Paneer and Pea Curry


This is great, with or without the addition of cauliflower

Geeky fact alert. Since lockdown began I’ve not had the same meal twice, which is pretty remarkable even though I say so myself. My motivation was mainly to try different foods and give me more excuses to update this blog. Having said that, Paneer and Pea Curry from the Hairy Dieters is (unsurprisingly) remarkably similar to cauliflower, paneer and pea curry from BBC Good Food which I featured back in May.

So, what’s the difference with this recipe from the Hairy Dieters? Well, apart from the cauliflower and the additional spices, not a lot. But don’t let this detract from what is an excellent, low-cost vege curry which is enriched by the texture and taste of the paneer cheese which is regularly used in authentic Indian curries.

Continue reading “Paneer and Pea Curry”

(Lighter) Chicken Korma


Check out the ‘Fakeaways’ section of this blog for more of your favourites

Chicken Korma from the Hairy Dieters is a family-favourite ‘fakeaway’, perfect for kids or curry wimps who can’t stand a bit of a heat and prefer milder flavours. Even if you like your curries HOT, you’ll still appreciate the variety of spices which make up this recipe. It may seem like a lot of ingredients, particularly if you’re buying them in from scratch, BUT you will return to them again and again.

For some of the more irregular spices, tumeric can be used in sweet potato saag aloo and creamed spinach with eggs, while saffron can be found in cauliflower and chicken pilaf and chicken biryani. Traditional Indian restaurant kormas are calorific as they are loaded with cream, whereas this lighter version only contains 3 tablespoons of double cream and just 294 calories per portion, without rice or naan bread.

Fancying a mild curry with fewer ingredients? Then the nation’s favourite, chicken tikka masala, is for you.

Continue reading “(Lighter) Chicken Korma”

Sweet Potato Saag Aloo


Just 200 calories per portion and stroppy teenager friendly

Sweet Potato Saag Aloo from the Hairy Dieters‘Go Veggie’ book turned into a really satisfying experience. My teenager Will was mithering for an Indian takeaway and frowned with disappointment when he saw what his old man had served up. “Where’s the meat?”, he asked in irritation.

5 minutes later and his mood had lightened. “This tastes amazing Dad. Can we have it again?” There’s been few greater pleasures during the last few months than being able to change my son’s perceptions about food, particularly when it comes to introducing him to cheap, vegetarian-based dishes. This costs just over a £1 per portion to make.

If you don’t have all the suggested spices in, don’t worry, the Hairy Dieters state you can substitute them for mild curry powder instead, but it won’t taste as good. At just 200 calories per serving, this fab vege-based curry is going to become a regular in my home.

Continue reading “Sweet Potato Saag Aloo”

Turkey Keema Peas


Turkey isn’t just for Christmas

Indian-based Keema dishes are typically made with lamb or beef, but the Hairy Dieters’ wonderful Turkey Keema Peas recipe uses turkey thigh mince which contains around 7% fat and just 270 calories per serving. Using turkey breast mince (approx. 2%) would make it even more diet-friendly, although more expensive. The Hairy Dieters suggest serving this with a small portion of rice, regular or cauliflower, but I think this is sufficiently filling on its own. Plus, I personally think rice is totally overrated and a waste of calories which you could use instead for…. BOOZE ha ha!

By incorporating more vegetables and using cheaper types of meat (chipolatas, pork mince, skin-on bone-in chicken thighs etc), you can still stay on track with your diet while sticking to a strict budget. At around £2 a pack for 500g from most supermarkets, turkey thigh mince is a brilliant low-cost option. You could also use it to make turkey burgers or a turkey chilli.

I’m loving getting reacquainted with turkey again and judging by the views on this blog, so are you, by trying more recipes with this underrated, often forgotten (outside of Christmas) cut of meat. If you’re wondering what to do with the remaining coconut milk, why not make Coconut Prawn Curry?

Continue reading “Turkey Keema Peas”

Coconut Prawn Curry – prepped and cooked in under 20 mins!


Perfect for a quick, weeknight curry fix

Coconut Prawn Curry from the Hairy Dieters is a such a simple dish and perfect for a weeknight meal when you’re tired and just want something good to eat that’s quick to cook. From start to finish, you can be tucking into this in less than 20 minutes. Perfect.

The photo doesn’t do the flavours in this recipe justice, and despite using two teaspoons of cornflour the sauce was a little runny, so don’t be tempted to use more than the recommended 200ml of half-fat coconut milk. But all that matters is that it tastes great, and for just 254 calories it will satisfy your hunger cravings so that you don’t need to add any rice to go with it.

If you’re in need of a curry fix, check out the ‘Fakeaways’ section on this blog.

Continue reading “Coconut Prawn Curry – prepped and cooked in under 20 mins!”

Beef Massaman Curry


Beef massaman curry

At times, lockdown has sent us all a little crazy. Ann-Marie’s moment of madness came when she decided to order a 25kg bag of potatoes from a farm store to ensure we didn’t run out. Now that’s a serious amount of carbs right there! Undeterred, I began furiously fanning my recipe books for meals with potatoes and came across Beef Massaman Curry from Justine Pattison’s excellent ‘Takeaway Favourites’ book.

The recipe requires 500g of potatoes, not 25kg, but hey it’s a start. But what about the taste? Pretty good actually, although I was unable to get my hands on any kaffir lime leaves so swapped in some lime zest. I also didn’t bother with the chilli peanuts suggestion – in hindsight a mistake as I definitely would have preferred more heat in this.

But with all of the proper ingredients I’ll definitely make this Thai curry again as I’m in no danger of running out of spuds! Speaking of spuds, you don’t need rice or naan in this recipe which despite the lengthy cooking time is a doddle to make as it just does its thing in the oven. Continue reading “Beef Massaman Curry”

Thai Green Chicken Curry – Tom Kerridge style


Thai green chicken curry

I’m a fan of Tom Kerridge, but on occasion I do think he makes his recipes unnecessarily faffy or ‘cheffy’. After a day at work I almost sacked off making his Thai Green Chicken Curry when looking at the long list of ingredients and method to make it. In the end, I used chicken breasts (which I diced and stir-fried for a couple of minutes first) instead of pissing about poaching a chicken crown and cutting off the meat. This saved some precious time in the kitchen.

As for the end result, well fair play to Tom, like most of his meals this did taste very good and the serving size was huge. I did make the mistake of substituting the 100ml full-fat coconut milk for 200ml half-fat coconut milk, mainly because I had a half-tin lurking in my cupboard and couldn’t see the point in opening a regular sized tin to only use 100ml. But this did make the curry runnier and as a consequence of having to simmer for longer some of the vege went soft. Would I eat this meal again? Yes, definitely. Would I make it again? Pass.

If you’re wanting a Thai curry fix, the Hairy Dieters do a simpler version for approx 150 calories less here. Continue reading “Thai Green Chicken Curry – Tom Kerridge style”

Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea curry


Cauliflower, paneer and pea curry

It’s a long and not particularly interesting story, but I recently ended up with three cauliflowers in my fridge with little clue as to what to do with them. My initial get ‘out of jail’ idea was to use them to make a batch of cauliflower rice, but actually I can’t stand cauliflower rice and feel rage every time I try to make it. Cauliflower is supposed to have crunch, so when I stumbled across Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea Curry from BBC Good Food I was sold.

This turned out to be an excellent vege meal. Paneer is similar in texture to halloumi and is used in a lot of curries – both are really useful options to have in your fridge. The recipe states to use ‘rapeseed’ oil, but bog standard vegetable oil will do. You can serve this with rice (but not cauliflower rice, eh) or naan bread but don’t forget to account for the extra calories.

If you share my loathing of cauliflower rice and insist on using the humble cauli how it should be, check out ‘the best’ cauliflower & broccoli cheese. Continue reading “Cauliflower, Paneer and Pea curry”

Beef kofta curry – gorgeous meatballs in a butternut squash sauce


Beef kofta curry

Most people love a good meatball and by using extra lean mince you can easily incorporate them into your healthy eating plan. There are lots of reduced calorie meatball recipes around, but Beef Kofta Curry from Pinch of Nom has recently become one of my favourites.

The jewel in this recipe’s crown is the butternut squash based sauce. It adds a real depth of sweetness to the curry which also includes regular curry powder, tomato puree and garlic. You can enjoy this meal with or without rice, but don’t forget to add on the additional calories if you do and only have a small portion – a 125g serving of rice will set you back a whopping 173 calories! As I can take it or leave it, my portions of rice are typically 35g to 50g max.

Butternut squash is a fantastic vegetable which can keep for ages in your fridge. You only need 225g for this recipe, so you’ll have plenty leftover. If so, why not give Home-made Butternut Squash Tortellini or Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup a try? Continue reading “Beef kofta curry – gorgeous meatballs in a butternut squash sauce”

Cauliflower (and chicken) Pilaf


Cauliflower pilaf

Some dishes don’t turn out as well as they look in a book and sadly Cauliflower (and chicken) Pilaf from the Hairy Dieters was a disappointment to me. Undoubtedly, some of this was down to ‘user error’. I used a stick blender rather than the recommended food processor to blend my cauliflower rice which was a complete disaster. Pomegranate seeds, which you can buy in packs from supermarkets, were a poor substitute for an actual pomegranate, and my son couldn’t get to grips with removing some of the whole spices in the dish which aren’t supposed to be eaten.

Overall, both cooking and eating this after a day at work proved stressful, partly due to my own incompetence and also a lack of patience – it proved far too faffy and the suggested 30 minute time to have this on the table seems unrealistic. I wouldn’t write this recipe off entirely, there are a lot of powerful flavours within it, so perhaps you’ll fair better than me if you try it. Continue reading “Cauliflower (and chicken) Pilaf”

Spicy pork and aubergine curry


Pork and aubergine curry

My recent farm shop delivery was well received but it did throw up some surprises. A green cabbage was substituted for a courgette and butternut squash was swapped for an aubergine. With my OCD-esque food planning menu in tatters, I trawled through my library of cookbooks for inspiration and discovered Spicy Pork and Aubergine Curry courtesy of BBC Good Food.

I’m not a fan of aubergine and would normally use it in a vege curry, or perhaps a moussaka. But there was no way I was going to let it go to waste in times like now. The journey to get to this meal was arduous, but eating it was largely forgettable. It lacked flavour and punch, however the addition of a small portion of basmati rice made it bearable. Unless I’m the recipient of any stray aubergines any time soon this dish is unlikely to feature on my dinner table again. Continue reading “Spicy pork and aubergine curry”

Curried butternut squash and apple soup


Butternut squash soup

Some people ask me (actually no one has), ‘why do you bother making soup when you can buy low-sugar tinned soups instead?’ My retort is, ‘tinned soups are (invariably) shit, home-made soups can taste lovely, you know exactly what’s gone into them and you can make a big-batch up which can last throughout the week and/or leftover portions can go in the freezer’.

Curried butternut squash and apple soup from the Hairy Dieters is one of the nicest home-made soups I’ve made. You get the sweetness from the squash and the apples with a bit of a kick from the curry powder. I wonder if you could stick some gin and/or other liquors in this and make it into a cocktail? Hmm, maybe not.

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on these ingredients at the present moment then give this recipe a go. My only issue is with the Hairy Dieters’ claim in their book that you can prep this in 15 minutes. Erm, chopping two onions, peeling and dicing the squash and peeling, coring and chopping the apples took me considerably longer than that. But let’s face it, we’ve all got a bit more time on our hands to spend in the kitchen right now! Continue reading “Curried butternut squash and apple soup”

Penang chicken and sweet potato curry – Thaitastic!


Penang chicken

Several healthy eating cookbooks contain ‘fakeaway’ chapters – reduced-fat recipes of our favourite takeaways – but none better than Justine Pattison who has dedicated an entire book to them. Penang chicken and sweet potato curry is a sumptuous Thai fakeaway that I’d be delighted to have served to me in a restaurant. The beauty of this is that you can enjoy restaurant quality food for just over 400 calories providing you follow the simple cooking method to the letter.

The sweet potatoes mean that you don’t need to add extra calories by having rice or bread, and the accompaniment of the stir-fried broccoli with chilli and garlic adds some extra zing and class for only 48 calories more. This is a really special dish to cook on a weekend ‘date night’. So crack open some vino, tuck into this and get ‘love is in the air’ blasting out by John Paul Young and you’ll be sorted :-).

If you love this, why not try another of Justine’s fakeaway crackerjacks – Ginger Chicken with Udon Noodles. Continue reading “Penang chicken and sweet potato curry – Thaitastic!”

Low-cal chicken tikka masala – worth stripping off for!


Chicken tikka

It’s January. I’m skint and that, combined with my need to sift some post-Christmas ‘timber’, means that Indian takeaways are firmly off the menu for now. Thankfully, low-cal chicken tikka masala from the Hairy Dieters is a brilliant ‘plan B’. In fact, it tastes so good that this could become ‘plan A’ going forward.

Do take the trouble to marinate the chicken overnight if you can as the flavours, particularly the ginger, intensify which makes the end result really satisfying. Personally, I left the salt out of this dish because I’m not a fan and I don’t think the recipe needs it but see what you think. Please note, the calories listed below DO NOT include rice or naan. A small piece of bread satisfies me when mopping up the sauce and the dish will still come in at under 500 cals.

Prep does take a while but this is a doddle to make. The only ‘health and safety’ precaution I need to make is to momentarily ‘strip off’ when blending the sauce with a stick blender as I tend to get it all down my top and up the walls if I’m not careful. It’s not just me, right? Continue reading “Low-cal chicken tikka masala – worth stripping off for!”

Chicken biryani- a flavour-bomb fakeaway


chicken biryani

When compiling a list of my favourite Indian curries that I wanted to try as a ‘fakeaway’, Chicken Biryani didn’t immediately spring to mind. But I’m so glad I decided to make this reduced-calorie version from the Hairy Dieters as it’s literally bursting with flavours which made for a fabulous surprise.

Some healthy eating books regularly throw in the claim ‘this is better than a takeaway’ almost to the point of it becoming a cliché, however this was exactly the conclusion I came to after demolishing this chicken biryani meal. There a lot of ingredients, but as long as you follow the method to the letter it will turn out brilliantly.

A lot of ‘fakeaway’ recipes give you the calorie count for the meal WITHOUT rice, so if you’re not careful what seems like an ultra healthy dish on paper can be potentially misleading. This chicken biryani meal INCLUDES rice and comes in at just under 400 calories (based on serving 5 people) so you don’t need to worry whether this is a healthy choice for your diet! Continue reading “Chicken biryani- a flavour-bomb fakeaway”

Chicken Bhuna – fab ‘fakeaway’!


Chicken bhuna

You’ll find lots of cracking Indian ‘fakeaway’ dishes throughout the Hairy Dieters’ books and Chicken Bhuna is right up there with the best of them. In fact, if my 13-year old son didn’t despise peppers I’d probably make this more often than I do. Perhaps it’s time to show the boy some tough love and make him eat this belting curry more often? I digress…

I really like the simplicity of this recipe. Unlike the majority of Indian dishes which require lots of spices, this one only uses mild curry powder and garam masala. The addition of the fresh ginger, garlic, chopped tomatoes and chilli powder work their magic to produce a fantastic sauce and hey presto, job done.

The calorie count is 305 calories but do keep in mind this is WITHOUT including rice and/or naan bread. But if you do succumb to these extras this meal is still far healthier than a standard takeaway, and a damn site cheaper and dare I say it, tastier too! Continue reading “Chicken Bhuna – fab ‘fakeaway’!”

Fish Curry (in a hurry!)


Fish curry

Fish Curry from the Hairy Dieters’ Fast Food book is a sumptuous hot and sour one-pan treat which can be prepped and cooked in about half an hour. It may seem like a lot of ingredients but they are mainly just spices which combine to produce a gorgeous and distinctive flavour.

The Hairy Dieters suggest using hake or tilapia (I’ve never heard of this fish before), but I’ve previously used cod on the occasions I’ve made this recipe. It probably isn’t as ‘firm’ as the other two but it works well for me. My local Co-Op frequently discounts cod fillets towards the end of the day so I pop them in the freezer and defrost them when I’m ready to rustle this meal up at a bargain cost.

This is a brilliant meal to do if you’re following a 5:2 diet (just 226 calories per serving), and even if you’re not and want to enjoy an extra helping (I have been known to!) then it’s still only going to set you back 452 calories! Continue reading “Fish Curry (in a hurry!)”

Very Easy Thai Chicken and Coconut Curry


Thai chicken curry

Despite the number of ingredients, Very Easy Thai Chicken and Coconut Curry from the Hairy Dieters’ inaugural book is indeed easy to make and quick for a weeknight tea providing you get everything out on your working top before you start.

I’m not a huge fan of rice, but even if you are, I don’t think this recipe necessarily warrants the addition of anything else given that the chicken is bulked out by the peppers and mangetout. If you can resist having rice, the calorie count for this ‘fakeaway’ dish is waistline friendly and perfect if you’re having a ‘5:2’ day and seeking a healthy evening meal for under 300 calories.

My only slight criticism is that even with the addition of the cornflour this curry is a tad watery for my liking so I tend to cook for longer than the suggested timings listed below. Try it yourself, as Neil Buchanan from Art Attack famously said (or perhaps not famously at all). Continue reading “Very Easy Thai Chicken and Coconut Curry”