Fish vs Chicken – and a healthy curry recipe to boot

I’ve been eating an awful lot of fish lately; partly because I love it, but also because I’m trying to trim up a little. Heck, I even went running last night (for the first time in ages), and my poor legs are feeling it today. But it felt great, and I always find when I’m exercising I don’t want unhealthy food, perhaps it’s because I know how hard it is to run off a two finger Kit-Kat – that’s the equivalent of running a mile. Yep, that’s right a whole mile. However, as much as I strive to be good and eat the right foods, I’m never going to be able to stop eating curry, that’s a fact. So, how do I make curry healthy? Humm… this is certainly a difficult one, but a few swaps here and there all help to lessen the calories. This fish curry was absolutely sublime and so healthy; I’ll definitely be making it again, and again.

Whilst chicken may be higher in protein than most types of fish, the fat and calorie quantities speak for themselves. A typical portion of fish will contain half the calories of the same portion of chicken. I’ve done my research you see, the following comparison was taken from Two Foods, which is an amazing website I’ve recently discovered. The site allows you to compare the calorie, carb, fat and protein levels of two different foods, so making the right (healthy) choice is easy.

Another option would be to make a vegetable curry; there are so many wonderful vegetables that can transform a curry into an array of flavour and colours. Swap the fatty double cream for low fat natural yoghurt and avoid using butter or ghee. I know they are tasty, but they also make you fat and honestly you probably won’t even notice the difference.

Having decided that fish is the best way forward, I’ve since been experimenting with various fishy dishes and you can expect to see more over the coming weeks, as long as I don’t fall of the wagon and find myself gorging on pasta. It’s a possibility; I’m only human after all. 

Serves 2

1 small white fish fillet (cod or haddock), roughly chopped
Handful of peeled cooked prawns, frozen
200g chopped tomatoes
1 white onion, quartered
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2cm piece of ginger, minced
1tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
150g natural yoghurt
400ml fish stock
Handful freshly shopped coriander to garnish

Toast the mustard seeds in an oil free pan for about 30 seconds. Set aside. Using one tablespoon of vegetable oil fry the onion and pepper pieces until soft, the onion should have some colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the garlic and ginger to the pan, with a little more oil, if required, cook until lightly coloured, then add the mustard seeds, chilli flakes, cumin, ground coriander, garam masala and turmeric. Allow the spices to cook until fragrant; do not allow them to burn or the curry will taste bitter.

Add the pepper, onions, chopped tomatoes and the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice and the fish and prawns and continue to cook for about 3-4 minutes. Once the fish is cooked add the yoghurt and stir well. Serve immediately garnished with freshly chopped coriander. 


Delicious Chicken Curry in a Hurry

I know, I know, before you say it, does the world really need another chicken curry recipe? Well yes, you can never have enough curry recipes, and there is nothing I like more than experimenting with spices; a little less garam masala, a little more chilli… you get the picture.
This recipe is one that I have developed over time; having read literally heaps of curry cookbooks and tested out many variations this is perhaps my favourite so far, and the reason is twofold. Firstly, you could chuck this together in less time it would take you to order and pick up a takeaway, and secondly it won’t even set you back at half the cost – not to mention it’s delicious. Okay that’s three reasons.
If thick creamy curries are not your thing, but quick convenient food is, give this a go. The fact that you use yoghurt instead of cream means you don’t get that ghastly heavy, creamy texture that so many Indian restaurants serve. This is a tomato based curry so it’s actually fairly light as curries go.  Essentially, all good curries start out the same; the basics are, of course, onions, garlic and spices, followed by liquid (water or stock) and meat, or indeed vegetables and perhaps a little cream or yoghurt. Once you have the concept and measurements right, you are ready to start experimenting yourself. Fundamentally, there are no rules here, by all means make this a fish, vegetable or meat curry if it suits you better, and up the spice according to your own taste. Served with plain boiled rice it’s perfect, or try out some of my more exciting rice and Indian side dish recipes.

300g diced chicken breast
2 tbsp butter or ghee
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large white onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 ½ inch piece of ginger, minced
2 red finger chillies
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tbsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp caster sugar
300ml water
100g low fat natural yoghurt
Heat the butter and oil in a large non-stick pan, add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies, cook for about 6 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the spices and fry for a further 2 minutes. Do not let the spices burn. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and water, stir well and add the chicken. Cook for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile boil the rice. Once the chicken has had 12 minutes, add the yoghurt and stir well. It may look as though it is separating a little at first, but continue to stir and the sauce will come back together.
If you do prefer a thicker curry, mix a tbsp of corn flour with a tbsp of water and stir into the curry. Serve immediately with the boiled rice.

The Hairy Bikers’ Chicken Jalfrezi

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of curries and I love the Hairy Bikers. So, when I discovered their latest book at the weekend I was ecstatic. Great Curries is an amazing 384 page bible of curries from all over, showcasing poultry, meat, fish and vegetable curries, as well as an impressive array of sides, breads and rice dishes. Worth £15 of anyone’s money! Well, at least it was, until I discovered I could have purchased it on Amazon for £10. Anyway… this is a slightly odd post really as the recipe I’m sharing is actually from The Hairy Dieters’ recipe book that you may have seen in my January giveaway. But, I thought I’d share with you my joy of the new book in my growing collection.
This Jalfrezi recipe is brilliant, its spicy, flavoursome and the best part is that it’s healthy. With just 279 calories per serving you could have curry more often than you think. But, if you’re on a diet just remember the rice is extra.
It’s also worth me mentioning that I have made this curry (from the recipe) about six times already, so I know its fool proof and down right tasty. The last time that I made it I decided to add some spinach at the end which was a lovely addition, and I know it’s not strictly authentically Indian, but I tend to use birds eye chillies instead of the long green ones. I like the heat!

For the Hairy Biker’s Recipe click here!


South West Indian Fish Curry

This Friday brings with it the start of a new month, a better one than the last, I hope. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad January is over; I’m itching to move on with the year and February is always filled with so much more promise, the evenings are becoming lighter and spring is just around the corner. So, to mark the start of a new month, why not try a new recipe? Something you wouldn’t normally cook, like a South West Indian Fish Curry.

It was by spending a good few hours researching various different recipes that I was able to create this one, essentially it’s an authentic South West Indian Fish Curry with a few tweaks here and there for personal preference. I know the thought of fish curry makes some people turn their noses up, but to those people I say don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it. This dish makes for a wonderful aromatic light meal that doesn’t compromise on flavour. Now, you might be fairly surprised to learn that coconut milk is the base of this curry, but coconut is native to South West India, so it’s a key flavour in many dishes that originate there. It can be in the form of milk, cream or flesh, depending upon the dish. As well as coconut milk being in abundance, rice is the staple diet for all South West Indians so there’s no need for chapattis or naan breads, just plain boiled rice works a treat, simple.

This particular recipe is typical of Goa, where coconut and fish dominate the regional cuisine, and because of the 101 km coastline, fresh fish is often more commonly used than meat. If you look into different recipes you will often find that kingfish, cod and pollock are used in this curry. But, you can use whatever white fish you like, although it’s a good idea to choose one that is robust so that it doesn’t end up falling apart.  I opted for monkfish because of the delicate flavour and meaty texture.

Don’t stress too much if you can’t get a certain type of fish, fresh and local is best, so just go for whatever looks good on the day. Pollock is a good choice as it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than its over-fished counterparts (cod and haddock).

How to bone a monkfish tail

If you’re using a monkfish tail you’ll need to remove the bone. Place the knife into the fish at the thickest end, flat against the bone, run the knife length ways down the bone. Once one fillet is removed repeat on the other side. Remove the thin purple membrane skin from the fish and throw away. Cut the fillets into chunks, ensuring they are all roughly the same size.

South West Indian Fish Curry

Serves 2-3 people

1 monkfish tail, boned and cut into chunks
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, diced
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tbsp ground cumin
½ tbsp turmeric
½ tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp sugar
5 cloves garlic, minced
3cm piece of ginger, minced
2 star anise
2 green chillies (or 1 if you prefer it milder)
1 can of coconut milk
Plain boiled rice to serve
It’s a good idea to do your prep first, and then put your rice on to boil; by the time it’s cooked the curry will be done.
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-low heat; add the spices and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened. Be careful that the spices don’t burn or they will add a bitter flavour to the curry.
After the 5 minutes add the garlic, ginger and chilli, cook for a further 3 minutes before adding the tamarind, star anise, sugar and coconut milk. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Add the fish and cook for 4-5 minutes, serve with rice.


Indian food that looks and tastes great…

By now I’m sure you all know just how much I love Indian food, and this week has seen two curries made in my house, the first was a delicious (and very hot) Jalfrezi and last night I made my Chicken and Cashew Curry for my friends. I just can’t get enough. Making curry at home is great, but you often miss out on all the side dishes because you either don’t know how, or can’t be bothered to make them. But let me tell you, it really is so simple and they can all be pulled together in the time your curry cooks. Check out my recipe for Bhindi Bhaji here.

So, you already know how to make the curry, and rice is rice right? Wrong! Boring plain boiled rice deserves no place at your table when you’re making an Indian meal. When I think of Indian food, I think exciting, spicy and aromatic flavours. Remember – Plain rice is for plain people! Making just a couple of small tweaks can give you wonderful fragrant rice dishes that anyone can be proud of. It will look like you have pulled out all the stops and no one need know it only took you 5 minutes longer. It can be a simple as chucking in a handful of peas and freshly chopped coriander at the last minute, or have a go at these:

Fragrant Rice

Lemon Rice – Boil the rice in half water, half chicken stock and 2 table spoons of lemon juice and grated lemon zest to serve. 

Garlic Rice – Fry a chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves in a pan until golden, add the rice and liquid, cook according to packet instructions.

Mushroom Rice – Fry a chopped onion, chopped garlic clove and a few chopped mushrooms in a pan until soft, add the rice and liquid, cook according to packet instructions

So, now you’ve got your curry and rice down have a go at these crispy aromatic Bombay potatoes. You’re going to love them.

Bombay Potatoes

8 large new potatoes

4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black mustard seeds

Peel and chop the potatoes into small chunks, parboil them for about 10 minutes, drain and return to the pan.Add the butter and oil to the pan and place over a high heat, adding the spices once the butter has melted. Give the potatoes a good stir to ensure the spices cover all of the potatoes. The butter and oil will bubble up and almost fry the potatoes making them wonderfully crispy. Keep stirring and cooking for 10 minutes, then serve immediately with your curry.

That’s it, it’s that simple. Now you’re wondering why you didn’t make these little tweaks before right. I have no doubt that these simple side dishes will really vamp up your homemade curry and allow you to throw on an impressive Indian spread for your guests. 


Chicken & Cashew Curry

A play on Malaysian and Singaporean flavours, this simple gentle curry is made creamy with the addition of blended cashew nuts, which impart a lovely sweet flavour without being too rich.  

I have recently been on a mission to find a really good authentic curry recipe. Having checked out nearly every Indian and Asian cookery book in my local library I have been successful in my efforts. The praise is for Bill Granger, the author of Bill’s Everyday Asian. This book is the next thing on my shopping list. You can find it here.
Bill Granger is a self taught cook who grew up in Australia, he has written several cookery books and owns seven restaurants, one in London, three in Sydney, three in Japan where he currently lives. I am so pleased to have discovered a new chef, especially one whose forte is Asian food and i look forward to delving further into Bill’s books and recipes.  
I made a few small variations to this recipe; I added 2 finger chillies as I like spicy food and roasted the cashews myself.

For Bill Granger’s Recipe click here!


Bhindi Bhaji

Just lately every time I have Indian food, I look straight for the bhindi bhaji, even before I select my main course. It is, without doubt, my favourite Indian side dish, just love the fresh taste of the okra combined with the subtle spices and onions. I have been meaning to make this myself for quite some time, so here we are.

A fresh batch of okra, cooked right, is simply delicious. And here’s the best part, like most veggies, it is low in calories and packed with nutrients. I think people tend to shy away from okra as it is mostly unknown, but even those who are familiar with it often find they are unsure of how to cook it.
Okra is often referred to as ‘ladies fingers’ because of its long and tapered shape, looking much like a finger. When selecting okra remember the shorter younger pods will be much more tender, and the longer, more mature pods can often be stringy and lack flavour.

200g okra, cut into 1cm pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 banana shallots sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp mild curry powder
120ml chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sea salt
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and spices and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is cooked through.
  2. Pour in the tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes then add the okra, cook for about 10 minutes until the okra is cooked through.
  3. Season with a pinch of sea salt and serve immediately.

Serves:                                                  2
Preparation time:                                5 minutes
Cooking time:                                     15 minutes
When cooked okra often exudes a thick, slimy liquid, which is what puts most people off, and it can be problematic if you want to eat it sautéed, fried or steamed. The trick is to keep the cooking time short. Listed below are some other ways in which you can reduce the sliminess of your okra:
  • Keep the okra whole whilst cooking, not only will this help prevent the nasty sliminess; it will also keep it crisp.  
  • Wash the okra before cooking, but ensure that you dry it straight away with some kitchen towel, and only ever wash your okra when you’re ready to use it.
  • Add something acidic. Recipes that contain acidic ingredients, such as vinegar and lemon juice reduce the sliminess.

Don’t worry if your okra is a little slimy, this is absolutely normal, and it tastes fine. I understand that some people are completely put off by this and will not eat it at all. I think this is a shame as it really is a little treat if it’s cooked right.