On A Plate: India

by Quinn

What do you do when you find that the opinions of those you ostensibly agree with are as annoying as the views of those whose arguments you oppose? Well, in my case you finally delete your proposed blog post on the G20 protests, feel a weight lifted off your shoulders, a release of endorphins, and put that feeling to good use by clearing out all those other half-written posts in draft form that you always knew in your heart-of-hearts you would never complete. You see, what began as a post that attempted to look beyond the easy condemnation apparent on all sides when discussing the G20 demos, to appeal to reason and understanding, against prejudice, and to examine it all within the context of human nature and our inevitable fallibilities, soon degenerated into a downward spiral of criticisms, a swirling vortex dragging everyone down as I absorbed further revelations, reactions and responses, until I ended up alone in a place where I thought everybody’s opinion was a load of utter bollocks. Mine included. In fact I began to feel a little like Terry in that scene from Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads…

Terry: “I haven’t got much time for the Irish or the Welsh, and the Scots are worse than the Koreans”

Bob: “And you never could stand southerners”

Terry: “To tell you the truth I don’t much like anyone outside this town. And there aren’t many families down our street that I can stand”

But enough, please, of such lycanthropy and other such knowing malapropisms. If I’m not going to write about the G20, what should I write about instead? Well, I was thinking: what about cooking? Because I like cooking, I do; I find it the perfect accompaniment to listening to the radio. I can relax and enjoy it, even if I am at best a competent, attentive but uninspired sort of a cook. And I can’t imagine a situation where someone criticises a recipe to the extent that they seem to be anti-recipes, or praises a recipe without apparently acknowledging some recipes’ failings, can you? Do people ever sound off about a recipe they know little about based only upon a few facts, plenty of speculation and a bucket load of prejudice? Does anyone ever, for example, assume there is either too much or too little garlic in a recipe before they have read the list of ingredients? I’m hoping not. Recipes, surely, are one area where one keeps an open mind in the absence of any facts, where one is prepared to adopt a “wait and see” approach, rather than to jump to a conclusion in the first instance and to then stick with it regardless of whether or not subsequent instances support or refute your initial assumptions (unless a recipe involves liver, of course, in which case damn it to hell and back).

So, I think I may turn this old place into a recipe blog, to build on the huge popularity of my toast, pensioner pie and MasterChef posts. And what better place to start than with the nation’s favourite (is it really?): curry! Yes, just follow my simple instructions and the most perfect Chicken Jalfrezi could soon be yours to enjoy.

  1. First, slice two good sized chicken breasts nice and finely
  2. Brown the sliced chicken in a splash of olive oil over a medium heat for a few minutes until just turning golden
  3. Take a jar of Geeta’s Spice & Stir Jalfrezi Sauce, remove the spice pot from the top of the jar and stir in the spices, frying for a few minutes
  4. Add the sauce from the jar, stirring well, until the pot is nicely simmering
  5. Chuck in some leftovers. I used the remains of a jar of Lime Pickle the other day, and a potato from under the sink that was past its best
  6. Transfer the whole lot into the slow cooker. Poor the mixture into the cooker off the back of a wooden spoon to avoid those splashes of curry sauce that you can’t fully remove from the worksurface until the sun has bleached them
  7. Cook for around an hour or more (the longer the better), then bung in a tin of chickpeas (I got mine buy-one-get-one-free from Morrisons) and stir. Leave for a further 20 minutes
  8. Rinse the required amount of basmati rice in water three times, then set to boil in unsalted water for around 12 minutes
  9. When the rice is cooked, drain and set aside for 5 minutes
  10. Rip up a good clump of fresh coriander and add to the curry, stirring well
  11. Serve
  12. Eat

Finally, a few dos and don’ts.

Do drain the rice thoroughly and set aside, as this gives a chance for any excess moisture to evaporate off the rice, leaving it light and fluffy, lovely and dry. Also, keep an eye on the curry; the longer you leave it the more tender the chicken, but you may want to add a bit of water now and then to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Don’t read what it says on the side of the jar; not just the instructions which suggest you should cook the curry for a much shorter time – a mere twenty minutes or so – but also the part that tells you that Jalfrezi

was originally a dish of the British Raj named after Colonel Frazer of the British Raj army, and is now found on many restaurant menus. Generally cooked with chicken, peppers, onions and green chillies, Jalfrezi has an aromatic zesty flavour with an added ‘kick’. Jalfrezi, or jhal frezi, means dry fry and as such this delicious hot dish does not have much gravy. Instead the spicy thick sauce tantalisingly clings to the chicken or meat

Can Jalfrezi really be named after a Colonel Frazer and mean dry fry? Is this coincidence, or bollocks? Is Geeta trying to have her curry and eat it? Whatever; perhaps the money saved on proofreading the label – in failing to spot that contradiction, as well as in the clumsy repetition of the phrase “British Raj” (yeah, I now, like I’ve got room to talk) – has been ably deployed in creating the quite delicious curry sauce itself. If so, then who cares? For if you do try Geeta’s my recipe for Chicken Jalfrezi, you will find out for yourself that the resulting curry really is very fine indeed.

Anyway, here’s a picture.