- I​t’s an enticing fusion of Indian and Indian. Photo shows presentation portion. I ate three times that.

A​nother night of lockdown, another chicken curry

P​roprietor of local Indian restaurant is sleeping soundly

50w ago

T​he second instalment of DFM (defrosting food management) sees this highly imaginative curry, made using thawed-out chicken breasts.

T​his started as a bhuna, using a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food site. But I looked at three other on-line bhuna recipes, and they were all completely different, which reinforces my view that authenticity in cooking is a nonsensical idea. These things that we imagine are crucial to various nations’ identities are really just broad categories of food, like ‘pie’. There isn’t even a consensus on the English spelling of bhuna/buna/boona/boohna.

I​t’s a Hindi word, if I remember rightly, and I believe describes the process of cooking spice pastes in hot oil, to remove the harshness from them. Beyond that, then, anything goes. But in the world of British Indian restaurant curries, bhuna means onions, tomatoes, and chillies.

A​nd that’s how it went, with the addition of some spices, ginger, garlic, blah blah blah. But then I decided, a bit like one of those berks who buys a Lotus Elise and then messes with the suspension, that I knew better. I have all evening for this, I’m only a man, I’m slightly bored, and I have a box of spices. I also tried one of the saucepans on my head.

S​o I fortified a few spoonfuls of yoghurt with fenugreek and chilli powder, and stirred that in. I also bunged in a crushed black cardamom pod, because it was there. I slow cooked the lot while I enjoyed a bottle of Chablis in the sunshine, then made simple basmati rice.

I​ don’t want to blow smoked paprika up my own ass but it was pretty bloody good. The recipe said ‘serves four’, but that turned out to be nonsense as well.

(​Please note that this recipe will not be in my forthcoming book)

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Comments (25)

  • Looks good, nice to see you try recipes and modify them. I always say recipes are a guide. We all have different tastes and likes. Make it your own.

      11 months ago
  • My Gran made me wear a saucepan on my head when travelling in the ‘estate’ part of her Ford Anglia estate in 1970. I swear this is true, I think I was mentally scarred for life.

      11 months ago
  • Looking forward to the book, cooking is a creative action and as long as you remember the science of cooking, balancing ingredients and tasting the food as you are cooking it you shouldn’t go wrong. I decided to make some Hummus only to find out that I had no Tahini so added some Harissa paste. I called it Harisimmus and it tasted very nice. James you are brilliant!

      11 months ago
  • Maybe certain recipes are authentic to different regions. Like how Devon and Cornwall put their clotted cream on a scone. Both authentic to each other.

      11 months ago
  • A saucepan worn on the head, puts you in the good company of a Mr. John Chapman,

    or Johnny Appleseed, to his friends.

    Johnny is the reason why America has the greatest variety of apple trees,

    in the world.

    Here's to ambling about, planting fruit trees.

    That could be a fun addition to a Grand Touring story.

      11 months ago