You're a Better Cook than I am, Gunga Bhaji!
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Diary and Notes
That Rudyard Kipling new a thing or two about Injia. He may have been an outspoken proponent of the British Empire and probably advocated 'the fuzzy wuzzies knowing their place and all that', but he did have an honest respect for the people of the subcontinent and their customs. It was Kipling who famously said "The last great English Gentleman will be an Indian." or words to that effect and I think if Kipling had come around for today's dinner he might have been impressed.
'E whistled up a curry,
Me lawd, we all did worry,
All spices and all chillis bloomin' 'ot.
And when tiffin time was near,
Some started actin' queer,
So as to try to miss the bubbling pot.
But old Gunga knew 'is stuff,
'E didn't make it rough,
But flavoursome and gentle through and through.
But cripes me burnin' bum,
When mornin' time 'ad come,
Still we sang a song to Gunga and 'is crew:
Bhaji, Bhaji, Bhaji!
The greatest cook in all the blessed land.
With tikka and paratha,
And mango yoghurt after,
You're a better cook than I am, Gunga Bhaji!
I do love to destroy a great piece of English poetry.
Anyway, vegetable curry night. I was really hoping to make something using paneer (Indian curd cheese) which was a staple of my vegetarian years but can't get it anywhere. I looked for Greek halloumi as well, which is prety much identical and couldn't find that either. Still, I made a few curries and had an excellent dinner. I don't know about authenticity but this is the way most curry houses manage to whip up eight different dishes in about fifteen minutes flat - pre prepared curry sauce (the French would call this stlye of cooking something fancy like 'mis en plus', but to us it's just bloody cheating, isn't it?). It's easy and delicious and a jar of the stuff is worth having hanging around for emergencies. I imagine you could freeze it but I've never needed to (and I don't have as freezer at the moment). The great joy about good curry sauce is that every batch you make will be slightly different depending on the proportions of things used. Today I used about 2 small onions, 4 cloves of garlic, 2cm of fresh ginger and six very hot red chillis. You could also (instead of just adding garam masala) play around with different spices etc... but I like to keep things simple and then add some spices to individual dishes to vary the flavours that way. The sauce is also excellent with chicken, beef... (I'm still dreaming of meat.)
Only two days to go.
One final thought, if you were a bit strapped for cash and had an army to feed, I think this would probably cost much less than 2 euros per head. It would be hard to manage such quality and thrift with anything else.
And a joke to finish:
A man approaches a very cute young woman in a library and says, "Do you like Kipling?"
To which the woman replies, "I don't know, I've never kippled."
A sad, day old, home made apple tart. It wasn't me that made it and I wont name the culprit, for fear of upsetting her.
Dry Potato and Pea Curry,
Mushroom and Tomato Bhaji,
Yellow Lentil Sambar,
Mixed Pickle, Mint Yoghurt.
Binding Römer Pils
Curry Sauce: Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Chillis, Ghee, Garam Masala, Black Pepper, Salt.
Potato Curry: Potatoes, Peas, Ghee, Fennel Seeds, Mustard Seeds, Turmeric, Curry Sauce.
Mushroom Bhaji: Mushrooms, Ghee, Cloves, Cardamon Pods, Cinammon, Curry Sauce, Tomatoes, Fresh Coriander.
Sambar: Yellow Lentils, Lemon, Creamed Coconut, Curry Sauce.
First make the curry sauce, this can be prepared well in advance and will keep in the fridge for about a week. Roughly chop the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and fry gently in some ghee until starting to brown. Liquidize with a little water. Add the garam masala, pepper and a little salt. Heat gently, until it forms a thick curry sauce. The longer and slower it is cooked the better.
Potato Curry: Boil some peeled and chopped potatoes until soft but not breaking apart. Gently fry the spices in a little ghee then add the cooked potatoes and fry in the spiced ghee for about 10 minutes, turning every now and again. Add a few dollops of the curry sauce and the peas, stir and leave to warm through.
Mushroom Bhaji: Fry the spices in a little ghee. Fry the chopped mushrooms in the spiced ghee. When cooked, add some curry sauce and stir. Cook for a few minutes more then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir very gently and leave until the tomatoes are warmed through. Stir in loads of fresh coriander.
Lentils: Cook the lentils until they are soft but not mushy, drain. Thinly slice some lemon and cook with the lentils and a little water until the lemon's flesh has dissolved. Add some curry sauce and some creamed coconut. Cook until the lentils are just starting to dissolve but still have a bit of texture.