the dough again to ‘knock it back’ and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a round or teardrop shape approx. 6mm (1/4 inch) thick.

5. Lightly dust 2 baking trays with flour and place the naans on the trays 2.5cm apart. Cover with a cloth and leave to prove for a further 20 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the grill to a medium setting and grill the naans for 3-4 minutes each side or until lightly browned.

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