Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marcus Wareing Does Curry - Part 1

Mon 21 April 2008

I've been very lucky: I've received a copy of Marcus Wareing's new book, One Perfect Ingredient, for review. You probably know Wareing as Ramsay's sidekick in various television programs, and two Michelin starred chef at Pétrus (visited by Eating Leeds in February). This will probably give you a lot of preconceptions about the type of recipes that might be in this book ... and I'd say you're highly likely to be wrong.

This is a seriously practical book. OK - the Gâteau Opéra is for the very dedicated, but most of the recipes are light on both ingredients and technique, with an emphasis on fresh and simple. As its name suggests, the book has a focus on individual ingredients: the very first recipe is a stunning looking Moroccan aubergine dish, and for pretty much anything you can think of, Wareing provides three different recipes. Many of the recipes will have parts that you can isolate and reuse elsewhere, and there are suggestions for variations throughout.

I was tempted (sorely) by a great many dishes, but opted to start with the Indian style lamb chops, accompanied by dahl.

Let's start with the dahl.

For such an uncomplicated book, I was surprised that Wareing begins his recipe by soaking 125g (for two) of red lentils for at least four hours. Soak red lentils? Well, on occasion even I follow instructions (or take advice), so I soaked my lentils overnight. A quick rinse, cover the lentils with cold water, and bring to the boil for a very precise 6 minutes. While this was going on, I heated a pan, and then added 2 tsp of cumin seeds, 2 tsp of turmeric, a generous dash of crushed chillis and 1 tsp of ground coriander (would you believe that the recipe actually calls for fennel seeds - AGAIN?!). The cumin seeds were soon bouncing around the hot pan and the kitchen smelled great. Time to add a good generous splash of vegetable oil, followed by a finely sliced onion and 3 cloves of garlic, crushed. Keep the pan hot and cook this down until the onions are golden, turning to brown.

By now, the 6 minutes will be well and truly up ... time to drain the lentils and then add them to the pan with your onion mix. Stir well and then add passata, a pinch of demerara sugar and salt to taste. Cook until you're happy with the consistency and the lentils are cooked. If you need to keep this warm cover with foil and put in a low oven.

Serve in a bowl, with some coriander sprinkled over the top.

Not only did this look good, it tasted excellent too. Soaking the lentils means they cook really quickly - I found that by the time they went into the frying pan with the onions they were done. Loading the dish with onion adds richness, and by dry roasting the spices first you do get a more subtle, complex flavour. This is also a ridiculously healthy dish.

Proof that good feed needn't be bad for you, needn't cost a fortune and needn't be difficult to prepare. All from a two Michelin starred chef.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would never have dreamt of soaking red lentils, but, having said that, i do see the point of it. they cook more quickly, thus saving energy.
btw, here's a dahl you may like: http://maninas.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/.

i've also enjoyed marcus' book. i made the aubergine dish, and had it with some couscous. it was delicious! :)

7:09 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

That very first aubergine dish looks stunning ... I'll have to try it out!

11:35 am  

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