Crumbs Devon – Issue 26

Page 18

Hi James, great to meet you. Tell us, why do you reckon we Brits love curry so much? I think the reason we love it, and that it’s become a national institution, is because we’ve made the dishes our own. They’ve evolved – in and out of India – for hundreds of years to appeal to us Brits, and that evolution continues today with products like our own. But I also think it’s easy to understand why any nation might fall in love with curry. It’s colourful, vibrant, spicy – almost the perfect comfort food, and a great antidote to traditional British dishes. All this being the case, then, I find it harder to understand why a nation wouldn’t embrace curry. I’m always amused by the reaction we get from some of the French people we meet at events – it’s almost like we’re living in a parallel universe, with terms like korma, bhuna and jalfrezi completely alien to many French people. They don’t know what they’re missing! What do you know about the history of curry eating in the UK? When did it all begin? The curry has a fascinating history – Hollywood could only do it justice by bringing Bill and Ted back to do an excellent adventure in curry through the ages. Here’s a brief history… 14th century – Richard II’s chefs document a recipe for a spicy stew, using a spice mix not a million miles away from today’s garam masala.

15th century – Portugal’s Vasco De Gama introduces chillies to India. 17th century – The East India Company is established, creating trading routes between Britain and India. Back home, curry starts appearing on restaurant menus. 19th century – Nationalisation of the East India Company brings in the British Raj era. The jalfrezi is born, as Indian chefs spice up leftovers from expat Sunday roasts by stir frying meat with chillies and onions. 20th century – Urban legend credits chef Ali Ahmed Aslam as creator of the chicken tikka masala. In fact, Ali is said to have improvised a sauce with tomato soup, yogurt and spices in an attempt to appease a disgruntled Glaswegian bus driver! For the full curry timeline, check out our blog: There are so many curry varieties – Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan, African, Caribbean… What do they have in common? For me, they all share the holy trinity that makes a curry: meat or veg, sauce and spice. It’s that simple. Different countries have different twists, though, based on ingredients readily available, local preferences and traditions. Even curries that you might associate with one country tend to have an interesting crossborder history. Take the vindaloo, which you



can get in any curry house in the UK today. It originated in Goa in the 16th century, but was actually inspired by a Portuguese dish that marinated meat in wine. The Goans then added chillies to make the dish we recognise today. But where did they get the chillies from? The Portuguese again, who introduced them to the Indian continent in the 1400s via Central and South America. How different are British curries to traditional Indian or Sri Lankan curries? Some of the recipes are fundamentally different; for example, Indians don’t eat a tikka masala! That’s a dish we’ve made our own. However, cook with our Sri Lankan curry kit and we like to think it’s exactly the same as you’d get if you were in Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka, where Carl [Anderson – co-founder of Boom Kitchen] discovered the recipe. For us, that’s what it’s all about. If you’re scratch cooking with the right ingredients there’s no reason a curry you make in your kitchen can’t taste like one cooked in India or Sri Lanka. In your opinion, which country is the king of curries, and why? For me, it’s Sri Lanka. They can do so many things with fruit and vegetables that will make your eyes water!

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