Thursday, 24 June 2010
Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum
One of the first major changes I noticed in my life after settling in London was my exposure to different kinds of food. With so many cultures painting the British capital in various colours and giving it diverse flavours, it wasn't hard to imagine that my palate would also widen up with time. And widen up it did.
Hot (as in spicy) food was not my cup of tea at the beginning, however. There probably still exists a photo of me and two other Cubans at an Indian restaurant with my then colleagues from the travel agency for which I used to work where my dark features were given a rouge makeover; a consequence of the herbs and spices combination. No amount of milk and/or Naan bread could put out the fire. That curry was hot, my brethren and sisters.
But over the last few years I've become keener on the 'chillier' side of food. And not a day goes by, provided it's my turn to cook at home, when I don't put a dollop of chilli sauce on some stew or hotpot I'm cooking. It shouldn't, then, come as a surprise, that this section has seen the temperature rise (at least, palatewise) in the last few months.
The following recipe (by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) works wonders for a winter's evening meal, or a British summer's afternoon lunch. I tend to serve it with Basmati rice, though, my family prefers to have chapatis.
Chickpea, potato and kale curry
340g dried chickpeas (or 2 400g tins, drained and rinsed)
1 tsp cumin seeds, plus a little extra to garnish
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 hot, dried red chilli, crumbled
1 tsp ground turmeric
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
1 large onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
700ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
150g kale (or cabbage), finely shredded
Yogurt, to serve
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, drain, rinse and simmer them for about an hour and a half in fresh water, until tender, then drain. (If using tinned, just drain and rinse.)
Put a dry frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, toast the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds and the chilli for a couple of minutes until they smell really fragrant and the mustard starts to pop. Grind to a powder in a coffee grinder, spice mill or with a pestle and mortar, and mix in the turmeric and ginger.
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, and fry the onion, stirring regularly, until soft and golden brown. Stir in the garlic and spices, leave to cook for a minute or two, and add the stock. Simmer for five minutes, then add the chickpeas and potatoes. Cook until the spuds are tender, then add the kale. Cook for a few minutes, until the greens are tender, then serve with a dollop of thick yogurt on top, along with a sprinkling of toasted cumin seeds and some coriander leaves.
The playlist to go with this dish should have a kick to it, too. That's why I open with a classic Ray Charles's track, 'Drown In My Own Tears'. And lacrimal glands are also part of the curry experience. But a cautious note about the clip below. I'm not entirely satisfied with Ms Jones reworking such a heart-felt song. Don't get me wrong, Norah is pitch-perfect in her version, but in order to sing the blues, you have to feel the blues, you have to let rip, man. And I don't think she does. It's not the first time that I've felt short-changed by Ravi Shankar's daughter. It's almost as if the woman has the capability of taking you places, but she'd rather not take the chance to do it. Anyway, it's just my opinion. Rest assured, though, that my curry does have a lot of bluesy soul in it.
A blast from the past. That's all I can say about the next video. Tracey Thorn's voice is as tender as those chickpeas left in cold water overnight. Sizzling.
Carol Welsman comes back to my blog after I uploaded another clip of her duetting with Herbie Hancock some weeks ago. This time she sings with Djavan, a Brazilian music legend in his own right. This is a fabulous concoction, just like my curry. Enjoy.
Next Post: 'Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music', to be published on Sunday 27th June at 10am (GMT)