Jennee’s Sunday Spread… Beetroot curry a la Peter Kuruvita and some damn fine spiced potato cakes

Damn red. Damn tasty
Damn red. Damn tasty

This week Jennee thought she would do her regular Sunday cook-up in Saturday as she had a date with another purdy girl, for her birthday, on Sunday. Also, she was, how you say (an Eastern European accent works well here), champing at the bit to redeem herself after not really being in any kind of fit state to attempt a cook-up last Sunday… or even hold a coherent conversation… or even sit the correct way on a toilet seat. Point being; I think she’s really starting to enjoy her time in the limelight, sitting back, watching the accolades come rolling in.

This week the debt owed to the food gods has been paid in full. This girl is on fire… not literally of course, because that would make me some kind of sadist or something similar as I sit here typing away while my wife goes up like frigging Guy Falks! Anyway, Peter Kuruvita from Flying Fish Restaurant, SBS TV and cookbook writing fame has helped Jennee out with this one. He does not know Jennee and did not make a special trip to our house to help her cook (I don’t think), but through the power of internet based knowledge, he has personally handed her this pixelated recipe. Although her eyes are not even sharp enough to recognize the pixels… it’s not a Commodore 64, after all.

Yes, Peter showed my Jennee how to make a Sri Lankan beetroot curry (original recipe here), and then Jennee showed Peter that she likes to free style with recipes and this was the result. To be honest, it was quite a surprise how tasty this beetroot curry was. But I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me though. I mean, I love beetroot and I love curry. (Realisation hits) Shit! That’s right. That is how wars are started, folks. Open your mind. Free yourself of prejudices. Try the beetroot curry. Rush now child… ze Germans are coming…

We had the beetroot curry with steamed rice, spiced potato cakes, eggplant pickle, cucumber yoghurt, fresh chilli and lemon.

Still damn red
Still damn red
Potato cakes in the foreground. Jennee toasts her efforts in the background
Potato cakes in the foreground. Jennee toasts her efforts in the background

BEETROOT CURRY (for 4)
350 g (12 oz) small beetroots, washed & trimmed
50 g (1¾ oz) ghee
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 small green chillies, finely chopped
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated or chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chilli powder
3 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon caster sugar
200 ml (7 fl oz) coconut milk

• Cut the beetroots and stems if using into 1cm (1/2 in) pieces.
• Heat the ghee in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion and green chilli for 6-8 minutes or until translucent. Add the curry leaves and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes or until fragrant.
• Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer over very low heat, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until the beetroot is tender.
• Season to taste and serve.

SPICED POTATO CAKES
(if there’s any left they go great guns with some poached eggs and chutney for breakfast the next day…)
4 med-large potatoes, boiled until just cooked
½ red onion, finely diced
1 handful coriander, chopped
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander seed
4 curry leaf, chopped
a pinch dried chilli flakes if you want
a pinch of salt and pepper
1 egg

• Grate potatoes while they are still warm
• Mix it all together
• Form into little potato cakes
• Fry in a bit of oil on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side, or until brown and crispy

a butter chicken curry for richy

“I got given a bunch of curry leaves from a lady at work, I haven’t used them before. How about a little recipe for me my old mukka? (no red meat so Bronia can enjoy 2) no pressure of course!” Richy


Aw me old mate Richy. My other BFFF. A recipe using curry leaves would be the very least I would do for this guy (and his lovely lady)…

First thing to know about curry leaves is if you have heaps and your tree is getting a little out of control, cut it back and dry them out. Tie them up in a bunch and hang them on your verandah, or on a curtain rod in a warm window if you live in an inner city apartment, to dry out…

Fried curry leaves can be added to dahl or chutneys, and are also good combined with fried chilli and garlic to use as a garnish for Indian curries… Mmmm, curry. I think I have to give you a curry recipe because I am literally salivating for one right now. I’m fucked if someone comes in and sees me drooling on the keyboard… I’ll just pretend I was looking at porn. Hmmm. Anyway, everyone likes butter chicken curry right? Well now you can make it for yerself (you should probably thank Pauly for this one because he was the person to introduce me to butter chicken all those years ago).

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BUTTER CHICKEN CURRY for a few people with heaps of leftovers for tomorrow. Trust me, you want leftovers.

2kg chicken thigh, cut into 3-4 pieces each

½ cup natural yoghurt

1 tspn tumeric

2 tspn garam masala

1 pinch chilli flakes, or more if you like it hot, or less if you are a pussy

1 tspn ground cumin

2 tbls sweet paprika

1 pinch ground cardamon

1 small knob ginger, peeled & grated

2 cloves garlic, crushed

30-40g roasted macadamias, blitzed or pounded or pulverised

1 brown onion onion

make a paste* and marinate chicken in above ingredients overnight if possible, or a few hours at the least

2 cinnamon quills

1 bay leaf

5-6 curry leaves

50g unsalted butter

250g tomato paste

150ml chicken stock

1 cup cream

On a med-low heat, fry off marinated chicken in butter 5-10 minutes, add tomato paste and cook a further 5 minutes.

I like to add a couple of diced potatoes right now (desiree or dutch cream or kipfler) but you certainly don’t have to. I’m not the boss of you, I know.

Add all other ingredients and simmer until just cooked (so the chicken don’t break down).

Check seasoning (just for something different) and eat with heaps of accompaniments.

PS. You don’t want the curry to boil or the yoghurt will split…

Serve with steamed basmati rice, cucumber salad, some kind of riata, a chutney, some pappadoms or naan bread… you get the picture. If you want to impress ‘someone’ but are a little bit time-poor you can get the rice and condiments on your way home from work at the local Indian restaurant.

It might look like it has quite a few ingredients, probably because it has, but it’s not really that complicated if you know your way around your spice cabinet.

*make a paste. If I ever say this and forget to explain what it means, it’s because I think you are smart enough to have learnt by now it means MAKE A PASTE. Pound with a mortar and pestle or blitz in a food processor or blender.