At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


To many English people, nothing speaks so strongly of home as 'curry'. Which most of them never cook themselves (English can't cook; it's a genetic condition), but purchase instead from dubious restaurants run by Bengali immigrants. The two great national dishes of Britain are mystery meat Vindaloo for the yobbos and Chicken Tikka Masala for the middle-classes.
Both are actually very fine preparations, but they don't resemble Indian food very much. In point of fact, neither does Indian food.

Naan was invented by Persian speakers, kulcha ditto, and most famous "North Indian" dishes derive from the cuisine of Northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan. The tandoor, it will be recalled, was created in Central Asia by the Turkic nomads.
Roghan Josh ("grease frazzle stew") is an Afghan dish from Kashmir.
Chilies were native to Central America, cloves and nutmeg are of Indonesian origin, pepper is Tamil, Vindaloo is a bastardised Portuguese preparation further bolicksed up by Brits and restaurateurs, and rich creamy spiced-up sauces are not really common in Indian households, except among the gross pudge-pot matrons of Delhi.
Which is an absurd enclave to begin with.

Many Indians nowadays do actually enjoy a spot of 'curry' with their sarson da saag, dhal, raita, achar, and roti. And almost anything tastes better with some chilies and dark-toasted cumin. Even Chicken Tikka Masala!
Possibly excepting laddoos and sevian ki kheer, but much further research is needed.

Ghee, of course, is the great purifier and can be added to anything.
......Rivulets of golden ghee, over velvety curves, mmmmm......
...............It's clean, I tell you, clean!

Curry powder is not Indian either, but originated in the spice trade. In India it's closest relative is conceivably Tamilian sambhar powder, but the proportions of spices used to compound the product are much more Sinhalese - Malay - Indonesian in inspiration.
The consumers of curry powder, traditionally, have been English.
Refer back to snarky comment concerning genetic condition.

Two parts coriander powder, one part turmeric, one part ground toasted cumin, and one part or a hell of a lot more of fried mustard seed.
Plus other spices, in either minute or insane quantities.
Fenugreek, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom.
More coriander won't do any harm -- a popular Delhwi meat dish bases its appeal entirely on coriander, black pepper, and green cardamom -- but increasing the proportions of turmeric and cumin (especially raw) leads to rather dubious results. Turmeric mellows upon exposure to heat and looses that earthy bitterness it has when raw, and cumin in large quantities can end up brutally dominant.


Essential to almost any curry is onion fried brown and mashed up, along with additional flavours such as methi, garlic, and ginger. Indonesians will add galangal and lemon grass, along with shrimp paste and sometimes an inordinate amount of fresh red chilipaste, and nearly everywhere rich grease and a minor souring agent are also added. The browned onion gives body to the sauce. The basic spices provide the fundament of the flavour, additions tweak it, and ghee, cream, coconut milk, tamarind, tomato, katambi (cocum), et mult altres will fine-tune taste and mouthfeel, as well as determining whether it goes with breads or rice. Both in North India and the Indonesian areas ground-up nuts may be added for extra richness. Almonds, chilgoz, and pistacchios among Hindustani speakers; peanuts, cashews, candlenuts, kluwak (pangium edule) in Java and Sumatra. Thais, Balinese, and others, also include diverse bitter fragrant kaempferia roots.
The total effect need not be strong; curry can be mild.
Whether it is soupy or dry is up to the cook.
Accompaniments vary by cuisine.

Start with the onion. Add the spices. Extend the sauce.
Add a little more spice at the end. Serve.
Provide other dishes alongside.
Wets, dries, crunchies.
Plus a starch.

*-----Sambal, Sriracha hot sauce, krupuk, srundeng, onion salad, chutney-----*

Ground coriander is almost always part of the programme. Turmeric need not be, and cumin likewise might be missing. Almost all other spices will be a decision of the moment. Additions to the sauce are a natural inspiration, garnishes such as fried shallots, crumbled nuts, crispy crap, or minced fresh herbs, provide a lovely touch.

While the English and Dutch consider beer and ale the natural drinks to enjoy with their curries, that probably isn't a good idea. Indians might serve a buttermilk beverage, Indonesians and the Malays put a tureen with soup or singgang on the table for diners to wet their rice or drink from a separate bowl. Beer, as everyone who has been in rumbles with Northern Europeans knows, inflames the bestial passions and makes their breath profoundly rancid. As well as promoting digestive issues such as stupidity, gout, and dyspepsia.

Avoid beer. Have a glass of sherry instead.

*-----Sonf, mitha paan, succade, murabbat sfarjali, badha peg, oporto-----*

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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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