Thursday, 8 December 2016

Leftover symphonies 3: Turkey jalfrezi

I've already stated how much I despise cold leftover roast meat. The way in which the delicately tender slices have turned into sheets of greasy polythene really gets on my tits, so any recipe that makes it more palatable is a great thing. If this is a proper hearty, dinner-sized meal, all the better (as opposed to a soup, for example).

In the UK, the granddaddy of roast meat is the pteranodon-sized Christmas offering, the roast turkey. Tradition dictates that you need to buy the biggest fuck-off turkey you can find or the biggest turkey that will actually fit into your oven, whichever is smallest. How this tradition arose I have no idea. I mean, it's not as if it's biblical, is it? The domestic turkey is native to North America and wouldn't be seen east of the Atlantic for 1500 years after the birth of Jesus. Besides which, the gifts mentioned were gold, frankincense and myrrh, not gold, frankincense and a fucking ginormous turkey.

Just your average family turkey for Christmas
You'll get a cracking curry from this

However the tradition started, it means there is enough leftover meat for at least a full week of meals for the average sized family. The cold leftovers themselves become part of the Christmas holiday tradition. There's using it as a sandwich filling for the Boxing Day buffet. Then there are other options that work as recipes. Cold turkey makes a pretty good Chinese-style hot and sour soup (recipe to follow, at some point) or turkey and sweetcorn soup, for example. The turkey curry, however, is another part of post-Christmas rituals and I have had some truly fucking diabolical versions in my youth. The sort of curry I have nightmares about, where the turkey is thrown in with fried onions and a random selection of spices, or worse, generic "curry powder", and fuck all else.

The thing is, reheated roast meat really needs to be prepared properly. Turkey, especially, tends to be pretty dry, so that's something to consider, and then there's the awful, vaguely wet dog aroma that dry, poorly stored cold roast meat develops. It doesn't matter how much garam masala you use if it's still got the all the culinary qualities of licking the arse of a Lhasa Apso (it's a Dougal dog from Magic Roundabout, see picture below) that's just been fetching a stick from Lake Windermere. However, this version of turkey curry does work and does the meat justice, mainly due to the acidic lemon that cuts through the moist canine character of reheated roast meat.

Dougal, the only Lhasa Apso worth mentioning
The scent of Christmas past.

One last thing, this curry should have a decent chilli kick to it. Picture the scene: you've been cooped up in the house for a few days; plied with way too much rich food, chocolate and booze; bored to death by the shit programming on TV. You've still got a mountain of cooked turkey to get through and you need something to really give your guts, your tastebuds, indeed. your very soul, a defibrillating shock to get you back to something like a normal routine again. A pallet-cleansing, tangy, hot curry is just that shock. Just don't forget to shout "CLEAR!" as you use the toilet next day.

Preparation: 5-10 minutes (not counting the time to roast the turkey first time around, obviously)
Cooking: 15-20 minutes


2 tbsp vegetable oil
300g leftover roast turkey meat, shredded
3 small onions, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red or orange pepper, cut into 2 cm squares
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 whole bay leaf
4 red or green chillies, finely chopped
4 med/ 6-8 small tomatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tbsp tomato puree
juice of 1 lemon
50 ml water
2 tsp garam masala

Heat the oil in a pan and add the spices to gently fry for a minute or so.

Add the onions and garlic and fry until soft, around 5-10 minutes. Add the pepper and and fry for a further few minutes.

Pour in the water along with the rest of the ingredients, except the turkey. Mix well and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Gently stir in the turkey to heat through.

A panful of leftover joy

Finally, pep up the flavour with the garam masala and serve.

Like many curries, this works with plain rice, or something a little more fancy like a pilau like my lemon flavoured version  or this Indian egg fried rice, with or without a South Asian bread, like naan.

One of the other beauties of this recipe is how fucking quick this is to cook. I'll probably go into this a bit further in a subsequent recipe entry, but my worst habit in cooking is how slow I am, mainly as a result of being really anal about how I chop vegetables. I can't help it, I cook like I'm making love (no, not anal): with care and attention to detail. However, even I could bang this out in about half an hour.

This recipe would work pretty well with leftover roast chicken.

It's not the most appealing looking dish as you can see, but what can you expect from leftovers? It tastes fucking great, and that's all that matters.

Jalfrezi is one of my favourite curries in UK curry houses. The local curry house version bears almost no resemblance to this recipe. On the other hand, research tells me this is a more authentic version of jalfrezi since it is supposed to be a really dry curry.

I have a recipe waiting to be written up for roast turkey with various trimmings, but I reckon that may be better posted in the run up to Christmas.

I made it through this whole blog without once taking the piss out of a famous TV chef. I really am slipping.

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