Starting from scratch. ( Beam me up, Roti ? )

Today my Mum walked all the way over to my work on her lunch break just to bring me some lychees.
‘Because these ones are really yummy and I have too many of them.’
I love my Mum. (and Dad.)

Coincidentally G.F is coming for dinner.
I’ve been wondering throughout the day what I’ll be making.

The lychees helped make my mind up.
Lychees feature heavily in Sth-east Asian cuisine, in salads, drinks and particularly Thai red duck curry.

We’re NOT making that.
We are however making a G.F friendly dahl and because she doesn’t do rice much lately, we’re gonna give roti bread a go.
My new job is near an Indian supermarket so I went on a little excursion.

The lychees have been assigned to a yummy Lassi to accompany instead. ( As it turns out G.F doesn’t like lychees, but Kid and I do. Winning.)


Dahl is any of a variety of curry based on either lentils, peas or other legumes.
Dried mung beans are another example. The lentils or peas are themselves sometimes called dahl.

Yellow Toor Dahl w/ greens beans. Serves 4-6
Spice Blend – 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds ( these are missing from the photo), 1 cinnamon quill, 12 cardomon pods, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns all toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle or spice blender then sieved.
Add 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground clove, 1 teaspoon raw sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt. I’ve also added some saffron, it’s not necessary though.
Yellow Toor Beans – 2 cups – dried
Green beans – about 400gm
1 medium brown onion
2 celery sticks
6 garlic cloves
bay leaves – 4 fresh
fresh coriander – about 1/2 a bunch – washed and picked
1 lemon
Spice blend.
Heat a little oil or ghee in a thick based pot. Sweat the onions and celery, then add the garlic and cook until soft. Add the spices and sauté gently until aromatic. Add the toor, stock, coconut cream, bay leaves and a little salt. Add a cup of water too and simmer gently for about 40 mins or until the toor are just soft. Now the green beans go in for about 5 mins. Turn the heat off, add some chopped coriander and lemon juice and let sit until you’re ready to serve.

Roti bread is a flat, unleavened bread made using ( in this instance ) atta flour. Atta is fine ground wholemeal flour with any husk removed via a fine sieving process.
Roti turns up in a few different cuisines, namely sub – continental, Sth East Asian, Sth Pacific and even Sth American.
2 cups Atta flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive or ghee
Combine the flour, salt and water to form a dough. Move this to a lightly floured bench and knead for a solid ten minutes. Brush with a little oil or ghee and leave to rest for an hour at least.
I didn’t have an hour so mine were good but a little lacklustre.
Pre – heat a solid based pan.
Next cut the dough into 10 even sized portions and roll each one out to about 20cm diameter.
Even is more important than round. Sprinkle a little flour in the pan, if it goes brown, you are ready. Place the rolled out dough in the pan for a couple of minutes either side. It should puff up. Press it back down gently with a tea towel to protect your hand. Remove from the pan and brush liberally with ghee or olive oil. Repeat, stacking them as they come off. Keep them covered with a warm damp cloth until ready to serve.

What Kid Did

Kid helped with a lovely little salad of cucumber (a little salt on your cucumber goes a long way), mint, spring onions, tomato  and lemon.
Roti6Kid made and rolled the roti dough.
I had a moment when I had to go and calm down because they weren’t round OR even.
Really? So what. We’re meant to be having fun here. Right?!
Occupational hazard. Soz Kid. You do a great job.

One thing you learn pretty quickly when you become a head chef is that not everybody is as excited about what you’re doing as you are.

Kid also toasted the spices in a fry pan,  peeled and pipped the lychees for the lassi, which she’d never done before, picked some coriander and set the table. After dinner we all played a geography quiz game at Kid’s insistence.

Pretty sure I won 😉

Lassi- lychees, natural yoghurt, milk. It’s pretty much a smoothie.
It shouldn’t need sweetening if the fruit is ripe.
Otherwise you can add some cardomon and a little salt for a more savoury version.

What Else?
That’s enough, surely.
I’m pretty happy that there’s heaps of dahl left for after work.
Next time I’ll take a little more time with the roti.
Cooking them on electric probably didn’t help.
The salad is a great contrast here, very fresh.
Lentils, mung, or split peas will all work as well here but cooking times may vary.

Thanks for the lychees mum.

Yummy Chicken Curry With Baked Coconut Rice


Masaman curry is  a favourite of ours. We have a local Thai T/A up the road that we sometimes turn to in times of need (or times of greed). We always order the Beef Masaman because it is delicious. We’ve ordered it elsewhere and nothing quite rates. I pointed out to kid that one big difference is the potatoes. You can tell when the potatoes have been cooked in the curry (as opposed to boiled in water and added separately) because they take on the flavour and they’ll start to break down ever so slightly to thicken the sauce a little. It really makes a difference.

This curry is a loose interpretation of that. I have replaced beef with chicken and potatoes with pumpkin just because I felt like it. It’s also a good way to get  pumpkin down our little darlings’ throat without any fuss. I’ve added beans too for that ‘green’ element, you could use peas or snow peas or spinach or whatever.

Baked coconut rice is a really easy way to do good rice. Baking means it doesn’t have to sit on the stove top and burn on the bottom. It will cook evenly due to the lack of direct heat. This should work in a rice cooker also but I don’t have one so I’ve never tried. The coconut adds an element of decadence without being too rich. If you can find long-life tetra-pack coconut cream then use that instead. It tastes better. I’ve used tinned because I couldn’t find the other on short notice and it tastes really good anyways.

Chicken and Pumpkin Curry – serves about 4

500gm diced chicken breast – using free range is better on many levels. Use what you can, I won’t judge.
1 small piece of Japanese pumpkin – skinned and diced
250gm green beans – top and tailed , 2-3cm batons.
1 stick celery – sliced thin
1 tablespoon Masaman curry paste – see notes
250ml coconut cream
1/2 bunch coriander – washed and picked
2 lemongrass sticks -bashed and them tied in a not – see notes
1 teaspoon sweet soy.

Add a little oil to a medium sized pot or deep fry pan. Add the chicken, pumpkin and celery and a little salt. Sauté these until the chicken turns white all over. Add the curry paste and stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated the paste becomes fragrant. Add the stock, coconut cream and lemongrass then simmer gently until the chicken is cooked and the pumpkin has JUST started to break down a little and thicken the sauce(like the potatoes in the afore mentioned beef curry). Finish with the soy and coriander, discard the lemongrass. Serve with rice and a wedge of lime. Masaman is traditionally served with chopped peanuts on top and tomato and cucumber on the side. Up to you.

You need 1 cup basmati rice -see notes.
2 cups coconut cream – or 1 cup coconut and cup water (stock will work also).
4 kaffir lime leaves -buy them fresh and freeze what you don’t use.
1 tspn oil.
Put a an oven proof pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, rice and bruised lime leaves. Stir until the rice starts to turn clear and you can smell the lime leaf. Add the liquid and a little salt. Cover well and bake on 160* for 30 mins. Remove from the oven but DON’T remove the lid (foil will work also) for a 15-20 minutes. You need to allow this standing time for any excess moisture to be soaked up by the rice. Remove the lid and fluff gently with a fork.
Baked coconut Rice

What Kid Did
Washed and picked the coriander (she is always doing this it seems), stirred the pot occasionally, had a great time watching me bash the lemongrass with a hammer, picked the beans. Helped with photo shoot. She loved this dinner, especially the coconut rice.

*Pumpkin – Japanese is best for this dish. Buy a small piece already cut from the pumpkin so you can see the colour of it. The flesh should be a deep orange colour.
*Masaman curry paste – I always use one of the Asian brands available from my local fruit shop. Try an Asian supermarket or gourmet deli otherwise. I’m not normally down for brand naming but use Maesri or Mae Ploy. The generic supermarket brands will not give you the curry you deserve. These are brands that my chefs from Sth East Asia trust. You could successfully replace Masaman with yellow, green or red pastes. If you use green, add fresh green basil leaves instead of coriander.
*Swap the chicken for chick peas and replace the chicken stock for veg stock or water to make a great vegetarian option.
*Basmati – Jasmine would do too. Basmati has a better GI level.
*Lemongrass – It is really fibrous and inedible. Lay it out flat on a chopping board and gently tap it until it is soft and pliable. Tie it in a not so it stays together and is easily removed at the end.

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