An Accidental Dinner Party

On August 9, 2014 by battenburgbelle

It’s that time of year – so when I asked Angus and Clive to dinner, there was only one evening available between our respective work commitments and holidays. The invitation escalated to a dinner for eight, so I decided to impose a potluck curry on my friends. Debbie brought a selection of Indian starters, Jenny, of Silver Screen Suppers fame) and Mr R brought a George Innes’ coconut chicken curry and a Donald Pleasance prawn curry.

George Innes' Coconut Chicken Curry

George Innes’ Coconut Chicken Curry

I love the fact that she can find a film star recipe for any occasion! Jenny also brought a chickpea curry that she refused to bring to the table on the grounds that she considered it to be too hot to handle… Angus and Clive also brought a chickpea dish and a saag aloo. 

Saag aloo

Saag aloo

A chickpea dish

A chickpea dish

I did the rice (my friend’s lovely recipe for a slightly pilau-style Pakistani rice) plus a tomato curry and a cauliflower and lentil dahl. The tomato curry doesn’t look much in the picture, but it was very popular and I have been asked to include the recipe. So here goes (it’s a Simon Hopkinson recipe, which I must have got out of a newspaper and taken the trouble to type out – it is that good):


1tbsp cumin seeds
1tbsp coriander seeds
10 cardamoms
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
6 cloves
2 star anise
2 tbsp sunflower oil – or other neutral-flavoured oil
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
400mls coconut milk
Small handful of curry leaves
2 tsp tamarind paste
16 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and cores removed
2 branches fresh green peppercorns (I used some from a jar)
A tsp or two of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes
6-7 healthy sprigs coriander


Using a frying pan, lightly toast the first 7 whole spices until aromatic; take care that they don’t scorch, however.

Heat the oil in a wide and shallow pan and add the whole spices. Fry for a couple of minutes over a moderate heat then add the turmeric and salt.

Pour in the coconut milk, curry leaves and stir in the tamarind paste. Bring up to a simmer and allow to quietly cook for about 15 minutes.

With a handheld blender, blitz the mixture for a few seconds, just to break up the spices. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and return it to the washed up pot.

Remove the peppercorns from their branches and add 1 tbsp of them to the sauce, then return to a low heat. Core the tomatoes and then submerge in a bowl of boiling water to loosen the skins. Drain, and then carefully remove the skins (this is a recipe where it is worth peeling the tomatoes. Sorry).

Put the tomatoes into the sauce removed core side down. Allow the tomatoes to simmer in the sauce until softened and also that the sauce has reduced and become a touch thicker; about 15-20 minutes. Finally, taste the sauce to see if it needs a touch of sugar or more salt. Add the chopped coriander leaves when you are ready to serve.

Tomato curry

Tomato curry

We also had some guests from the US, Lauren and Paul and learned lots about life in Wichita. Lauren is also a food blogger – check out he fab blog The Past on a Plate.

I learned a valuable lesson – if you are asking guests to bring a dish, it would be useful a) to give them an idea of how much (they all went home with a takeaway selection and there is not much room in my freezer) and b) co-ordinate the dishes a little… But, as I have reported before, cauliflower is one of my favourite things, and I am also very keen on chickpeas, so the overlaps were fine by me. It was all delicious and we had a very entertaining evening.

In case anyone was still hungry, I made a lemon tart – a great Richard Bertinet recipe.

Lemon tart

Richard Bertinet’s lemon tart

I LOVE his pastry recipe – it appears to be completely idiot-proof!!

One Response to “An Accidental Dinner Party”

  • I absolutely LOVED all the food but in particular the tomato curry. This has to be the best veggie curry ever. I am going to attempt it for some of Mr R’s friends who are veggie and are coming for curry soon. Yum yum!

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