I have been re-organizing stuff round here (decorating) and found a slim volume aimed at gels from the typing pool in their first gaff. It’s called, “Cooking in a Bedsitter” by Katherine Whitehorn. First published in 1961 this “New and Fully Revised Edition” dates from 1982 [it was probs anachronistic then].
Here is a sample recipe, with preamble:
Curry finds itself in this section [“Cooking to Stay Alive” – the other section being “Cooking to Impress” – basically a potential boyfriend/suitor who is simply assumed to generally take you out to nice restaurants but now wants to see your diggings!] because it is useless to try to impress anyone with a curry nowadays unless you have spent several years out East and are prepared to talk about it, as well as cook, for hours on end. When it comes to really elaborate curries it is much better to be on the receiving end, and fortunately most people who live in bedsitters know at least one Indian or Pakistani who is delighted to make a curry for an admiring friend [!]. Moreover, they are apt to know their proportions only in terms of .01 grains of saffron per half a sheep, so that they will often make enough curry for you and everyone on the staircase to feed off for a week.
However, here is an unassuming straightforward curry that will work on meat, fish, or any odds and ends you happen to have over.
I have lived almost all of my adult life (and much before!) within easy reach of Indians, Pakistanis (and Bangladeshis – though obviously that country didn’t exist in 1961 when this book was first written and there are also of course Sri Lankans) who were delighted to cook for a paying customer (or maybe possibly an “admiring friend”) or indeed sell the ingredients so you can do it yourself*. I also “love” the racist assumption that you will have a curry wallah on the staircase and their mission is to feed. And also the similarly racist assumption that a native Brit (whatever that means) can’t cook top-notch sub-continental food without having tales to tell of tiger-hunts, malaria and meeting a guru who gives you the recipe upon a sacred scroll that once wrapped the Koh-i-Noor etc ad nauseum. Rather than a book by, say, Madhur Jaffrey (available from all good book-sellers).
Anyway, here is the recipe. Now note this well because I know of one (admittedly unlikely circumstance – guess – it shall be revealed) where it might prove useful…
Curry for Meat, Fish, Rabbit, or Leftovers.
2 tomatoes (or squeeze of tomato paste)
1 teaspoon meat extract dissolved in one cup water
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4lb/100g meat or fish or mince
1 dessertspoon flour
fat for frying
Fry onions gently for 5 mins. Add tomatoes and flour; stir. Add meat extract and water; stir. Add curry powder and KEEP THE HEAT LOW AT THIS POINT (too much direct heat seems to burn off the taste of the curry and leave only the sting – if this happens, add more curry, if you can bear to [!] ). Add meat or rabbit and simmer 1hr. If fish, add after 1/2hr. (1 1/4hrs)
This is even better if you let it get cold and then heat it up.
I’d argue if you have got this far in producing this dish fit for the very Moghuls themselves it’s utterly superlative if you bin it and then phone Sayeed down at “The Last Days of the Raj” and order a lamb bhuna.
Unless of course via some peculiar spacetime conjunction between our Universe and Discworld you have Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs round for tea**. Death wouldn’t like it mind – he’s into proper Klatchian.
* I used to live in Levenshulme, Manchester and they even had a hybrid Polish/Iranian grocer.
** Though Mrs Colon always added turnip for the wateriness and sultanas for a “taste of the exotic”.