"It is divine: rich, sophisticated, flavourful, ultra-curry but with a delicate complexity unknown to most who have not tried real authentic Indian food." Chef Heidi
It's a cooking from a guru's cookbook week and this week it's Madhur Jaffrey. The book I chose is A Taste of India, which may be the first of her books that I acquired, although I'm not sure about that. I'm still slightly dithering over which recipe to use, but it will be chicken and copious amounts of herbs - either coriander or mint or both together. I bought them this morning. However I didn't buy any green chillies and I have none, so I suspect this may actually determine what I cook.
I think, before I cooked with Madhur Jaffrey, as it were, I did not think about green herbs much in relation to Indian food. Maybe a sprinkling on top at the end, but not much. Actually when I began cooking Indian food I don't think I even knew what coriander was, and generally used parsley when it was called for. A thing that makes Nigel Slater, for one, very cross. Now I realise he is right. Well not right in the sense that you shouldn't substitute, but right in the sense that it won't taste the same. Of course not - but there's nothing wrong with parsley.
Anyway I think I first understood the power of adding a heap of herbs at the end of the recipe when I first made her Chicken with fresh dill from Madhur Jaffrey's Cookbook: food for family and friends, which although Indian influenced is not a completely Indian cookbook. It's possibly my favourite of her books. There are two cups of chopped dill in this recipe - a lemony yoghurt based - dish which is not that spicy but has this wonderful hit of fresh dill at the end. Ever since I made that I have sometimes done the same thing when I am making similar kinds of dishes for myself. It honestly makes all the difference - but there has to be a lot and added right at the end. I cannot find a picture of it alas, but do have a go at the recipe.
Whilst we are still on dill a similar recipe is from A Taste of India and is an actual Indian dish - Methi murgh a chicken and fresh fenugreek curry. There are variations all over India. However, as Madhur Jaffrey points out fresh fenugreek is hard to find - I have bought some once at the Queen Vic Market, but haven't seen it since. And so for her version she used dill which means, as she says, that technically it should be called Murgh Sooa. It's very similar to the Chicken with fresh dill recipe.
The Methi murgh (Chicken in fenugreek curry) shown here was made by Chef Heidi Fink. Her words at the top of the page. She also said that it was her favourite Indian curry. However, she did make the 'authentic version with fenugreek. I think I did that time I found the fenugreek - but you know, I think I preferred it with dill. The fenugreek had very little taste at all it seemed to me.
Before I turn to Madhur Jaffrey versions of actual Indian dishes, I will mention another couple of dishes, which seem to be her inventions, though are most likely based on an actual Indian dish. There are three of these, but alas, no pictures for all of them except one.
Two are from her food for family friends book that I mentioned before. The first is Chicken with herbs which is an interesting title because the fresh herb here is parsley and there is a little less than the two cups for the dill recipe. Just four tablespoons. And there's dried thyme and dried oregano as well - so not very authentically Indian. For some reason I don't think I have made this, but since I've gone to the bother of buying bunches of coriander and mint I won't do it today either. I didn't buy dill so that I could do my favourite dish because you can only get miserly little containers of dill in the supermarket here - not a big bunch as from the market.
The second is called Chicken legs with fresh coriander and sultanas the recipe for which can be found on Food.com but not with a picture. This one is Persian influenced and uses the more perfumed spices like cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. More royal really. In this case the coriander is cooked with the chicken too, rather than being added at the end.
If you look for 'Madhur Jaffrey chicken herbs' on the net you will invariably come up with Lemony chicken with coriander which must be an early recipe of hers, which apparently meant that supplies of coriander in Manchester disappeared when she demonstrated it on the television. The coriander is cooked with the chicken in this one too. Lots of people have made it and published on the net.
Then there are her versions of classic Indian dishes. The first of these is Do piaza and alas there is no picture - or recipe either in this case. This one is the closest to how I imagine hers to look. Do-piaza features onions - the title translates as two onions, but nobody seems to agree on what that means. The recipes on the net don't feature her final lavish addition of a kind of pesto of mint, coriander, lemon juice and green chillies either. So maybe it's a Madhur Jaffrey thing rather than an Indian thing. I'm pretty sure I have made this and I was actually going to do it again today, but forgot those chillies. Never mind there are still options.
The first is a dish which she calls Chutney ni murghi (Chicken cooked in green chutney). In her version you make a fresh chutney with coriander, mint, chillies, garlic, ginger and coconut - I guess you can now see that I won't be making this either. But it does sound yummy and I will give it a go one day - well maybe not - there's coconut.
I did find other versions of this dish on the net - One from Meera Sodha's first book Made in India, which she calls Coriander chutney chicken and one which is just called Coriander chicken from a lady called Catherine Phipps - and to be honest I'm not sure whether this is the same thing at all, but it looks delicious, and there's a whole lot of coriander in it.
Last of all there is a dish called Dhaniya - or various spellings of that word. And truth to tell that Coriander chicken above may be this. In any case there doesn't seem to be a huge difference in the two dishes. I also think this is the one that I shall be making tonight Dhaniwal korma - the recipe I found online is from The Times Colonist. It's a mild korma which will suit David, with that last burst of coriander - a lot of coriander at the end. I also found a picture of the version served in her New York restaurant Dawat, where there seems to be rather more sauce, and rather less coriander. Maybe it's the version she calls Murgi Dhuniya Patta Diya in one of her other books - Flavours of India.
She has one final version - a version that migrated to Kenya with the Indians who settled there. A website called With a Glass, features this recipe for Kenyan dhania chicken, which is from The Ultimate Curry Bible with the words: "As scary as it may sound to coriander haters, it was one of the best curries in my life." And I have to say it looks gorgeous. But alas I have no chillies. I also found a version of Dhaniya chicken from an Indian lady on her website called One Wholesome Meal, which sounded like an authentically home-cooked version of a classic dish - and it also looked really good.
Ok - time is ticking on so I'd better go and have a go at it. At the very least, the one thing you should learn from this post is that next time you make a curry, at the very end throw in a great big bunch of chopped fresh green herbs - coriander, mint, dill, parsley ... give it a go - it's truly delicious.