I never do a curry in a hurry. It’s a smug marketing cliché designed to appeal to those with increasingly busy lives:
“Oh, I have to feed my modern intelligent active family with something tasty and nutritious but still have to get Daffodil to fencing and Horatio to French foot kicking before collecting Calypso from her Burundi drumming class.”
Looks anxiously round the kitchen before opening her American style fridge, packed with beautiful sparkling clean pristine fruit, veg and a two litre carton of soya milk and says:
“Of course, curry in a hurry!” With great dexterity and celerity she streaks about the kitchen in a controlled frenzy of chopping and slicing before the familiar hiss of singing onions and spices on her shining range cooker.
A quick scan of the massive kitchen shows no trace of detritus or smearings of spilt coconut milk and tamarind paste on the gleaming decks of specially imported Brazilian hard wood on the surface that we usually call a floor.
She leaves no sign of dirty dishes, the used kitchen towels have been dispatched to the mirror-like Brabantia and her make up remains immaculate.
“Daffy and Horry, come running down the stairs in a flurry for your curry in a hurry and whatever you do, don’t stop smiling.”
Naturally the whole scene infers that our busy mum has spent the day browsing the hallowed aisles of Waitrose (other palaces of hell are also available), lunched with her super-intelligent soul mates before spending the afternoon putting the finishing touches to her latest portfolio of interior design ideas ready to be presented to the Bespoke Happy Life Interior Logistics Corporation at their annual conference in Milan.
Oh how the school run can get in the way sometimes. Certainly, Megs or Gloria could easily have done the taxi duties on this one occasion but why spend £89,000 pounds of your husband’s money and keep the Cayenne in the garage?
If you want to make the whole scenario even more pulsatingly dynamic and modern, our kitchen wizard could be the father running his architectural company from home whilst his glamorous wife kicks ass as MD of her own interior design company. Of course he would be flying about the kitchen like Jamie Oliver on steroids flashing his blades and tossing his meat and veg in some great macho ritualistic primitive dance.
Oh my, he can do that aboriginal frenzy like a real native. It’ll leave his brow damp with manly perspiration running down to his sculptured jaw.
And back to reality: “Oi, scrotes, come and get your effing burgers before they go cold. I’m not sticking them in the effing microwave twice. I’m outside having a fag.”
There is no response. Then she hears voices from the garden. Oh, it’s Sega and Scab having a fag of their own. Mum quickly checks her handbag. At least they haven’t nicked hers.
Curry is something to be revered. Sometimes I like a complete over the top flavour explosion where the main players fight for dominance. Sometimes I like a flaming red hot beast, designed specifically for an act of cruel penitence. But this weekend, I was in search of subtlety. I sought out layers of delicate toothsome piquancy. They were not hot. My tongue was addressed as opposed to assaulted.
I looked in the Classic 1000 Indian Recipes book.
It may not have the trendy zazz of Vivek Singh or the outright gay effrontery of Reza Mahammad but it delivers brilliant ideas in a plain simple way.
It doesn’t stay open very well so to save the constant battle of finding the page only for the book to snap shut in the manner of Arkwright’s till, it’s quicker to copy out the ingredients. In that respect I took the chance to make scruffy little notes and gain some sense of ownership (cheesy teacher’s term) of the actual recipe.
The main flaw to my cunning plan was the lack of yoghurt. It had to be cream. But this was cream out of the freezer. It had defrosted into some form of gelatinous slush. It went in. I’m still here.
If you want to feel like a real basic chef, select your seeds, roast them in a dry pan and grind them in a mortar and pestle. You then have to get out the elbow grease to achieve a high level of smug satisfaction allowing you to proclaim an empathy with the peasant ladies of the Punjab, patiently forming their aromatic powders from two flat stones found by the great dusty road to New Delhi.
It makes the result far tastier to think that you have almost broken into a sweat grinding away at your seeds, bought at the local health food store which smells reassuringly of ground cumin and rolled oats.
Despite my ostentatious efforts at style over substance, it was a very tasty dish indeed. Then there were the home-made chapattis. Darling, you simply MUST have authentic chapatti flour.
“Chapatis are made using a soft dough comprising Atta flour, salt and water. Atta is made from hard Gehun (Indian wheat, or durum). It is more finely ground than most western-style wholewheat flours.”
Anyway, my packet said chapatti flour. The first time I made them was in 1991 in Muswell Hill.
I’d gone into the local shop and asked the assistant for the best type of flour. The elderly Indian matriarch, sitting in her usual seat, presiding over the operation of her business, changed her expression. Her eyes lit up. I was then given a detailed lesson on the art of making chapattis. I was deeply touched.
From that day I have vowed to make my own. Now I add a bit of strong brown and white and give it a moderate kneading. The following day I did a slightly lazier version with chicken. There was also some dough in the freezer.
When I say lazier, I mean using garlic and ginger puree. Well it was Sunday. I must have saved at least five minutes. I added a bit of tamarind paste to my delicate blend. Oo er Mrs. I must do it again sometime.
Thank you for reading.