The notion of a curry is what the British during their rule in India referred to when eating spicy food. Indians in India would never have used the word curry to describe all sorts of dishes. They would use individual names reflecting the regional variations of countless curry dishes. A curry in India is a spicy stew like dish, something that has a sauce base. The days of the Raj were decadent and this was reflected in their cooking.Every social event paid special attention to the food and the British Memsahibs ran households that included chefs and cooks. Many of them were highly trained to cater for the western palate. Often, the grand meals would have consisted of game and poultry which was of poor quality so the cooks would often have to improvise by creating hybrid dishes such as chapatis and homemade jam. Breakfasts would consist of omelettes seasoned with spices and the simple Indian dish of rice and lentils known as kichidi turned into the British kedgeree with the addition of smoked kippers shipped from England. So from morning, noon until night, all the meals became a fusion of western and eastern cooking traditions. Just as the British in India had endeavoured to replicate home comfort cuisine, when they arrived back in Blighty, they craved a little of the East and that was 'curry'.
If you are a purist about Asian food I suggest you turn away now. This is not the sort of curry you will get in restaurants but nevertheless it is a warming spicy dish which can use fresh meat or it can be a quick sauce for left over cooked meat such as chicken. Just the thing for something tasty when you don't want to slave over lists of ingredients.
The original recipe comes from The Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall. A wonderful book full of traditional British family recipes with a bit of an update. It is one I reach for when I am tired and don't want any complications in the day.
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Large onion finely chopped
2 Cloves garlic finely chopped
1 Large carrot cubed
1 Large potato cubed
Curry Powder or Paste (Whatever heat and strength suits your palate)
1 Tablespoon tomato puree
1 Tablespoon Spicy Fruit Chutney (If you don't have chutney in your store cupboard marmalade will do)
Stock or water
2 tablespoons of thick cream or greek yoghurt
Salt and Pepper
225gms/8ozs long grain rice of your choice.
In a saucepan fry the onions garlic carrot and potatoes for about five minutes until they begin to brown.
Add the curry powder or paste modifying the amount to your taste
Add the tomato puree, chutney and enough stock/water to cover the vegetables.
Stir well bring to the boil and simmer gently for about twenty minutes.
Meanwhile put a large saucepan with salted water on to boil for the rice.
Put the rice into the boiling salted water.
When it is ready drain and return to the saucepan and cover with a tea towel and the saucepan lid.
When the sauce has been simmering for twenty minutes add the meat, stir and continue to simmer.
Just before serving season and stir in the cream or yoghurt.
Serve with warm flat breads to mop up the delicious sauce.
If using fresh meat use about 225gms/8oz and brown off with the onions and vegetables. Add more stock and if using lamb or beef allow to cook until tender (about an hour) adding more stock/water as required. If using fresh chicken cooking time will be a lot less and of course don't cook the rice until the meat is almost cooked.
I rather like a knob of butter stirred into the rice before serving but that of course is up to you and your personal health standards!
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