Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cooking bibles & coriander


It was only recently, on June 29 in fact, that I was writing something about growing coriander. At the time I was berating myself for not having much faith in my ability to save coriander seeds and then raise new plants from them. Well, as it turns out, I was happily wrong once again, and all the coriander plants are doing well. 

Too well in fact. So now I have a bit too much coriander. Here's the pix to show my very minor predicament.



The larger pot of shop-bought coriander seedlings has been harvested a few times, and with follow-up liquid feeds, plentiful water and a very sunny Sydney winter, it has grown even more lushly. I don't really need much more ... but ... 



... the pots of baby seeds are rapidly turning into two more gluts of leafy coriander. It's not really a problem, but with too much coriander there is but one course of action ... turn to my beloved cooking Bible for a favourite recipe to use up large amounts of coriander in one delicious hit.




Here's my Asian cooking Bible. It's "The Complete Asian Cookbook" by Charmaine Solomon. Mine is an early paperback edition from 1978 (the original came out in 1976). Battered looking, but still in use all the time.




A HUGE thrill for me was back in 1996, when I was deputy editor of House & Garden magazine, and I went out to Charmaine Solomon's Sydney house to do a cooking and gardening story. Of course as a fan-boy I took my copy of her book with me, and she signed it for me. Wow, this kitcheny, gardeny boy was star-struck. 



Then Charmaine had some fun flicking through the book to see which recipes I had used the most. There are lots of turmeric-stained pages, but she found this one, all splattered with spice dust, with two of my favourite chicken dishes. Tandoori chicken (the dish I cooked for Pam on our first date back in early 1989 when she came around to my place for dinner) and Chicken and Yoghurt curry, easily my favourite mild chicken curry.

And so, to use up some of my excess quantity of fresh coriander leaves, Charmaine's books offers countless different delicious ways to do it — including that chicken and yoghurt curry, which uses up 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves — but I have chosen instead her fresh coriander chutney (from spice-spattered page 88), a simple, dollop-on condiment that goes beautifully with so many dishes from the sub-continent. 

Fresh coriander chutney (Dhania Chatni)

1 cup firmly packed coriander leaves
6 spring onions (scallions or green onions) cut into smaller pieces
2 fresh green chillies
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

Make this in an electric blender. Put everything in a blender (you can cut down the chilli heat either by removing the seeds or limiting it to just one chilli). Blend it all to a smooth, green paste. Once made, put into a small bowl, cover and chill in the fridge until needed.

PS: you can make a “fresh mint chutney” by substituting mint for the coriander, or you could even use 50:50 coriander and mint for another variation.