All Who Eat Curry Shall Be Welcomed Here

Friday 8/7/2005

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Diary and Notes

I have been asked to share my office for the next few months with someone who is visiting the university from India. I cleared some space for him (not much though, as I am very messy and my stuff is everywhere) and we've been getting along swimmingly. His name is Shavn and he's from Calcutta, the capital of Bengal, most famous amongst the Brits for the Indian mutiny and the now infamous 'Black Hole of Clacutta.' - though of course we did a lot worse to them to provoke these things. Calcutta, so I am told, is a blisteringly hot city of several million inhabitants, all of whom love spicy food (it's either that or starve).

To welcome Shavn I decided to invite him for dinner, I thought he might appreciate a plate of steaming hot curry, I know I do. Also, I was interested to know what somebody who came from India thought of my skills, to be tested, to have my food judged by one who knows the true and original taste of that most prized of things, the curry. I should also mention that poor Shavn has been told horror stories about British food and his parents keep phoning up to check to see if he's eating ok. He's a bit nervous about my cooking just like every foreign person is before they try it. I've said a lot on this subject before and wont go into it in depth but it makes me fume. Anyway...

I thought as he was from Bengal he might like some Bengal gram (yellow split peas) and made a yoghurt based lamb curry with gram. I knew he wasn't a vegetarian as I'd seen him eating a beef panini in the canteen at lunch time. I'm calling it Bengal lamb and if you don't like it there's nothing you can do. I thought it was delicious (but I always say that about my curries don't I), but what did Shavn think?

What do you think he thought?

I'm not saying it brought tears to his eyes and made him sing patriotic songs from home (with me playing the tabla of course) but he seemed mightily impressed.

He wont be inviting me back to his place for dinner though for as he explained, he has absolutely no ability to cook whatsoever. I think next week I'll take him into Rusholme for some food, that'll really surprise him.

Cake Blog

Lyons French Sandwich: I'm not sure any Frenchman ever actually made or ate one of these, and wisely so I say.


  • Bengal Lamb
  • Green Bean Achari
  • Basmati Rice
  • Red Onion Raita
  • Cucumber and Mint Yoghurt
  • Khubz (Arabic Blatbreads)


    Bengal Lamb
    450g Leg of Lamb
    1 Onion
    1 Tbsp Ghee
    2 Tbsp Yoghurt
    1cm Root Ginger
    4 Cloves Garlic
    1 tsp Chilli Powder
    100g Bengal Gram (Yellow Split Peas)
    2 tsp Coriander Powder
    1 tsp Cumin Powder
    1/2 tsp Fenugreek Powder
    1/2 tsp Turmeric
    1/4 tsp Fennel Seeds
    1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
    2cm Stick Cinnamon
    2 Cloves
    Pinch Aniseed
    1/2 tsp Black Pepper
    4 Green Cardamon Pods
    12 Neem (Curry) Leaves
    Few Coriander Leaves
    6 Green Chilis
    Green Bean Achari
    100g Green Beans
    1 tsp Mustard Oil
    1 Tbsp Ahmeds Lime Pickle


  • Bengal Lamb: Put the Bengal gram in some water to soak. Slice the onion very thinly. Brown the onion and lamb (cubed) in the ghee. When the lamb is nicely browned all over and the onion is beginning to dissolve, add the minced garlic and ginger. Stir. Next add the cinnamon, cloves, curry leaves, fenugreek, cardamon, fennel seeds, chilli powder, aniseed and turmeric. Fry gently for a minute or so, then pour on hot water to cover the lamb and stir in the yoghurt. Simmer gently for two hours. Remove the curry leaves cinnamon etc and discard. Boil the gram for 20 mins until just soft then add to the lamb. Simmer for another 20 minutes then srtir in some deseeded chillis (cut into halves lengthways) and garnish with coriander.
  • Green beans Achari: Blanch some green beans then fry in a little mustard oil. Mix in the pickle and eat. Simple, but both unusual and tasty too..


    *All quantities are very approximate and for two people