Cookbook 115: Curry: Fragrant dishes from India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia

I bought Curry: Fragrant dishes from India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia after flipping through my sister’s copy when I was visiting her for lunch.  It looked interesting, I like curries, and my sister said that the recipes she’d made from it were quite tasty.  So of course I wanted to try it out.

I was somewhat ambitious in my meal selection, but I thought I had it all planned out so that we’d have the right amount of time to prepare everything.  It was pretty much all ready on time, but it wasn’t all good.  Some of this might have been me hurrying, but at least one of the recipes actively let me down when I was making it.  Also, the food wasn’t as tasty as it could have been, I expected more flavour, quite a few of the dishes were very mild.  That said, we had left over lamb curry so I froze that and we had it again for dinner last night – and the chilli had clearly strengthened between when I made it and when I defrosted, reheated and than ate it.  It was a far less mild dish.

Because one of the dishes failed so spectacularly (it tasted good, but it really didn’t work) I will only give this book 3 out or 5 stars.

Pitod Ka Saag (Chickpea flour dumplings in yoghurt sauce)


  • 750g plain Greek-style yoghurt
  • 100g chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground garam masala
  • 2.5cm piece fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • oil for frying

Yoghurt sauce

  • 2 tbsp corn oil
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 200g plain Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • salt and sugar as needed
  • 2 green chillies, stalk removed and slit into 4 pirece
  • 1cm piece fresh root ginger, julienned
  • 20g coriander leaves, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. First make the dumplings.  Whisk the yoghurt and 500ml of water with the chickpea flour, salt, turmeric, sugar, garam masala and ginger in a bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Heat the ghee in a heavy pan, add the fennel seeds and saute briefly, then add the asafoetida and stir for 30 seconds.  As the flavours are released, add the yoghurt mix and cook, stirring constantly, for 20 – 25 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and acquires the consistency of a soft dough.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a greased 15cm square try or tin.  Chilli in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until set like a cake.
  3. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat and add the asafoetida, cumin and cloves.  When they begin to crackle, add the onion and cook 5 – 8 minutes or until soft.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the yoghurt with the ground coriander, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt.  Add to the onions, stirring constantly, and keep stirring as the mixture comes to the boil again, to prevent the yoghurt from splitting.  Once boiling add the green chillies and 200ml of water.  Bring back to the boil, then cook for about 5 minutes.  Check the seasoning and add salt and sugar to balance the taste, if required.  Finish with the fresh ginger, coriander and lemon juice.  Keep hot.
  5. Cut the dumpling cake into 2.5cm squares.  Heat some oil in a frying pan and, when hot, add the dumplings a few at a time.  Fry for a couple of minutes, until the dumplings have a crust.  Serve on top of the hot sauce, or mix into the sauce and bring to a simmer before serving.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This was a complete disaster.  It tasted great, but as you can see from the photo, the dumplings turned into goo.  Tasty goo, but goo nonetheless.  There is a huge lack of guidance about how hot things should be cooked at in this recipe.  When making the dumplings there is no guidance on how hot the dumpling mixture should be prepared at.  Consequently our goo didn’t set into a cake and remained goo.

Mutter Pulao


  • 400g Basmati rice
  • 75g ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cinnamon leaf or bay leaf
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 100g frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 10g mint leaves, shredded
  • 10g coriander leaves, chopped


  1. Wash the rice in cold running water, then soak in cold water for 20 – 25 minutes.
  2. Heat the ghee in a thick-bottomed casserole over a moderate heat and add the whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, leaf, cardamom, cinnamon stick).  When they crackle, add the sliced onions and saute until they are golden brown.  Add the peas and saute for 2 – 3 minutes.  Pour in 800ml water.  Add the salt, cover and bring to the boil.
  3. Drain the soaked rice and add to the casserole.  Cover again and bring back to the boil.  Cook, coveted, for 8 – 10 minutes over a moderately high heat.  From time to time remove the lid and gently stir the rice, keeping in mind that too much handling can break the rice grains.
  4. When the water is nearly all absorbed and you can see small holes on the surface of the rice, sprinkle over the mint and the coriander.  Cover the casserole tightly and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for a further 10 minutes.  Alternatively, finish cooking the rice in a preheated 130C oven for 10 minutes.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This was the most successful recipe of the night. Part of that is because the instructions on how hot the dish should be cooked at are very clear.  The other part is that this dish isn’t so complicated to cook. It was also quite tasty.
  • We cooked this in a large saucepan.  You don’t need to use a casserole.

Kizhangu Payaru Stew (Potato and green bean stew)


  • 2bsp vegetable oil
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • a few curry leaves
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 300g potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges or cubes
  • 100g green beans (fresh or frozen), cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • pinch of black peppercorns


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the mustard seeds.  When they begin to pop, add the dried chillies and curry leaves and saute for 2 minutes.  Stir in the onions and cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft.
  2. Stir in the coriander, garam masala, turmeric and chilli powder.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and mix well, then cook over a gentle heat for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add the green beans and salt to taste.  Cook for another minute, then reduce the heat to very low.  Pour in the coconut milk and 100ml or water.  Stir well to combine.  Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Garnish with the black pepper and serve hot.

Notes on this recipe:

  • As the recipe doesn’t say how big to chop the potato pieces, it will probably take longer than 20 minutes for the potato to cook, if like me you didn’t cut them into small pieces.
  • This dish wasn’t hugely exciting, but then again it wasn’t awful either.

Palak gosht (Spinach and lamb curry)


  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt
  • 500g boned leg of lamb, cut into small pieces
  • 500g fresh spinach or well-drained frozen spinach

To garnish:

  • chopped green chillies
  • slivers of fresh root ginger


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions and cook until slightly browned.  Add the garlic paste and tomatoes and stir for a minute.  Add the chilli powder, turmeric, cumin seeds and salt to taste and stir.  If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to prevent the mixture from catching on the bottom of the pan and burning.  Stir until the oil separates out.
  2. Add the lamb pieces with 350 – 500ml of water.  Put the lid on and leave to cook on a moderately low heat for 30 – 40 minutes or until the lamb is 80% cooked.  Add the spinach and continue cooking, cover for 12 – 15 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.
  3. Remove the lid and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until excess liquid has evaporated and the oil separates out.  Garnish with chopped green chillies and slivers of ginger, and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I can’t remember what amount of water I went with, but I recommend going with the lower of the two amounts.  This recipe is quite watery.
  • When we first made it, it was very very mild.  On reheating it after the left overs being frozen, it was quite spicy.  Chillies are weird.  I liked this, it was tasty.


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