Our regular food blogger Rosemary Moon has been sampling more of Orkney's finest produce. Keep reading to try her recipe for yourself.
Curries are as popular in Orkney as they are throughout the rest of Scotland - we love them. Two take-away curry nights fund-raising for Asha in 2021 have smashed previous record takings. The charity, run by Orkney couple Rosey and Mike Whittles, works with street girls in Bangladesh, and is just one of the many charities that very generous Orcadians happily support.
Whether we go out for a curry, bring it home or cook it ourselves, curry seems popular with just about everyone. Two curry masterclasses at Archive Coffee at The Old Library sold out almost before I heard about them. The Indian Garden restaurant and take-away in Kirkwall has been doing some smart advertising recently: we have been playing a lot of online bridge throughout the months of COVID restrictions and, every time we play, I get banner advertising from The Indian Garden. I get that more frequently than I do an opening bid!
I did a cookery class on a visit to Kerala in South West India and was very struck at how many curries contained tatties and carrots, veg that grow well in Orkney, rather than more exotic veg like sweet potatoes and yams. This is one of my favourite recipes that I brought back with me to tweak and twiddle using the best of Orkney’s ingredients for an alternative Easter feast. Orkney lamb is packed full of flavour from our maritime grazing and I love the way it almost melts into a good curry sauce. This is not a hot curry - Keralan cooking is richly flavoured although fairly mild - but you can add more chilli and black pepper if you would like it hotter. It is very special with the creaminess of the coconut. If you would prefer to use beef, add an extra hour to the cooking time.
Using some of Orkney’s unique beremeal I have created a quick yogurt flatbread which is not really a naan but makes a great accompaniment to this curry. You can make it thinner than mine if you wish - in which case it will cook slightly quicker - and it is great for mopping up the juices. The beremeal can be bought locally in most of our food shops in the islands, or online from Barony Mill.
Lamb and coconut curry
- 1 large onion
- 1 carrot
- 300g potatoes, or 1 sweet potato
- 1 red chilli
- 1 clove garlic
- 100g creamed coconut
- 2 tbsp oil or ghee
- 1 tsp each of cumin and fennel seeds
- 6 each of green cardamoms, cloves and black peppercorns
- 500g diced lamb
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 200ml water
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 large cinnamon stick or 2 shorter ones
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly chopped coriander to garnish
- Prepare the vegetables. Dice the onion and cut the carrot and potato into 2-3cm pieces - there is no need to peel the potatoes if you give them a good scrub. Finely chop the chilli with the garlic. Roughly chop the creamed coconut.
- Heat a large pan and add the oil or ghee. Add the whole spices and cook for a few seconds until fragrant, then add the lamb and turmeric and stir-fry briefly for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the onions with the water, cover the pan and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the diced vegetables with the chopped chilli, garlic and coconut and stir until the coconut has melted. Add the tomatoes with the cinnamon and salt. Bring to the boil, stir and cover, then simmer very slowly or cook in a low oven at gas mark 3, 160°C for at least 1 1/2 hours, until the lamb is tender. A longer cook of 3-4 hours in the oven will be fine, but add a little more water if necessary.
- Season to taste and garnish with coriander. Serve with rice and the onion and beremeal bread.
Onion and beremeal yogurt quick bread
- 1 shallot
- 100g beremeal
- 100g self-raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1tsp nigella seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pinch chilli powder
- 5 tbsp natural yogurt
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2tbsp milk
- Finely dice the shallot and mix it with all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the yogurt and oil with 1 tbsp milk and mix together, adding a little more milk as necessary to make a soft but manageable dough. I find 2 tbsp milk is perfect.
- On a lightly floured surface, press or roll the dough into a circle to fit the base of your frying pan - mine is 20cm. Preheat the pan. It is ready when a scattering of flour on the base starts to colour in 10 seconds or so.
- Cook the flatbread for 5-6 minutes on each side over a medium-high heat. As with bannocks, the cooking of all flatbreads becomes intuitive with practice. A larger thinner flatbread will be quicker to cook.
- Cool the bread for 10-15 minutes - this will stop it appearing doughy in the middle which happens if you eat it too hot. Reheat before serving, either in the oven or in the dry fry pan over a low heat for 2 minutes on each side. Spread with butter if you wish when warm.
Rosemary Moon ‘retired’ to Orkney after a long association with the salmon industry in the islands. The author of 19 cookery books and countless more recipes, including writing for Waitrose and Lakeland, she has brought journalists and food writers to Orkney in the past to show off our diverse and delicious food and drink. After several holidays here Rosemary and her husband Nick have settled in South Ronaldsay but, once a cookery writer always a cookery writer, Rosemary is finding it impossible to stop jotting down the new recipes that she is creating with the island produce.