Fancy getting away without leaving the city? Close the travel comparison website and swap your passport for some killer ingredients that’ll transport you to mouth-watering places. Take your tastebuds on a tantalising trip around India and Southeast Asia with these holiday-inspired Asian recipes.
Sweet Potato, Coconut and Tomato Dahl
The recipe: Sweet Potato, Coconut and Tomato Dahl. One of the oldest recipes in the Indian cuisine, dahl is a satisfying bowl of aromatic goodness that is comfort food at its most nutritious.
Hero ingredient: Lentils are a staple ingredient in South-Asian cuisine; inexpensive, wholesome and great carriers of complex, aromatic flavours. They pack a mega protein punch too. We’ve used red split lentils for this dish, but dahl recipes traditionally vary according to the region from which they’re from in India. In fact, dahl literally means ‘to split’, and this could apply to a variety of pulses.
Chef’s tip: Farmdrop chef Alice honed this dish at home after her envious travels around India. “It’s all about the balance of flavours in this humble dish. Roasting the sweet potato adds a caramel richness, and simmering the spiced lentils for a while concentrates the flavour. Tasting throughout the cooking allows you to adjust the seasoning accordingly. A squeeze of lime at the end adds freshness. Leave the dahl to stand for a few minutes before serving. It’s better warm rather than hot.”
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Phở
The recipe: Vietnamese Beef Noodle Phở. (Pronounced fuh), this is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup made from an intense vitamin-rich bone stock topped with the freshest Thai herbs and vegetables.
Hero ingredient: It really is all about the bones (that’s where all the goodness is). It takes time to extract the wonderful vitamins and minerals from the bones, so we recommend getting hold of plenty of bones, let these simmer away all day, then use when necessary. You can freeze bone stock to use again, in soup, casserole, stew, curry or meat sauces.
Chef’s tip: Farmdrop Recipe Developer and MasterChef semi-finalist Beth says: “When making pho or any noodle soup, don’t be limited to just beef. Chicken, fish or vegetable stock make a great base. Next time you roast a Fosse Meadows chicken, don’t throw the carcass (these birds are slow grown for 81 days which means their bones are more mature and strong, with lots more nutritious vitamins, minerals and collagen). Cover the bones with plenty of cold water, add a tsp black peppercorns, a celery stick, ½ an onion, 1 carrot and whatever fresh herbs you have lying around and simmer for 8-12 hours, removing any scum that rises to the top. Then leave the stock to cool, discard the fat that has gathered on the top and enjoy!”
Thai Red Butternut Squash Curry
The recipe: Thai Red Butternut Squash Curry. One of the most popular and commonly known Thai dishes, this curry can easily be made completely wrong, but it’s super easy to replicate at home with a few chef tips.
Hero ingredient: Good quality coconut milk is one of the most important ingredients in oriental dishes, but for that true coconut flavour, you’ve got to get hold of the best. Try the incredible Amazin Organic coconut milk – it comes straight from Sri Lanka, where coconut trees grow along the coast in abundance.
Chef’s Tip: Saiphin Moore, head chef and co-founder of London’s much-loved restaurants Rosa’s Thai Cafe says: “Many traditional Thai curries are cooked with coconut milk. This gives a thin, almost soupy consistency but that doesn’t mean a lack of flavour. With the right aromatics in the right quantities, a thin curry can taste just as intense as a thick one.”
Spicy Pollock & Thai Basil Stir Fry (Pla Pad Prik)
The recipe: Spicy Pollock & Thai Basil Stir Fry (Pla Pad Prik). A super quick, authentic Thai family recipe that traditionally uses any seasonal meaty white fish from the daily catch.
Hero ingredient: Thai basil. It’s really hard to describe the unique flavour of Thai basil because it basically tastes like a trip to South East Asia (yet ours is grown in sustainable closed-loop greenhouses in at Thompson’s Farm in Essex!) – sweet, very aromatic, with hints of aniseed, it’s less floral and more spicy and delicate than regular cultivated basil.
Saiphin says: There are two main kinds of basil used throughout Thai cooking: Thai basil and Holy basil, both cultivars of sweet (Mediterranean) basil. Thai basil (Bai-Gra-Prow) has purple stems with smaller and darker green leaves than its parent plant, but is similar at first glance, so is sometimes called Thai sweet basil, even though it has a liquorice-like flavour. It is used extensively in Thai cuisine, in soups, stir-fries, herb salads or cold noodle dishes.
Chef Saiphin’s tip: Thai basil leaves have a fresh delicate flavour, so they don’t need to be cooked like some harder herbs. In this recipe, it’s important to add the leaves to the sauce just before serving.
Goan Hake Curry
The recipe: Goan Hake Curry. This proper curry embodies all that’s good about Goan cuisine – fiery chilli heat, slight sourness, as well as an abundance of coconut, ginger and super fresh fish.
Hero ingredient: Red chilli, fresh and dried! Why add both powdered or dried and fresh chilli? Not to make your curry insanely, unbearably hot, but to add important layers of flavour. The fresh chilli adds an initial sweet and zingy warmth which quickly dissipates, however dried chilli adds a longer lasting spice and a more complex chilli flavour. If you’re really not a chilli fan, then the fiery kick of fresh ginger can add a similar flavour without the tongue burn.
Chef Beth’s tip: “Removing the skin from fish. This is important if the fish isn’t being fried but poached in the curry sauce, as it ensure the fish is cooked evenly and avoids flabby, unpleasant fish skin. Place the fillet skin side down. Using a thin, slightly bendy filleting knife, make a small cut underneath the flesh to separate the skin from the meat. Holding the skin with your non-knife hand, slowly cut along the fillet with the blade angled slightly downward to cut away the flesh, gripping the skin as you go.”
Discover more Asian recipes and locally grown Asian ingredients at Farmdrop. Use the code ZESTY to receive a delicious free bundle of lemongrass, limes, chilies, large spring onions, fresh coriander & soy sauce. Minimum spend £60. Offer ends midnight 25th June 2017.
Hungry now? Check out Rosa’s Thai Cafe across London.