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Greetings from somewhere hotter than the sun (at least that’s what it feels like here today. It’s a more-than-balmy 42⁰C outside – that’s almost 108⁰F for all of you suffering through snow and freezing temperatures on the other side of the globe!).
I wrote today’s steam oven recipe months ago and the only reason I didn’t share it then was because the photos I took were so abominably bad I couldn’t bear for anyone else to look at them. I’m sorry you’ve had to miss out on making it for this long, because I cooked it again a few days ago and can report I liked it just as much as the first time. I also managed to get a serviceable photo this go around, so I can share at last.
As the title suggests, this is an adapted version of a Jamie Oliver recipe for a super fast Beef Kofta Curry. It appears in his 15 Minute Meals book, from which I have made several very nice (and mostly healthy) meals. Here’s the rub: in my experience the recipes generally take around half an hour or so to make. They can be done faster if you are VERY well prepped, enjoy flinging food around the kitchen at breakneck speed* and giving yourself well over 15 minutes worth of cleaning up to do afterwards. If, like me, you prefer to (sort of) clean up as you go and don’t always have all your vegetables washed and ready to go straight from the fridge, bank on things taking a little longer. All that to say it’s a great cookbook so long as you don’t expect to actually be able to do everything in 15 minutes.
Onwards. I knew I wanted to adapt this curry to the steam oven as soon as I saw it, because kofta are pretty much meatballs (oh, I can hear the purists lining up to take a shot at that comment) and I cook all my meatballs in the steam oven these days. They get nice and browned with no turning and no fuss, plus they never dry out. Although I was definitely not going to try replicating Jamie’s speed in cooking them, I did intend to make things pretty easy for myself.
It goes something like this: scrunch up meat and seasonings, squash into vaguely football shaped pieces. Put in steam oven to start cooking. Blend all sauce ingredients together, pour over partially cooked kofta. Cook a bit more. Remove from oven and eat.
Will this win awards for curry authenticity? Nope. But it gets all the ticks for simple, relatively fast, family friendly weeknight cooking. It keeps fantastically for a few days in the fridge, and freezes very well. Most frequently I make it in the afternoon so I can let the oven cool slightly before steaming rice to accompany (oh look! A steam oven rice cooking guide, how handy!), but if you want to serve straightaway I’d suggest roasting some cauliflower in a separate tray while the curry cooks (it’ll take around the same total cooking time at the same temperature), and maybe adding a few flatbreads (we buy frozen uncooked ones at an Indian grocer and cook in a hot frypan).
Happy steam oven cooking, see you here again soon.
*I once saw a hilarious (but not horribly inaccurate) parody video of Jamie making a huge mess while demonstrating one of his recipes, but do you think I could find it to link here? Not a chance. I did come across this funny one of him making his own birthday cake though. Enjoy if you have a 2 minute window in your day which needs filling with a laugh.
Jamie Oliver’s Beef Kofta Curry (adapted for steam ovens)
Adapted somewhat from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals.
I should note a few things here:
Firstly, the quantities given mean you’ll end up with a very saucy curry. We like sauce, but if you prefer the balance to be more in favour of the kofta I’d suggest using 600-700g of meat and bumping up your seasonings a little (no need to add more lentils unless you happen to like opening a whole can just to use a few spoonfuls). If you increase the mince, make about 20 kofta instead of 16.
Also, lentils. Using lentils as a ‘filler’ here makes the meat go further and adds lots of fibre, folate and a host of other macro- and micro-nutrients, but be warned they are noticeable in the texture of the finished dish. If you like lentils that’s just fine – I love them and have no problem with it at all – but my husband would like it known he’d prefer they not be there. So if you’re concerned about using them you could substitute about a cup and a half of fresh breadcrumbs for the lentils. You’ll miss out on those great nutrients in favour of a less noticeable filler, but that’s up to you!
Lastly, the recipe is written for beef but lamb would also be excellent. Either way, use something not too lean because it makes the kofta self-basting and means you won’t have to bother coating them with oil before cooking.
1 x 400g (14oz) tin brown lentils, drained
1 tsp curry powder (I use mild in deference to my kids but a spicier one would be welcome)
¼ tsp salt
500g (1.1lb) beef mince (see headnote)
2.5cm (1inch) piece ginger, roughly chopped
4 scallions (spring onions), roughly chopped
1 long red chilli (deseed or leave out if you don’t want any heat)
Stalks from a small bunch coriander (save leaves for serving)
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp brown sugar
1tbs curry paste (I used this madras, it’s what was open in my fridge)
1 x 270ml (9 fl oz) tin coconut milk
500ml (17 fl oz) tomato puree, or crushed tinned tomatoes
To serve as per photo: steamed rice and green beans, lemon wedges, natural yoghurt, coriander leaves and fresh chilli
Set your oven to 200⁰C/400⁰F on combination steam setting (30-50% humidity).
Put the lentils, curry powder, salt and mince into a bowl and mix well with your hands, scrunching everything together so some of the lentils break down and the mixture sticks together. Divide into 16 pieces and form each one into an elongated football shape – to divide quickly, I press my mixture into a disc and cut into eight equal wedges, then just split each wedge in two with my hands while forming the kofta. It’s much faster than trying to pinch off equal sized pieces one by one. Put the kofta into a solid stainless steel tray and bake for 10 minutes.
While the kofta start to cook, put all the remaining ingredients except the coconut milk and tomato puree into a food processor or blender. Process until fairly smooth then add the coconut cream, tomato puree and ½ cup water and pulse to combine.
Pour the sauce over the kofta when the 10 minutes is up, and return the tray to the oven for a further 12 minutes. Serve with your choice of accompaniments.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! I’d do this as per Jamie’s original method, which was to fry the kofta in a non-stick pan, then add the sauce and simmer until cooked.
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