Sitar’s butter chicken

While this isn’t mums and certainly made for our Aussie tastes it is still the best Butter Chicken in Brisbane. 

Sitar originally a one off restaurant in Albion is now a mini franchise in Brisbane. Fortunately it seems that the butter chicken recipe is part of the franchise because it’s been consistently good at 3 locations.

I am copying it to the cookbook in fear that Sitar might one day decide to remove it from their site! 

Ingredients :

1 whole chicken 

2 tomatoes puree in a blender

2 onions, chopped 

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste 

15 cashew nuts paste 

1 ½ tbsp butter 

3 tbsp cream 

1 tsp chilli powder 

Oil for frying 

salt to taste 

For the marinade :

1 tbsp tandoori masala 
½ tbsp garam masala (cloves, cinnamon and cardamom powdered) 

2 tbsp lime juice 

½ tsp jeera 

5 tbsp yoghurt


Marinate the chicken in the marinade for 1 whole hour. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chicken for 10 minutes. 

Remove the chicken and keep aside. In the remaining oil fry add the chopped onions till golden , then add the ginger-garlic paste and fry sprinkling little water now and then, till the oil separates. 

Add the cashew paste, chilli powder, tomato paste and cook for 10 mins. 

Add the butter and the cream and the chicken. Mix well and cook till done. Garnish with coriander.

Visit www.sitar.com.au

Pumpkin and stilton soup

This one is a slight variation on the pumpkin soup theme. Of course, it isn’t strictly necessary to use Stilton; any good local blue cheese would work just as well. Or nearly as well!

500g pumpkin, preferably Queensland Blue, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
250g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
250g leeks, washed and sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 litres chicken stock
Nutmeg, freshly grated
Pinch of paprika
30g Stilton, crumbled
¼ cup cream, at room temperature.

Melt butter in a heavy-based casserole, add garlic and leeks and cook gently until limp and transparent. Add pumpkin and carrot and stir to coat. Add chicken stock and spices, cover and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender. Cool and puree in a food processor or pass through a mouli.

Season and re-heat as required.

To serve, combine the Stilton and cream in a food processor. Ladle soup into bowls and swirl some of the Stilton mixture through each serving.

Serves 6 – 8.

Many thanks to Nadine from Feast Photography for the photo.

Pumkin soup


Queensland Blue* pumpkin, peeled and diced (quantities are difficult here)
3 – 4 large onions, chopped
Oil for cooking
Good quality chicken stock or vegetable stock
Nutmeg, grated
Cream, sour cream, or mascarpone
* If you want to be healthy and avoid cream, use home made almond milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan, add onion and sauté until tender.

Add pumpkin in batches, and cook a little, making sure not to burn the onion.

Transfer onion and pumpkin to a heavy casserole, add chicken stock, and simmer gently until the pumpkin is tender.

Puree the pumpkin and onion mixture in a food processor, or pass through the fine sieve of a mouli.

Just before serving, stir in cream, sour cream, mascarpone (or almond milk), being careful not to add too much. Add a little grated nutmeg, and season to taste.

*Queensland Blue pumpkins are hard to find these days as they have very tough skins. To substitute, use another blue skin variety.

Bechamel sauce

Many recipes will tell you to use hot milk when making a bechamel sauce. In fact, I don’t know of anybody who does. Do try not to use milk that has come straight from the refrigerator.

50g butter
50g milk
600ml milk

Melt butter in a saucepan and add the butter. Stir to combine. Cook the roux over gentle heat to cook the flour. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add a little of the milk. Stir well, pressing any lumps out with the spoon. Add a little more milk and repeat. You must eliminate the lumps before returning the pan to the heat. When the mixture is smooth, return to heat and cook until it thickens. Remove from heat again and add more milk. Stir vigorously until the sauce is again smooth. If any lumps are left in the sauce in its early stages, they will be almost impossible to remove later. Remember that it is the addition of a cold liquid to a hot base that causes the lumps to form, so the saucepan must always be off the stove when the milk is added. Continue to stir until there are no lumps, add more milk then cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Sauce Creme
Sauce Crème is a white sauce made using some cream to replace some of the milk. Obviously it is richer than béchamel sauce.

(Photo: Heraldsun.com.au)

White sauces

White sauce is the generic name for a whole collection of sauces having one thing in common: they are based on a roux of equal weights of butter and flour. They are called white sauces because the roux is not coloured and the resulting sauce remains white. It is the liquid that usually varies in white sauces. Technically, the sauce we know as white sauce is actually bechamel sauce, the liquid used being milk. With all white sauces the proportions are 50g butter, 50g flour and 600ml liquid to give 600ml of sauce. In all white sauces it is important to fry the roux gently to ‘cook’ the flour. This breaks up the gluten content of the flour and ensures that the resulting sauce does not have a floury taste that no amount of cooking will remove later.  

Osso Buco

Osso Buco is a specialty of Milan where it is traditionally served with a risotto made with onions, wine and Parmesan cheese coloured with saffron. I will try to remember to include the recipe. Failing the risotto, simply serve with fluffy white rice.

The Milanese have a special cooking pot for osso buco. It is a very wide, shallow cast iron casserole with a lid, and it allows the veal shanks to be cooked in one layer so that the meat does not fall off them. You can actually tie the meat onto the bone, remembering to cut the string off before presenting them!

Ask the butcher to prepare the veal shanks for you. The veal classified as osso buco sold in a lot of shops is way too thin. The shanks should be about 6cm long and each should weigh about 750g.

6 veal shanks, each 750g in weight
3 – 4 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 carrots, finely chopped
4 sticks celery finely chopped
Plain flour
3 x 400g cans Italian tomatoes or 1 bottle Italian tomato sauce
Oil for cooking
1 cup dry red wine
1can Campbell’s beef consommé
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1-2 bay leaves
1 strip lemon peel
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Zested lemon peel to garnish, a good teaspoon full for each person.
Parsley, finely chopped to garnish

Tie the veal shanks firmly with string. Heat oil in a heavy based frying pan and fry the shanks until they are well browned on all sides. Carefully stand the shanks upright in a heavy casserole so that the marrow does not fall out of the bones. Sprinkle well with seasoned flour, moving the shanks gently so that the fat on the meat absorbs the flour. Deglaze the pan with a little of the consommé and add to the meat. Heat more oil in pan and add the onions and garlic. Sauté gently for a few minutes, then add the carrots and celery and sauté for a further few minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the casserole, distributing them evenly around the shanks.

If using canned tomatoes, pass them through a sieve or mouli first so they are well broken up before they are added. If using Italian tomato sauce, it is already done for you.

Pour away any fat that remains in the frying pan and add the tomatoes or tomato sauce, the tomato paste, red wine and herbs, including the strip of lemon rind and the consommé. Bring sauce to the boil, adjust seasonings and pour over the shanks. If there is not enough liquid to cover the meat, carefully add some water.

Preheat oven to 170C and bake casserole, covered, for about 2 hours, or until veal is very tender.

To serve, carefully remove the cooked shanks with a slotted spoon and place one on each plate. Take the lemon rind out of the sauce and discard. Remove the string and cover each shank with sauce. Garnish with combined lemon zest and chopped parsley.

Serve with Milanese risotto or plain white rice.

Lamb and aubergine casserole (aka graveyard stew)

This may be the recipe that started it all, but it has got me into some trouble since. When I first wrote it out, I used the quantities that I would have used once, although perhaps not now. My theory is that if you are going to mess up the kitchen, you might as well make the mess worthwhile. So I would cook for a multitude and freeze for a multitude.

Then Joe and Pearl Saragossi asked me if I had a good lamb casserole recipe. I told them about this one and promised to print out a copy. When I asked if they had enjoyed it, Joe said, “That recipe is for twenty people. Pearl and I eat very little these days.” (You can’t please all of the people all of the time!) Well, I’m not at all sure that four kilograms of lamb, including bones, would have fed twenty people, even with pigeon-sized appetites, but I do take his point. (I have, since, made it to feed twenty people, and the original quantities would not have done!)

I think it was Georgie Lewis who gave it it’s other name, Graveyard Stew. I objected to the ‘stew’ label for a while, then finally gave in to public pressure. If people like it enough to re-name it, why complain? The empty plates certainly resemble a graveyard.

So, here it is, re-hashed.

By now I am sure you are well aware of my views regarding the treatment of aubergines before cooking. Unless the aubergines are old with dark, prominent seeds, they do not need to be soaked in milk or dredged in salt. Buy young aubergine, with smooth, shiny skins and cut them as you are about to use them.

The proportion of leg chops to forequarter and neck chops is not really critical. The leg chops have plenty of meat, the neck chops are full of flavour and the forequarter chops are somewhere between the two.

Oil for cooking

2 – 3 large onions, finely chopped

2 kg lamb leg chops

1 kg lamb forequarter chops

1 kg lamb neck chops

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 medium sized aubergine, young with shiny, unwrinkled skins

½ bottle of Italian pureed tomatoes

Chicken or beef stock, or a combination of the two

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon brown sugar

A dash of red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel and slice one of the aubergines about 1 cm thick. Drizzle a little oil into a baking dish and place aubergine slices into the oil. Spray or drizzle with more oil and bake until slices are tender. Remove from baking dish and drain on absorbent paper.

Repeat with remaining aubergine. When all aubergines are cooked and drained, dice coarsely.

Meanwhile, cut excess fat from chops. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan and sauté onion until transparent. Transfer to a heavy-based casserole. Add a little more oil, if necessary, to the frying pan, and brown chops, in batches. Transfer chops to the casserole as they are browned. Add flour, working it down amongst the chops so that the fat on the chops absorbs it and the remainder thickens into the sauce without lumping.

Add coarsely diced aubergine to the casserole with the onion and the chops. Add a little more flour and make sure it is absorbed by the fat in the aubergine, onion and chops.

Add tomato puree, tomato paste, brown sugar, red wine vinegar and enough stock to cover. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Make sure oven is still preheated to 180C and add casserole, covered. Cook for approximately 2 hours or until the lamb is tender. (The neck chops will take the longest to cook.)

Remove from oven, cool and refrigerate overnight. Skim all fat from surface of casserole.

To serve, heat gently until casserole reaches a simmer and meat is heated through.