I love the new Sharwoods advert.
But it does confirm something I’ve always suspected—that the curry sauces on supermarket shelves aren’t meant to taste of India.
As the ‘SHAR1’ bus trundles the length of the country-past forests, across rivers along terraced houses, the gentle northern voiceover reminds us of the Sharwood’s tag line: ‘Great British Curry‘.
Not Authentic Indian Curry. But a reconstituted version that’s dumbed down for the British palette more used to delicate spice of Bovril and Oxo.
As some of you might remember, round November I did an Indian cooking class, and discovered how easy it is to create a curry sauce without resorting to Patak or Sharwoods or, God forbid, Lloyd Grossman’s celebrity curry sauce.
If you’ve not taken the leap of creating a curry from scratch, this is a great recipe to start with.
It really is very simple, and you’ll get a huge sense of pride from making a great sauce out of a few teaspoonfuls of spices instead of half a pint of gloop.
And the other benefit is that this tastes nothing like “what we Brits like—whether it’s a really rich balti in the Bengal Brasserie or a great tasting tikka in the Taj Mahal…”
It tastes like an Indian Indian—not (thank goodness) like a ‘Great British Curry’.
Lamb (around 750 grams chopped into bite-sized chunks)
One thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
3 teaspoons of garam masala
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 dessert spoons of plain yoghurt (plain, not vanilla)
Dice the onions, then fry them in a couple of tablespoons of oil. When they start to soften, add the garlic and the ginger and fry them on a gentle heat for a minute or so longer.
Add all of the spices, and continue to fry on a low heat—this is called “dry-frying” …and it makes your house smell delicious.
Add the lamb, and fry for about five more minutes until the meat has browned, and then chuck in the tinned tomatoes. Whack up the heat a little so that the sauce is slowly simmering, and then stir in the yoghurt.
Gently cook the curry in this fashion for forty minutes to an hour and a half—you can do it on a hob or in the oven. If you’re worried that the sauce is looking a little dry, then add a couple of tablespoons of boiling water and stir it on heat. There are enough spices in there to be able to happily absorb a little extra water to pad-out the sauce. Serve with rice or nan or roti.