Tag Archives: curry

Fanny and Brenda’s quick Beef Curry

fanny and brendas quick beef curry

Now I know “we don’t do slumming it” and are “the most gorgeous party ladies”. But even belles of the ball like us need to have some slightly simpler, set pieces which can be put together simply. Brenda likes simple things, which explains a lot really.

Again, it may surprise you to learn that we do have occasional days off from our whirl of social engagements although most of the time I am trying to find ways of having Brenda permanently sectioned. To date I have failed, largely because Brenda invites herself on my jaunts as she did recently when there was fun to be had at Mrs Davida Clam’s, – Brighton’s ghastliest landlady (who some of you may remember from our recent visit there making seaside-appropriate fish pie), who on learning of Brenda’s self-invitation then had to cancel her “ladies macramé gathering” at her high class brothel, otherwise more widely understood to be a boutique premium AirBnB-listed luxury apartment. Brenda’s face simply wouldn’t have been acceptable at Mrs Clam’s that night, and I completely agree.

Meanwhile, with my evening at the macramé now ruined, all I can think about is a taste-bud twanging curry even though I’ll be far too resentful to stand there peeling and micro-dicing fresh ginger and roasting off and grinding individual spices to create  a home-made garam masala. And yet we’ll still want something which will be quick to prepare and cook which will be a step up from virtually all other “Curry in XYZ minutes” recipes you may have seen elsewhere. Anyway this is a recipe that is great for a cold spring night after work.

The secret is using a tenderer cut of beef which won’t need a lot of cooking, although you can use cheaper cuts if you’re prepared to simmer it longer – which achieves at least as good results but obviously nibbles away the time-saving. Here’s what you need and how to make it


600g top rump – cut to 1” cubes. ‘Ready cubed’ saves time, although I cut up a joint.
2 medium onions – sliced or cut medium
4 cloves garlic – bashed, peeled and chopped medium. You could also use 4 tsp garlic puree but fresh is better and only takes 1 min
3 good tbsp ghee
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1 heaped tsp ground black pepper
1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder
1 level tsp ground ginger
5 cloves
3 cardamom pods – lightly bashed
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 regular can chopped tomatoes
3 or 4 dstspn  natural yoghurt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
chopped fresh coriander to serve


Heat a medium size deep frying pan which has a lid – or a medium casserole dish, add the ghee and once melted, fry off the beef cubes. Don’t worry about doing them in batches, just try to get some light browning – about 7 mins. Remove the cubes and set aside for now.

Into the same pan, but with the heat turn down to medium low add in the onions and garlic. Fry fairly gently for a good ten, but nearer 15 mins is better – so that you end up with lovely intense golden brown onions. At the point where the onions are nearly done, add in all your spices, turn the heat back up to medium high, to continue cooking out the onion/garlic/spice mix, about a further min or so.

Now add the can of tomatoes plus a bit of water if you don’t like your curries too rib-sticking – although careful with this as some yoghurt is about to get mixed in, plus it will in any case thicken naturally as the sauce cooks down.

When the mixture comes up to the boil, add the yoghurt and vinegar, test for seasoning and add salt as required, turn the heat to low and simmer for half an hour with the lid on.

Once the curry is tucked away, wash and set going your rice and chop up the coriander. Serve a bed of lightly buttered fluffy rice with good dollop of curry and a handful of the chopped coriander. Apart from perhaps a blob of your fave chutney or pickle and maybe a crisply fried poppadom, this really is a complete meal, easy to scale up for larger gatherings and will stand being made ready in advance to allow you to shine at your function – rather than developing one toiling in the kitchen while others enjoy.

Butternut squash curry

butternut squash curry recipe

Serves 4

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 medium (roughly 2 pound) butternut squash

A good lug of vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced 

1 teaspoon turmeric

3 green chillies – fairly finely chopped (with or without seeds depending on how hot your prefer)

2 small, dried red chilies also fairly finely chopped – you could also use a teaspoon of red chile flakes

1 400g can coconut milk

1/4 can water (rinse out the empty coconut milk can)

1 teaspoon salt (or preferred amount to taste
Coriander, for garnish

Cooked rice, to serve

You have no idea what it’s like to feed the cavernous stomach of Brenda Gateway. If eating was an Olympic sport she’d be a gold medal wearing champion. But it isn’t, and she isn’t either. It’s a wonder she isn’t the size of an elephant quite frankly. The other day she arrived back with a suspiciously large butternut squash which she had felt inclined to buy on a whim. Who buys a squash on a whim I ask you? Brenda. I could have slapped her but instead, feeling congenial for a change I dropped a nice little valium into her coffee and some well deserved peace reigned for several hours, before she woke and got chastised for being lazy.

Now finding something to do with a butternut squash is interesting because it has a mild sweetish flavour and so for a savoury dish this made it a challenge.

So this is what you do:
Take a small pan and heat on medium with no oil and once fairly hot, add the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and dry fry, stirring and moving around for a minute or two until some of the seeds start to pop and the spices are beginning to smoke slightly and smell fragrant. Once they have had their warming, leave them to cool and then grind them up in a heavy mortar and pestle. Why heavy? Well you need to grind those seeds into a dust! Weight always helps as the cat has found when Brenda sits down too fast in Ruby’s favourite chair, and Ruby hasn’t moved quickly enough. By the way, this is worth doing as the aroma of freshly roasted and ground spices is unbeatable.

butternut squash curry recipe

Now take the squash and peel it and then dice it into cubes – don’t obsess, but your cubes should be 1 – 1 1/2 cm, that sort of size (you’re looking for something not so small that would turn to porridge while cooking, but not so large as to be unwieldy to eat)

Add the vegetable oil to a large saucepan and combine the ginger, onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is soft. At this point add the spices that you have previously dry fried and ground, the chopped green chilies, the chopped red chilies and the turmeric. Stir in for a couple of minutes.

Then add the squash, coconut milk, water and salt and simmer for roughly 3/4 hour until the squash is cooked through and tender – check and stir a couple of times during the cooking time in case the bottom is starting to catch.

Garnish with some gorgeous chopped fresh coriander and serve with some pilau rice – just a few lightly crushed cardamom pods, a teaspoon each of turmeric and salt and a dessertspoon of veg oil cooked with basmati rice.

Thai Chicken Noodle Red Curry Soup

There’s nothing like a bit of spice to make Brenda react and indeed I like to get a reaction, which in this case was positive. Had it been anything other than that, she’d have been carted out feet first in a body bag I can tell you. This is a superlative red curry soup that uses Asian spices and plenty of inspiration from Thai cuisine. It’s easy to put together and with the help of some fantastic fresh red curry paste (available from some supermarkets and Asian food emporia), you can be eating in under an hour from initial preparation. It’s a good evening choice for a light bite after a hard day at work, and can be eaten as a starter or a main.

thai chicken curry soup photo by simon c bennett photographer

Ingredients: serves 3

• 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
• 200g red curry paste
• 750ml fresh chicken stock
• 1 tsp palm sugar
• 300 g chicken thigh fillets, thinly sliced 
• 18 raw king prawns, shelled, de-veined
• 400 ml coconut milk
• 200 g beansprouts
• 300 g fresh vermicelli rice noodles
• 8 medium size mushrooms quartered
• bunch of spring onions sliced,
• bunch of coriander
• 3 Lime wedges, and juice of a lime
• 2 red chillies

Standing time: Serve immediately

thai chicken curry soup photo by simon c bennett photographer

thai chicken curry soup photo by simon c bennett photographer

Cook laksa paste in tbsp of vegetable oil and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add stock and sugar. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Add chicken, return to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Add prawns and cook for 1 minute.

thai chicken curry soup photo by simon c bennett photographer

thai chicken curry soup photo by simon c bennett photographer

Add coconut milk and beansprouts. Stir gently to combine, then bring almost to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes or until prawns are just tender, beansprouts are wilted and are heated through. Add juice from a lime.

thai chicken curry soup photo by simon c bennett photographer
Meanwhile, place noodles in a large bowl. Microwave the noodles for a minute. Divide noodles, then ladle laksa mixture among the bowls. Add some chopped red chillies, coriander and spring onion and serve immediately with lime wedges.

thai chicken curry soup photo by simon c bennett photographer