Friday 22/7/2005

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Diary and Notes

Some time ago I had a moan about one of the things I dislike the most - dealing with men in shops who wear suits (see 31/3/2005). These people always manage to put a downer on my day if I ever have to meet them and I normally manage to avoid encounters with ease. My dislike is so great that I avoid going into Dixons, Curries, etc. for fear of these parasites trying to flog me warranties for things that are already guaranteed by law and accessories for equipment I don't understand how to use properly without the accessories as it is.

But not today, today I decided to buy a cable for my mobile phone to download pictures straight to my computer - and what a joyous experience this turned out to be.

I knew at the outset I was making a mistake, but sometimes I'm just too pigheaded to listen to my own voice of commons sense and off I trotted, into town to buy a DCA-540 data cable. No problem, I know what I want and there are at least 20 phone shops in the centre of Manchester (they have spread like some disease of late) - one of them will have what I'm looking for. And one of them did - the second one I visited in fact. It was all too simple.

I got back to my office, plugged in the cable and put the disk in the computer to load the software and waited... and waited... the disk was blank, completely blank - there was no software on it, there was nothing at all.

So I took it back. The guy at the shop didn't believe me and handed it to his associate to check. I waited, I waited some more.... and I waited.

After about twenty minutes his associate (who was about 14 years old - but still wearing a suit) came back from the hole in which he had earlier scurried and announced - to my utter surprise of course - that the disk was completely blank and that as they didn't have any more I could have my money back. "Lucky I didn't buy the warranty," I thought, and trotted off (with my £20.00 reimbursed) to check the other mobile phone shops.

Not one of them had the cable I was after, but what they did have were zombies... hundreds of zombies.

It was Dawn of the Dead in real life.

My advice is never, under any circumstances, go into a mobile phone shop, ever.

Firstly and contrary to what I would have expected, they are all so busy - busy with customers. Most of them had queues just to get to speak to somebody, but as far as I could tell, nobody was buying anything, they were all 'browsing'.

It was horrific. Every shop I went into had about ten people, all between the ages of 16 and 25, checking out the latest phones, discussing ringtones and what colour covers they could get. It reminded me of how record shops used to be about 20 years ago when I used to browse the Prog Rock sections with my greasy hair and dirty jeans - but at least I used to buy something now and again. This was bizarre - these people seemed hypnotised by the phones on offer, just gadgets for talking over long distances but they have become such status symbols that people, hundreds of people, stroll from shop to shop to gawp at the latest models.

Why? What's the attraction? What does it matter if you have a Blognox 250e or a Rabbit GX220 with green-ear technology? I'd rather hang about train stations collecting train numbers than this, and I don't see much fun in that either.

And if you think I am exagerrating about the vacuous morons that are drawn to mobile phone shops go and look for yourself (contrary to my advice above). This is as near to hell as I believe you can get. No burning flames and devils with pointy sticks, just giant shopping malls full of mobile phone shops to visit and chat about upgrades and handsfree sets. Or handsfree solutions as one notice I read called them.

Mobile phone shops are proof beyond doubt that if God exists He is not omnipresent - for His power certainly doesn't extend into these temples of banality.


I had some friends over for dinner this evening and thought I'd make an effort to do something reasonably fancy. The soup I made to start with I haven't got a photo of as we ate it before I remembered to take a snap. The Chicken crowns I bought at a butchers in Rusholme and they were huge - I thought the meat might actually be turkey they were that big. If you want to have a go and can't get whole crowns (the two breasts removed together and still connected) you could always buy some really big breasts and butterfly them.

In order to produce three sauces I made some curry sauce without any chilli but with loads of aromatic spices fried with the onions (green and black cardamon, fennel, fenugreek, cinnamon, clove, neem, hing, aniseed, cumin, coriander) and used this as the base. (I also used some of this to flavour the soup). It was pretty simple but looked and tasted great.

Cake Blog

Special Ladoo: From the Ambala Sweet House. Ladoo are balls of stuff flavoured with things. That's about all I can say really, I think one of the things was pistacio and another was carrot.


  • Chicken Rasam

  • Prawn Poori

  • Keema Stuffed Chicken Crown Mustard Fried Cabbage
  • Basmati Rice

  • Ladoo


    Curry Sauce
    3 Onions
    6 Cloves Garlic
    3cm Ginger
    2 Tbsp Ghee
    2 Green Cardamon Pods
    1 Black Cardamon Pod
    2 tsp Cumin
    4 tsp Coriander
    1 tsp Fenugreek
    1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
    1/2 tsp Hing
    2 Bay Leaves
    2 cm Cinnamon
    2 Cloves
    Pinch Aniseed
    1 tsp Mustard Seeds
    1/2 tsp Black Onions Seeds
    1/2 tsp Black Pepper
    1/4 tsp White Pepper
    1 tsp Salt

    Chicken Rasam
    50g Toor Daal
    500ml Chicken Stock
    1/2 tsp Tamarind Pulp
    100ml Curry Sauce (see above)
    10 Neem Leaves
    1 Tbsp Ghee
    2 tsp Mustard Seeds
    2 Green Chillis
    1/2 tsp Black Pepper
    2 tsp Garam Masala
    Liquid from the Stuffed Chicken
    Prawn Poori
    500g Prawns (Shelled)
    1 Tbsp Mustard Oil
    2 Green Chillis
    1/2 tsp Turmeric
    1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
    2 tsp Garam Masala
    Black Pepper
    5 Small Paratha
    Salad, Fresh Coriander,
    Yoghurt, Pinch of Garam Masala
    Keema Stuffed Chicken Crowns
    1 Chicken Crowns
    250g Minced Lamb
    2 tsp Garam Masala
    1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1/2 tsp Black Pepper
    1/2 tsp Cinnamon
    1 tsp Mustard Oil

    Sauce 1 - Sour Lemon
    1 Lemon
    100ml Curry Sauce (see above)
    1/2 tsp Sugar
    Pinch Salt
    Sauce 2 - Coriander, Coconut and Mint
    Bunch Coriander
    1/2 Block Creamed Coconut
    1/2 tsp Dried Mint
    4 Green Chillis
    100ml Curry Sauce (see above)
    Sauce 3 - Sweet Tomato
    3 Dried Kashmiri Chillis
    2 Tomatoes
    100ml Curry Sauce (see above)
    1/2 Tube Tomato Purée
    1/2 tsp Sugar
    Dash Wine Vinegar


  • Curry Sauce: Slice the onions and fry gently in the ghee until golden brown. Grind the spices and add to the pan along with the garlic and ginger (chopped). Fry for a few more minutes then cover with water and liquidize. Stew for at least 1/2 an hour.
  • Chicken Rasam: Soak the daal for an hour then boil until soft. Drain. Add the daal to the chicken stock along with the tamarind and neem leaves. Simmer gently for an hour. Heat the ghee in a sparate pan and fry the chopped chillis, pepper and mustard seeds until the seeds begin to pop then pour the hot oil and spices in the rasam. Stir in any juice from the cooking chicken and stir. Simmer and season.
  • Poori: Chop the chillis and fry in the mustard oil along with the mustard seeds. Add the turmeric and prawns. Cook until the prawns are hot then sprinkle on the garam masala and some pepper. Lay on a hot paratha, garnish and serve.
  • Stuffed Chiekn Crowns: Mix the mince and the spices in a bowl. Make a sausage shped roll and place half in the middle of each crown. Rol the chicken over and sew (using a needle and thread) to hold the keema in place. Fry the crowns in a little mustard oil until brown all over then put the pan lid on and allow to sweat gently for 30 minutes. Use any liquid to flavour the rasam. Remove the cotton before serving.
  • The sauces should be obvious.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for five people