TONY STAPLES: Curry can be great for dinner parties

Lamb Curry with spiced potato croquetts and shallot bhajis
Lamb Curry with spiced potato croquetts and shallot bhajis

It’s the nation’s favourite food but have you ever seen it looking this posh? Executive head chef Tony Staples, of the Arora Hotel in Crawley, gives curry its best bib and tucker...

I expect curry will be the staple TV dinner this month as we enjoy a wealth of good sport from Wimbledon, Rugby Union, the UEFA Champions League and the British Grand Prix. Although it is the perfect food for a night in with the lads, curry scrubs up very well for a dinner party too.

Arora's new senior sous chef David Smith

Arora's new senior sous chef David Smith

At the Arora, we have our popular curry nights on a Tuesday, but also have a lamb curry on our a la carte menu. We serve it with spiced potato croquettes, pickled kohlrabi, shallot bhajis and saag aloo puree. However, my new senior sous chef, David Smith, is standing in for me this week and has simplified the recipe.

The Grill in the Arora is Crawley’s only AA-rosette restaurant. To book, call 01293 530000.

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Executive head chef Tony Staples

Executive head chef Tony Staples

Tuesday nights are curry nights in Arora’s Palm Bar with curry and a pint for £13.

Curried lamb

Serves 4/6

For the lamb:

400g neck of lamb

1 bay leaf

2 cloves

6 cardamom pods

1 onion sliced

1 red chilli sliced

4 cms of root ginger fine chopped

Half a bulb of garlic crushed

1 tin of tomatoes

Handful of coriander stalks, chopped

800g saddle of lamb

1 tab olive oil

knob of butter

few sprigs of rosemary

For the saag aloo puree:

100g mashed potato – mashed dry without butter or milk

100g spinach

1tsp turmeric

2 curry leaves

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp madras curry powder

Quarter bunch of coriander leaves, chopped (use the stalks for the lamb neck sauce)

Quarter of an onion, finely diced

Method

Put the lamb neck into a roasting dish and add the bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pods, onion chilli, ginger, coriander stalks, garlic and tinned tomatoes. Fill the tomato tin up with water and add that to the dish. Cover the dish with parchment paper, then with foil. Bake in preheated oven, 150oc, for 3 hours until tender.

Chill, remove the lamb neck from the sauce and pass the sauce through a sieve into a small saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 mins until reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

For the saag aloo, gently fry the onion in a frying pan with all the spices until soft.

Add the spinach to a pan of boiling water for 30 seconds, drain into iced water. Drain again. Put the mashed potato, spinach, onion and spices into a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Sear the saddle of lamb in a frying pan with a little olive oil until brown all over. Add a large knob of butter and rosemary sprigs and place in a hot preheated oven, 180oc, for five minutes. It should be still pink in the middle. Leave to rest.

To serve, slice the lamb neck into chunks and heat gently in the curried tomato sauce. Heat the saag aloo and divide onto 4/6 plates. Top with the lamb neck and slices of saddle of lamb. Serve with rice and onion bhajis.

Chef’s tip

David Smith says: “Cook the neck of lamb and let it cool in the sauce for 24 hours to allow the flavours to develop even further.”

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