Yesterday, all my spices seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. At least now I’ve found a top traditional indian convenience store in Agbrigg in Wakefield. The shop might have been pokey but with HUGE bags of spices, rices and nices at stupidly low prices who am I to argue.
So yeah I got all the ingredients I’ll ever need to make curries for the rest of my life and all because of and his recent curry postings….wait….what’s that ? Yes I know I’ve only got into curries recently but there is a reason for that. Let me explain….
See, as a child of the 1970’s and 80’s my palate was one assaulted with bland post war traditional cookings and easy cook branded ready meals. The menu in the Gnomepants house would have been one like some awful greasy spoon. Chips with everything, suspicious cheap mince (avec spinal material) and fish (in the form of fingers) on a Friday. Pies were fattening so they were few and far between and the most exotic thing on the kitchen table was probably spaghetti bolognaise (the garlicless version:- Mince, dried onions, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and a teaspoon of dried thyme).
I think around 1982 (possibly later) my folks must have been somewhere where they had a curry. I recall one Saturday my olds opening a tin labelled “Marks and Spencers Curried Chicken”, heating the contents in a pan and serving it with rice, a selection of sliced fruits (bananas, apples and orange segments) and some sultanas in little dishes. They then proceeded to eat the bizarrely smelling substance with gusto. The pair of them sweating with the spice heat and strained “Yes this is nice. No really.” looks on their faces. Such a sight is enough to put anyone off their dinner. I wasn’t offered any curry, I had to make do with something with chips. I forget what. Probably offal sausage. Though, not wanting to be left out, I was given a spoonful to sample and I immediately knew that curry was not a nice food, just like beer was not a nice drink. My father would comment about how all Indian food tasted like that and some now probably socially unacceptable comment about Asian culture. Such was the early 80s. Oh how we laughed.
So that meal put me off curries. Even in later life I would scoff at the thought of eating in a curry house “Good god!” I’d exclaim “These people are very odd eating that foul stuff”. I would hold curry in the same regard I still hold Marmite (but marmite is poisonous). Spicy foods were shunned and in my early 20s I continued my non-exotic diet of chips with everything (deep fried in lard) and post-rationing treats (sausages, bacon, pies) with the occasional garnish of vegatable (mostly baked beans or peas, rarely carrots). What a terrible diet I had. No wonder I had a heart attack at 29.
When I was living alone in my little flat in Patterdale Road my friend at the time, Min, introduced me to the delights and wonders of kebab. Kebab was the perfect after pub snack. Spicy and foreign it would belie new and exciting journey into food. Min also popped my chinese cherry and took me beyond the realms of Sweet and Sour Chicken and down the dark recesses of crispy duck pancake and chilli beef in black bean sauce. My new found palate was keen to explore. But never curry. Even Min would smirk at the thought of people eating rotten meat disguised with spices. Though that smirk might have just been in mockery of my assumptions that Indian food was rotten meat disguised with spices.
Curry was awful. Even the smell would knock me sick. Though Chinese curry sauce became acceptable. As did Coronation Chicken Sandwiches. Chinese curry was different, wasn’t it? And Coronation Chicken was just an interesting spicy mayonnaise. I had a kebab from a different kebab shop where, unbeknownst to me, the donar meat was flavoured with curry powder. I was nearly sick. The kebab was discarded and curry was shunned more.
Then about three or four years ago (I don’t know, you might want to check back in my LJ, I’m sure I made a post about it) I went on a night out with and his chums. After several pints it was decided that something was needed to soak up the alcohol. I was hoping an all you can eat chinese restaurant would be selected but you can probably imagine my horror when I learned that the foodery of choice was to be an Indian Curry house. I was mocked by . His chums also smirked at my horror. It was as though these well cultured metropolitan gentlemen had suddenly unearthed a time trapped Neanderthal. My attitude, on reflection, was one of nurture rather than nature.
I seem to remember the waiter at the restaurant guiding me into having a dhansak based on my discussion of Chinese foods. I enjoyed it. Surprisingly I actually enjoyed it. The thoughts of rotten meat disguised by spices and sauces faded. Since then, I have dined in several Indian restaurants and have even partaken in take aways of similar origin. Indeed, delighted as I am with this new found culinary genre I have even bought a book after a recommendation from .
So last night I made a chicken dupazia. It was probably the best curry I’ve had in a long time. My pantry smells like an international food store with odours of fenugreek, star anise and methi leaves. Over dinner my wife said that my mum and dad would probably enjoy it. To which I scoffed. “Yes, maybe if we served it in a tin labelled “Marks and Spencer” and with little dishes of fruit. Of course this then made me think of how my folks now travel up their road to their friends once a month so that they can dine on curry from a takeaway. I amused myself with thoughts of my mum and dad trying to look cultured and being horrified to discover that curry served with little dishes of fruit is so 1970’s.
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