Dinner With The Omnivore

Posts Tagged ‘Indian

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.

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Pigs .....

It’s a big point in favour of the end of the winter season that we can stop living on the traditional montagnard diet of pigs, potatoes and lard. Much as I like all the possible permutations of cheese and bacon with a side order of starch, it’s possible to get nostalgic for a vitamin or two after a while. When asked what we should eat this week,  JC (a man whose culinary speciality is high-calorie stodge) growled: “Salad. FEED ME SALAD!!” Whatever you say dear, salad it is. Now, put the axe down quietly.

.... and lard. That's enough of that.

Indian chickpea salad

You will need: 2 garlic cloves; 1 red chilli; 2 tsp cumin seeds; 400g can chickpeas; large tomato; zest and juice of a lemon; things for salad.

Slice the garlic and fry it along with the cumin seeds and chilli until soft. Add the chickpeas, chopped tomato and lemon, cook gently until the whole lot is warmed through. Serve on a bed of whatever you like by way of salad – I usually go for mixed leaves, cucumber, and spring onion, with a bit of fresh coriander if I can ever get hold of the stuff.

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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.

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