Chickpea and celery rogan josh by Frew

Alana and I took a little sojourn to South Australia last weekend to help our parents move into their new home. I hung around for an extra day at the beautiful Adelaide Hills home of our eldest sister, Candice, and was treated to an AMAZING meal on their front deck, surrounded by lemon-scented gums, black cockatoos and their two very obedient dogs.

Candy’s boyfriend Frew is one of the best self-taught cooks about. He revels in fresh food made from scratch and laps up the Adelaide Hills foodie culture, even buying his fresh turmeric locally (and yes, you can get it fresh – photo below for those uncultured few who, like me, had never before seen turmeric beyond a spice jar!). He whipped up the best Indian-inspired smorgasbord and graciously kept smiling as I peppered him with questions afterwards so I could get it all down here for you.

Frew cooking

So here you go – the rogan josh and a few little extras to really make your meal sing!


What goes in:

Little chunks of fresh turmeric, which kind of resemble miniature ginger.

3 garlic cloves
Two 3cm sized pieces of fresh turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 pod black cardamon
5 pods green cardamon
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon each of yellow and black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon good quality curry powder
Olive oil

1 brown onion, diced
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tin drained and washed chickpeas
White wine vinegar to taste
The tops and leaves of half a bunch of celery

How you do it:

Grab a mortar and pestle and pound your ginger, garlic and turmeric to a paste, then pop it to one side. Dry fry the cardamon, coriander and cumin until lightly browned. Remove the cardamon pod’s outer shells then roughly grind the lot in the mortar and pestle.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the mustard seeds until they start to pop. Combine your onion, celery, spices and the paste in the pan to stop the seeds popping and fry it all until the onions are soft and lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Just before serving, add the chickpeas and white wine vinegar to taste. As a bit of a guide, Frew reckons he normally adds about a tablespoon. Serve your rich curry with brown rice.


What goes in:

A handful of fresh mixed herbs – Frew used thyme, oregano, sage and rosemary
1 medium-sized sweet potato, halved and cut into 3cm cubes
4 medium-sized potatoes, cut into eighths

How you do it:

Get the oven firing to 250 degrees. Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes until they’re soft on the outside but hard in the middle, which you would probably call part-cooked. Drain them, cover with oil and herbs, give ’em a good shake so they slightly smash and then wack them onto baking paper and into the oven. Apparently there’s no need to wait if the oven’s not yet fully hot, just – and I quote here – “get them cranking”. Cook the potatoes until crispy, which is about 35 to 50 minutes.



What goes in:

A handful of fresh mint, chopped
1 whole lebanese cucumber, grated and drained
1 teaspoon white sugar
250ml natural yoghurt

How you do it:

Mix the whole lot together and serve with an extra sprig of mint on top.

A few Frew tips…

If you’re making this as one meal, it’s best to start with the potatoes because if they’re ready you can just turn them down to 100 degrees and keep them warm while the rest catches up. Tackle the curry next and get it to the simmering stage, then get your rice cooking, then make your raita.

Frew served the lot up a couple of chutneys – his fave two are Mother’s Recipe cut mango pickle and Andhra tomato pickle – and Lijjat pepper papadums. A small dish of chopped chillis popped on the table also means those who like it fiery can up the sizzle to their own taste. And the raita is the perfect antidote if one goes too far!

When it comes to rice, rinsing before you cook it is really important and you can never use too much water. Boil the jug and rinse the rice with boiling water after it’s cooked for really fluffy, glug-free rice (although if you use brown rice you shouldn’t have that problem anyway). Candy also recommends a brand of brown rice that goes by the name of Rainfed Rice – it’s biodynamic, grown in Australia and requires zero irrigation.

And Frew’s final tip: Save yourself a fortune on herbs by growing your own. I wholeheartedly agree with this one!

This meal fed the three of us with plenty leftover for lunch the next day. And obviously the lot is vegan, minus the raita. We finished up with a movie and chocolate. Delish!

– Koren

One Response to Chickpea and celery rogan josh by Frew

  1. Cally Jackson February 8, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    These dishes sound AMAZING. Will definitely have to try them! Thanks for sharing. 🙂