My husband bought me a new pestle and mortar this week—mainly because we are watching Celebrity MasterChef on the Beeb and every time I spot one of the stars pounding their garlic, I sigh and wish out loud that I had such a big one…
Cue the delivery of a weighty package. I crushed eight cloves of garlic in it at once to celebrate. Vampire-proofed to the max, what else could I do? How about a lamb curry where I roasted whole spices and then pounded them to dust?
This lamb curry in almond sauce is a recipe I adapted from the Spice Sisters Indian cookbook. The whole spices are cumin and fennel seeds, and cardamom, all of which will scent your kitchen beautifully as you roast them. Serve your curry with cauliflower rice or this low-carb naan bread. Normal rice and naan bread will keep the carb-lovers in your family happy.
In a small pan, dry-fry the cumin, fennel and cardamom for a few minutes. Pound to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the meta in batches until it is browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the onions.
Fry until translucent. Add all the other ingredients (except the lamb and the lemon juice) and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes and then use a hand-held blender to make the sauce smooth.
Add the lamb back in, pop on a lid and allow to gently simmer for 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice at the end.
Allow 15g carbs per portion.
The golden rule with curry is it almost always tastes better the next day.
As a one-time vegetarian, I love vegetable or pulse-based curries. I’d choose them over meat-based ones any day. I’m also a fan of tamarind paste—it adds amazing tangy flavour to any curry.
Last week, I made a veggie curry using the left-overs in the fridge and combining them in a rich sauce. Had I been the only one eating it, I would have added cauliflower but my husband hates the stuff and veggie dishes are a hard sell to him so I left it out.
Recipes often specify coconut milk, which is fine if you need a whole tin of it. I keep packets of creamed coconut in my store cupboards (fridge in the summer) as it’s much more versatile. You can use however much you need without waste, and it can be a thickener or made into a cream.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Strictly speaking, you should put the onions in first, fry till translucent, then add the peppers, courgette and carrot, cook for five minutes and add the mushrooms last. I’m too lazy to add the veggies one by one so I threw them all in at once and cooked for about six minutes.
Add the curry powder, tamarind paste and chillies and cook for another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Mix in the creamed coconut and turn down to a simmer. Cook for about five minutes. The creamed coconut will thicken the sauce. Add seasoning to taste.
To make it more of a main meal, You could add some fresh chicken stock to this and turn it into a sauce for chicken thighs or throw in a good handful of cooked prawns and cook for a minute to warm through. Another worthy addition is two or three balls of frozen spinach. Defrost and warm through beforehand, obvs.
Allow about 15-18g of carbs per portion. Serve with naan breads (low-carb version here) or rice for the carb-lovers in your life.
Who was the first person to look at a cauliflower and a bowl of leftover cheese sauce and think—“My goodness, this will be a match made in heaven?”
Whoever he or she was, I’d like to shake them by the hand. If someone said to me, “Okay it’s your last meal on earth, what do you want?”, I’d say, “Cauliflower cheese, please, and don’t stint the cheese.” As it is my last meal, I’d ask them to top it with crispy breadcrumbs and some grilled bacon rashers for crunch.
[Conversation to the side. HUSBAND: Seriously, that’s your last meal? Not steak, or lobster or even a good burger with all the trimmings? Jeez. Who/what did I marry?]
On Friday night, I was at the Tron Theatre (get me) with friends and noticed the bar menu included curried cauliflower cheese. That set the neurons firing. The world’s best dish made even better?
The Tron’s version would have been made the conventional way—a white sauce with milk and flour to thicken it. Low-carb versions use variations of cream and cream cheese to thicken the sauce. Where would the curry bit come in?
One of the ways to cook cauliflower often recommended to those who hate the stuff* is to roast it in the oven with cumin and coriander seeds and chilli. That takes care of the curry bit. Then, if you combine it with a creamy sauce and grated cheese and pop it back in the oven you have the perfect low-carb cauliflower cheese.
You can serve this as an accompaniment to cold meat such as sliced ham or cooked sausages. Or do as I did—serve yourself a super-big portion with a lightly-dressed green salad. Yum.
The best veggie dish in the world made even better
One large whole cauliflower, broken into even-sized florets
One tbsp turmeric
One tbsp rapeseed oil
One tbsp cumin seeds
One tbsp coriander seeds
One tsp black pepper corns
½ tsp chilli flakes (or more…)
250mls double cream
100g grated cheese (extra mature to vintage cheddar is best)**
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Bring a large saucepan of well salted water to the boil, add the turmeric and cook the cauliflower florets for two minutes. Drain well so they are very dry.
Toast the cumin, coriander and pepper in a dry frying pan until the smell of them hits your nose like a sledgehammer and grind to to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
Take a large roasting pan and tip your florets in there. Add the oil and the spices and mix well so the florets are well coated. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the cream gently in a pan and add the mustard and most of the grated cheese. Blend well.
Remove the cauliflower florets from the oven. Place in an oven-proof serving dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Top with the rest of the grated cheese and put back in the oven for 20 minutes.
Allow about 5-8g carbs per serving
Note—the number of servings depends on the size of cauliflower you started with. Mine was teeny, so my dish made two. If I’d served it as a side dish, three-to four. But we are in glutton territory here. Maybe I pretended the dish above served two and ate the whole lot in one go… no-one else in my household wanted to eat it, after all. Another idea is to prepare the roasted cauliflower as a side dish for any roast meat.
*Didn’t work on my husband. Cauliflower is up there on his list of the Devil’s Foods, along with broccoli, sprouts and blue cheese.
**This is a rough guide. If you choose to double it up, who am I to judge?