I've been trying out some of Jamie Oliver's recipes from his 30-Minute Meals book, including the Chicken Pie dinner and the Frying Pan Pizza. The latest '30-Minute Meal' that we tried out was the Steak Indian-Style and the Spinach and Paneer Salad from page 216 of the book. The first thing to mention is that we didn't make the mango dessert because we had no mango. So we focused on the steak, salad and naan breads, which were made alongside a yoghurt dip and a creamy curry sauce to dip the naan breads into.
Firstly, the salad was so easy I got my five-year old to make it. You just tip spinach, coriander leaves, alfalfa sprouts and cress over a large serving bowl or platter, and then using a potato peeler, cut thin strips of carrot over the top. The paneer was also easy enough - sliced paneer that is then fried in olive oil until golden and then sprinkled with sesame seeds (I did that bit as the hot sesame seeds have a tendency to pop and fly all over the kitchen!)
The only thing I didn't quite 'get' about this 30-minute meal was the yoghurt dip. We were all left wondering what to do with it. When he makes this meal in the TV series Jamie refers to this dip as the 'fire extinguisher' for when you eat a hot curry. It's yoghurt, mint and lemon juice combined in a bowl - and I bet that does have a really cooling effect with a spicy curry but the flavours in this meal were very mild and subtle. But the dip is nice alongside the salad, or used in pitta breads or sandwiches the next day to use up with any leftover steak and salad (packed lunch bonus points, there).
And the curry sauce was just jalfrezi curry paste and coconut milk, heated in a pan - and is perfect for dipping your naan bread into. We did have quite a lot of this curry sauce left over so I put it in the freezer. The naan breads (I normally make my own but I went with Jamie's shop-bought ones for this meal) taste really authentic heated in the scrunched-up greaseproof paper, and they look good too, ripped out of their steamy white wrapper at the table.
The one part of the meal that we did all completely love was the Indian-style Steak. You make a marinade using some jalfrezi curry paste and a few other storecupboard ingredients, rub it into the steak and then fry the steak over a high heat. The paste then charred in the hot pan, creating another flavour on top of the meaty steak and the aromatic curry - it gave a kind of sweetness to the outside of the meat. The one thing you need to do with this though is go for the best rump steak that you can get - we used two steaks to feed two adults and two children, so you don't need to buy loads. And we don't have a griddle pan so just used a non-stick frying pan, and it was fine.
I didn't time this meal, because I was supervising a young child through the whole thing and taking my time to show her what we were doing. But this meal is worth trying if just for the steak alone. I remember promising to always cook our steaks like this as I greedily helped myself to more of it. The children were a bit confused about the salad - and no one really went for the paneer in a big way, but I think that's just because it was an unusual taste for them. But the next time we invite friends over I bet I'll be making all of this to go alongside a vegetable curry, to give them something different and offer more variety than just 'curry and rice'.