I made a really nice dinner tonight, but I didn’t eat it because I had things to do. I just felt like cooking something nice. Did you ever do that — cook something because you felt like cooking?
Hmm. Now I’ll have to round up a gang of reprobates and drunkards to eat it, with lots of beer and wine and shite-talking. Fuck it, that’s a bit of a problem. Where will I find anyone to drink loads of beer and talk shite while eating free food?
Oh wait. That would be all of my friends. Phew! Problem solved.
Isn’t it great when you share a difficulty with people, the way the answer just seems to present itself? Just great.
I got out the big heavy cast-iron wok, the one I bought that time when I was feeling rich. The big fuck-off le Creuset one. And I tossed in a good dollop of that oil I’ve been keeping in the glass jar, with all the chillis in it. Let that get nice and hot.
Then I threw in a stick of cinnamon, maybe about an inch and a half or thereabouts. Half a dozen black cardamoms. A few green ones. About ten black peppers. A couple of bay leaves. Two or three spoonfuls of ground cumin. Some cumin seeds. Some coriander seeds. Some fenugreek seeds. A piece of cassia bark and one or two curry leaves.
When I say some, I mean an arbitrary amount determined by how you happen to feel when you pull them out of the jar. A pinch or a fistful depending on your mood.
Food, I find, is the most accurate possible indication of human feeling. If you happen to be in a murderous frame of mind when cooking, the meal will be as close to poisonous as you can get without going to jail. If you feel good, the grub will be heavenly.
The spices are sizzling away but did I forget anything? Well, you could throw in a few fennel seeds too if you like. Maybe even a bit of mace if you have it. Let it all sizzle for a while. A minute or two.
I chopped a few onions very fine and threw them in. I pricked a hole in four or five green chillies but didn’t cut them up. Threw the whole lot into the mix and let it sizzle some more. Then I cheated and instead of chopping up my vine tomatoes, I emptied two tins of tomatoes into the thing. Ha!
Now, I don’t know if you realise this or not, but ground coriander is one of nature’s best thickeners. I never use artificial muck for this. Throw in a few spoons of ground coriander. Throw in another couple of spoons of cumin. Lovely. Fresh coriander is a bastard to keep alive, though, and I can’t tell you how many of those plants I tried to grow on the window-cill, without success. It’s a bastard. if you can buy sprigs of it, do, but if not, you can always just use powder. It’s a bastard to grow.
Where was I? Oh yeah. I cut off about an inch of ginger and peeled it. Flung it into a jar. Crushed about ten garlic cloves, took off the skin and threw them in as well. I poured in about a quarter of a tub of natural yoghurt. I have one of those stick blenders which I find great, but you can do this any way you want. I whizzed up the ginger, the garlic and the yoghurt into a paste, and threw the whole lot into the wok. Cook away.
If it isn’t hot enough for you, chop up a few chillis or add some chilli powder. If you’re not used to it, add the chilli a little at a time.
While that was all bubbling away nicely, I chopped the beef into small cubes. Some people like big cubes and some like skinny strips. That’s up to you. I like small cubes. Fuck off.
I tossed all of the beef into the mix and let it cook away for another few minutes. Then I put it into the oven at about 120 C for a while. I don’t know exactly how long. Probably approximately about a metric while.
This is where I pile in a load of garam masala. Do it to taste. Whatever you think is right.
Right. Now some people like lentils in a beef curry and some people don’t. It’s a matter of taste. I do, so I flung in a metric handful of split red lentils. Add some extra water or another can of tomatoes if you do this. I also threw in the rest of the yoghurt, and then I shoved the whole lot back in the oven for an indeterminate time. Just cook the fucker until you like the look of it.
Serve it with rice or, in my case, chapatis. Make the chapatis yourself. Here’s how.
One other point. A thing like this is better left for a day or two in the fridge to infuse the flavours into each other.
PS Thanks to c’est le Craic for the pic.