Thursday, 24 June 2010

Cooking with an Empire's Child Week 3 - India

Good day fellow food lovers. I recently visited a new follower of mine. Her blog is called Food Floozy, and this is the definition she gives:

"floo·zie \ˈflü-zē\: a usually young woman of loose morals." Thus a Food Floozie is not a woman who can be seduced by virtually any man, but rather a woman who can be seduced by virtually any food (other than sushi)

Isn't that just great! It is how I feel most of the time. Except I can be seduced by sushi most days too.

Anyway, onto this week's recipe. I found reading about the history of the Indian colonies quite disturbing. It seems in the "old days" if you wanted to make some money, you could just sail over to someone else's land and nick bits of their country. In the long run, after the East India Company messed everything up a lot (not surprising, given their policies were based on greed and corruption) the British Government took over and tried to run the place according to British Morals and Values. 

There is a lot of literature on the British Indian Colony, particularly about the women who went out there with their men folk. A lot of heart-breaking stories, and also a lot of romance and intrigue. I can imagine the British people sitting back home here in the rolling green and tame hills of England thought it was quite an interesting place. Rudyard Kipling, of course, immortalises the era through his children's stories, particularly the Jungle Book.

I digress. The reason I found this week so enjoyable is that I grew up in Natal, South Africa where there was a huge Indian population. They were brought over by the British as indentured workers to farm the sugar, and they liked it there because is was hot and tropical, just like their home. Durban Curry became a well-known South African dish, and is still quite unique in its flavours.

Image: paul v j

I have chosen, though, a firm favourite of mine. This is because it is the typical fast food you can buy on the streets of Natalian towns, usually from seedy looking Indian takeaways, or vans. Coming from within, however, you find a treasure trove of cuisine. Samosas, rotis and masala all made with love and care by Indian mamas with recipes passed down through the generations. My favourite meal to buy for lunch was the chicken biryani. Hot as a roasting brick, full of little chicken bones and heavy with fresh chopped coriander. It was nourishing and delicious. I have never tasted biryani like it again. 

So I am going to attempt this traditional, South African chicken biryani this Friday. Try it with me. I guarantee you will want it again. And again.

Here is your shopping list.

2 onions
4 medium potatoes
1 small piece ginger (fresh)
cooking oil
dried curry leaves
tomato paste
Mild or Hot curry powder
bay leaves
250ml plain yoghurt
whole cloves
star anise
cinnamon sticks
fresh mint
dried thyme
turmeric powder
1 can brown lentils
quick cook basmati rice

This meal is best left overnight before eating, so perhaps plan to cook it on Friday, and eat on Saturday.


AngelEden said...

How interesting, definitely looks worth a try.

Quite a bit of my family although british were born out in India so I always find the history interesting.


Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Gosh~ I think that makes me a Food Floozie.
I love it!
Come on by the Friday's Favorite Party every week... I'm sure you have some really unusual favorites!

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