|Fijian Goat Curry|
|Fijian Pea and Courgette Dhal|
My new book, Curries and Spicy Dishes for your Slow Cooker is available in the shops from today.
Warming, delicious and deeply satisfying, slow cooked soups and stews feature in cuisines around the world. The epitome of comfort food, I love slow cooked dishes, but until I began writing this book I was not particularly a great fan of the slow cooker. I’ve owned one for decades and I’ve found it to be very useful at times but it was not one of my regularly used appliances. I’m not quite sure why, but my perception was that the cooking environment in a slow cooker was not the best for many of the slow cooked dishes that I’ve cooked regularly over the years. Well all that’s changed. True, I’ve had to modify recipes and there has been a bit of trial and error to get the best results, but I now find myself using the slow cooker almost daily. It is so convenient and easy; a few minutes of preparation at the beginning of a busy day and the slow cooker delivers a perfectly cooked meal with little additional time, care or effort.
Fijian cuisine is a delicious fusion of the robust spicy flavours of India with local foods like coconut, fish, sweet potatoes and cassava. Cooking styles are simpler compared to Indian cooking methods, with everything being more or less ‘thrown together’ rather than the frying of ingredients layer by layer typical of Indian cooking – perfect for easy slow cooker meals. These two dishes are particularly quick and easy to prepare.
Of course, if you don't have a slow cooker they can be simmered on the stove.
Fijian Goat Curry
For such a simple recipe this produces delicious results. Goat meat is best, but lamb can be used instead.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours on High, 6-7 hours on Low, 2.5-3 hours on top of the stove
10 cloves garlic, coarsley chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large onion, half finely chopped, half coarsely chopped
2 strips lime zest
3 cups (750ml) water
1 tsp chilli powder or to taste
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp sugar
1 lime, juiced
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 kg (2.2lbs) goat meat (with some bone) cut into chunks
2 cups (500ml/1 pint), sweet potato cut into 2.5cm (1inch) chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm (1inch) chunks
1 cup coriander, leaves and stems
2 tbsp curry powder
½ cup yoghurt, stirred until smooth.
To serve: rice, coconut chutney, a fish or vegetable dish, raita.
Place the garlic, chilli, the coarsely chopped onion, lime zest and two cups of water into a blender jug and blend until smooth.
Transfer to a medium sauce pan and bring to the boil. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, sugar, lime juice and salt and let the sauce simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.
In the meantime, place the vegetables, meat and half the coriander into slow cooker. Pour over the hot sauce, cover and switch onto desired setting.
About 40 minutes before the end of cooking stir through the curry powder. Cook on high, uncovered for the remainder of cooking time, stirring now and again to allow the sauce to thicken a little.
Stir through the remaining onion, coriander and yoghurt just before serving.
Coconut Chutney: Combine 2 cups (500ml/1 pint) grated fresh coconut, a small bunch of coriander, 1 coarsely chopped green chilli, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Allow the flavours to develop for an hour or so before serving.
Fijian Pea and Courgette Dhal
In Fiji this hearty vegetarian dish is made with a type of gourd called lauki. In the Indian version a type of squash (sometimes called Chinese Melon) about the size of a small marrow with a pale green skin is used. Yellow or pale green courgettes (zucchini) are fairly good substitutes. It is a tasty dish that is quite spicy to provide a lively lift to the relatively mild tasting basic ingredients.
You can reduce the cooking time by about half by soaking the dhal in cold water over night.
Serves 6-7 as a main, more as a side dish
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 6-7 hours on High, 12-14 hours on Low, 3-4 hours on the stove (after soaking)
1 ½ cups (500ml) split channa dhal (split chickpeas or yellow split peas)
5 cups (1.25 litres) hot water
1 tsp turmeric
2 yellow or pale green courgettes (zucchini) or 4 button squash
2 tsp salt or to taste
3 tbsp ghee or extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp mustard seed
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
2-3 green chillies, finely sliced
Thumb sized piece of ginger, finely sliced
1 lime or lemon, juiced
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Wash the dhal in two or three changes of water and drain. Add to slow cooker with the water and turmeric. Cover and switch slow cooker on to desired setting.
About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, halve the courgettes lengthways and cut each lenth into 1cm thick slices. Or slice each button squash into 6 slices. Add to slow cooker and stir in the salt. Cook on High for the remainder of the time.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a fry pan and add all the remaining ingredients except for the lime juice and coriander. Stir fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Stir onion mixture into dhal with the lime or lemon juice and coriander and serve.