“Beginner’s Chicken Curry, For Harry” from “Midnight Chicken”

We love a curry in this house. Pressure Cooker Butter Chicken is on regular rotation and though we don’t often order takeaway, when we do, more often than not it’s a curry from our local curry house.

One of the reasons why I love this book is that Ella is a beautiful writer. In the introduction to this recipe, she tells the story about how it came about, but also she freely admits that there are more genuine curry recipes out there but this is hers. I’ve got to give her props for honesty.

There may be more genuine curry recipes out there, but this is utterly delicious. We all loved it. We loved it so much that at the end of the meal, Andrew (who will soon be leaving for his second year of university) asked for the recipe so he could make it when he returns to school. I told him it would also be great to make for a crowd, which is sure to make him popular.

This probably would have been quicker in a pressure cooker, but I’m going to have to sit down and figure out the timings. If it’s good enough for butter chicken, it’s good enough for this.

Curry for the win.

“Beginner’s Chicken Curry, For Harry” from “Midnight Chicken”

“Indian Butter Shrimp” from “Dinner in an Instant”

One of the places where pressure cookers, and by extension, instant pots, excel is when making curries. Pressure cookers are apparently standard kitchen kit in Indian kitchens, because it enables you to make a curry much faster.

Even the New Yorker(!), of all publications, earlier this month published a profile of Urvashi Pitre, the “Butter-Chicken Lady”, who found her fame and fortune by originally posting a recipe for butter chicken on a Facebook group for Instant Pot fans. The article went on to be the most popular ever in the group, which led to her getting a publishing deal. Her cookbook, “Indian Instant Pot Cookbook,” published in September 2017, has already sold more than 100,000 copies. You can read the New Yorker profile here.

But still I approached this recipe with some trepidation. You see, it’s not that our family doesn’t love curry. We absolutely do. The problem was that we had our fair share of curry in 2017, what with Tim working in India for three months in the autumn, and the rest of us visiting him there for two weeks in October. We all returned home vowing to not eat another curry for a fair few months.

I shouldn’t have worried about making this. The delicious curry sauce overrode any qualms we may have had about eating curry again. The dish may have been boosted by the couldn’t-be-more-legit garam masala spice that Tim bought at an Indian supermarket and brought back for us. Also, since we were eating prawns/shrimp rather than chicken, this was a super-fast dish to make. Not Jamie Oliver 15 minutes fast, mind you, but still pretty quick.

Needless to say, our family is back on curries again. Next up? Butter chicken, from the Butter-Chicken Lady herself. (The New Yorker helpfully included the recipe at the end of the article. Check it out here.)

“Indian Butter Shrimp” from “Dinner in an Instant”

“Beef Rendang”” from “Flavour”


Kirstin: You know when you commit to a recipe that it is going to take several hours to make, that it has to really be worth it. This recipe is just that. I whizzed up the spices, fried it up with all the other ingredients and left it all to simmer for FOUR HOURS one Saturday afternoon. We all got very hungry as the smell it made while it was cooking was exquisite. And we ate it all up when I served it up. Bonus leftovers for tonight too, so total result.

“Beef Rendang”” from “Flavour”

“Slow-cooked Chicken Rendang with Gently Spiced Rice” from “Stirring Slowly”


Back in the day, when I first started cooking food from other countries, I started with Indonesian and Thai food. We visited Thailand in the early 90s and I was totally inspired by all the flavours from that part of the world. Strangely, I don’t think I have ever made a rendang curry for the kids. Also, I liked the idea of making something that I would have to stir slowly from a book called Stirring Slowly. Delightfully simple to make once you have sourced the ingredients such as galangal and lime leaves (and they are so much easier to source now than in the early 90s, I can tell you!) this made a wonderful aroma as it cooked. Miles immediately wanted to know when I was going to make it again, but Ella struggled with the textures. Tom and I devoured our portions and then had cheeky seconds. I don’t often have much time during the week to make a curry like this, but maybe I should find the time. It was a lovely therapeutic exercise, as I stirred slowly and was finally rewarded with the delicious results. Yes, this may take a little longer, but it’s worth it. Every second.

“Slow-cooked Chicken Rendang with Gently Spiced Rice” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Coconut and tamarind salmon curry with mustard seeds” from “My street food kitchen”

Kirstin: Salmon curry tonight! Daddy’s away so it’s just us. What do we think?

Ella: Mum has endeavoured to curry on with her endeavours to make us like salmon.

Kirstin: Seriously? A pun already?!? Why don’t you try it?

Miles: I don’t like it.

Ella: I really like it! Look, I’ve eaten loads.

Kirstin: It’s YUM! Would you eat it if I made it again because I’ve missed cooking with spices, so I’m totally up for this one.

Ella: Yes!

Miles: No.

Kirstin: Because you know salmon is good for you…

Miles: Why?

Kirstin: Gah! Let’s I’ll explain it another time.

“Coconut and tamarind salmon curry with mustard seeds” from “My street food kitchen”

“Buddha Bowls” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

IMG_7334I could relabel this post as, “Searching for Massaman Curry Paste.” (Spoiler alert: I found it. Eventually.)

As loyal readers of this blog will know, if I can’t find an ingredient in any of my local shops, it’s not worth making. I say this because we’ve got an amazing butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger, cheesemonger, health food shop and  three major supermarkets (Waitrose, Co-Op and Sainsbury’s Express), all within walking distance of the house.

In this case, I was fairly sure that Waitrose would have the massaman curry paste. Where I went wrong was searching high and low for it in the Indian section, forgetting that massman is actually a Thai curry. Once I was in the appropriate international section– Thai– I did eventually find it, and breathed a sigh of relief because I meant I didn’t have to make my own paste.

The Buddha Bowl is a nice assortment of potatoes, green beans, peanuts, rice, carrots, tofu and the aforementioned massaman curry paste. The adults rather enjoyed it, though we both thought it could have used more sauce. However, that might be down to operator error as I may have boiled it down too much in my pursuit of a thick sauce. The children were less impressed, though they did empty their bowls.

This was the first time I’ve ever used tofu, despite having enjoyed our Meat Free Monday for several years now. I am obliged to report that the boys were not impressed. At first I tried to pass it off as, “a type of vegan cheese,” but they weren’t buying it and guessed it was tofu. They didn’t like it. For me, I didn’t mind it, but I”m not sure it added much to the dish, if I’m honest.

As we’re marching ever closer to the end of the month, I feel that now is the time to express my frustration of the time estimates included in the book to get a recipe cooked. I consider myself somewhat skilled in the kitchen, so I figured I would be able to knock these recipes out in the time estimated. I’ve yet to do so. Even tonight’s dish, when I took the shortcut of using the curry paste rather than making my own, took about an hour and 15 minutes to finish (30 minutes more than the estimate).

On the one hand, I can understand why Anna did it this way. She probably wanted to show that vegetarian cooking can be done in a reasonable amount of time, despite all of the prep a typical vegetarian recipe takes. But for me it’s a source of constant frustration and I feel as though she’s setting me up to fail. The time estimates bum me out, and probably will continue to do so whenever I cook from this book.

If you’d like to make this yourself, click through this paragraph to find the recipe in the Guardian. 

“Buddha Bowls” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

“Quick Chicken Korma” from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”


Ella: I like it!

Kirstin: Oooo, Ella. Really?

Tom: This is yum.

Kirstin: I’m kind of getting the hang of the whole video thing, even though I couldn’t seem to get my onions as caramelised as she did. You have to watch it a bit beforehand if nothing else, so you know when to pause it.

Tom: Yeah, I’m not sure video cookbooks make a lot of sense to be honest. There’s a reason why it’s good to have everything written in a list, in a form that stays still on the surface in front of you and doesn’t interfere with your ability to play music while you cook.

Kirstin: Or have conversations with people. Because I had to keep doing that *hold on now while I find out what I have to do next on the video*.

Tom: So what does this tell you?

Kirstin: That we like cookbooks? And it’s interesting because I’ve tried getting cookbooks on my kindle and iPad and I still return to cookbooks…

Tom: No, it tells you that food tube is for people who like the idea of cooking rather than those who actually like cooking. So Jamie Oliver is someone who sells the idea of cooking.

Kirstin: Do you think he’s tried cooking along to a recipe himself?

Tom: He may have done, but the needs of television are different from the needs of those doing the cooking. Television is all about fast cutting. It’s incredibly unrepresentative. We saw that yesterday when he was making that salsa. He said chop, chop, chop and it was done in 3 seconds. Because it’s really boring watching someone chop up tomatoes.

Ella: Unless you have time travel. Or clone yourself to chop up the tomatoes and then hand them back to yourself once you’ve chopped them.

Kirstin: Indeed peeps.Indeed.

Here’s the link to the recipe I made because embedding has been disabled.

“Quick Chicken Korma” from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

“Soothing North Indian Chicken” from “A Bird in the Hand”


Kirstin: I wanted to cook something soothing and lovely at the end of the weekend. And I thought this fitted the bill. What do you think peeps?

Ella: It was a curry?

Kirstin: I’m sorry it took so long to make.

Tom: It smelled amazing as it cooked.

Ella: It smelled amazing, but just tasted like normal chicken. What was different about it?

Tom: Ah, that’s because I kept all of the sauce off your portion so you wouldn’t object to it.

Kirstin: I was just about to ask Miles what he thought about the recipe when I see that he’s stuffed the biggest amount of rice into his mouth that he can fit in.

Ella: I don’t know why he thinks that’s funny. It’s just gross and rude.

Kirstin: Miles, did you like the chicken? Maybe just nod or shake your head.

Miles: *nods head*

Kirstin: Oh good. You did like it!

“Soothing North Indian Chicken” from “A Bird in the Hand”

“Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella”

IMG_6631I won’t bury the lede here. We liked it!

I have to say I was surprised. I’m a bit dubious about this whole book, which is why I’m struggling to find recipes that I want to make. But as it was Meat Free Monday, I thought I would look again through the book hoping to find something that would work for last night’s dinner. And I did.

After making the Veggie Lasagna where herbs and spices were completely absent (and would have gone a long way to making that dish better), this dish went completely in the other direction, with a combined 12 tablespoons of spices, along with garlic and jalapeno peppers. Lest you worry that’s a lot of flavouring, it all gets absorbed in the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk in which the vegetables cook.

Our only criticism of this dish was there were too many potatoes. We all felt it was mostly a potato dish, with the other ingredients fighting for attention. The next time I make it, I’ll only use about 750g of them (or 12 charlotte potatoes), but I’ll also double the amount of cauliflower I use.

Also it has to be said for the less experienced cook that the instructions are a bit vague at times. What exactly does a “generous amount of olive oil” mean? I guessed, but I’m still not sure I had it right, and you could quite easily use too much olive oil and then end up with a greasy curry.

We enjoyed it. It scored an average 7/10 – Would Eat Again from the table. I’m including the recipe below for those who would like to make it.

A few notes from my experience:

-As I said above, I would cut down on the number of potatoes, though that comes down to personal preference. I would also double the amount of cauliflower.

-I threw caution to the wind and cut the potatoes down into chunks before I par-boiled them. It saved me time in the long run, as I didn’t have to wait for them to be cool enough to handle and I could just get on with the next step right away. They held up fine.

-We all put some Greek yogurt on top to lessen the sting of all the spaces.

-Before you start, check the supply levels on the spices that it calls for. Three tablespoons takes about half of a standard-sized spice jar.

-Ella recommends that you have it with brown rice. We were rebels and we had white rice instead. We like to live life on the edge.

Continue reading ““Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella””

“Cauliflower and Potato Curry” from “Deliciously Ella”

“Katsu Curry” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”

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Kirstin: I made this especially for you Miles, as I know you always choose this at Wagamama.

Tom: It smells amazing!

Kirstin: Doesn’t it? And I even did some deep fat frying too. Except I didn’t go the whole 8cm of oil, because we didn’t have enough oil! So what do you think Miles?

Miles: I love it! Could you make it again?

Kirstin: Well, I could. Even though it’s a bit of a faff! I particularly liked the rice.

Tom: What was the magic ingredient?

Kirstin: Creamed coconut. Subtle, but delicious. And sadly, with the daylight savings we are now into the territory of terrible food photography from me. Apologies for the next few months.

“Katsu Curry” from “Jamie’s Comfort Food”