Here are a few Indian dishes that Scrote cooks at home, but go to a restaurant to get an idea of the real thing.
last updated 26th March 2000
Tandoori is another of those dishes that is spectacular and easy to make if you have the right ingredients. Apparently this way of cooking from the north-west of India was unknown even in the rest of India until about 1945 when it made its first appearance in Delhi. The word tandoor refers to the earthenware pot-oven that the food is cooked in, not the tandoori spice mixture. The tandoor is immensely hot and cooks the meat very fast from all sides at once. However since the important main characteristics are the delicious spice and colour, you can produce a fairly good imitation in a domestic oven or grill. You can make a straightforward tikka spice mixture yourself if you want to from ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic and fresh ginger, but it is much easier to buy the tandoori spice ready-made. A word of warning though- the tandoori spice is bright orange-red and highly flavoured- if left in the light in a glass jar it will lose that colour and flavour rapidly, so keep the spice in a sealed container and don't let it get too old.
For each person, take a wing or a leg of a chicken. Remove the skin and any fat and slash the meat with a knife. Place in a bowl and squeeze over the juice of a whole lemon, and leave to absorb the lemon juice. Meanwhile mix together a tablespoon of light oil such as peanut oil, a tablespoon of thick natural yoghurt and a tablespoon of the spice mixture. Mix in the excess lemon juice from the chicken and fold the bright orange marinade into the chicken so the each piece is covered everywhere in it. Cover the bowl with an airtight cover and leave in the fridge for at least two hours to marinate.
Get your oven nice and hot. Remove the bowl of marinating meat from the fridge and arrange in a baking dish. Put it in the oven and give it about three quarters of an hour, checking to see it doesn't dry out completely. Serve with white rice and some simple vegetable curry. Tandoori chicken is also very good cold, so don't worry if you make a bit too much (always assumimg your guests will let you keep any of it if you have!) Your kitchen will smell heavenly for days.
For a lamb tikka, use a good cut of lamb, preferably the upper leg. Bone the meat and cut into cubes. Make a straightforward tikka spice mixture by grinding two teaspoons of coriander, one teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of turmeric, garlic and a piece of fresh ginger together.Mix in the juice of a lemon, a tablespoon of oil and a cupful of yoghurt. Marinate the meat in the mixture for two hours in the fridge.
Get your oven nice and hot. Thread the marinated meat from the fridge on bamboo skewers and arrange in a baking dish. Grill the tikka in the very hot oven for about half an hour, and serve with rice.
This is a straightforward south indian sort of curry- the use of cardomom and coconut is typical. You really need a mortar and pestle for the spices- you can use other ways of grinding but the spices tend to flavour whatever you use permanently, and ready-ground spices do not taste as good in Scrote's opinion, partly because once ground the spice does not keep its flavour for any great length of time the way the seeds do. Incidentally these spices are not fiery, and can be eaten directly- they make an excellent breath-freshener.
Kari (Curry) literally means gravy- the word is as about as definite as the English word stew, and covers a multitude of dishes which are characterised by having a plentiful thick gravy.
Hardboil 4 eggs. Crush several cardamoms & remove the seeds from their pods. Smash and grind them in your pestle and mortar. Add a teaspoonful of coriander seeds and grind those too. Add a teaspoonful of cumin seeds and grind those. Chop and grind to a paste two cloves of garlic, and a similar-sized piece of fresh root ginger. Add plenty of black pepper if you like your curries hot. Add a pinch of sugar and a big lump of creamed coconut.
Chop a large onion and fry gently in a pan in a little oil until well softened. (Indians actually use ghee, butter which has been heated and clarified to remove the milk solids, leaving only the hard butter fat, but oil does very well). Add the spice paste and some tomato puree for colour if liked. Add about a cupful and a half of water, mix and cook to make a thick gravy & then add the shelled, halved, hardboiled eggs. Cover and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes, then serve hot in dishes with white rice to accompany.
This is a pungent sweet & sour curry from southern India. You can use vinegar for the sourness, but the authentic ingredient is tamarind which can be bought in dried sticky cakes of the pressed fleshy flower. Tamarind is also a laxative so you should use it with a degree of reserve. Incidentally the tamarind often has big glossy brown seeds in it, which in very warm conditions can be persuaded to germinate and grow- the plants like the temperature tropical and plenty of water.
Hard boil 4 eggs. Steep a small piece of the dried tamarind in a small cupful of boiling water, stirring it about to make a thick, brown 'tea' and then sieve out the bits, keeping the brown liquor. Meanwhile grind a teaspoonful of cumin seeds, and add about half a teaspoonful of ground cinnamon. (Cinnamon is a wooden bark and is sold rolled up in sticks. It is almost impossible to grind it yourself and is one of the few spices which Scrote buys ready ground.) Finely chop a clove of garlic and a similar-sized piece of fresh root ginger, then add to the spices and grind to a paste of ginger, cinnamon, & cumin. Add a small dessertspoonful of dark brown sugar. (Indians use jaggery, a residue of cane sugar, but dark brown sugar will do.) Finely chop a large onion, and fry until well softened in a little oil. Add the spices, and a can of tinned tomatoes, chopped. Add the tamarind juice. Shell & halve the hard boiled eggs and lay in the sauce neatly. Simmer until the sauce is thick and serve with rice or Indian breads.
This is a meat curry from the Indian state of Kerala which is unusual because it has no garlic or ginger. When he can get it, Scrote uses mutton for this, which has a richer smoother flavour, lamb will do. You also need turmeric, chili, pepper, cinnamon, coconut, onion, coriander, clove, tamarind, aniseed. The recipe Scrote has gives rather a strange way of cooking, with the meat boiled separately first, but he feels it is easier to do it the way given here.
Cut about a pound of lean lamb into pieces, and chop a large onion. Crush and grind a teaspoon of coriander seed, three cloves, half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, half a dozen black peppercorns and a small dried chili (taking care not to get the chili anywhere near your face or eyes!) Steep a lump of tamarind in a little boiling water to produce a thick brown liquor and discard the solid residue. Crush and grind separately some aniseed seeds, and reserve for a garnish.
Fry the meat in a little oil over a high heat until well coloured. Add the onion and brown that as well. Add the spice mixture and the tamarind juice. Add a big lump of creamed coconut and about a cupful and a half of water, and stir to form a thick gravy. Cover tightly and simmer gently for about an hour (longer for mutton) until the meat is very tender. Serve with rice, and garnish with the ground aniseed.
Papad or papadoms are made from dried gram (pea or bean) flour and can't really be made at home. They are bought ready made, but not ready-cooked no matter what supermarkets may try to persuade you. They come in several flavours- plain, garlic, chili or black pepper- but there is a bit of an art to cooking them. You need a very wide shallow pan and some cooking oil.
Pour the oil into the pan until it is about half an inch deep. Heat the pan strongly so that the oil becomes very hot- when the oil is trembling and just beginning to smoke it is at the right temperature. You now need to work very rapidly. Have your papad ready and a plate with some kitchen paper on to receive the results. Get some tongs or a long spatual and a long fork and quickly slide a papadum under the oil sideways. It will writhe and expand- this is why you need a big pan since the finished papad is nearly twice as big as it started. Quickly turn the papad over making sure all parts go under the hot oil and it is fully puffed up, but if it starts to turn brown remove it at once. Remove and hold over the oil for a few seconds to drain and put on the kitchen paper. Repeat with the next papad. Eat while still warm and crisp.
The oil used for deep-frying the papad is generally no good for other uses, so you should keep used oil separately. Black pepper papad in particular tend to cause the oil to foam during cooking and to gellify afterwards.
This is the graceful, cooling salad found throughout the east. Grate half of a whole cucumber and mix it with about half a pint or more of natural yoghurt. Add some ground cumin. Garnish with coriander leaves if liked.
Scrote is very fond of samosas and always makes a bee-line for them if there are any around. Samosas are spicy little pasties stuffed with a vegetable or meat filling. The classic stuffing is peas and potatoes. They are unusual in that they are deep fried rather than baked.
Make a pastry from one and a half cups of plain (ordinary) flour by rubbing in two tablespoons of melted ghee (clarified butter) and a pinch of salt. Add a little water to make a smooth dough. Knead the dough and leave to rest while you make the filling.
For the filling you need two cooked boiled potatoes and a cup of peas. Finely chop and fry a piece of ginger and a small onion. Add the potatoes, diced and the peas, some ground coriander and some garam masala (a readily available Indian spice mixture).
Knead the dough again and divide into small balls. Flatten each ball into a circle and fold over to make a semi-circle. Roll out thin, and put a spoonful of filling on one side. Fold over to make a triangular pasty. Repeat for the others. Deep fry the pasties in hot oil and fry until golden. Serve hot or cold.