A couple of weekends back, the wife and I, ventured down one lazy Sunday morning to the rather grandly titled ‘World Curry Festival’ in Bradford. Before taking in any culinary delights, we plumped to re-watch Julie & Julia (Amy Adams & Meryl Streep) on the big screen of the Pictureville Cinema of the National Media Museum. ‘Moseying’ down to the festival after this full of inspirational cooking/blogging fare we were somewhat disappointed to find a sparsely attended festival with little more than a baker’s dozen or so curry stalls.
I made a bee-line straight to the Prashad stall next to the unbelievably busy Zouk affair, where the Gordon Ramsey favourite (2010 finalists) and a recent favourite of ours were offering Chaat (Streetfood) and a new book by its owner Kaushy Patel aptly titled Prashad (Indian Vegetarian Cooking). The Chaat was to die for, even allowing for the dairy omission of my portion (dietary necessity not insufficient ingredients). After sampling some of the offerings elsewhere we retired to the bar for a glass or two of the red stuff. Not able to get the Chaat out of my memory taste buds, I dodged the ‘cats and dogs’ stuff now in full flow, to sample another portion. Flicking through the book whilst I waited the short while for my non-diary variant I had a Julie & Julia epiphany of my own…..Maybe I should learn to cook. I love food, I really do and maybe the wonderful wife would like the occasional day off that doesn’t cost us a king’s ransom. Obviously not able to try to do something she can already do, really well….I would teach myself to cook……. Vegetarian Indian, working my way through this exciting and intriguing book….what could be simpler???
So last Thursday I began a mini J&J adventure of my own. Vagareli Makai (Speedy Spicy Sweetcorn) I plumped for. Speedy being the draw for me. Of course it was nothing of the sort. For a start it has 15 ingredients…that’s 15 for mere street food! One of the ingredients Asafetida (Devils Dung) I had never heard of and took some locating…for a 1/4 teaspoons worth in the dish! Prep, being a complete novice, took forever and it did strike me that a dish of essentially tinned sweetcorn and red-skinned peanuts had been made overly & unnecessarily complicated. Of course I was completely wrong. It is the quarter of this and the quarter of that, that makes and transforms the dish from the ordinary to the extraordinary…as you all will probably already know.
The masala was made from fresh green chillies, garlic and root ginger blended into a fine paste with a pinch of salt. Sweetcorn (the main ingredient) and devils dung were added to popped brown mustard seeds. Masala added to the mix and turmeric, then peanuts, salt, coriander and sesame seeds all pretty quickly (5 mins) and before I knew it, hey presto……