Chilli Chicken Masala, Succulent Grilled Prawns and Mushroom Risotto

Chilli Chicken Masala

Grilled King Prawns and Mushroom Risotto

It is the end of April already, and coming to the end of Autumn here in Oz.  I find myself apologising again for the time between posts.  It was the height of summer (and boy has it been a hot one!) when I did the last post and here we are now, almost in winter.  What have I been doing?  Well, I have made a start on the new book but I have not done nearly as much as I should have done.  I have planted some winter veg but no where near as much as last year.  Not that we can eat as much as I grew last year, but there  were  a couple more things I had intended to sow.  But I can say, with some relief and pride, that the house is just about done!!  It's a hive of activity right now just finishing off the last little bits and pieces - you know, little things that were not quite right or not quite according to plan or just plain got missed.  It feels like we've been doing this for ages but it has actually been just over 12 months since we poured the slab. 

Being owner builders has meant maintaining almost constant vigil  over the building and the last few weeks when you do all the finishing, have been particularly demanding.  The kitchen fit out was no exception.  We certainly had our fair share of dramas there for one reason or another, but the end result is lovely.  In large part due, I think, to Caroline and Peter from our local stone and granite specialists, who provided the bench tops.   Their old fashioned skill and dedication was wonderful to witness - the undermount sinks, the mitered edges, the polished surfaces are all just beautifully done.   Each sink cut out not only needs some skill to get just right, but takes hours to polish.   This is all done in the factory, by hand, and the sink glued in position before transporting the stone to site.  Can be a bit tricky. Watching them position everything to the last millimetre, join it expertly and polish it to perfection has been fascinating . I had no idea that stone bench tops required so much time and expertise to make and so much strength and effort  to  install.  "I have a 4 metre island" I said to Caroline when I first went to see her, "and I would really like the bench top to be in one piece, no joins".   Considering that Caroline is a  tough woman who does more than a bit of  the  heavy lifting herself, I'm surprised she didn't look at me as though I were from another planet.   Apart from the fact that stone comes in a maximum of 3 metre lengths so that it had to be done in 2 pieces,  and it's quite brittle so can break easily, it  took 3 strong men (plus Caroline and myself) to lift just one 2 metre piece, maneuver it carefully through the door and position it on top of the island without damaging it or anything else.  Now how would that go with a 4 metre piece, if there was such a thing?  I dread to think.  Caroline and I have become friends over the months, talking about our love of the countryside , our dogs and growing our own vegetables, and we laugh about my (former) ignorance now and again.

Move in date? 4 days from today.  How about that?

It's a good job too.  We've have slowly but surely outgrown the one bedroom cottage (as we call it) with tiny kitchen that we've been living in when in Orange, watching the house go up.  My increasing amount of preserves, chutneys and sauces, flours, spices and cooking paraphernalia have virtually taken it over.  As much as I enjoy cooking, it has become a bit of a hassle with the relative lack of space and facilities.  But the quality of the food certainly makes it worth the effort.  Tasty free range chicken, delicious un-waxed  crisp apples, sweet and juicy local oranges,  our own field mushrooms and vegetables, even beautifully fresh sea food like these delicious prawns.

Fresh King Prawns

These prawns were so fresh that I really didn't want to do much to them at all. I just brushed them with a little butter and lemon juice, seasoned them and grilled them for about 4 minutes under a really hot grill.  Wonderful served with a wedge of lemon followed by the mushroom risotto.

Mushroom Risotto

I used some of the field mushrooms that we've had heaps of lately together with some dried porcini, but this recipe is great with wild mushrooms, fresh or dried, swiss browns, shitaki or a combination.  Use whatever you can find that is really fresh and tasty.

Serves 3-4

Preparation time: 10 minutes                                            Cook time: 20 minutes

25g dried porcini mushrooms
1.5 litres good chicken or vegetable stock
100g butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced or finely chopped
350g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
200g of assorted mushrooms, sliced
200ml dry white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Soak the porcini in half a cup of hot water for a couple of minutes.  Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and slice.  Strain the soaking liquid to remove any grit and set aside.

Bring the stock to the boil and keep it at a simmer on very low heat while you make the risotto.  Heat half the butter and all the oil in a heavy based pan, add the onion and garlic and saute for a minute or so until transparent.

Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes until the grains are transparent.  Add the fresh and porcini mushrooms and saute until soft, about 2 more minutes.

Add the wine and allow it to evaporate completely before adding two or three ladles of stock plus the soaking liquid.  Stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Keep adding a ladle of stock at a time, stirring and waiting until it is almost absorbed before adding more.

After about 15 minutes for Arborio rice and a little longer for Carnaroli (this takes a bit longer to cook) the rice should be cooked.  Stir in half a teaspoon of salt and some freshly cracked pepper and taste it.  The risotto should be creamy and the grains of rice should have only a slight bite.  Add a little more stock and cook for a minute more if required.

Remove from heat, stir in remaining butter and parmesan.

Rest the risotto covered for about 3 minutes and serve with more freshly grated parmesan.

Chilli Chicken Masala

Using some pre-prepared curry base such as the Quick Version Curry Secret curry sauce and some preparation done the night before this is as quick as a take away, just as tasty and probably better for you.  This popular restaurant dish can be made with thigh or breast fillets or try it with pork fillet for a change.

The red capsicum adds a nice sweetness to the contrasting heat  (I used some sweet baby ones I had growing in the garden)  and you can vary the type and quantity of  hot chillies according to your own heat tolerance.  The smaller the chilli the hotter it generally is, so if you don't want it too hot, use the larger milder chillies and adjust the heat with chilli powder.

Serves 4-5

Preparation time: About 20 minutes.                             Cook time: 15 Minutes

4 tbsp olive oil
600g (1¼ lb) chicken breast fillet, trimmed and sliced into strips
½ red capsicum thinly sliced
3 cups (750ml) curry sauce
2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
3 ½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli powder or to taste
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 ripe tomato, sliced into 8
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp chopped coriander

To serve: rice, flat bread such as chappati or nan, pickles, chutneys, raita.

Heat the  oil in a deep, heavy based frying pan and add the chicken strips, capsicum and 4 tablespoons of the curry base.  Stir fry on medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Turn the heat down a little and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until chicken is cooked through and capsicum softens.

Turn the heat up again and stir through the chillies.  Cook for a minute and add the remaining curry base, turmeric, paprika, chilli powder and salt. 

Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce is thickened and the oil rises to the surface.

Stir through the tomato and garam masala.  Simmer for another minute and serve sprinkled with fresh coriander.

Be careful  not touch your eyes when cutting up the chillies.    Better still wear rubber gloves for this job.        


Debs said...

Yum, chilli chicken masala sounds fab. Glad to hear you're settling into the new house at last. BTW you have email too!!


Debs, x

Anonymous said...

Hi Kris. I have been given a copy of The Curry Secret as a present from my wife.
Whilst reading the recipe for the curry sauce, I wondered if it was possible to freeze at the end of the process, i.e after the tomatoes etc have been added rather that after the onions, garlic and ginger have been cooked and blended.
If this would be possible, it would save quite a lot of time when producing an evening meal.

Kevin (UK)

Kris Dhillon said...

Hi Kevin, no problem with freezing the sauce at the end of the process. Try to use it within about 6 weeks for the best results. Hope you enjoy the book.


chris and wendy. said...

Hello Kris.I brought your book six months ago,my partner and i love it,we esp like the dopiaza and jalfrezi.I am dislexic and this is the easiest cook book i've ever used.

Kris Dhillon said...

Hi Chris and Wendy,

It's great to hear that the book is working so well for you. I often think my books are a bit too 'instructional' so it's good to know that is in fact a good thing.

Best wishes,