November 6, 2006
I have a tried and tested approach to people who don’t like Indian food. Zero tolerance.
First I glare at them with disbelief. Then I heckle them to find out why they have such a shocking opinion. Finally, I launch a impassioned tirade on how it’s impossible to hate Indian food because there are so many different flavours and dishes on offer.
It works – they never speak to me again.
What really sets me off is when people say they don’t like Indian food because it’s too spicy. What a crock of sh*t. Some dishes are spicy but not all!
And the amount of spices used in food varies from household to household. My home in India was definitely styled on a less is more philosophy.
If there ever was proof needed, here is a chicken curry recipe that can be mild and subtle for the anti spice brigade or fiery hot for spice lovers.
This recipe serves 5-6 people:
800gms chicken cut into pieces (I used 8 pre-packed thighs and drumsticks, skinned)
1 tin coconut milk (400gms)
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
2″ stick ginger
1 dry whole red chilli
1 tbsp mustard
20 curry leaves
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp mustard oil
Salt to taste
Puree the onion with the ginger, garlic and chilli. Heat the oil and when hot, fry the paste stirring vigorously. Keep the flame up and go for it or the pureed onions will take an age to cook. Don’t let the mixture burn though and if it starts sticking to the pan, add a little water.
When the raw smell goes, add the chicken and brown on high, mixing the masala in. When the chicken has turned white all over, add the coconut milk.
Lower the heat and simmer until the chicken pieces first bleed (sorry this sounds so disgusting) and then start separating from the bone. If in doubt, take a piece out of pan and cut it open.
When the chicken is done, heat the mustard oil in a small pan. Mix in the mustard paste and then chuck in the curry leaves. They will sizzle up and release the most glorious aroma.
As soon as you can smell them, mix this tempering into the chicken curry pot. Let it simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavours in and finish by adding salt to taste.