Well, it turned out to be two lovely but raw British rose veal steaks. Oops!
I was planning a lamb & cauliflower curry this week, so it occurred to me that to make it veal instead of lamb was no bad thing. I'd never had a veal curry before and the thought appealed to me.
It had been ages since I made a home-spiced curry - that is, one where I choose the type and amounts of spices used, instead of one where we just use a Sharwood's curry paste for speed - and for all that the results can be a bit hit and miss, I thought I'd give it a go.
One aspect of currying British rose veal did concern me, which was that I didn't want to lose the delicate flavour of the meat by bashing it over the head with curry spices. However, for all that the sauce is right up there in the flavour department, the meat withstands it exceptionally well and if anything the flavour was enhanced rather than overpowered. To make sure that your veal doesn't become swamped, make sure to cut your pieces into a decent size. Ours were a decent forkful sort of sized and I'm quite sure that smaller pieces would easily have succumbed to the powerful flavours going on in the sauce.
I know that the spice list seems a bit daunting and over-long, but bear with it. The riot of all those different flavours - coupled with the onion, garlic, veal and cauliflower - is really lovely and well worth the effort of digging them out of your spice rack and working your way through them.
The end result is not a saucy, wet curry - but a hearty, filling curry that is best eaten with rice and maybe some poppadoms with chutney. Definitely not a naan bread, dipping style kind of curry. It is also quite light on the tummy from a fat point of view, as British rose veal is naturally very lean and no extra yoghurt or cream goes in. However, it definitely isn't light on the tummy from a spices point of view! So many of the spices used here are good for you in various ways, however, that instead of leaving you feeling heavy and sluggish, this curry can leave you feeling rather energised and you can almost feel it doing you good.
As the recipe stands, the curry is not a spicy hot one. There is very little actual chilli goes into it - just a pinch of red chilli flakes and however much there is in the curry powder and Garam Masala. So, if you like your curries rather more in the nose-meltingly spicy range, you might need to up the quantities of chilli flakes you add.
Also, please don't be tempted to drop the jaggery goor or brown sugar at the end of the curry. The sugar is quite fundamental to the sweet/bitter flavour balance of the spices and without the added sugar, the curry might taste too bitter to your palate. You can always add the sugar to taste and if you like it with less, or want to add more, then go ahead! Everyone's taste buds differ.
I thoroughly enjoyed creating this curry - and I hope you enjoy it too.
I'm really quite proud to announce that this recipe has been awarded eRecipe.com's "Recipe of the Day"!
BRITISH ROSE VEAL & CAULIFLOWER DHANSAK (serves 3-4)
1.5 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
0.5 tsp fennel seeds
1.5 tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp mild curry powder
a pinch of red chilli flakes
2 tbsp groundnut oil
500g British rose veal, trimmed and cut into cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 baby onions, peeled & halved
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped
1 potato, peeled and cut into cubes (a waxy potato such as Jelly is best)
1 baby cauliflower, divided into eight pieces
500ml veal stock
3 tbsp red lentils
1 heaped tsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
1 tsp jaggery goor, or light brown sugar.
1. To begin with, make the spice mix by taking a small frying pan and adding the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fennel seeds. Dry fry the seeds until they are toasty, slightly coloured and fragrant. Decant them into a pestle & mortar and grind them into powder. Add the ground coriander, ground cinnamon, ground fenugreek, ground turmeric, ground ginger, curry powder and chilli flakes and mix to combine. Set this mixture aside.
2. Take a large high sided frying pan and add the oil over a high heat. Once the oil is smoking hot, gently add the veal pieces and fry until caramelised on at least two sides. Decant, using a slotted spoon, into a casserole dish (with a lid) and add the potato and cauliflower to the dish.
3. Add the onion, baby onions and garlic to the pan and season with a pinch of sea salt and a good quantity of freshly ground black pepper. Cook slowly over a moderate heat until the chopped onion is transparent but a light golden colour and just beginning to caramelise on the edges. Beware of burning the garlic, so don't try to hurry this process by increasing the heat.
4. Add the tomato and cook for a few moments to soften.
5. Add the spice mix and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes until the raw edge has gone and the spices are smelling fragrant.
6. Add the veal stock and stir to combine.
7. Add the lentils, fenugreek leaves, Garam Masala and jaggery (or sugar). Stir to combine, then once the sauce begins to thicken, taste for seasoning and add more if necessary.
8. Decant the sauce into the casserole dish and stir gently to make sure everything is coated.
9. Add the lid and place into a pre-heated oven at 160degC/325degF/Gas 3 for 2 hours.
10. Once the two hours are up, remove the lid and very gently stir the contents. If necessary, add a little more boiling water to loosen the sauce - and serve with steamed basmati rice.