Egg Curry, Runner Bean Thoran and Basmati Rice

Dinner tonight made with the first picking of runner beans from our garden. I’ll post the Egg Curry recipe separately but here’s the Runner Bean Thoran recipe courtesy of Meera Sodha. For years Madhur Jaffrey was my go to for Indian recipes then I found Meera and now she’s my Indian cookery guru! This recipe if for 4 people, I halved everything since there were only two of us tonight.

2 tbsp fresh or desiccated coconut
600g runner beans (around 700-750g before trimming)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
15 fresh curry leaves
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 green finger chilli, thinly sliced
2.5cm ginger, grated
6 shallots, finely sliced
120g baby plum tomatoes, chopped (or just good, ripe toms)
½ tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp salt (or to taste) and ½ tsp ground pepper

If you’re using desiccated coconut, put it in a bowl and cover with a couple of tablespoons of hot water. Leave to soak to one side.

Wash your beans, top and tail them, remove the sides (where the fibrous stringy bits are) and cut into 4cm slices. Leave to one side.

Heat the oil in a large lidded frying pan and when hot add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Stir fry for 2 minutes then add the shallots and cook for around 12-15 minutes until they are soft and browning.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes then add the turmeric, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Next, throw in the beans and a few tablespoons (50-70ml water), stir and pop the lid on. Cook the beans until they’re soft and have just lost their crunch, which will be around 6-8 minutes. Drain the coconut and fold into the beans. Serve fresh and hot.

Moules Mariniere

You may wonder why I have to post a recipe for Moules Mariniere? The problem is that cream is so often is listed as an ingredient and it needs pointing out that it has no part in true Moules Mariniere. That would be Moules a la Normande. For me Moules Mariniere only requires cleaned mussels in the pan with some coarsely chopped onion and chopped parsley. Plus a SPLASH of white wine. A splash is all that’s needed, the mussels themselves give off enough liquid. Bring this all to the boil, give it a good shake and a couple of minutes later when the mussels have opened tuck in. I emphasise the splash of white wine just in case you happen upon Keith Floyd’s recipe from his book French Cooking (circa 1970’s) which requires a whole bottle! If you want to see why that is so wrong just give it a go! I loved the man, you’ve just got to go careful with some of his recipes.

The cheese waiting to follow is Epoisses. If I were stranded on a desert island and only one cheese could somehow be available I’d choose an Epoisses.

The wine is a Muscadet sur Lie which is pretty much the norm to drink with Moules Marinere. However, if I had a bottle of Gros Plant sur Lie that would be my first choice. It’s even drier than a Muscadet. Not quite making the mouth pucker like acid drop sweets when you were a kid but going in that direction!

A wonderful starter

We’ve just had another superb lunch at a regular place for us They had a new starter dish today ‘Heirloom tomato salad, wood ants, sake infused tomato consomme, tosazu’. I can’t remember the last starter I enjoyed as much as this both aesthetically and taste wise.

Fromage blanc

Something it’s impossible to find in the UK. It’s not yoghurt, not fromage frais, not cottage cheese, not quark etc. Years ago when I first encountered it, and immediately loved it, it was a standard desert in every French truck driver stop/cafe. Served with sugar to sprinkle on it and cream to pour over. Sublime!