Don't Knock it 'Till You've Tried it.

Friday 9/9/2005


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Diary and Notes

One of my father's many sayings, often attributed to his growing up in an orphanage in Sunderland, was that old classic of the British Empire: "Play the white man." This was - and still is - regularly used by him whenever somebody is doing anything he doesn't really approve of, or somebody is getting the better of him. I'm not sure if he realises that it's not really on using such terms these days, but being old and crabby he's stuck in his ways and finds it hard to stop. He told me some time ago he had said this to a very nice Chinese woman he was chatting up (and claimed to be getting on quite well with) and she had become quite offended and had refused his further advances - no surprise there. I have to pity the poor old sod in many ways and he does try to regulate his usage of these pre 1950's terms, but can't seem to break free of them completely. My dad's twin sister Inger is even worse, but she has been living in Gainsville Georgia for the last 60 years where the integration we enjoy in 21st Century Britain hasn't quite reached so this is to be expected I suppose.

One of his other favourite sayings, which is considerably more acceptable in modern society, is "Don't knock it 'till you've tried it." Something he used regularly when we were kids in order to get us to eat his 'Canned beans surprise dinners' which usually involved him getting several types of canned goods; beans, spaghetti, Tyne Brand beef curry etc. and mixing them all together in one pan. As a child I actually thought my father was a better cook than my mother which is more of a statement about my mother's cooking than anything else. When I was about five I thought that my dad's efforts of mixing up loads of cans often produced a culinary delight and his saying "don't knock it..." has stuck with me ever since.

And it stood me in good stead today.

I was invited to my chum Shovon's house for dinner - and the words of my old dad kept whispering in the wind as Shovon cooked.

I have mentioned Shovon once or twice before - he's the visitor from Calcutta who shares my office. I have also mentioned that he can't cook, has never cooked and confesses to being a complete dufus in the kitchen. As such, an invite for dinner didn't seem like a great thing.

And when he started cooking I was getting even more worried.

It wasn't the ingredients, although these were a little out of the proportions I am used to (2 chicken legs, 1 onion, 1 potato, a little mustard oil, a few chillis, a giant load of Laziza chicken masala and 2 whole bulbs of garlic), it was the method that struck me as a little odd - it was almost as if my dad had been Indian (and 40 years younger) and were attempting to make a curry.

I have included a photo of the preparation stage of this culinary miracle as well as the final dish as proof.

The cooking method was quite simple. Put everything in a pressure cooker, cook for 15 minutes then mash up any lumps of potato/garlic with a spoon and serve.

You can imagine my fear as the dish was prepared. I was expecting to be eating whole cloves of garlic in a really unpleasant watery sauce.

I was however pleasantly surprised - it wasn't bad at all. It tasted like many of the curries you get from take aways and was probably prepared in much the same way. I'm not sure if the credit goes to Shovon or the clever people at Laziza for making such good curry powder, but either way I managed to eat more than one plateful.

As an aside, I typed Laziza masala into Google and got loads of sites, most from the food standards agency and local councils warning about Sudan 1 contamination. This was however some time ago and just about every curry powder in Britain was contaminated as well, so I don't know why this company has been singled out. Excellent curry powder, either that or Shovon has shown me a way of cooking curries I would never have considered before - or maybe it was a bit of both.

Cake Blog

Linseed Flapjack: Made for me by my old friend Helen Taylor. This was a really good flapjack - and free too - the best kind of all.