Pat's Post Bag
Every day I get emails and letters asking questions or airing queries. I have decided to include them here with my answers. You are welcome to comment on the questions/queries and/or my answers. Please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and Dominique will post them all below. If you have emailed me with a question/query, please check back here in a week or so for your answer.
On 24th March, 2012 - Geoff Pinn emailed:
'Just to say thank you for posting the Lal Maas recipe - can't wait to try it! As I mentioned on Facebook, I am a heat nut, loving your Vindaloo and Phall recipes. That's not to say I don't like other Indian food - I think it is a fantastic cuisine.'
On 19th January, 2012 - Mark Costar emailed:
'...I was wondering if you sell or know where I would be able to buy Indonesian spice pastes in the UK or online? I cook a lot of Indo food but find it a pain making the paste each time. I tend to bring a load home with me each time I visit but always run out way too quickly...'
I am afraid that I don't know any where that sells Indonesian spice pastes. Personally, I tend to make alarge batch and freeze it in small yoghurt pots. Have you tried Burmese Food - log on to www.chinthe.com - they make lovely products.
On 9th July, 2011 - David Croft emailed:
'...I attended one of your Curry Mornings at Grayshott. Confident that living in Reading, I would have no trouble getting hold of all the spices but I cannot find Beetroot Powder or Mace (other than ground and that was Schwartz). I see Beetroot Powder in the Online Shop but not the mace - please let me know if I can get this from you.
I now have a copy of your Curry Bible and I noticed that the Garam Masala recipe has ground ginger, which the recipe in the notes did not. Which is your preferred recipe?
Last question and I think I know the answer to that, can I use the Tandoori Marinade on lamb chops and then BBQ them?...'
Yes, David, both Beetroot and Mace (whole) are hard to find, hence that is why we give our cookery course clients the opportunity to purchase small amounts, (just enough to get you started). There is nothing more annoying that wanting to cook and not having the right ingredients. I have added Whole Mace to our Online Shop.
'...Regarding the Garam Masala Recipe and ground ginger - well, this is up to you. Dominique and I personally like ginger, but not in everything. For example Dominique considers it quite horrid in Bombay Potatoes, so we generally leave it out and use freshly grated when required.
Of course you can use the Tandoori Marinade with lamb chops and this is a recipe that Dominique cooks quite often, as we both really enjoy a plate full, served with Cachumber and Raitha - delicious!...'
On 4th July, 2011 - Gillian Wing, Berkshire emailed:
'...I swear by your Sainsburys Book of Curries to anyone who aks. Everytime I cook from your your book for friends they are all delighted with the results.
Sadly, I have a food intolerance which sets off my IBS and hence I have to be very careful of certain foods. As is the way, the best loved foods are the worst ones and in my case these foods are Onions and Onion family) including Garlic and Sping Onions).
I am told by some Indian friends that in India there are people who will not eat Garlic or Onion (as it 'inflames the passion') and cooked using asafoetida making excellent curries.
Can you recommend a way that I can adapt your recipes to omit in particular the onion (a small amount of garlic could be OK), so that I too can eat your curries and not suffer for 4 days afterwards?...'
Asafoetida is a member of the Umbelliferae family as is coriander and cumin and has no relation to onion. You can add say a half teaspoon to a curry for four. I have not tried this but I wonder if fennel bulb might substitute for onion. It will give you texture albiet a fennel flavour, but it may just work. Please let me know if you have good results.
Have you logged on to www.jainworld.com There is a small collection of recipes that don't use onion or garlic. I haven't tried any of them myself, but would be interested to know what you think of them. I personally like the sound of Panner Dal Curry.
On 29th June, 2011 - Jonathan Hobbs emailed:
'...I've recently started making my own curries and I would love to reproduce a curry I had in Horndean, Hampshire.
It was a Goan/Portuguese dish containing cream, spinach, mushrooms and cheese called Murgh de Gama. I've trawled the internet to no avail, can you possible help?...'
I am sorry to tell you that Murgh de Gama is not an authentic Goan/Portuguese dish, so we can not help with a recipe. Perhaps you could tell me which restaurant you visited?
On 24th June, 2011 - Lynda Chantler emailed:
'...I have your book in the UK but are currently in Spain. The recipes that I wanted are the accompaniments to popadoms - chopped onions and cooling mint yoghurt. From memory they are at the back of your book!...'
On 23rd June, 2011 - Kim Pavitt emailed:
'...Thank you for all your attempts in trying to send the recipe sheets for the Green Thai Curry. I did manage to print off the Green Curry sheet and had fun making the meal for my family with all the fresh ingredients I bought from you. It tasted very authentic and feel that you teaching came to good use as I remembered some of the techniques you showed us. Was pleased with the Wok also - it is much better than my current one.
I was hoping to ask you for one other favour. I would like to have a go as the Pad Thai recipe next week as I have bought the noodles etc and wondered if it would be possible to print off and sent me the course notes. Thank you and apologies - my husband mistakenly thought the documents was the original information pack and inadvertently threw it out, to my dismay, the dustbin men had collected!
When you have opened and used some of the shrimp paste do you need to refrigerate the jar or can it be places back in the cupboard?
I very much enjoyed the course and it has inspired me to look at Indian curry's next...'
I am putting afull set in the post. Nice of your husband to clear up for you. Does he do the washing up too? Or was is just a one off 'flash' of misinspiration!!!? We keep shrimp paste in the fridge. Looking forward to you coming on the Indian course.
On 12th June, 2011 - Louise Anderson, Scottish Borders emailed:
'...We own a copy of Curry Club Favourite Restaurant Curries and love it. I wish to purchase it for my sister and her husband but notice it is out of print and out of stock. We may try to get hold of it second hand somewhere and/or purchase the Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cookbook. I was wondering if the Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cookbook has the recipe for Curry Masala Gravy in it...'
The Curry Club Favourite Restaurant Cookbook, is in stock, but under the title of Homestyle Indian Cooking. It is an American edition, but exactly the same. I have checked in the recipe index of Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cookbook, and there are two gravy recipes - Pakistani Curry Gravy and Savoury Curry Gravy.
On 9th June, 2011 - Norman Randall emailed:
'...I am a Brit living at the moment in the US. I have been here for about 8 years. I remember the Curry Club starting back in the early 80's. I bought your first edition of The Restaurant Curry recipe book and Guide to Good Curry Restaurant. In the move over here the books unfortunately got lost. Is the Restaurant recipe book still available?...'
You are in luck Norman, Pat Chapman's Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cookbook is still available.
On 18th May, 2011 - Tom Rainsbury emailed:
'...Sorry to bother you, but I wondered whether you had time to help me with with what is probably a daft question? I made a batch of ghee a couple of days ago, the third since I attended your cookery course. The first two, made with Anchor butter, were a honey colour and set at room temperature. The third batch, made from Kerrygold butter, came out a beautiful bright lemon colour, but has not set, being a sort of semi liquid. Would this be alright to use, do you thing, or should I put it in the fridge to see if it sets at a cooler temperature?
I will probably find the answer to the former question myself by this evening, as I'll be using it to make your Balti Chicken and Mushroom dish...'
I have made ghee with Anchor butter and it works just fine. I have never used Kerrygold and wonder if it is pure butter and nort margarine or some type of spread. I don't see the point in going to all that effort for anything less than full fat delicious butter!
Ghee (clarified butter) does - in hot weather - refuse to set solid. In the summer, my jars of ghee start to 'melt', but if I put them in the fridge - they set. Perhaps, this is the problem, as the weather is quite sunny at the moment.
Does it smell the same? If it does, then I am sure that it will be OK.
Have a good dinner, we will be thinking of you and your Chicken and Mushroom Balti.
On 18th May, 2011 - Tom Rainsbury emailed:
'...Many thanks for your speedy reply - appreciated by this beginner. Kerrygold is pure butter, so that's not a consideration. Must be the warmer weather, as you suggest. I did my course in late Autumn 2010, so this will be the first of the warmer days since then, so I'm sure you must be right, and I feel reassured.
I'm working my way through the Curry Bible and haven't cooked anything yet which could be regarded as a failure, or that my wife and I haven't liked - many thanks due to you both...'
The Balti was delicious, by the way.
On 20th April, 2011 - Stephen Todd emailed:
I have been cooking my way through your Curry Bible, and have made up a big batch of curry masala, which works for me in small quantity's. The trouble is when I have attempted the gravy with a larger amount of spice the curry is coming out tasting quite powdery. I am adding water to make the paste and frying it in the oil but its still got a dry powder taste. Could you offer me any tips on how to avoid this as the recipes are really nice, but I’m obviously not doing something right.
'...Stephen, make sure you are adding enough water to your spices when making the paste. The paste must be quite sloppy, before you add it to the hot oil for frying. It won't harm the spices/paste if you add too much water. After all you are going to cook this out in the hot oil. Also, make sure you have enough oil in your pan. Again, it won't hurt if you use to much, as the oil will float to the top, (meaning the spice paste is cooked) and at that point you can either spoon it off or use some sheets of kitchen paper to mop it up...'
On 14th April, 2011 - Jane Burke emailed:
'...Ok I'll admit it, for many years I have cheated with Loyd Grossman curry sauces! Going through my old cookery books I found 'The Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cookbook'. It brought back a happy memory of when I followed your recipe for Medium Curry, Restaurant Style (1984). I had a go today and as I had a jar of Waitrose pre-cooked onion base for curries I used it for your recipe. It was quite good and of course much better than a Grossman jar. However, I think it would have been better with your "purée" of onions, garlic and ginger. My question is how much purée would I need for a curry for two people please? The medium curry recipe called for a cup - I probably used about half a cup but did not seem to have enough sauce...'
So, Jane - are you saying that your curry was too dry? If you are, then I suggest you add a little more of the onion purée, tablespoon, by tablespoon. I have never used the Waitrose pre-cooked onion base, so do not know how concentrated it is. Adding more purée could water down the spice base, so be cautious when adding more purée and taste test as you go. Since I published this book, my techniques have changed slightly, perhaps you would like to join me for a cookery course and then you will never need to use a Loyd Grossman or Waitrose jar again!
On 4th April, 2011 - Michael Ainscoe emailed:
'...I read with interest your new recipe for curry masala gravy as I have been using your recipe in your publications for many years and I was wondering if you have any new curry recipes using the old base, perhaps a new book! or can this base be used to replace the old one?...'
Every time I publish a new book, I try not to repeat the old recipes. You can, of course, replace the old curry masala gravy with the new one. However, I now prefer to use the unspiced version, as it means that I can spice my curries individually, which stops everything tasting the same. Like Jane, (above), perhaps you would benefit from one of our Indian Curry Saturday Morning Group Classes.
On 3rd April, 2011 - Ed Birch, Surrey emailed:
'...I am a great fan of your Curry Bible and would like to buy a copy of the New Curry Bible for a good friend, preferably in hardback. Why are Amazon.co.uk showing it as being out of stock?...'
This book is currently out of print with no immediate plans to reprint. We have a few brand new New Curry Bibles in stock and the price reflects its scarity. Hope it will be reprinted.
Updated 19th April, 2011:
I have spoken to my publishers - Blake - and they are going to reprint The New Curry Bible.
In April, 2011 - Mike Kenneavy emailed:
'...Could you please let me have your Mutton Curry recipe. I last had it about 10 years ago but I've moved house twice and misplaced your book. I have tried to order it but you are out of stock...'
I am going to assume that you mean Mutton Xacutti, which is published in my Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cookbook, which, is in stock. So, if you don't manage to locate your copy, you had better order a new one. If you would like me to autograph it for you, please say so in the 'Notes Box.'
In April, 2011 - Elenor Gully emailed:
'...I would love a recipe for Onion Bhajias. We have them often at our local Indian restaurant and love them. I have the chickpea flour ready to go...'
Eleanor! I say this time and time again You DO NOT make Onion Bhajias which chickpea flour. The blonde coloured flour is made from Channa Dal. Anyway, here is your recipe for Onion Bhajias. I have updated this recipe, so readers will find different recipes in different books.
On 6th March, 2011 - Alan Bartlett emailed:
'...How do I find out what restaurants serve free range chicken locally?...'
Most of the 'Indian' restaurants are infact Bangladeshi, they are Muslim, so will usually serve Halal chicken and meat and I doubt that they are free-range. You will find that Indian restaurants, who are owned and run by Indians will be able to accomodate your needs. I have made a few enquiries and can confirm that chef proprietor Manoj Vasaikar Indian Zilla, 2-3, Rocks Lane, Barnes, London. SW13 0DB, serves free-range chicken. Here are a few delicious examples, 'Green Peppercorn Malai Tikka £5.75 - succulent pieces of free-range chicken breast, marinated with green peppercorns, cheese, and cooked in a clay oven, Chicken Miravna £8.25 - a classic free-range chicken dish from the earliest settled community of Mumbai (The Pathare Prabhu) using natural green fresh herbs and spices, Malabar Chicken Curry £8.25 - free-range chicken breast pieces tempered with mustard seeds, whole crushed spices, sliced onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, tomatoes and finished with tamarind and coconut milk and Saffron Chicken Korma £8.25 - free-range chicken breast pieces cooked in a very delicate onion, cashew nut and saffron gravy. Also. Chutney Mary, 535, Kings Road, Chelsea, London. SW10 0SZ, uses 'corn-fed' chicken.
On 4th March, 2011 - Michael Hughes emailed:
'...How would I make a naga curry chicken or lamb that is not too hot...'
A curry using Naga chilli, is by nature, going to be very hot, as the Naga Chilli is the hottest chilli in the world. If you are making a curry at home, I suggest you use only tiny pieces of chilli, bit by bit. Keep tasting, as you cook, then you will achieve the right heat level.
On 4th March, 2011 - Michael Ainscoe emailed:
'...I read recently on a blog on the website with regard to getting the BIR curry flavour and that the main reason was the use of reused oil that was used to cook other dishes and saved and then used to cook curries, make base sauces etc. I was wondering if there was a way that this method could be used in the home kitchen to make curries in this way? The only drawback is that I would need to cook and save a lot of oil! Do you have any suggestions on how to flavour oil in a similar way using spices or something else?...'
I have not experienced British Indian Restaurants saving oil to cook with other curries, make bases etc. However, I save oil. When I cook Popadoms or Onion Bhajias, I let the oil cool, strain through kitchen paper and then bottle to use for cooking more Popadoms or Oniona Bhajias, as cooking both these items, does heavily flavour the oil.
On 21st February, 2011 - Terry Golding emailed:
'...I have read from a website that you are able to produce curries without the use of onions (a vegetable that causes problems for both my wife and I). Could you please recommend where I may buy a copy of any recipe book that you have produced with this information. Thank you for your assistance...'
I haven't produced such a book and I don't know of one. Decades ago, Indian women, who were recently widowed, were not allowed to eat garlic and onion because it was said to be aphrodisiac. Simply try cooking your curries without onion and let us know how you get on.
On 15th February 2011 - Angela Chamberlain emailed:
'...I wondered if you are able to help. I have looked high and low for an authentic recipe for the above restaurant dishes but have drawn a blank. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. My husband and I came on one of your courses and are still using the lovely recipes you made...'
Glad you are well and thanks for the kind remarks. This is from my reference works: Ceylon Curry - The name Ceylon has not been used since 1947, and try as you may, you won't find this curry in Sri Lanka. To curry restaurateurs, the Ceylon, invented, as its name implies in the days before partition, is a hot, creamy, tangy curry, created from the Bhoona by adding coconut milk, dried chillies and lemon juice.
On 6th February, 2011 - Jeff Nekola emailed:
'...Linda and I thought that we should share with you our most recent curry innovation, maybe others would be interested in it as well. We've been working through the 'curry sauce' chapter of you 'Quick Curry' book, and instead of serving these over rice, we've been steaming up a batch of sticky/glutinous rice. We then eat this SE-Asian style, rolling up balls of sticky rice and dipping them in a curry sauce or two. Our favourites so far for theis are the Madras and Sri Lankan sauces (the tomato-based madras works well with the rice balls, while the sri lankan is wondeful with the tart lemon pickle / coconut milk / curry leaf / mustard seeds flavours). Anyhow, a bit 'fusion' but we really like it, and are able to make a single batch of sauce for 2-3 meals, making those quick curries even quicker!
Hope all is well in your part of the world. We just went through the worst cold of the last 30-40 years, with ambient air temps falling to -10?F here in albuquerque, and down to -36?F in other parts of the state. We'll see how our pomegranate bush fares...'
On 5th February, 2011 - Gerry Sundstrem emailed:
'...We constantly make curries and curry masala gravy, stock, and the curry bases out of the favourite restaurant curries book. These go towards making marvelous curries and we are forever grateful for such a great book. In it, to do the curry masala gravy, the recipe asks for one recipe of onion puree. You advocate freezing the onion puree in yogurt pots, but is one recipe onion puree not the full quantity (about 5lb) required to make the curry masala gravy? That’s what we usually use, but not always the full 5lb quantity. Would appreciate an answer in case we are missing something...'
Thanks for the kind remarks. The 5lb c2kg amount is large of course. And it is meant to save time, effort and wash up. Hence freeze the spare. In my view 454g -500g is enough sauce / gravy for one curry for four to six to which the main ingredient(s) is (are) added. You may wish to try this new(ish) recipe which I have been using for some time. Add your spice mix(es) / curry paste(s) to this and you have a great curry base.
Makes over 500ml Curry Masala Sauce
- 40ml (c3 tablespoons) vegetable oil
- 1/2 to l litre water
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 x 225g whole onions, peeled (2 large)
- 1/2 carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 green pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Put the oil and water into a 2.25 litre (4 pint) saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Lower the heat and add the onions, fennel and garlic stirring as needed until they have become translucent.
- Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add the salt.
- Mulch the mixture down using a hand or jug blender, until you achieve a gravy-like purée (the texture of Covent Garden Soups).
- To preserve the finished Curry Masala Sauce, fill a large yoghurt pot, pop on its lid and freeze.
On 15th January, 2011 - Pat Knowles emailed:
'...I have been making curries at home for many years, although the dishes I make are enjoyed by friends and family I have never achieved the restaurant flavour. After stagnating with my recipes for a while I decided it was time to reignite the passion, this led me to your 'New Curry Bible" after a bit of research in to what was available.
I have a couple of questions. In the Curry Gravy Masala recipe it says at the end to add the curry masala paste to it. Is that the end of the process? The reason I ask this is because at this point the curry masala paste is uncooked, only mixed with water. I thought the gravy tasted very harsh and wondered if this was the reason.
Should the curry masala paste be cooked in ghee before it is used in the curry masala gravy, the curry masala paste recipe is unclear, it says to cook it in ghee before use but it says to use the amount of ghee specified in the recipe it is to be used in. The only ghee specified in the gravy recipe is used for the initial cooking of garlic ginger and onions. I have since tried cooking the paste in a couple of spoons of ghee before adding to the gravy and it did seem better, could you advise me of the correct method. Just one other question, on page 96 the Medium Curry Gravy recipe calls for two tablespoons of VEGETABLE ghee I thought ghee only came from butter so can you tell me what vegetable ghee is made from...'
Yes, cook the Curry Masala Paste first and then add to the Curry Gravy Masala. Two tablespoons of oil or ghee should be fine. In answer to your second question, Vegetable Ghee is Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil. However, Dominique makes Butter Ghee and that is what I always use, as I am not a vegetarian.
On 10th January, 2011 - Tony emailed:
'...Thanks for getting me into Indian cooking. It's the whole families favourite food. I have a large collection of your books, but I can't find a recipe for hot meat which is found as a startrer on takeaway menus and I was wondering if you have a recipe for hot meat...'
Thanks for your kind remarks. I've not ever seen 'hot meat' on takeaway menus. Please describe it.
On 12th January, 2011 - Tony replied:
'...The best way to describe hot meat is it has a rich medium thick gravy which is spicy with a hint of creaminess and I can taste black cummin and cardamom and I think its cayenne rather than chilli. It is garnished with fresh coriander and chillu slices. Any ideas?...'
Though I have never come across this, I would use lamb or beef cubes which is precooked to tender. For one portion, I would fry half a teaspoon black cummin, a couple of crushed green cardomom pods and seeds in 2 or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, then add 2 or 3 or more teaspoons of extra hot chilli powder. (Cayenne can be many things depending on the supplier). Add a cupful of curry gravy, (see my Curry Bible), and the meat and serve when hot. Tinker with salt, sugar optional. As for creaminess. Does it come from actual cream or just the overall dish? What do you think?
On 5th January, 2011 - Nick Addy emailed:
'...I have an enquiry regarding your book 'The New Curry Bible'. I'm delighted with the book and the results that I am achieving by following your recipes. I have a little problem with the Aloo Gobi Methi recipe on page 156. There is no indication of the quantity of dried methi to use, nor any mention of methi leaves in the instructions. I do apologise if I have missed something but if this is a printing error I would be very grateful if you could let me know the correct details...'
Thanks for the kind remarks. We've not had this query before, so Dominique will check the recipe. But I would use between 1 and 3 teaspoons dried methi leaf, depending on how much you like the taste of methi. It's a favourite of mine.
On 24th September, 2010 - Jan Nunes emailed:
'...I would like to make the Curry Masala Gravy as listed in your book INDIAN VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK, but do not know what I should use for the "1-6 tablespoons chilli powder" that is available in the USA. Is there a comparable spice here - is there a recpie? Or, should I order it from your shop? I am looking forward to trying the recipe. Thanks in advance...'
If you need to know anything about chillies (UK) or chili (USA), ask my good friend Dave Dewitt. There is nothing he does not know about growing them, eating them or cooking with them. Find him at www.fiery-foods.com
On 23rd September, 2010 - Chris Chen emailed:
'...I very rarely ever write to authors for which I feel guilty. Just wanted to say that after a few years of enjoying your book which I still in use, I particularly liked your photo of essential ingredients, (the store cupboard packed with stuff) which gave a glimpse of your humour and your excellent taste in packaging. I thank you for the book which is really good. I also liked the way you depicted and described spices...'
It is always good for an author to hear from his readers and surprisingly few and far between. So many thanks for your kind remarks. Dominique and I designed the layouts, supplied the props and cooked for all the photos in my Bible trilogy including the store cupboard, which I was particularly pleased with. The shots were taken by a professional photographer. The publishers wanted those blurred out of focus trendy close-ups which I hate, so there was a bit of tension about them, but most people like our end results.
On 26th August, 2010 - Andrea Lloyd emailed
'...I am intrested in buying your magazines would you please let me know what issues are available an how I go about ordering them...'
We have very limited stock available, they are all listed in Our Shop
On 27th June, 2010 - Phil Young emailed:
'...Pat I have tried to get a copy of your Curry Club Indian Restaurant Cookbook here in Australia, with no success. Can I order it via your website & have it sent to Australia. I have a copy myself that I got many years ago when I was still living in the UK, but are looking for a copy for a friend here in Australia. I am also interested in purchasing your Modern Indian Restaurant Cookbook - is that also available...'
Yes, Phil, all my cookery books are listed on my website. If you would like them dedicated to you ror your friend, please let me know in the Notes Box.
On 19th June, 2010 - Frank Deal emailed:
'...Having attended one of your courses a little under two years ago . I have managed to misplace the hand out within which is the receipe to make the mint sauce all of my friends rave about. Please could you remind me of the ingredients and how to prepare this sauce which I have to say is a great deal better than any other mint sauce that I have eaten in any other curry house since...'
You are quite right Frank, it is simply delicious! Here is the recipe - Mint and Yoghurt Dip