The English Invasion. Curry, Sherbet and a Bottle of Tomato Ketchup.
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Diary and Notes
We've being invaded by loutish thugs from the North. Englishmen were seen in the vicinity of Göttingen and the town council organised a defence of the city walls. Unfortunately for me, I live outside the city walls and was thus exposed to this barbarian threat. Early Friday evening as I was preparing to relax with The Good Book and say my prayers, two, slightly overweight, middle aged, lolloping, great hairy monstrosities arrived at my flat and demanded beer. "Ale and curry!" they shouted, "Ale and curry!" (this being a Friday and all Englishmen crave these things on a Friday night) and they began to hammer on the doors and windows in a most aggressive fashion. What could I do but let them in?
Luckily, however, I was prepared for this. Having heard the rumours that something was amiss, I had been to the market earlier today to buy a selection of fine German beers and the ingredients for a curry, so as to placate these brutish types if they should come my way. How fortunate I was, for I fear they may have torn up the place and gone on a vicious rampage, had they not been subdued by three litres of strong beer, some excellent French wine and a third of a bottle of port each. This is what you should do if rumours of the English abound. Take care however, for they are a dangerous and unpredictable race and these two in particular were capeable of creating strange smells which could incapacitate a less sturdy chap than I, from some distance. So as to keep these simian miscreants from causing great suffering to the fine burghers of Göttingen, I fed them and kept them suitably inebriated until they fell asleep in a drunken haze and proceeded to make ogreish bellowing noises until sunlight. Perhaps, like Odysseus with Polyphemeus, I should have burned out their eyes as they slept and made my escape, but to spare my fellow townsfolk their vengeful wrath, I kept watch until morning, when, as with all of their race, they were weakened by sore heads and dry, caterpillar infested mouths.
A harsh but somewhat accurate description of my friends Kev and Spook, who are staying for the weekend. They've driven all the way from Swindon, England and I thought they might enjoy a sample of the local beers when they arrived. We of course had a curry and the general concensus was that it was damn fine. I won't wax on too long, but I should point out that for reasons of time, the lamb curries served in British curry houses tend to be made by frying some pre-cooked meat in a pre-made sauce. Today's curry was made by actually cooking the lamb slowly in a sauce and was all the better for it. I had a lamb vindaloo in Frankfurt last Friday but this curry was absolutely not the same. There's was a runny sauce, a little spicy but generally made in the same way as I just described. Mine was thick and rich and very aromatically flavoured. The methi leaves (or fenugreek) are widely available in dried form and give a real 'authentic' taste to curries. No more lamb methi for me for a year, but you can have it, go on, you know you want to.
I mentioned a selection of German beers as well. We had six each to taste tonight (1/2 litre bottles of course) and some wine. The ratings for each and short comments are given below. We perhaps should have started with the pilsner beers, these being lighter, but we dived straight in and went wheat beer, then dunkels. Oh what foolish, rash, handsome, chaps, we are.
I must also mention my chum Chris Pook (Spook) who arrived with a bottle of tomato ketchup in his bag. Now I use a little ketchup in cooking, believing it lends a sweetness and a richness to tomato based sauces that is hard to achieve otherwise. But Spook (gawd bless 'im) is an addict and was fearful that his favoured brand (Heinz) would not be available in Germany so brought his own. Spook is renowned as the man who once put tomato ketchup on his roast turkey Christmas dinner, so neither I, nor Kev, were surprised when after our curry, this generally well cultured and polite person proceeded to put ketchup on his cheese and biscuits. Kev set the auto photo on his camera and took this photo of us relaxing after dinner. Cheers Mr Spook!
Kongokuchen. A very dark chocolate covered cream sponge cake. Not bad, but after all the curry and beer it didn't go down as well as it might have.
Paulaner Kristallklar (weissbier): Light and refreshing, very popular. *****
Andecher Doppelbock (dunkels): A shock after the weissbier, but good and meaty, strong molasses taste. ****
Nörten Hardenberger (pils): OK with curry, but not a drinkers beer. ** (*** with curry)
Krombacher (pils): A fine beer for all around everyday boozing. ***
Binding Römer (pils): An excellent well flavoured pils. ****
Göttinger Edel (pils): Chemical tasting and not good at all. *
Domaine du Pigeonnier, Faugeres 2003
Delaforce Fine Ruby Port
Dry Vegetable Curry,
Chutneys and Pickles,
Warm Tropical Fruit Salad with Chocolate Cream Sauce,
Mature English Cheddar,
Lamb Methi: Leg of lamb, ghee, onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, cardamon seeds, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, salt, curry paste, dried methi (fenugreek) leaves, lime juice, garam masala.
Dry Vegetable curry: Onions, green peppers, string beans, tomatoes, ghee, curry paste, tomato puree, tomato ketchup.
Butter Rice: Basmati rice, butter, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, salt.
Salad: Mango, melon, pineapple, grapes, kiwi fruit, sharron fruit, lime juice, honey.
Sauce: Butter, creme fraiche, Nutella, kirsche.
Chop the lamb into chunks and trim to remove excess fat. Heat some ghee in a big saucepan and add roughly chopped onions, garlic, ginger, chillis, cloves, cardamon, cinnamon stick. Fry slowly for about 1/2 an hour. Remove the seeds and cinnamon and keep for adding again later. Put the onion and garlic etc... into a liquidizer, leaving some of the oil in the pan. Liquidize the onion mix with some water to make a sauce. Fry the chopped lamb in the ghee until brown. Pour over the liquidized sauce and put back the cloves etc... with a handful of dried methi leaves, a dollop of curry paste, some garam masala and a squirt of lime juice. Cook very slowly for about two hours. If the sauce is looking a little fatty (a layer of fat may appear on the top) use a spoon to remove it. When the lamb is really tender and you are ready to serve, sprinkle a little more garam masala on top.
Vegetable Curry: Boil some green beans until soft. Rinse under cold water to retain their green colour. Fry some onions in a little ghee until brown. Add the chopped pepper and the beans and a little curry paste and some tomato ketchup., Fry for about 3 mins (add a little water to help mix the paste). About two minutes before serving, stir in some tomatoes cut into wedges. Don't stir too much as the tomatoes will break up. When the tomatoes are warmed through sprinkle on a little garam masala and serve.
Butter Rice: Rinse some basmati rice. Simmer in a covered pan with a little lemon juice to prevent sticking (acid keeps the starch in solution). When almost cooked, drain, rinse well with cold water and leave to cool. Melt some butter in a pan and add the spices. Fry the spices for a few minutes and then fry the rice in the spiced butter. Place the rice in a casserole dish and put knobs of butter on the rice. Put the lid on and bake in the oven until really fluffy. Don't worry if it sticks together a bit, that's all part of the experience.
Fruit salad: Chop the fruit (peel the mango etc...) squirt liberally with lime juice and pour over some honey. Mix well. Warm in an oven for a few minutes.
Sauce: Melt some butter in a pan. Add a dollop of Nutella and stir. Mix in some creme fraiche and a tasty drop of kirsche. Serve the salad and pour the sauce all around.