Well, not strictly Part I. My quest to cook curries at home has been going on for some time now and I have tried many different recipes (more recently several of Madhur Jaffrey's). Whilst they have, on the whole, been tasty enough, I couldn't justify the time and effort involved and, tellingly, didn't cook any of them twice.
Because cooking curry from scratch does take effort - roasting and grinding,browning and waiting for it all to come together. Of course, cooking can be great fun and really relaxing but it is nothing if not rewarding. I think something great is well deserved after hours of effort in the kitchen and, up to now, I just wasn't getting that from my curries.
Perhaps I am being unfair to Madhur in particular. She is, after all, known as the Godmother of Indian Cooking for a reason. But, as my other half reminded me, hers are more authentic old-school Indian recipes which, of course,doesn't make them bad. We are just more familiar with the more westernised Indian curries. And they are what we like to eat. A lot.
When I joined Twitter very recently, one of the first profiles that caught my eye was that of The Curry Guy aka Dan Toombs, an American now living in Yorkshire, England, who claimed to have mastered a huge range of restaurant-style curries. With over 41,000 followers, I thought he must be doing something right.
It was when I saw him tweet a recipe for Lamb Saag on my second day in Twitter-Land that sold me. For me, Lamb Saag is the King of Curries and I eat it far too often in my local Indian in Ranelagh, the unrivalled Punjab Balti. But his version could never be that good. Could it?
Many of Dan's curries start with this this basic curry sauce which can be made in bulk and frozen (indeed he encourages this as the common sense thing to do). However, and there are no two ways about it, making this dish requires a lot of ingredients, is a long process and does mean you will have to wash up half the contents your kitchen afterwards. But when the results are this good, it really is worth it and more. This dish was rich, spicy and fresh. If I were to make one change it would be to increase the quantity of spinach (I'd definitely double it or maybe even a bit more ) but that's only because I happen to like a more spinach heavy sauce.
The curry was looking and tasting so good, I was encouraged to try his naan recipe which was super simple and bubbled up brilliantly giving that authentic blistered look. Brushed with ghee, it tasted great too.
Dan has obviously researched his recipes meticulously and I am really looking forward to trying out some others. I would have been more than happy with today's dinner if I had eaten it in a restaurant. And you can't say better than that. Thanks to him for what was a really rewarding day in the kitchen!