SPICES are the key to great flavour and colour, says chef and author Arun Kapil
As a child I was in and out of the kitchen, making rock buns with my Yorkshire mum, Pam, and spicy chickpeas with my Indian dad, Gyan. When I moved to London I worked in restaurant kitchens to supplement my income in the music business, my other passion. I arrived in Ireland to attend the Ballymaloe Cookery School and fell in love with the country and my beautiful wife, Olive. Nurtured by this generous nation I set up my spice company, Green Saffron, and began trading in whole spices with Indian farms, blending flavours galore at my Irish base. I’m a spice specialist, and also very much a home cook. I create recipes based on my favourite foods, never limited by genre, region or country; I just want dishes to be packed full of flavour. With Fresh Spice, I’d like to introduce you to a new way of cooking with spices.
ALOO TIKKI – POTATO FRITTERS WITH SIZZLED TOMATOES
My dad often used to make us fried potato cakes when he got into the kitchen. This is my version.
1 Bring the potatoes to the boil in a saucepan and boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and lightly mash.
2 Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry gently for 3 minutes, then add the ginger and continue cooking until the onion is soft.
3 Add the chillies, garam masala, turmeric, mustard seeds and salt. Stir and cook for 2 minutes more. Set aside and cool to tepid.
4 Add the herbs and mashed potato and mix thoroughly. Divide the potato mix into eight mounds, then form them into evenly sized balls.
5 Add a little more oil to the frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add three or four balls. Gently press them down into chunky patties and cook for about 10 minutes until light brown on each side. Cook all the fritters and serve immediately with sizzled tomatoes (see below).
6 Put a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften without browning.
7 Add the tomatoes, pepper and salt to taste, then turn up the heat and cook fiercely, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn.
8 The tomatoes will release all of their juices. When all the thin liquid has evaporated, add a splash more olive oil, adjust the seasoning and serve hot.
ROAST HERBED SALMON WITH CARDAMOM SAUCE
I use green cardamom to cut through the rich fish and creamy sauce.
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Put a little olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat and cook the shallots for 3 minutes or until they become translucent. Add the garlic, breadcrumbs and a little more olive oil so the crumbs are moist but not wet. Cook gently for 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the heat, then tip into a bowl to cool. Add the Parmesan, 1 teaspoon of the black pepper and the herbs and mix well.
2 Put the fish fillets on a plate, skin-side down. Season with a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper, brush with a little Dijon mustard, then apply the breadcrumb crust until about 5mm thick, pressing the edges with a palette knife.
3 Brush a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray with a little olive oil, season with sea salt and 2 teaspoons of the black pepper and put the fillets on it so that they are evenly spaced. Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 8 minutes or until the crust is only just golden.
4 Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Crush four cardamom pods. Put the cream and smashed cardamom pods in a small pan over a medium heat and bring to a gentle bubble. Cook for 2 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to cool. Strain through a sieve. Remove the seeds from the other two pods and grind to a fine powder.
5 Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer to reduce by half. Add the strained cream and bring to a simmer. Whisking constantly, add the cold butter and bring to boil. As the sauce starts to thicken, whisk in the white pepper and check the seasoning. Serve on warmed plates, with the sauce drizzled around the fillets. Sprinkle with cardamom powder.
PISTACHIO AND ROSE PILAU
This is a gloriously fragrant version of pilau rice.
Serves four to six
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Roast the squash in a roasting tin with the oil for 20-25 minutes until just soft. Set aside.
2 Melt the butter, or a splash of oil, in a flameproof casserole over a gentle heat, then add the onion and sweat for 5 minutes or until soft.
3 Add the rice and channa dhal, then stir for a minute or two, coating all the grains with the melted butter.
4 Pour the stock into the casserole, sprinkle in the turmeric and garam masala and give it a gentle stir.
5 Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and put on a middle shelf in the oven. After 10 to 15 minutes, check to see if all the liquid has been absorbed. If there’s still some remaining, return to the oven for a few more minutes.
6 Remove from the oven, take off the lid, add the salt and fluff gently with a fork. Stir through the butternut squash, pistachio nuts and rose petals. Sprinkle the herbs and a little more garam masala and serve immediately.
• Fresh Spice by Arun Kapil, is published by Pavilion, priced £25