One more post about curry. Then I will shut up. You will remember, dear reader, that in the last post we were flirting with the charms of British Indian Restaurant Cookery. I tried a recipe or two from Undercover Curry (the secret of British Indian Restaurant cookery) and, Mein Gott, it was one hell of a marathon. The base sauce took an hour or two, and then I diligently obeyed orders and had to make a garlic and ginger paste, a tomato and tandoori mix and a tandoori masala marinade. Several years later, I came up with a reasonably authentic curry. A bit like the sort of thing you might order from your local takeaway. Except it wasn't as good. Tasted similar, but something was missing. The Sag Aloo was greasy, the base sauce had a lingering cabbagey smell, and the 'Madras' was far too tomatoey. Scary amount of vegetable oil too. Swimming in the stuff. All this, of course, could have been- and probably was- the fault of Mein Host, but it would have been far easier, frankly, to have picked up that telephone and rung up my old friend from bachelor days, Captain Korma.
Which takes me to Rick Stein. One of my favourite restaurants is his Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. I like their professional, friendly attitude, I like the fact the tables are spacious. I like the way they ladle their Cornish version of Bouillabaisse from a generous tureen, enough for two. And the food is still fabulous. It tastes of something. Oh yes, Rick Stein is still going strong, after all these years. And first "discovered" by none other than one Mr Keith Floyd during the making of his early series, "Floyd on Fish".
Rick Stein's India is a recent addition to the cookery library, and it's a superb compilation. It's based on his recent television series in which we enjoyed the sight of Mr Stein eating his way across the Sub-Continent. Don't be put off by all the generic BBC television hype. It's a buy.
Don't know about you, but I am so fed up with the current crop of television documentaries. Photogenic Oxbridge dons striding across the Saharan desert in jeans and open necked blue shirts, gesticulating wildly. Next shot they're on the Great Wall of China. Then they're driving a hired open Mustang on the freeways of the Deep South, their Byronic locks blowing in the breeze. Cue long shot of television expert standing on the edge of Beachy Head (Go on Man! Jump!), staring out to sea. Or on the Grand Canyon. Or gazing at the heavens and contemplating the mysterious Universe. Step forward Doctor So and So. You know who you are. And those ridiculous repetitive intros. Which reminds us retards- i.e. those of us with attention spans of five seconds- you and me- what the series is all about in the first place. Because we've forgotten since last week, haven't we? Tiresome intros which run about five minutes into the programme. "Im Professor So and So, and in this series, for the first time in television history, I will be unlocking the secrets of the ancient kingdom of ..." Cue commercial break for international television. They're always "unlocking" the past in these programmes. Yawn.
This is the reason why the younger crowd don't watch British television. Because it ain't no good no more. There, gastronauts, I've had my little rant. Now back to Mr Stein and the dilemma of authentic and not so authentic curries.
I've really thought about this one. Not quite sleepless nights, but it's been niggling me for the last few days. I don't see the point of going to all the trouble of making a British Indian Restaurant curry when you can knock up authentic street food from Rick Steins' book in about fifteen to twenty minutes, with minimum ingredients and little washing up. So far I've made the Dry "Curry of Cabbage, Carrot and Coconut", "Cochin First-Class Railway Mutton Curry" and "Chettinad Chicken". All were superb, especially the last two. I'll be using this brilliant book for years to come. Before you reach for that telephone, please give it a try. Buy it.