Here at Pig Row we have been embracing our spices and the reason is simple, making do and saving money. The Wartime Spirit has truly sunk into our bones. Yet, it does make sense. Yes, you have the initial outlay of buying spices that will last you years but if you look at most supermarkets, Tikka Masala Paste for a jar between 200-300g will cost you anything from £1.99 bog standard jar to £5.99 specialist bottling (you know the one that comes with supposedly handmade labels and made traditionally, but often neglect to mention what that tradition is). The problem with these jars is that you'll open it and use a spoonful or two, and then put it in the fridge and forget about it. You'll find it a month later hosting a lovely fuzzy mould, and the whole jar will go in the bin. So, that curry, that one tablespoon of shop bought Tikka Masala Paste will have cost you at least £1.99 before any other ingredients. The paste below is easy to make, you'll use it all at once, so no waste and no loss of money. Then you'll have some great spices that you can use to make other dishes. The paste below cost us less than 50p and it will make two meals, a curry and biriani with the leftovers.
2 cloves of garlic
A thumb sized block of root ginger
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons of garam masala
2 tablespoons of oil*
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 red chillies**
* You can use any oil, we tend to use olive oil but I used hemp oil in this paste because we received a bottle as a Christmas present and Carol isn't keen on it as a dressing, in fact she's not that keen on it at all but doesn't know it's in this. So, shhhhhhh. Don't tell her.
** We used dried from our own crop but you can use fresh too.
Peel and chop the root ginger and garlic in a mortar, mush with a pestle. Add all the dried spices and grind into paste with the ginger and garlic. Add the chillies and grind into a rough paste. Put in the puree and mix in with a spoon, then add the oil and mix.
We use it to make a Chicken Tikka Masala (serves 4). The recipe for that is even simpler.
1 x large chicken breast
1 x medium sized onion
1 x courgette (zucchini, our American friends)
8 x button mushrooms
Tikka Masala Paste
Can of tomatoes*
* we used our own tomato sauce that we freeze.
Place a large pan on a ring at medium heat. Dice the onion. Add a splash of oil to the pan and slowly fry the onions until soft. Add a teaspoon of the Tikka Masala Paste and mix into the onions. Cut the chicken breast up with a pair of sharp scissors and add to the pan. Cook the chicken through, coating with the onions and paste. Now dice the courgette and add to the pan, add the remaining Tikka Masala Paste. Cook until the courgettes have softened, add a little water if the chicken sticks but there is that much oil in the paste that it shouldn't do this. Add the tin of tomatoes and cook through. Turn the pan down to a lower heat and cut your mushrooms into quarters, add the mushrooms to the pan and put a lid on it as you cook your rice and naan bread.
You can vary this and try other vegetables, boiled potatoes, turnip, spring onions, anything in season, just experiment. You can change the meat too, lamb or beef. These two though will require a low heat, slow cook method.