The British love their curries….a hangover from the British Empire I suppose. …Curry has become as much an iconic British dish as fish and chips and roast beef and Yorkshire pud..
So when I heard that the chef of the well known, local, posh Indian restaurant Sanmini was giving some cooking lessons, I jumped at the chance.
Sanmini is stuated in the unfortunately named , small Lancashire town of Ramsbottom. It is five miles up the road from me and one of the places I aspire to move to, if somebody would buy my house. It is a place that I think epitomises my Lancashire roots, with its stone houses nestling in green hills, that once provided the perfect climate for the textile mills of the 19 and 20th century.
Unpretentious people. Old fashioned proud, respectableworking class. “knutsford with balls” my husband calls it.
These days Ramsbottom is thriving with lots of independent shops, restaurants and regular community festivals, a local market survives alongside an Aldi, Morrisons and Tesco supermarket.
As one of my grandchildren live in “Rammy” as it is know, we spend a lot of time there.
Volunteers keep a regular trains service from the East Lancashire railway running through the town, giving the place an even better atmosphere.
Still, I digress…..
Dr Mini Sanhkar, came to this country 32 years ago from South India and brought with her the secrets of the food of her homeland. As they do not eat beef or pork in South India and vegetables are plentiful, a lot of the cuisine is vegetarian. and based on vegetable protein like different types of lentils or channa.
This food is different from the usual local British curry which is more Pakistani or Bangladeshi and is much hotter.
Snaminis restaurant has won lots of awards and recommendations from local foodies
In our first session we concentrated on the different types of lentils and spices. plus how to cook rice. Taking a selection of spices and lentils home and a full meal.
In the second session we cooked aubergines and okra plus a delicious Chicken dish.
Most of the dishes are based on “tempering” ie, frying the spices, usually mustard seed, cumin seeds and curry leaves, in a little oil and then either adding the onions ,garlic, lentils vegetables etc to the mix, or adding the tempar to meat and vegetables.
The food is deliciously light, mild and fragrant. The spiciness coming as an afterthought on the tongue.
so far at home I have reproduced her recipes for Lemon, pepper, ginger chicken, a potato channa and a spinach and lentil channa.
So here is how I did it.
LEMON , PEPPER, GINGER CHICKEN
, ..Chenni style
Sunflower oil. small amount 2-3 teaspoons aprox
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 inch root ginger , finely chopped
2 large onions finely chopped
( Mini used white onions, but I used red as that is all I had and I think they gave a nice little sweetness to the dish)
Handful of curry leaves….. Fresh if possible, available here from Asian (Pakistani) supermarkets or Tesco, Asda.. Dried will do if not available.
1lb or aprox 500g of boneless, thigh chicken meat. Skinned and chopped into chuncks.
half teaspoon tumeric
aprox 1 teaspoonful salt, (to taste)
1 generous teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Juice of one lemon,… plus the grated rind for garnishing.
2 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped fine, or whole tinned tomatoes, drained of juice.
2 teaspoon cumin powder.
Corriander for garnishing
Heat a pan then add sunflower oil and when not too hot add garlic, ginger, onions curry leaves and onions.
Cook for several minutes, keep stirring, until soft and beginning to caramelise. ie, slightly brown.
Add chicken pieces and saute until cooked through.
Add tumeric, salt, and stirr.
Add lemon juice, stir.
Add ground pepper.
Stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding chopped tomatoes.
Stir fry for another couple of minutes to cook the tomatoes.
Add cumin as a season.
Garnish with lemon zest and chopped coriander leaves.
As this post is getting too long I will post the recipes for the potato channa and spinach and lentil channa in Part two.