Nisha Katona's tamarind salmon curry

30 Minute Mowgli: 3 speedy curry recipes by Nisha Katona

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In need of a weeknight curry in a hurry? Look no further than Nisha Katona’s recipes.

With chicken tikka masala widely considered by some to be one of the UK’s national dishes, it’s no secret that we’re a country that loves Indian food. A weekend institution for the masses revolves around visiting the local curry house, or enjoying a Friday night takeaway at home. But what if you could recreate your favourite dishes from one of your favourite Indian restaurants in your own kitchen – all in just 30 minutes?

While we all have go-to quick and easy weeknight recipes on hand (hello, pesto pasta), curries also deserve a spot on your mid-week repertoire. Forget huge ingredient lists and lengthy cooking times – chef, food writer and TV and radio pundit Nisha Katona is bringing simple spice-packed Indian-inspired dishes to our tables with her new book 30 Minute Mowgli. Creator of the much-loved Mowgli restaurants that now cover 13 locations across the UK – including the newly opened Charlotte Street outpost in London and a further four already slated to open in 2022 – there’s no doubt that Nisha delivers when it comes to big, bold flavours. 

30 Minute Mowgli by Nisha Katona
30 Minute Mowgli by Nisha Katona

From light lunches and snacks to substantial dinners, 30 Minute Mowgli is made up of 100 super speedy recipes for every occasion, with Nisha herself stating that is the way that she cooks every day. Time to delete Deliveroo, because we’re sharing three of Mowgli’s curry recipes that promise to more than satisfy when the clock is ticking.

Vegetarian or looking to cut down on meat? Nisha’s aubergine and shallot curry is the answer. Cooked until soft and velvety, the aubergine is combined with flavours of garlic, fenugreek and turmeric – not forgetting the sweet shallots – to create a more-ish curry fit for any night of the week. 

If you’re more into fish, opt for the tamarind salmon curry, packed full of the distinct tang of tamarind, laced with mustard seeds, cumin, garlic and ginger. Leftovers are in no way guaranteed.

Finally, lovers of all things creamy and rich need look no further than Nisha’s chicken, coconut and pineapple curry. A taste of holidays in warmer climes, it’s the curry to make to see you through winter. With the recipe promising to take you from couch to curry in 30 minutes or less – and then most likely back to the couch again – what’s not to love? 

  • Aubergine and shallot curry

    Nisha Katona's aubergine shallot curry
    Nisha Katona's aubergine shallot curry

    Nisha says: “Aubergines love oil. They come alive with flavour and texture when they can drink as much as you will give them and they exchange their astringency for sweet, fleshy velvet. Make sure the aubergine is fried until soft and translucent in this dish, which will take some time, but is still an easy half-hour cook. Paired with the silky aubergine, ribbons of sweet shallot weave heady magic into this timeless combination of ingredients.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 125ml vegetable oil
    • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed
    • 6 round shallots halved, and finely sliced 
    • 2 large aubergines, cut into 1.5 cm pieces
    • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1⁄4 tsp chilli powder
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp salt
    • small handful coriander, stalks and leaves roughly chopped

    Method

    Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the fenugreek seeds and fry for a few seconds until fragrant and just turning golden (be careful not to burn them, as this imparts a bitter flavour). Add the garlic and stir to combine with the fenugreek, then add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until soft and translucent.

    Add the aubergine pieces to the pan and cook until the exposed flesh is a light golden colour. Reduce the heat to low, then add the ground turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander and salt. Stir to combine the aubergines and shallots with the spices, then cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 12–15 minutes, until the aubergines are tender. Stir through the fresh chopped coriander and serve hot. 

  • Tamarind salmon curry

    Nisha Katona's tamarind salmon curry
    Nisha Katona's tamarind salmon curry

    Nisha says: “This is my nod to the wonderment of South-Indian fish curries. To make it accessible, I brought the chilli right down in this dish, but I did want to quickly recreate that uniquely tamarind tangy wake-up call that you can only get from a golden Goan beach shack fish-curry breakfast. Yum.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 150ml vegetable oil
    • 2 tsp mustard seeds
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 dried red chilli
    • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
    • 2 cubes frozen crushed garlic or 6 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 cubes frozen crushed ginger or 2 thumb-sized pieces fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
    • 600g skinless salmon fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
    • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
    • 1⁄4 tsp chilli powder
    • 2 tsp tamarind concentrate
    • 3 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • small bunch fresh coriander, leaves and stalks chopped, to garnish
    • cooked rice, flatbreads or rice, to serve

    Method

    Heat 100ml of the oil in a large pan over a high heat, then add the mustard and cumin seeds and fry, stirring, until they start to pop and turn grey. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the dried chilli, onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for eight minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

    Meanwhile, put the salmon in a bowl with the ground turmeric and use your hands to coat the fish. Heat the remaining oil in a separate pan over a medium heat, then add the salmon and fry for one to two minutes on each side to seal. Remove from the heat and set aside.

    Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan with the onions and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for six minutes, until thick and reduced. Add the chilli powder, tamarind concentrate, sugar, salt and 400ml of water and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then leave to cook for six to eight minutes, until the salmon is tender. Scatter over the coriander and serve hot with your choice of rice or flatbreads alongside. 

  • Chicken, coconut and pineapple curry

    Nisha Katona's coconut, pineapple and chicken curry
    Nisha Katona's coconut, pineapple and chicken curry

    Nisha says: “The combination of both coconut milk and creamed coconut in this curry adds a real gloss and weight to the sauce, giving it a gorgeous, velvety texture. If you can’t get creamed coconut just double-up on the tinned. During the last moments of these exotic sunshine curries, I often throw a handful of roasted nuts to boost the salt and the beach-holiday feel. If you’re not a fan of nuts or don’t have any to hand, you can leave these out without any detriment to the dish.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 2 thumb-sized pieces fresh root ginger, peeled
    • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2 onions, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (approx. 600g), chopped into 2cm cubes
    • 2 tbsp garam masala
    • 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1⁄4 tsp chilli powder
    • 100g creamed coconut
    • 400ml canned coconut milk
    • 2 green chillies, finely sliced
    • 1 1⁄2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp brown sugar
    • 10 chunks canned pineapple, cut into 1–2cm pieces
    • 100g roasted salted cashew nuts
    • small handful fresh coriander, finely chopped, to garnish
    • 1 red chilli, finely sliced, to garnish
    • cooked rice, or flatbreads, to serve

    Method

    Finely mince one of the pieces of ginger and slice the other into fine matchsticks. Set aside.

    Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and minced ginger and fry, stirring continuously, for eight minutes, until golden brown. Add the chicken to the pan and stir to combine with the onions, then add the garam masala, ground coriander, ground turmeric and chilli powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, to seal the chicken and coat it in the spices.

    Add the creamed coconut, coconut milk, ginger matchsticks, sliced chillies, salt, sugar, pineapple and cashews to the pan and stir to combine, adding a little of the juice from the canned pineapple if the mixture is too dry. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for five to 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Scatter with chopped coriander and sliced red chilli, then serve hot with rice or wraps alongside. 

    30 Minute Mowgli by Nisha Katona (£25, Nourish Books) is out now

Photography: Yuki Segiura

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