Dinner With The Omnivore

Posts Tagged ‘curry

OK maybe a bit less rudimentary these days

OK maybe a bit less rudimentary these days

There’s nothing quite like being deprived of the basics to make you appreciate how splendid your life actually is despite all its little irritations, and after five months spent living in one room with no access to cooking facilities (don’t ask), my frankly rather rudimentary kitchen arrangements look positively professional.

The other side effect of living on a diet of chalet scraps plus whatever you can get together using only a fridge, a kettle and a penknife is that you never want to see an instant noodle, a piece of meat or a croissant ever again. By the end of the winter I was drooling over allrecipes and the BBC’s Good Food website the way 50-year-old men who live with their mothers surf porn sites An excess of meat and sugar has left me with an insatiable craving for fish and vegetables, to the extent where I may shortly need to be treated for the effects of asparagus overdose. (But what a way to go.)

A trawl through new and existing recipes in search of suitable veggie/fishy dishes turned up something cut out ages ago from a copy of The Week (must get round to renewing the subscription one of these days) and contributed by no less a person than Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese dissident, political figure and general all-round bolshi person. Presumably the best part of 15 years spent under house arrest gave her plenty of time for cooking.

.... and accomplished curry chef, apparently.

…. and accomplished curry chef, apparently.

Contributing to cookbooks might seem a

bit of a frivolous pastime for someone involved in changing the world and receiving Nobel peace prizes for her efforts, but it seems she managed to fit it into her busy schedule, possibly because the book in question is ‘Share’, published under the auspices of charity Women for Women International, which fundraises for and offers training to women who have survived appalling experiences during wars in the likes of Bosnia, Afghanistan and Sudan.

I confess to not having bought the book as yet, though I probably will do so, because 1) it looks like a beautiful book, full of spiffy pictures and uplifting stories of survival against the odds; 2) it’s a very worthwhile and high-minded sort of charity which will give you a feeling of virtuous smugness as you click ‘add to basket’ on Amazon; and 3) Aung San Suu Kyi’s Burmese fish curry is bloody lovely. It’s also quite low calorie, should you be feeding anyone for whom that’s a consideration.

You will need: 300g white fish, cut into cubes; 2 tsp grounf turmeric; 2-3 red chilis; 100ml fish or veg stock; 2 tblsp fish sauce; ½ tsp paprika; 30g fresh coriander; 300g tiger prawns; 5 shallots; 5 garlic cloves; 2cm root ginger; 800g fresh tomatoes; lime or lime juice

Mix together turmeric, fish sauce and a splash of water to make a paste. Coat the fish and prawns with it and set aside to marinate for a bit. Meanwhile blend together the shallots, garlic, chillies and ginger.

Faffy onions - don't bother.

Faffy onions – don’t bother.

Fry the blitzed paste for a few minutes, add the paprika and cook for a bit, then put in the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Add the prawns and cook for a couple of minutes, and then add the fish and carry on simmering until the prawns are pink and the fish just cooked. Stir in the coriander and season with lime juice and a bit more fish sauce to taste.

I admit to having tweaked this slightly, having forgotten what the prawns were for and used them in some fish cakes earlier on. Furthermore, I couldn’t be bothered with shallots, which seem to me to be nothng more than faffy onions, so I used a red onion intead. I also substituted a few dried chili flakes for actual chilis. However, none of this seemed to matter much, as the final result was such that this is now officially my favourite curry recipe, surpassing even Madhur Jaffrey’s rogan josh. Which is saying a lot.

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

Advertisements

It’s a frequent grumble amongst misplaced Brits that they can’t get their hands on a decent curry. Indian restaurants do exist in France (several in Grenoble, for example) but in general the food is frankly rubbish, having been dumbed down beyond all recognition in order to suit the French, who are paranoidly suspicious of anything which could be described as even slightly spicy.

Frenchman

A Frenchman - not keen on spicy food

But it rarely occurs to anyone that it’s perfectly possible to make curry (what do you think the whole population of India is doing – sending out for takeaway?). And when I suggest that it could be feasible to construct a decent curry at home, I’m usually met with the objection that you can’t get curry paste/curry sauce here. (Actually you can, if you look in the right places, but since it all tastes like sauce-in-a-jar, why would you bother?)

fresh chili

A chili. Not likely to taste of sauce-in-a-jar

The answer is that Indians, who eat curry all the time, are neither lining up round the block for carry out nor buying jars of Sharwood’s sauces. They are using spices and chili. I know this sounds bafflingly simple, but it’s true. What’s more, the spices concerned aren’t particularly exotic or unobtainable – even in France I manage to construct authentic curries using spices bought from mass-market supermarket chains. The only things I’ve had to go elsewhere for were garam masala, fenugreek and asafoetida (all right, I haven’t found that at all, but I don’t care because I only have one recipe which uses it and even there it’s listed as optional).

Our forays into curry-from-scratch so far have mainly been courtesy of Madhur Jaffrey, the Delia of Indian cooking (click on the ‘books’ tab above), whose recipes are clear, practical, and do exactly what they say on the tin.

This one, for curried eggs, was one of Ms Jaffrey’s to start with, but I’ve messed with it because I didn’t fancy using cream in the sauce. The result is a very tasty but quite light curry dish, which promises to become a summer evening staple. Assuming we ever have a summer, that is. I blame that bloody volcano.

eggs

Some eggs. A change from chickpeas.

Curried Eggs

You will need: 1 onion; about 2cm fresh ginger; 1 chili; 1 large tomato; 3-4 tblsp yogurt; 150ml chicken stock; 1 tblsp lemon juice; 1 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds; 1/2 tsp garam masala; 4 hard boiled eggs.

Chop the onions and fry until soft. Grate and finely chop the ginger and add to the pan along with the chopped chili and continue frying for a couple of minutes. Dice the tomato then add it and everything else except the yogurt and bring it all to a simmer. Add the yogurt a spoonful at a time and mix thoroughly. Leave the sauce to simmer until everything is cooked and it has become fairly thick. Halve the eggs and put them cut side up into the pan. Spoon the sauce over them and leave to cook gently for a further five minutes or so. Serves two, with rice or flat bread.

The vegetarians in your life will thank you for this, as they are bound to be bored witless with chickpea/lentil/potato concoctions – I like a chickpea as much as the next person, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter


Food for thought

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

Food by e-mail - takeaway for the modern age.

Join 182 other followers

Share

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 33,964 hits

Stuff you liked

Stuff you looked at

  • None
© Christa GIMBLETT 2010-2011