Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Indian Wednesday #2: A 'souper' supper

Curried carrot and ginger soup with pan-fried paneer
Curry leaf bread
Pistachio and cardamom ice cream

This was my first week cooking properly from Modern Spice and I wanted to try something using unfamiliar ingredients in an unfamiliar format. So much of what we think if as Indian food in the UK is curry and rice that I wanted to avoid both of those. So, I plumped for a soup and this rather fascinating sounding bread, which I thought would go together well. It's still winter here in Europe and so the idea of soup and bread for dinner sounded a good one.

I'm quite familiar with making home made bread and so the recipe was straight forward enough. However, I think even if you weren't that familiar, the recipe is so well-written and you'd find it quite easy. The main ingredient is the 'curry leaf' which I had never heard of and I had despaired of finding, until I discovered the wonderful Indian quarter on the Rue de la Faubourg St. Denis, here in Paris. There the myriad Indian grocery stores are plush with the fresh fragrance of exotic spice, which I discovered, on arriving home curry leaves in hand, came from that plant.

I shaped my loaf like a traditional french brioche, and when I cut into the turmeric yellow interior, all the fragrances of the Rue de la Faubourg St Denis came pouring out, the perfect marriage of East and West. It's a densely moist  loaf, almost cake like in texture and sweetness, and hard not to eat on its own.

The loaf ended up being the perfect accompaniment to the soup, its earthy wholesomeness backed by a slight heat. The crispy cheese provided an original and appropriate alternative to croutons cut through with the cilantro leaves. Cilantro, or coriander as we call it in the UK has been one of my favorite herbs for many years, yet I am always surprised at its fresh, almost citric taste, every time I eat it. So much for taste memory.

No meal is complete without a dessert, but for this one I developed my own recipe based on the traditional Indian dessert, kulfi.  If you've never had cardamom in a dessert before, it's almost impossible to imagine, but it gives a delicately aromatic perfume, to desserts rather like incense. As it's mine, I'll share the recipe with you. It's down below under the pictures.

Monica Bhide's curry leaf bread

Bread and soup: a marriage made in heaven

Pistachio and cardamom ice cream

Pistachio and cardamom ice cream

Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 3 hours

½ cup shelled pistachios
2 cups milk
8 cardamom pods, crushed
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup cream

1. Mix together the pistachios and milk using a hand blender, until the pistachios are chopped into small pieces; add the crushed cardamom pods.
2. Bring the mixture to the boil in a saucepan; remove it from the heat and allow it to infuse for about twenty minutes and then remove the cardamom pods.
3. Whisk the sugar and eggs together until smooth; add to the milk mixture over a gentle heat, little by little, stirring all the time until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
4. Allow the mixture to cool, then add the cream and combine using a hand blender.
5. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions; transfer to a sealed plastic container and put in the freezer for at least two hours.
6. Place in the fridge one hour before serving time; serve covered with chopped pistachios. 

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