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The 1950s brought us some really wonderful things: the NHS had just been invented, cars were growing in popularity, we switched from a 6- to a 5-day work week (6 DAYS, can you imagine?!).
It’s also a decade that brought us one of the greatest kitchen inventions: the pressure cooker. An item that has fascinated and scared me just a little, well, if not til the 1950s then definitely since 1999, which was when I cooked my first spaghetti bolognese. I’ve read so many recipes, seen so many cooking shows where chefs have employed the pressurised method, and it’s always made me wonder.
A cooking method that actually originated in 1679 with the French physicist Denis Papin (a flavour-promoting cooking method invented by a Frenchman? Sounds about right), pressure cooking rose to popularity in 1950s. And no wonder; it’s time saving – dishes take around a third of the time to cook than normal – it locks in nutrients and also concentrates flavours beyond belief.
Plus, it’s a way superstar TV personality and personal all-time favourite X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon likes to cook, as I discovered recently at the beautiful Ivy Brasserie at Tower Bridge when I went to an afternoon tea hosted by Prestige Cookwear. Stacey chatted with us everything kitchen and pressure cooking, running through her favourite recipes (beef massaman curry!) before we ended up talking about our favourite recycling bins. I know I know, it’s all star-studded.
I went away from meeting her – she was so lovely – with both a pressure cooker and a brain buzzing with ideas about the creations I could cook up. And cook up I have…
Since I’ve returned home I have not only re-visited the old spag bol of 1999, but have also pressure cooked a whole chicken as well as the tenderest pork shoulder.
But my favourite of all, much like and inspired by my new friend Stacey, is the wonderful curry: a Lamb Dhansak recipe, to be exact.
This Lamb Dhansak recipe is such a dream to cook and will be done in only twenty minutes: the rice takes almost as long as the tender meat curry, despite using a fairly cheap shoulder cut. It’s a family-friendly recipe; chilli is on the ingredients list but I don’t add it when I’m eating with the kids as it’s just too much for them.
It’s also a great way to crowbar goodness into them – veggies and red lentils – and if it leaves fussypants Hux asking for second helpings you know it’s a winner winner dinner.
Pressure Cooking: Lamb Dhansak Recipe
- 400 g diced lamb
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 pinch salt
- 50 g red lentils
- 400 g tinned tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 150 ml chicken stock
- 2 tsp sugar (or honey)
- Fresh coriander
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- 150 g basmati rice
- 300 ml water
Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in your pressure cooker on a medium heat, and add the diced onion. Cook until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes, before adding the spices and salt and stirring well.
Cook for another couple of minutes before adding the lamb and garlic and red chilli, if using. After the lamb starts cooking through pop in the tomato puree.
Rinse your lentils in a sieve before adding and stirring. Then add the tomatoes and stock, stirring once again.
Cover and cook on high for 5 minutes, or until your pressure cooker makes a squealing sound. Turn down to a low heat and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.
While the curry is cooking, start on the rice. Put your water in a saucepan on to boil and rinse the rice well under water.
Once the water is boiling add the rice and stir well. Cook covered on a medium heat for 10 minutes before stirring and removing from the heat. Leave, still covered, for another 10 minutes to finish cooking through. Fluff up when the time is over and add a small knob of butter if you fancy.
Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as the sugar (or a little bit of honey if you prefer)
Serve the rice topped with the curry, with a scattering of coriander on top.
Thank-you to Prestige for inviting me along to meet Stacey Solomon and inspiring me to create this Lamb Dhansak recipe!