Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Indian or Italian for dinner tonight?

Even though we are sisters, we have a very different approach to food and photography. Each fortnight we are going to choose the same ingredient or theme and post the result. These are the results...

Potato facts
  • The Incas measured time by how long it took for potatoes to cook.
  • China is the world's largest potato producer.
  • Potatoes are grown in more than 125 countries (even in space - in 1995).
  • Potatoes were first eaten more than 6,000 years ago by indigenous people living in the Andes mountains of Peru.
Agria Potatoes - perfect for a curry

Vanessa's dish: Chicken and potato curry

I find it strange that although this curry is packed with spuds, Lewis still eats his with rice. He would never ever eat a curry without rice. Me on the other hand rarely have it with rice, I pack the bowl full of baby spinach leaves and pile on the curry with an extra scoop of the juices. 

This curry is remarkably simple and uses things I bet you already have in your kitchen. The trick is the technique and being able to add more or less as you go along... 

Every time he makes a curry it's different, but always delicious. I never buy  curry from takeaway shops especially knowing how easy and quick it is to make.

I will do my best to describe the process, so give it a go and good luck!

Agria Potatoes - cheap and cheerful  $2.50 per kg
Lewis's chicken and potato curry

What you need
Chicken-either thighs or be brave and cut up a whole chicken (Adding the bone gives more flavour but I like boneless thighs) About 8 thighs is perfect for 4 people.
Approximately 3-4 tablespoons Curry powder - mild, medium or hot - anything goes
1/2 cup Vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 onions
1 bulb of garlic
1 small piece of ginger
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Agria potatoes - peeled and chopped into large cubes
Fresh coriander
Rice, roti or nan bread

How to make
(this is the tricky bit - its more like a bit of this, a bit of that and you get better, the more you make it!)

Finely chop the onions.
In a mortar and pestle pound the garlic and ginger with salt.
Chop the chicken in to bite-sized pieces.
Peel and chop the potatoes into large cubes. 
Roughly chop the coriander leaves and stalks

Lets cook
Saute the onions in the vegetable oil. ( I would typically use less oil BUT it does give the curry a better flavour with more) 
When slightly brown, add the cumin, mustard seeds, garlic and ginger. Fry to release the flavours briefly.
Add the curry powder and do the same then add about 1/2 cup water.
Add the chicken and give it a good stir around to totally coat the chicken. 
Put a lid on and turn up the heat and cook for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
There should be enough liquid in the pot but at this stage you can add a bit more water.
Add the potatoes, and salt then simmer until soft -  another 15 minutes or so should do.
Taste and add more salt if needed.
When ready add the coriander and serve hot. 
Never buy takeaway curry again!

Lewis's chicken and potato curry - amazing!

Ingrid's dish: Spinach gnocchi with pesto and toasted pine nuts

My darling Italian grandmother is an expert at gnocchi, and my dad is a close second, so I thought it was my time to try and create the lightest, softest Italian dumplings and hope to live up to their reputations.
I always thought you had to turn your kitchen upside down with flour and sticky dough because that's how I saw my Nonna and father do it. And in true familial style, that's exactly what I did! I went about mashing potatoes and kneading with gusto, the mess felt well deserved.

Use mashing potatoes such as Agria.

There are some food products that you should never buy from the shop, and gnocchi is now coming off my shopping list. Say NO to stodge! My home-made gnocchi was bellissimo

A little messy but not in anyway difficult, you will find most ingredients in your pantry or fridge, and you can make it your own, by adding different spices, herbs and ingredients.

I used store-bought pesto to mix through the gnocchi but if you have got the time and the basil, Try Vanessa's recipe for home-made pesto

Toasted pine nuts finished the dish off, and it was given five stars by the bloke and my son, in fact we had it again the next day, even though the dough was quite sticky and needed some extra kneading and flour. I think this might be my most successful dish thus far. Enjoy

Melt in your mouth Italian dumplings

What you need (serves 4)
4 large potatoes (mashing potatoes such as agria) - chopped/ cubed
2 egg yolks (beaten)
2 Tbsp milk
salt/ pepper
4 nobs of frozen spinach defrosted (or a bunch of chopped and wilted fresh spinach)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (extra for garnish)
dusting of flour

Pesto: I used store-bought but if you want to make your own see Vanessa's recipe for pesto

I also threw a handful of pine nuts into a fry pan and toasted them until golden, and sprinkled them over the top of the gnocchi to finish.

How to make

In a pot, add water and boil potatoes until soft. Drain water and mash potatoes. Add egg yolks, milk, salt and pepper. Mix through spinach and parmesan cheese until you have a dough. Don't over mix.

On a floured surface, roll into logs, adding flour when the dough gets too sticky. Cut into 1.5cm rectangle shapes.

Drop gnocchi into salted boiling water in batches, for about 3 mins or until the gnocchi has risen to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon.

In a pan, heat pesto and lightly mix gnocchi into sauce. Place on a plate and scatter toasted pine nuts, and grated parmesan.


  1. Looks yummy, but how much frozen spinach is a "nob"?--a 10-oz package, perhaps, or more?

  2. 10 oz should do it, We get frozen spinach in cubes over here in New Zealand so thats what I meant by a nob! Good Luck


  3. do you have to use a potato ricer?

  4. No, not at all. I just used a potato masher. The type of potato's dictate the fluffiness, so as long as you chose the right potato (mashing potatoes like Agria) you could even use a fork.

    Good Luck, Ingrid

  5. These sound delicious! Is it possible to make big batches and freeze, or would they fall apart on cooking?