“India has a certain magic because of the colonial relationship” (Lizzie Collingham).
I love my histories “the magical, marvellous food on our plate, this sustenance that we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, that ain’t normal” (Joel Salatin) and so “Indian dishes in the highest perfection… unequal to any curry ever made in Britain” read a newspaper ad in 1809, of a cafe shop called “Hindostanee Coffee house” located in the middle of London’s most popular place, London Square. It immediately caught the attention of the passer-bys. The ad alone was captivating enough, as Britain’s, due to the colonization and the British Empire in the Indian sub-continent at that time played a vital part as Ms. Collingham wrote in her book “Curry: A tale of cooks and conquerors” that “ultimately, the British love affair with curry boils down to the imagined glamour of the Raj”. The Britain’s love affair with curries hence was born and took flight.
It was a Muslim Soldier, Mohammad Dean, who migrated to England and became an entrepreneur inaugurating Britian’s love of Curries. His coffee shop quickly became the curry haven for Britain’s who had fallen in love with the Indian flavours and aromas of herbs and spices fused together to make one irresistible dish. Ofcourse, “unlike any other ever made in Britain” wasn’t the case at all that Britain’s didn’t know what Curries were, but that it implied they are yet to discover what Curries truly meant to Indian natives. British people who were living across the ocean, in the land of a diverse and colourful food culture, had fallen in love with the local spices and curry blends and they brought those explored palates and love of flavours back to England, only to find themselves longing for more. Meanwhile, in England Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cookery” was quite popular but as known, lacked the spur of Indian spices and this was the time in history, as the British Empire was ruling over a vast colony; curry was ruling the British Empire’s hearts.
Asian curries have a calling to them offering a true experience of the senses that is all piquant, smoky, a bit of spice and a bit of tang, all vigorous and exciting. The people in the Great Britain have embraced it wholeheartedly making curry it’s “national dish”. They have become as intrinsic to English cuisine as “fish and chips” and “whether it’s tucking into an authentic takeaway, or creamy curries are a long standing family favourite, Indian food is one of the UK’s most loved cuisines” (Will Dann).
When it comes to curries, I am a complete nutter and there is no food that is replacing my love of Naan and curries. I love dunking the bread in luscious gravy or a scrumptious curry infused with spices that are both earthy and robust tantalizing my senses. For me personally, there is nothing more that makes me salivate than a perfectly cooked fluffy Naan Bread, soft as cotton with a gorgeously cooked curry. When it’s that on the menu, it’s me, myself and curry.
Loaded with the aggressive flavour of ginger and cooked in a caramelised onion puree with a tomato and yogurt gravy base, this dish is packed full Asian flavour. Usually on the spicy side, the addition of cream to the luscious thick gravy cuts down the heat of the dish giving it a perfect balance. This sunset coloured of a dish will make you coming back for seconds.
As always, this recipe is extremely easy. it’s cooked in a onion puree and as the name of the dish suggests abundant in ginger flavour. Okay, No! not at all over powering but just the right balance of the ginger flavour as to not over shadow other flavours that are dancing along. The pairing with the pureed onion is amazing as the influence of both ginger and onion on each other can be felt in every bite. The dish is a little on the spicy side that is pleasant and not having you reach for the glass of water every few minutes, but as I say, it can always be adjusted to desire. Also, the addition of cream tones down the heat of the spices giving it perfect balance of spice and if you are anything like me, you’ll have plain cold yogurt and cold diced cucumber on the side. It’s absolutely delightful as a side to this dish, but the best thing about curries such as these is that they can be served with anything, rice, breads, salads or even leftover for a hearty breakfast with classic Indian “parathas”.
This gorgeous dish will hold you by the heart and as Alice Water’s says it, “Let things taste the way they are”, this curry is exactly that.
1. Chicken boneless — 1 kg
2. Onion pureed — 4
3. Tomato blended — 8
4. Ginger julienned — 8 tbsp
5. Butter — 4 tbsp
6. Salt — 2 tsp
7. Turmeric powder — ½ tsp
8. Crushed Black Pepper — 2 tsp
9. Red pepper — 1 ½ tsp
10. Desiccated coconut — 2 tbsp
11. Coriander — a big handful
12. Green chillies julienned — 2
13. Cream — 8 tbsp
14. Oil — 5 tbsp
15. Garam Masala — ½ tsp
16. Yogurt — 6 tbsp
17. Water — 2 cups
1. Prepare the chicken
a. In a cooking pot, heat half the oil and fry the chicken cubes with half of julienned ginger, ½ the salt and ½ of the crushed black pepper.
b. Fry until the chicken turns slightly golden.
c. Take out and set aside.
2. Prepare the Gravy
a. In the same pan, add the butter with the remaining oil and add the rest of the julienned ginger.
b. Fry it until it withers and add the onion puree.
c. Fry this until the puree becomes light pink in colour and starts caramelising and turning brown in colour. Keep stirring time to time. This process takes anywhere from 10-12 minutes.
d. Once the onion starts to brown, add the tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes.
e. Add salt, turmeric powder, the rest of the crushed black pepper and red chilli powder and the desiccated coconut.
f. Cook it for 6-8 minutes and add the yogurt.
g. Mix and cook for another 2 minutes and add the fried chicken and mix well.
h. Now add 1 cup of water and cover and cook on medium flame for 8-10 minutes or until the oil separates from the gravy.
i. Add chopped coriander, green chillies and cream to the gravy.
j. Cover and cook for another few minutes on low steam.
k. Serve with Butter Naan, Paratha or Rice.