The Food Dictator!

British Indian Restaurant Curries - Including The Hottest In The World!

March 07, 2020 Jonathan Hirshon Season 1 Episode 3
The Food Dictator!
British Indian Restaurant Curries - Including The Hottest In The World!
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The Food Dictator!
British Indian Restaurant Curries - Including The Hottest In The World!
Mar 07, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
Jonathan Hirshon

Citizens - The Suzerain Of Spice (YOUR TFD!) Shares His Limitless Wisdom Regarding This Unique Style Of Curry And Expounds About The Lethal Heat Of Phall As Well As The More Temperate Joys Of Balti, Madras And Korma! The History Of This Unique Style Of Curries Is Also Expounded Upon For Your Listening Pleasure! Your Loyalty To The Cause Is Noted, Citizen - Join Us For New And Revolutionary Episodes Of TFD!

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/tfd)

Show Notes Transcript

Citizens - The Suzerain Of Spice (YOUR TFD!) Shares His Limitless Wisdom Regarding This Unique Style Of Curry And Expounds About The Lethal Heat Of Phall As Well As The More Temperate Joys Of Balti, Madras And Korma! The History Of This Unique Style Of Curries Is Also Expounded Upon For Your Listening Pleasure! Your Loyalty To The Cause Is Noted, Citizen - Join Us For New And Revolutionary Episodes Of TFD!

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/tfd)

Speaker 1:

Welcome Citizen! I, the Supreme Leader of TFD Nation, am honored you have chosen to attend today's mandatory listening session. Your loyalty is noted and now the recipe secrets that are Mine ALONE to share, are yours for the taking. Join me in glorious together as we march to celebrate true cuisine, true history and true flavor Revolution! What will be revealed in today's message? Only the Ultimate in world cuisine recipes - nothing less! So sit back and enjoy this episode of The Food Dictator. It is so decreed and ordered! Citizen Prime Jonathan Hirshon shall be my proxy for today's show as I must continue to plan the world food uprising. I have spoken!

Speaker 2:

Welcome back, Citizens. Welcome to the next episode of TFD Nation podcast. My name is Jonathan Hirshon and I am truly honored to be your guide today through the wonderful world of one of my all-time favorite styles of cuisine. Now what might that be? TFD it's well known. I love everything spicy, not spicy French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, you name it. I love it. But there's one thing that really is near and dear to my heart and it's going to probably surprise you. It's Curry, but not just Indian Curry. There's a specific totally separate group of Curry from Indian, which is known as BIR style that stands for British Indian Restaurant style. And if you've ever been lucky enough to go to the UK and had one of the curries there, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's a very different style of Curry than anything that you would normally see in India. There is a unique flavor profile. It's difficult to put into words. You just know it when you taste it. It's only found in BIR curries . And interestingly enough, those BIR curries while they're based on some cases actually have the same names as Indian curries. They're not the same thing - at all. So with all those in place, let me be your guide and follow my lead, like Dante walking in the steps of Virgil, into the subtleties of how to prepare and appreciate BIR curries . So a little background, the Maestro of Magnificence, the Suzerain of Spice, your TFD was privileged to join one of my closest friends from the U K for a proper Curry dinner not three nights ago where he regaled his wife and me with stories of his 20 year quest to find good British Curry in the States. Now we're both huge fans of BIR curries and we both enjoyed them many a time in London and in Cambridge and in Wales all over the UK. In fact, as I mentioned, there's a unique texture and flavor profile in BIR curries that are the result of an amalgamation of both British and Indian taste sensibilities and it's something that I find just truly intoxicating and since it is so difficult to find real BIR Curry here, I've taken on the yoke of responsibility to teach you how to do it as well as anything you'd find in the U K. Now to start, I'm going to quote an article that was on NPR recently that really goes into this in detail. The modern British Curry house actually has working class origins and a very narrow lineage. More than 80% of Curry house owners in the UK can trace their roots back to Sylhet, a city in the East of what is now Bangladesh. Sylhet's waterways were key to the trade during the Raj and hundreds of Sylhetis ended up working on British steamships and unfortunately they often had the horrible jobs of working in the engine rooms and as a result, quite a lot of them tended to jump ship in the UK. Obviously they had a tough time finding work in England and many of them ended up in the restaurant business and in some cases just restaurant kitchens. But over time some of these immigrants saved up enough money to open their own restaurants. By the 1940s they bought out bombed out fish and chip shops selling Curry and rice alongside traditional British favorites. Now, many of these immigrant restauranteurs were self-taught. They'd copy the menus from existing Indian restaurants because they knew that's what the public wanted, but they didn't know quite how to make them, so they kind of just felt their way along. And that's why nowadays you can wander into pretty much any Curry house in any part of the UK and have a vindaloo or a korma or a chicken tikka and you'll get pretty much the same type of dish because all these Bangladeshi immigrants shared the basic recipes amongst themselves since they were self-taught. Now, here's an interesting fact. In 2001 the UK's foreign secretary Robin Cook said that chicken tikka masala, which is pretty much the de facto British national dish, had become a true British national dish epitomizing multiculturalism as a positive force for our economy and society. Now, no one knows quite how chicken tikka masala was born, but there are several stories. One goes that a British customer at a Curry house complained that his marinated baked chicken was too dry. So the chef mixed up some canned tomato soup that he'd been saving for his lunch, with yogurt and spices to create a sauce. As it turned out, the customer loved it and word spread and chicken tikka masala soon became a national treasure. Now, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leicester all lay claim to the invention of chicken tikka masala, but nobody's quite sure where. In any case it was a hit and for a while it became most common dish ordered in England. It's interesting is that it's nothing, nothing, nothing like what you find in India noted Sayyid Bilal Ahmed who runs the trade publication, Curry Life magazine, but I don't see anything wrong with that. And frankly neither do I. As he goes on to say British Curry isn't a dish but a cuisine, a distinct cuisine that's a testament to the innovation of Indian immigrants in the UK. A British Curry house menu may feature an anglicized korma which is a Southern Indian dish alongside Rogan Josh , which is a Kashmiri Northern Indian dish and it's always served with naan, which are traditionally only consumed in Iran and parts of Northern India. But it became a staple of the British Curry house and all of these dishes are inspired by the original Indian dishes, but they're developed into something entirely different in this country, said Ahmad. Balti is a style of Curry that gets its name from the steel bowls in which it's served. Balti as a cuisine from a region of Pakistan from the Northeast frontier, but British Balti is something else altogether. It's an approach to cooking invented by Pakistani restauranteurs in Birmingham that involves quickly assembling together pre-cooked meats with pre- made Curry sauce to serve the hungry hoards of Britons , queuing up for a post pub nosh and it unashamedly makes a virtue of restaurant shortcuts. Now interestingly enough, that technique of restaurant shortcuts turned into what became the foundation taste profile of BIR Curry . So the key to every good BIR Curry is twofold. The first and most important is something called a Curry base. It's a foundation for the sauce that's used in virtually every Curry in this style. And the second thing is the pre cooking of the meats, which helps to basically make the dish faster to create. And it also removes all the water content that would leach into the Curry and thin it down. Between these two shortcuts and armed with the proper finishing spices for each specific dish, A restaurant, can serve any delicious Curry on its menu within 15 minutes. And now with the techniques I'm going to teach you, so can you, so let's get to it, shall we? First off, if you haven't already been to www.thefooddictator.com - shame on you. You should have been. But go there now. Look up Curry in the search engine and you'll find basically the article that I'm reading to you right now, there's a tutorial link in there that I encourage you to click and read thoroughly. It's written by an Indian British national who really understands how to create BIR Curry and through a lot of hit and miss, trial and error recreated all the steps and techniques needed to make it at home. So first things first, go ahead and read that. Once you've done it, I'll show you how to make my version of Curry base. And unsurprisingly, it's a lot more complex version of the Curry base used in most Curry houses. One of the key differences being that I use something called Akhni spiced broth instead of just plain water to use the Curry base, which gives it multitudinous layers of flavor, and I should warn you, this makes a lot of base , but as I've discovered, scaling the recipe down just doesn't work well, and the good news is that it freezes perfectly. Once you've gone to the trouble of creating a Curry base, you can literally have dinner on the table in 15 minutes and in near infinite variety by varying the finishing spices and the meats just like they do in a regular Curry house. Now let's talk about two of my favorite Curry house styles. Now it is with a profound sense of imminent dread that I write this and tell you all of this because I'm going to share the recipe and the technique behind something called phall. Now the Brits and people who are part of the Commonwealth, just basically winced in pain because they know what a phall is. Phall is the spiciest Curry on the planet. It is really, really, really hot. The Brits enjoy many different styles of curries, but none is as legendary feared and potentially lethal as phall. It was clearly invented just for special customers who always complained the Curry was never hot enough. Basically a s a way to help them forever S T F U . So how unbearably hot is the hottest phall ever made. He may ask, it's this hot, it causes your nose to bleed spontaneously, for you to vomit repeatedly and then have to go to the hospital. And I am not exaggerating that. That is all the truth of what happened when somebody ate the world's hottest phall. N ow with that said, mine is nowhere near that hot. It is extraordinarily spicy, but it's not just raw heat. The idea behind my version of phall is that it's not a a manly test. It's a test of enjoying something that's very spicy with lots of flavor behind the heat. So with that said, if you ever go to a Curry restaurant in the UK, the phall is definitely going to be the hottest thing on the menu. It was basically created to satisfy two types of customers. The first, the true chili head who has an unusually high tolerance to chilis and genuinely enjoys really, really hot food. The second is the more common customer, I'm afraid and that's the would be chili head who after half a dozen pints too many reckons he or she can eat the hottest Curry in the house. They usually get about halfway through and then this is a multiple choice. One of these things happens A, they start crying. B , they pass out. C, they vomit. D, they accused the restaurant of serving bad Curry and refuse to pay the bill or as is most likely - all of the above. Now what is phall exactly? Phall is basically at its most fundamental level, a thick tomato based Curry made with habenero or scotch bonnet peppers up to 10 to 12 of them. It originated in the Indian restaurants of the UK , so it's by no means an authentic Indian dish. No Indian would recognize what a phall is, but at the same time they might get confused because phall does share the same name with a recipe from Bangalore, which is char grilled without sauce and eaten as finger food, but it is nowhere near that hot. It is not the same dish. It's worth noting that most Indians will not eat phall because they are smart and they have nothing to prove to themselves. If you do a quick trawl of YouTube and just type the word phall in, you'll see plenty of phall challenges where people try to eat the entire thing and well you can see the end result. It's not pretty. Some restaurants actually offer special prizes to those who can finish the dish and some such as the Brick Lane Curry house. Take it even further by organizing the phall challenge. If you manage to finish it, you get a place on the brick lane phall hall of fame. Have I frightened you? If so, fear not, as I said, my version of phall, it may be very hot, but I've toned it down dramatically. You will actually enjoy this. It is something to be eaten and pleasurably enjoyed, not just feared, but I do need to tell you if it's your first time trying phall, even if it's my toned-down version of the recipe, I encourage you, Citizens I plead with you, please eat carefully, take one spoonful, just one savor it and see how it sits. Only after waiting 30 seconds should you proceed and please be sure to have a large container of milk at the ready. It will help to neutralize the unbearable levels of heat. So with all of that said, we've talked about the mandatory Curry base. We've talked about the deadly phall. Now let's move on to the middle of the road. Madras Curry, which is actually one of my all time favorites. Now, Madras Curry or Madras sauce. It's a fairly hot Curry sauce. It's red in color and it's said to have originated from the South of India. It didn't, but we'll talk about that. It received its name from the city known as Madras , now known as Chennai, when English merchants arrived there in 1640. However, the name Madras Curry is not used in India, but was actually invented by restaurants in Britain. The spicy Madras Curry served in British restaurants is unsurprisingly quite different from authentic Madras curries, with the British variation originating from the Bangladeshi restaurants of the 1970s. Now, Madras Curry powder is not an Indian spice blend, although it does use Indian ingredients. It's a formulation of ingredients designed to suit English tastes and it differs significantly from the spice blends used in Madras and throughout India itself. Indians don't have Curry powder, there's no such thing as Curry powder. They have different spice blends that are used in different dishes to highlight different aspects of the taste, texture, whatever might be. There is no single Curry powder. That's an English thing. So there's an interesting article that I found on Quartz India. It talks about how the British actually used this type of recipe to colonialize India. And here's what it says: Victorian cookbooks served a particularly important purpose in the colonization process is an essay that describes how the cookbook became the way India was assimilated into the empire. British women were given the task of bringing imperialism home in an easy to swallow manner. They used the medium of cookbooks and incorporated Indian food, which functioned metonomically for India into the national diet and made it culturally British. That is a fancy way of saying they co-opted the cuisine and turned it British and suited for British palate sensibilities. Now, it's interesting, there's an old cookbook author who says that in the modern cookery for private families, she begins by bemoaning how English food is, quote far inferior to that of nations, much less advanced in civilization - rude, but that was the time period, I'm afraid, and thus provides easy Curry recipes to make it more exciting. The key to making Curry for this author was Curry powder, a British concoction that blends large amounts of tumeric with mainly cumin , chile, and fenugreek, and has little resemblance to anything you'd get in India. All of Acton's dishes use it. A Curry powder infused Mulligatawny soup, which she says is quote, much recommended by persons who have long resident in India. In other words, British nationals, veal cutlets a' L'Indian that are to have a good Curry sauce ready prepared to send to the table. And fried chicken a la Malabar, which is, you guessed it, fried chicken coated in Curry powder. So the use of Curry powder as the ingredient that makes a dish. Indian is a common feature in many other British recipes at the time. The best selling Mrs Beaton's book of household management in 1888 used the strategy to make curried beef. An Indian recipe from a Victorian Manor in 1890 that was discovered in early 2015 at the East Reading college reveals the same idea, chopped onions, lamb, and a heap of Curry powder. Subsequently, by the time of the 19th century gave way to the 20th, Curry and Curry powder became established signifiers for Indian food, but on entirely British terms. Walk into a grocery store in India and you're going to find that the singular Curry powder just doesn't exist, neither as a material or an idea - in India, like we said, endless varieties with spice mixes instead. Uma Naryan, writes that British Curry powder replaced varied local masalas and distinctive eating cultures and fabricated a homogenous notion of Indian food in much the same way that the British rule fabricated a United India. So it's interesting how food and politics and history all basically collided in this type of dish. And Madras Curry, again, on a scale of one to 10 about a seven it's a spicy Curry. It's delicious. That, and of course there's the chicken korma, which is the mildest by far of all the chicken curries or any type of Curry in the British style. Chicken korma on a scale of one to 10 it's about a one. It's very, very flavorful, but there's practically no heat to it. It's basically a cream coconut milk, a few mild spices, a little bit of Rose water , which gives us a lovely perfumed aspect to it. And it's decorated with cashews and Rose petals. Again, a delicious, wonderful dish and there is a chicken korma in India that's very close to this, but again, it's not quite the same. Korma in India is almost always served with mutton and it's almost always served on the bone, whereas in Britain it's always served off the bone and it's typically chicken. It's also a little bit more spiced in India than it is in the British version because the British palate prefers or used to prefer anyway, a more mild type of Curry, but the good news is once you've got that Curry paste made, all three of these curries you can make any time you want. The recipes are all up on the blog right now, www.thefooddictator.com give them a try. I think that once you've discovered the joys of BIR style Curry, you won't look back and then you'll be prepared to launch into the authentic quote unquote curries of India, which will be the subject of another podcast at another time. In the meantime, Citizens, it's been a true pleasure. Now Citizens - show your leaders some love!

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] .

Speaker 2:

Thank you. Let's calm it down now. Come on. Thank you so much once again, Citizens. Thank you so much for joining us on today's podcast. As always, visit us at www.thefooddictator.com follow us on Facebook where we are, the food dictator. Follow us on Instagram, where we are, the food dictator, Pinterest, again, the food dictator. And last but not least, Twitter where we are at Gusto. Maximus, G, U S. T. O. M. A. X. I. M U S. and in the meantime we look forward to seeing you on our next podcast. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1:

Join our cause! March with me on the victorious paths. ZFS off hours in TCT, the past that sleets to culinary excellence of the highest order. Together we are mighty force that will shake the world out of its Fest food, comma , we shall never surrender. Never retreat, never compromise.