Another Chukka Before Tiffin Charles?

Thursday 21/10/2004

Back to noshblog site (click here)

Diary and Notes

This was day one and I will not be eating like this every day. It was my birthday feast. The people I was cooking for were vegetarians so there's no meat. This will not happen often. Also I had brought Indian sweets (some barfi, gulab juman etc...) but we didn't eat them as my friend Nadine made me a chocolate and apple torte for my birthday as a treat. The people I cooked dinner for were German and American. I think they were a bit surprised that an Englishman could cook, as the stereotypes about British food border on the fanatical. Some notes on the curry paste: As I am currently in Germany I don't have my usual selection of spices to work with and so went for the proprietary solution instead. The purists amongst you can always make your own spice mixes, but it was a pretty good nosh up anyway.

And if you are wondering about the photos, we had the first ever Göttingen Conkers championships (you can see them, the things with the strings attached, behind the cake) and everyone got a marzipan conker for a prize. (The winner also got a marzipan cigar - lucky devil).


  • Mushroom Biriani,
  • Channa, yellow Dhaal and coconut curry,
  • Mixed vegetable curry,
  • Potato and onion pakora,
  • Chappatis,
  • Cucumber raita,
  • Banana in ginger and lemon,
  • Poppadoms.


  • Biriani: Basmati rice, mushrooms, green lentils, egg, green cardamon, black pepper, cinnamon stick, turmeric, fennel seeds, cloves, real butter ghee, garam masala.
  • Channa curry: Onions, garlic, ghee, ginger, curry paste, chick peas, yellow dhaal, lemon juice, creamed coconut (block form), fresh coriander, garam masala, salt.
  • Vegetable curry: Okra, mixed peppers, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, ghee, garlic, ginger, chillis, curry paste, black peppercorns, tomato puree, tomato ketchup, salt, fresh coriander.
  • Pakora: Potatoes, onions, carrot, gram flour, garam masala, turmeric, black pepper, chilli, fresh coriander, salt, vegetable oil (for frying).
  • Chappatis: Chappati flour (medium), ghee, salt, boiling water.
  • Cucumber raita: Cucumber, yoghurt, mint sauce, black pepper.
  • Banana: Banana, lemon juice, sugar, ginger.


  • The biriani is made using cooked basmati rice which has been left to go cold (essential). When cooking the rice ignore anyone who says not to wash it first - they are talking rubbish. When you're cooking it, add some lemon juice to the water as this acidity causes the starch to remain in solution and stops it sticking. After cooked 'fluff up' with a fork to make sure the grains are nicely separated. Simmer the eggs for about 10 mins (don't boil it makes the yolks go green). Fry the mushrooms in a little ghee with some garam masala (keeping the lid on here reduces the amount of ghee needed). Boil the lentils until soft but not mushy (after they are boiled rinse them really well to remove any greyish spume). Melt some ghee in a frying pan and add all the spices and leave them on a warm heat for at least 10 mins to infuse the oil. When good and infused, fry the cold rice and the lentils in this oil. Keep the rice moving so as not to stick. Place 1/2 the rice in a casserole dish. Slice the boiled eggs and layer on top of the rice, layer the rest of the rice on the eggs and then add the mushrooms as the last layer. Place lid on casserole. This will keep for a while (probably a day or two) until you want to eat it and then all you need is 20-30 mins (depending on how big the biriani is) in a warm oven to heat it (gently).

  • Channa curry: Soak your chick peas overnight. Boil them for at least 10 minutes (if you don't actually boil them they can be poisonous) turn the heat down and simmer them until soft (about an hour). Boil the yellow lentils until soft but not mushy. Gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the ghee (making sure not to brown the garlic). Add the curry paste and fry for a few minutes more. Put in the pulses and water to cover. Place lid on pan and simmer gently until the yellow lentils begin to mush up and make a good sauce (more water may be needed and you will want to stir every now and again). About 5 mins before serving squirt in the juice of a lemon, and crumble in the block coconut cream. Just before serving sprinkle with fresh coriander and garam masala.

  • Vegetable curry: Fry the peppercorns, onion, garlic, ginger and chillis in ghee until soft (again no browning please, we don't want that harsh burned garlic taste). Add the curry paste and fry a bit more. Add the okra (sliced lengthways) and the peppers (chopped so as the pieces are still quite big). Fry them a bit more (don't skimp on the ghee for this dish, restaurants use LOADS and that's what gives it the authentic curry house flavour, that and tomato ketchup of course, see later). Don't cook them for too long as we don't want them all soft and mushy. Add the broccoli and put the lid on but don't stir (as this will break the broccoli up, just let it steam a bit). Mix the tomato ketchup (for a really authentic English curry house flavour this is absolutely essential), tomato puree and a little water and pour into pan. You can stir a bit now but be gentle! Lid back on for a minute or two then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir them in gently with the fresh coriander and just leave them to warm through (three minutes should do it).

  • Pakora: Mix all the spices and finely chopped coriander with the gram flour and some water. Make a paste (a bit thicker than pancake batter, more like American pancake batter). Leave to stand. Grate the potatoes, carrot and onion and place in a saucepan of boiling water for about five mins. The idea here is to make sure the onions are soft and the potatoes are already pretty well cooked. Drain off the mixture and squeeze out any water. Mix into the batter and leave to stand for ten minutes more. Heat some oil in a frying pan and drop spoonfulls of the mixture into HOT oil. Keep them stirring and stop them sticking together. Make sure they cook nicely and are good and brown. They can be reheated in an over for days afterwards.

  • Chapattis: This is not what it says to do on the packet of flour but in my opinion is the most sure fire way of making good chapattis. Mix the flour, salt and a spoonful of ghee in a bowl and then pour over boiling water. Mix to a paste and then keep adding more flour until it thickens to a good dough which when you pick it up it doesn't stick to your fingers. Kneed the dough well and leave to stand for ten minutes. Roll out really thin on a well floured surface. When you cook them pat them between your hands to get any excess flour off, make sure the pan is good and hot and turn them when they puff up. Make sure when your cooking them you have some tinfoil ready to wrap them in. Don't wrap more than about five per pack as they'll stick. You can keep them warm in the oven or take them out and microwave them days later.

  • Raita: Chop cucumber into tiny cubes. Mix with yoghurt (and yes this is really the absolute best method) mint sauce, yes, the stuff you get from supermarkets to have with roast lamb. Grind in some fresh pepper.

  • Banana: Chop bananas into small cubes. Mix lemon juice, sugar and powdered ginger in a bowl. Stir bananas in and leave, covered, in the fridge for at least an hour.