Birthday curry

This year I spent my birthday in Wales staying with friends in a mate’s country retreat! It’s the most beautiful house set on the side of a valley just 10 miles or so over the welsh border in a small hamlet called Capel-y-ffin. The house is just 10 minutes walk or so from Vision Farm, the inspiration for Bruce Chatwin’s book On the Black Hill. We were lucky with the weather and went for a stroll across the hills then back to the house for a glass of something and some food. We each cooked up a curry dish. I made a ‘chicken’ Balti that was a bit on the hot side, maybe more of a Vindaloo (where’s the loo?). In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have put 10 chillies in. Marc made his Cauliflower Pakoras and our friends made a Mushroom and Spinach curry and a Dahl. It was all very tasty!

Here’s the recipe for my Balti sauce:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable (not olive) oil
  • 2cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 large brown cardamom, broken open
  • 1 ½ tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5-10 dried Kashmiri chillies (depending on how hot you like it!). Cover in boiling water and leave to soak for 2-3 hours
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 250ml water

Heat the oil in a medium pan. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 1-2 mins. Add the onion and fry for 5 mins or so until it begins to soften. Add the spices and stir until they start to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the chillies, tomatoes and water and simmer for 30 mins. Remove the cardamoms and bay leaves and blend.

You can use this sauce with any meat substitute or vegetables you fancy. I like chunky onion, Redwoods cheatin’ chicken and tomatoes. I fry the onion and ‘chicken’ till they are slightly browned then add a couple of chopped tomatoes and as much sauce as looks good. I usually end up with some sauce leftover which can be frozen for another day.

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