Traditional Marrow Curry, Heirloom Tomato and Feta Salad and Topsy Turvy Peach Cake

Delciously Spicy Marrow

Salad of home grown Tomatoes, Capsicum and Feta

Topsy Turvy Peach Cake

Christmas has been and long gone and it's a long time since the last post.  For that I apologise.  I don't know where the weeks have gone.  I could do with another 6 hours in the day to do all I have to and all I want to do.  The house has taken an inordinate amount of time - we are getting to the finer details now - and bottling and preserving the summer produce has taken almost as much but we now have a years supply of jams, chutneys and pickles of all sorts.  We have seared in the summer heat but alas, we have had rain, lots of beautiful rain.  140mm over the Christmas period whilst we were in Sydney and another 90mm a couple of weeks ago.  The brown landscape is suddenly green and lush, as though it were never brown at all.  Much of the summer produce that was struggling with the dry has become remarkably lively again.  The melons, beans and cucumbers that looked as though they wouldn't bear much this year have now gone beserk with producing.  And the tanks are full, including the big concrete one we recently had connected to the main house.  We have plenty of water and what a great feeling that is.

I always find it such a delight to savour the produce of each season and for me home grown tomatoes, fully ripened on the vine would probably be the highlight of summer, followed very closely by pretty much everything else, but good tomatoes are particularly difficult to find in Australia.  I didn't plant too many, but surprisingly, a lot had self seeded from last years planting.  They had survived the cold and frost during the winter, the dry during the extraordinarily hot spring and summer and my total neglect of them so I thought some at least deserved the chance to go on.  I left more in than I perhaps should have done.  And my goodness, did they pay me back!  The plants were bigger, stronger and more productive than the ones I planted last year, my first season in Orange.  I have been picking kilos and kilos  of red, green, black and yellow tomatoes since we got back after Christmas and despite my best efforts I have left a lot more of the yellow ones on the bush than I've managed to pick.  There have been just so many of them.  I've been making delicious salads and sauces and cooking with them at every opportunity.  I have also bottled several kilos to use over winter. 

Marrows are not common in Australia so I was pretty pleased to find a few.  After just 3 weeks away the zucchini flowers I left behind had turned into these huge vegetables.  The marrow is not a vegetable many people know what to do with but in the right recipe with robustly flavoured ingredients it can be absolutely delicious - like the curry (pictured) that my mum use to cook.  I made it for the first time since I've been in Australia and promised to take some back to Sydney for my daughter Lisa who was drooling at the thought of  it.  However, by the time our builder Mark had got some and our architect Nic had got some, there wasn't much left except for what's in the picture.  I made a beef and potato curry at the same time but all of that went before I could photograph it.  Well, they kept telling me it smelled a whole lot better than their sandwiches so what was I supposed to do?  I made another marrow curry the next day and took it all to Sydney for Lisa, so everyone was happy.

Traditional Marrow Curry

If you have never eaten marrow in a curry before, believe me you're in for a treat.  It is a delicious combination of robust flavours and textures against the soft juicy chunks of mild flavoured marrow.  The fenugreek seeds and leaves are responsible for those robust 'curryish' flavours and are vital for this recipe.  The texture and additional spicy flavours come from generous quantities of garlic, ginger and chilli and from a punjabi ingredient called 'Bhadi' (sometimes spelled 'Wadi'), a sundried 'cake' of ground, fermented and spiced moong dhal that is a necessary component of this dish.  All ingredients are readily available from Indian grocers.
Serves 4 -6 as a vegetarian main dish.  More as a side dish

Preparation and cooking time: about 1 hour

6 tbsp good olive oil
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
60 gm butter or ghee
2 onions, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
2 tsp grated ginger,
Small knob of ginger, julliened
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 marrow (approx 1kg in weight) peeled and chopped into chunks
2 onions, thickly sliced
2 punjabi bhadi, each one broken into 3 or 4 pieces
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (khasoori methi)
1 tsp garam masala
chopped coriander (optional)

To serve: flat breads like roti, mountain bread or parathas and yoghurt or raita

  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy based sauce pan and add the fenugreek seeds.  If the oil is hot enough they should start to pop.  Be careful not to burn them as they will turn bitter.

  • Immediately stir in the butter or ghee and add the onion.  Cook the onion for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly until it softens and starts to brown at the edges.

  • Add the garlic, all the ginger and chillies.  Cook for about a minute and stir in the tomato, salt and turmeric.  Cook, stirring for another minute or two and put in all the remaining ingredients except for the garam masala and coriander.

  • Stir well and cook on high heat until the contents start to boil.  If the marrow is very fresh you shouldn't need any water, but if it seems dry add 100ml or so of hot water.

  • Cover and cook on low to medium heat for about 30 - 35 minutes, stirring regularly until the marrow is very tender and the bhadi is soft and breaking up.

  • Stir in the garam masala and cook for another minute.  Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander if using.

Heirloom Tomato and Feta Salad

I've been lucky enough to have half a dozen different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and some really sweet, multi-coloured (including chocolate brown) mini capsicums growing in the veggie garden and together with sweet home-grown salad onions, lettuces and herbs, making great salads has been about as easy as it can get.

This is so simple it hardly needs a recipe.  What it does need though is beautiful, sweet tomatoes, maybe some capsicums and some fresh basil or mint leaves.  Add some creamy feta chunks, some olives, perhaps some onion rings, drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper and serve with fresh crusty bread or garlicky barbequed lamb chops.  Delicious and healthy.

Topsy Turvy Peach Cake

Each Christmas we have what we call a 'roving' Christmas party on the marina where we moor our boat.  Half a dozen or so boat owners get together and each boat provides a course and a bottle (or two) of something to be enjoyed on their boat before moving onto the next boat for the next course.  I was picked to do desert and coffee this time.  Along with the obligatory mince pies I couldn't resist doing something with the best of the season.  Sweet, fragrant, juicy peaches signal the return of the wonderful stone-fruit season and the region of Orange is renowned for the quality of its stone fruit.  This delicious cake is another great way to use this fabulous fruit, it is quite easy to make and it transported well from Orange to Sydney.  It was so good, the mince pies hardly got a look in.

Serves 8-10

Preparation and cooking time about 1 hour 30 minutes.

1 ½ cups organic self-raising flour
½ cup ground almonds
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
150g cold butter, cubed
½ cup granulated sugar
4 peaches, stoned and sliced into thinnish wedges
½ cup orange juice
4 free-range eggs
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp peach or orange liqueur (optional)

To serve: Thick cream or custard.

• Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line base of a 24cm round spring form or square cake tin with baking paper.

• Place flour, ground almonds, caster sugar, baking powder and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Don’t over process. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.

• Place granulated sugar and orange juice in a small, heavy-based saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until thickened slightly. Immediately pour into base of cake tin and top with peach wedges, skin-side down.

• Beat eggs until frothy, combine with olive oil and vanilla extract. Add to dry ingredients in bowl and mix until well combined. Don’t over mix.

• Pour cake batter over peaches and smooth top. Bake for I hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cover top of the cake with baking paper during cooking if it is browning to quickly.

• Stand cake in tin for about 10 minutes before inverting on to plate. Remove base and baking paper. If using liqueur, prick upturned cake with a skewer and drizzle on liqueur.

• Serve warm or cold.


Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...

So glad I've found this blog Kris. It would not be an exaggeration to say that your The Curry Secret has changed my life - thank you and I will be buying The New Curry Secret and Thai Cookery Secrets too. Jude X

Kris Dhillon said...

Hi Jude,

Its good to hear from you and I'm so pleased you like my book so much. Hope you will find the new ones just as useful.