Sunday, 16 December 2012

Bombay 2: Electric Vindaloo

I mentioned in my inaugural post that my parents frequently had the family radio dialled into CBC. I remember that while dinner wrapped up, the news journalism and interview program As it Happens would come on, announcing its arrival with some catchy jazz-rock-indian fusion.

Earlier this year I discovered that this radio theme from my childhood was a composition by the Canadian jazz flutist Moe Koffman, from his album Curried Soul. The record is, as a whole, a flaccid and motley assortment of tunes. Koffman's interpretation of "You are My Sunshine" takes my sunshine away. But it starts and finishes well, with "Curried Soul" at the top and a terrific rendition of Herbie Hancock's "Cantelope Island" rounding out the flip side. I suppose that everything in the middle can be forgiven.

I'd love to tell you who accompanies Koffman -- especially who the funky drummer is -- but there are no credits on the jacket or the label.  Instead, we're privy to a recipe for Curried Soul, which includes some questionable ingredients I've never seen offered in any dishes at Banjara.  Namely: hard boiled egg, banana, pumpernickel and bacon.  Perhaps this culinary confusion exemplifies my ignorance of regional Indian cuisine or maybe it's a case of eastern cooking being co-opted and adapted to western tastes.  For those readers more learned than I, please feel free to comment on the authenticity of this dish.

In the mean time, tie up an apron over your nehru jacket, and start cooking, while Koffman does the same.

"Curried Soul"

Apologies for the lack-luster sound quality

"Cantelope Island"

From the back of the sleeve:

Curried Soul - Serves 4

While it is unnecessary to have all of the side dishes named below, serve at least five.  The list is not exhaustive; there are many more, including an extensive collection of chutneys.  Chopped fresh chives may replace spring onion, and if Bombay duck is not obtainable, cooked shredded codfish from a tin is an excellent substitute, diced celery or chopped dill are other possibilities.  If you make a hot curry, you will wish to have sliced bananas; pumpernickel should be included in any curry meal.  It and bananas are about the only things which can counteract the chemical heat of curry powder; water, wine and beer are of scant help.  If you decide to limit the number of side dishes, the five recommended are: chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped bacon, chutney, sliced banana, and chopped almonds or peanuts - a Mouli grater makes chopping nuts a pleasure, and one should be in every kitchen.

4 cups cooked lamb
6 Rashers bacon
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
3 TBS chopped red pepper (optional)
3 TBS chopped apple
6 TBS flour
3 TBS curry powder
4 cups stock
6 cups hot, boiled rice

Cut the meat into pieces approximately an inch square by half an inch thick.  While two eggs to be used as a side dish are boiling, sauté the bacon in a large skillet or heavy saucepan.  When the bacon is done, remove it and chop for use as another side dish.  In the bacon fat, sauté the onion, chopped pepper, and apple until they are soft, about ten minutes.  Mix the flour and curry powder together, and make a roux with the bacon fat.  Stir in gradually sufficient stock to make a fairly thin sauce.  Season with salt.  Add the chopped meat and simmer the curry for at least half an hour over a very low flame.  Simmering for an hour will make it better.  If the sauce thickens too much, thin it with stock.  If you like your curries hotter, now is the time to add more curry powder, but taste it well first.  It is easy enough to make a curry hotter, but it is quite difficult to cool it off, once made.

When you are ready to serve, give each guest a generous portion of rice - curry is unthinkable without it - and spread the curry on top.  You will want no green vegetable.  Mixed Green Salad 1 (qv) with a bland dressing is excellent with or after curry.  To drink, beer is best, but if you prefer wine, be sure it is red and rough.  One of the finest for this purpose is Tavola, a red wine designed to be served chilled.  Fresh fruit is by far the best dessert after curry.

Side Dishes

Sliced Bacon
Bombay Duck
Chopped Hard-Boiled Egg
Chopped Parsley
Diced Cucumber
Diced Fresh Pineapple
Raisins Fried in Bacon Fat (Serve Hot)
Chopped Bacon
Fresh Grated Coconut
Chopped Almonds or Peanuts
Currant Jelly
Thinly Sliced Tomatoes
Chopped Spring Onions
Small or Diced Button Mushrooms

Full disclosure: 

Today's post title is the brainchild of my good friend Kris Siddiqi.  He's a Second City mainstage alumnus, and now with the even funnier group Primo.  Follow this Facebook link and go laugh at them.

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