The last time anyone can remember my dear old Dad coming to the big smoke was back in 2004 to pick me up from the airport after my winemaking trip to France. As you can imagine, it took a bit of convincing to talk him into a city visit. But persistence prevailed and on Saturday night I found myself standing on the platform at central station to greet the Canberra XPT. With fish and chips on our minds we headed to arguably the best fish cafÃ© in Sydney: Fish Face in Darlinghurst.
For those of you not so familiar with the harbour city, Darlo is one of the busier suburbs of Sydney. Home to Oxford St and many a seedy nightclub it’s pretty much gay central but also home to a plethora of restaurants. For someone who spends a significant part of his day hanging out with his dogs attending to his sheep, the people watching opportunities presented a fascinating diversion.
The next night, we discovered that one of the few good things about a major life change is the chance to develop some new family traditions. And I think the Clancy family may have stumbled across a new one: Sunday night family dinner. Well family dinner with my gorgeous Sydney based little sisters and their other halves at least.
There’s nothing like a curry for a family shared meal experience. Just plonk everything in the middle of the table and let the hoard feed themselves. Makes life much easier than trying to have a mother’s memory to cater for the likes and dislikes of a large family.
It also gives you a chance to have a bit of a clean out of your spice stash. Housed in an old wine box, my spice collection is a testament to my love of Australia’s favourite spice nerd, Herbie Hemphill. It’s something that always gets a comment when visitors are checking out my pantry.
With all the fragrance and intensity of an Indian inspired meal, all that you need then is a refreshingly simple sorbet. Sweet but not too cloying. Creamy without being too rich and filling. Easy as pie (where did that saying come from?)â€¦.all good thingsâ€¦..
family curry night
lamb & eggplant curry
cherry tomato & lime chutney
steamed basmati rice
baby spinach salad with raita dressing
lamb & eggplant curry
Inspired by Karen Martini’s lamb, eggplant & yoghurt Kalahari curry
I know that curries are traditionally cooked using diced meat off the bone but I’d much rather the texture and flavour you get from slow cooking on the bone then allowing the curry to cool and the flavours to meld before shredding the meat and reheating to serve.
It may take you a bit of effort to track down fresh curry leaves but it is well worth it for the deliciously fresh authentic fragrance they lend to a curry. If you’re partial to a spot of gardening a curry leaf plant makes for a nice addition in a pot. My mate Herbie has a selection of curry plants in need of a new home.
The original intention for this curry was for a velvety creamy yoghurt based treat, but ‘forgetting’ to pick up some chickpea flour from the Indian spice store along with my fear of curdling yoghurt conspired to give a change of plans in the form of a deliciously cooling yoghurty dessert.
3T olive oil
3 brown onions halved & finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 thumb sized pieces ginger, peeled & cut into matchsticks
3t cumin seeds
5t fennel seeds
4t fenugreek, optional
1t yellow mustard seeds
2t black mustard seeds
3t ground cumin
3t ground turmeric
3t sea salt
4t kashmiri chilli powder, (or 3t hot chilli powder)
2C (500mL) water
3 eggplant (aubergine) cut into 3cm x 1cm batons
1.8kg shoulder lamb on the bone
5 large fresh red chillis, split
2 x 400g tins tomatoes and their juices
6 sprigs fresh curry leaves
steamed basmati rice, to serve
Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook onion over a medium heat until soft and just starting to brown. Add garlic, ginger and whole spices and cook stirring for a few minutes. Add remaining spices and chilli and cook for another few minutes. Add water and deglaze the pan.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 150C. Place eggplant pieces in a large roasting pan. Slash lamb crosswise into 3cm thickÂ ‘slices’ leaving the bone attached.Â Place lamb on top of the eggplant. Pour over the onion and spice mix, crumble over the tinned tomatoes and their juices and top with chillis and half of the curry leaves. Cover with foil to seal then bake for 4-5 hours turning periodically until lamb is falling off the bone. Allow to cool then shred lamb into bite sized chunks. Discard bones and return meat to the sauce. Taste and season, adding more chilli if required.Â Bring to a simmer. When ready to serve scatter over remaining curry leaves.
cherry tomato & lime relish
makes approx 2 cups
Inspired by Karen Martini
Feel free to make this hotter or milder depending on you audience. Although it’s a little early these were my first tomato purchase for the new season and a very fitting herald for the warmer months to come. Karen also recommends using this as an accompaniment to grilled fish and poultry.
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
Â½ red onion, finely diced
1 thumb sized piece ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2t celery salt
1/2t chilli flakes, or more to taste
3t brown sugar
juice 3 limes
2t sea salt
1t nigella seeds.
Combine all ingredients and season to taste. Allow to stand for 10mins. Toss before serving.
baby spinach salad with raita dressing
serves 6 as a side dish
I’m not the biggest fan of creamy salad dressings but this combo came to me the other day when I was out running. One of the things I’m not that keen on with Indian food is the focus on meat and rice and bread and the lack of attention to salads and veg. This salad has enough of an authentic feel to make it seem like a normal part of a curry feast while giving the salad lovers amongst us something lighter to nibble on.
1 lebanese cucumber, finely diced
juice Â½ lemon
6T natural yoghurt
1/4 small clove garlic, very finely chopped
4 large handfuls baby spinach, approx 150g
Combine cucumber, lemon juice, yoghurt and garlic in a small bowl and season. Wash spinach and arrange on a salad platter. Drizzle over yoghurty dressing and serve immediately.
You can vary the richness of this sorbet by choosing the fat level of your yoghurt. I went for a 5% fat option which worked a treat but feel free to go for a creamier model if you’re in a more decadent mood.
1 can sweetened condensed milk (approx 1C)
2 cans natural yoghurt (approx 2C)
Combine yoghurt and condensed milk and refrigerate until chilled. Freeze in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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