Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Kit Perera’s Chicken & Eggplant Curry

Expert Sri Lankan Chef For A Night Kit Perera shares his Chicken & Eggplant Curry


Kit’s Curry Powder

3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
½ cinnamon quill, broken in to pieces
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons dried curry leaves 
(if using fresh curry leaves, you can dry these in a frying pan over low heat for 2-3 minutes)

In a heavy based frying pan over low heat, separately dry roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, stirring constantly until each becomes fairly dark brown, but not burnt. Set aside
Using a spice grinder or a blender, blend the roasted spices on high speed with the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and curry leaves to a fine powder. Put in a bowl and mix well before transferring to an airtight container

Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Serves 4
Preparation 30 minutes
Cooking 45 minutes

For the Eggplant
1 small eggplant quartered lengthways
½ teaspoon turmeric
Olive oil for frying

Sprinkle the turmeric over eggplant slices
Heat a frying pan over high heat, add olive oil and fry the flesh side for 2 minutes on each and set aside (add more oil if needed)

For the Chicken
1kg skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
Extra olive oil for frying

Put the olive oil and spices in to a bowl together with the chicken and mix well
Heat a frying pan over high heat, add olive oil and sear the chicken in batches. Set aside

For the curry
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cardamom pods
2 dried chillies
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
½ cinnamon stick
1 piece lemongrass, bruised
1 teaspoon each crushed garlic and ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon curry powder
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan over moderate heat, add cardamom pods, chillies, curry leaves, cinnamon stick and lemongrass stir-fry for 1 minute
Add the onion and fry until golden then add the garlic, ginger curry powder and spices and stir-fry for 1 minute
Add the chicken and coconut milk; mix well and season with salt
Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
Transfer to a baking dish; add the eggplant, mix well and bake on 180F for 15-20 minutes
Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Way to Gaetano

Dinner at Monzu is much more than a meal, writes Geraldine Johns.

Top left: Gaetano Spinosa and executive chef Flavia Nasimento.

We are at Gaetano’s house and all is well with the world.
   This is what was once Merediths. It’s still a restaurant of very high standing but in another realm.
   You may remember Gaetano Spinosa from the much missed O’Sarracino. If you do you will know of his accomplished pedigree, as well as his unstoppable habit of having a very much hands-on influence on your dining event. After a few stints elsewhere Spinosa has made this Dominion Road address his headquarters from which he imparts a taste of Napoli - all of it good.
   And it is here that he has imported all his skills: not just in the kitchen but in the entire surrounds.
Monzu means ‘Monsieur’ in Italian. Translated here it means more than that: an abundance of warmth and generosity; a feeling of belonging; a sense of coming home.
   Let me tell you what we ate. It will be different when you turn up, because the menu changes daily. It’s very much dependent on both whim and fresh produce. There is a written outline of what’s on offer (seven main pastas; three main meat or fish dishes), but my advice would be to pay great heed to Gaetano’s recommendation. Actually, you don’t have much choice; he will steer the menu for you. He is as much storyteller as host. So we will know about the dishes he first learnt of at his mother’s apron strings. And we will relish his take on that inspiration.

Tonight’s antipasti.

   Start, do, with the antipasti. Ours is the vegetarian version: little pockets of deliciousness that have you enjoying even the foods you might ordinarily avoid. Consider, for example, the seductive peperoni in padella.
   To the mains: the pasta e piselli (peas, onion and pecorino with white truffle cream) and the fresh pasta with homemade pork and fennel sausage. Both of them gorgeous. 
   To dine at Monzu is to enjoy more than a meal. It’s an experience that borders on the theatrical. It’s only been going three weeks when we take our seats, but it still feels like an old and well established friend.
   Solicitous at every turn, Gaetano will treat every table as his Number One guest. Those same attentions are reflected in the dishes. Credit must also go to executive chef Flavia Nascimento, who delivers on every promise.
   It’s Fathers’ Day in Italy on March 15. And in homage to that we get a dessert of zeppola di San  Giuseppe, a creamy custard-filled pastry which is truly celebratory.
   To dine at Monzu is to yield to Gaetano’s influence. That is not a bad thing.

Top from left: pasta e piselli, peas, onion and pecorino with white truffle cream
fresh pasta with homemade pork and fennel sausage.
Below from left: stirring in the truffle cream; Zeppola di San Giuseppe 
with Giapo’s chocolate gelato.


365 Dominion Road, Mt Eden.
Phone (09) 623 3140.
Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm
Antipasti: $16 per person
Mains: $29 - $38
Dessert: $15