The first of a five part series on authentic Indian cooking.
Long time readers will probably notice that I am repeating myself here but I am going to give you a bit of background anyway.
South Africa’s cuisine is a mishmash of different cultures and a very prominent one is Indian. A huge Indian community is found in KwaZulu-Natal but since I came from the Gauteng region I was never properly exposed to the food. Only two dishes stick out from memory: samoosas and biryani. Sure, you can get curry in Gauteng and a typical conversation with a waiter will go like this:
“Can I have the curry, please?”
“Beef, lamb or chicken?”
“Hot, medium or spicy?”
“Medium, thank you.”
And off he’ll go. Sitting here typing this it strikes me that it’s almost as if a no-name brand of curry is served in my province. It always tastes the same, served with desiccated coconut, chopped tomato and onion and let’s not forget the all important Mrs. Balls Fruit Chutney.
So with my dazzling three dish Indian repertoire I landed on British soil and was startled at the variety of dishes to be found in Indian restaurants. About twenty different curries, each with its unique flavour and a lot of them are laced with cream or coconut and sugar. If I could go skinny dipping in the sauces I would have! To give you an idea what typically features on a standard Indian restaurant in the UK, I wrote a review of a local one last year.
Earlier this year I got contacted by a PR agency to review authentic Indian ready-made meals. Huh? So the stuff I’ve been eating isn’t the real deal then? After some reading the answer came back as a big resounding NO. Indian food has been westernised the same way Chinese fare has – go to any of these countries and you will find none of the menu items featuring on the food scene.
It was time I faced the facts. I knew nothing of Indian cuisine – except for samoosas and biryani! I was so keen to learn more that I was cheeky enough to ask whether the kitchen would do a cooking demonstration for me. It worked, and off I went to Holyfood’s head quarters.
To Be Continued…
About the Food
Mrs. Balls Chutney was the only chutney I knew up until now. It’s fruity, sweet, spicy and tangy and goes very well with meaty dishes. So it was with heavy suspicion that I tried the coriander chutney. It’s very different from what I am used to but the freshness of the ingredients and the explosion of flavours in my mouth had me jumping of joy. Chutney (and pickles too) is a palate cleanser between mouthfuls and there are tonnes of recipes out there. This recipe is very simple to prepare for the uninitiated.
Download and/or print the recipe! Click HERE.
Coriander Chutney A.K.A. Dhania ki Chutney
Preparation Time: 10 mins – Cooking Time: None
- 200g (7 oz) Greek yogurt
- 100g (3½ oz) fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
- 100g (3½ oz) fresh coconut, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 whole green chilies, deseeded and chopped
- salt, to taste
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz to a paste.