Sunday, 7 March 2010

Ruby Murray

I wrote about this in December and January, but it's still true: I'm a big fan of the British Empire.

Obviously, not the whole raping, pillaging, stealing of land, genocide and other bits they didn't used to teach in school. No, my love of Empire is simply that British culture is thousands of times better for our contact with other cultures and the vibrancy of our immigrant populations, the vast majority of which have been here for so many generations as to be far more British than I am (it's all cousins marrying cousins in the Valleys and my family is no exception; but we think we have Bermudan and Sinhalese in there; on my Dad's side, there's sketchy evidence that we're Russian-Jewish: a nice healthy mix leading to me).

So it's a purely selfish love of Empire, because it puts lovely food in my belly, especially in wartime when the standard Patten is for stodge with too much carrot. Tonight I made a classic Anglo-Indian curried rice that we both scoffed down far too quickly to really get the most from it.

Anglo-Indian food is nothing but a parody of the real street food of India, brought back by the sons of Raj in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 19th and 20th, when the British Indian population arrived, they brought more realistic versions, but these then changed out of recognition as white Brits rushed to eat at the tables of the new Brits.

Curried rice is firmly the earlier Anglo-Indian rather than the later Indo-European variety. It starts with a chopped onion fried off in a little fat. Then some chopped mushrooms go in. Then curry powder to make a sort-of roux. As a reminder, adding extra mild curry powder doesn't make the meal hotter; putting less hot curry powder in doesn't make it milder; similar, as you learned in basic quantum mechanics in primary school, to how an anti-up-quark is not the same as a down-quark.

A tablespoon of soured cream works well at this point. Then add your rice; 3oz/75g per person is always said, but add more than that. Stir it up and start spooning in stock. Add a couple of chopped tomatoes and some more stock. Some raisins or sultanas and more stock. Alternatively, you can just add all the dry ingredients, cover with stock and walk away. But I'm used to the endless stirring by now. Keep the heat high and add more stock if the rice sticks before it's done.

When the rice is sticky, it's read to serve. A further blob of soured cream is good on top. Naan or chapati on the side makes the meal. And it did. We go to bed happy, full and rotund. And the only rations used were the knob of fat and the points (not too onerous) for the rice.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Yum! If it was me I would add a small helping of lentils to add protein. It looks wonderful, however, and I think I can smell the curry from here!

Chris Neill said...

You're so right - Anglo-Indian food is a triumph. As I wrote on my blog, mulligatawny soup is one of the most splendid things to come out of any kitchen, or any tin for that matter.

I'm so glad you commented on my little patch and introduced me to your blog. It's a delight and may the prospect of a boiled egg still be a giddy pleasure to your boyfriend.

Chris