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100 Days • 100 Curries
Join us as we continue with our curry challenge of eating 100 curries in 100 days…
Day Sixty Two Dish: Chicken Recheade Origin:Goa Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Basmati Steamed Rice
For such a smallstate Goa certainly has some great dishes and Recheade is another one of those. As much a pickling paste as a curry it is made by combining red dried chillies, black pepper, garlic, ginger, and spices with vinegar to form a paste that is used to marinate the chicken then cooked with chopped onions, tomato paste and garam masala. As with many Goan dishes it combines Indian and Portuguese styles of cooking and ingredients.
Day Sixty One Dish: Ginger Chicken Origin:North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice
This chicken curry is infused with the bold flavours of ginger and is popular in North India. Lovers of Chinese food will be drawn to the freshness of the ginger that is used in paste form and freshly chopped during the cooking process with julienne strips used as garnish for good measure.
Day Sixty Dish: Kashmiri Curry Origin: Kashmir Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Mushroom Pilau Rice
Fruit is without doubt a love it or hate it choice when it comes to curry. From the region in the north-west of India this recipe includes apple, nuts and is topped with caramelised bananas but you can also add mangoes, lychees or raisins. It creates a mild, tangy and naturally fruity curry. Love it or hate it?
Day Fifty Nine Dish: Hara Jhinga Origin:Goa Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Chapati
Hara Jhinga (Prawns in a Green Sauce) has all the ingredients of a classic South Indian dish – prawns, coconut milk and chillies. It is is fresh tasting and really quick and easy to make and the green sauce makes a great change from the usual tomato-based sauces.
As with other Thai curries the colour of the curry refers to the colour of the chillies used in the cooking process. Although not as well known as the green and red versions, yellow curries reman popular and are cooked in the same way. A paste (including the chillies, shrimp paste, lemongrass, shallots and garlic) is cooked with coconut milk, then the main ingredient is added with vegetables.
Day Fifty Seven Dish: Chicken Dopiaza Origin: Persia (Iran) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice
Dopiaza is the restaurant favourite for onion lovers, as it was in the royal courts during the Mogul era. Originally a dish from Persia, Dopiaza means “two onions” and gives it name to this curry because onions are used twice in the recipe (in the Base Curry Sauce and towards the end when the fried onions are added).
Day Fifty Six Dish: Sag Paneer Origin: North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Nan
This dish is more accurately Palak (Spinach) Paneer but a lot of menus label it as Sag (Greens) Paneer. The dish can be cooked with spinach that is chopped and sweated down or puréed depending on your preference. Both work well with a little spice and the Indian cottage cheese. It is served as a main or side dish in restaurants and is a popular dish in roadside restaurants in India, where it is a winter favourite.
Day Fifty Five Dish: Mauritian Fish Curry with Aubergine Origin: Mauritius Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Steamed Basmati Rice
Take one Indian Ocean island with great fishing around it’s coral reefs and add a huge Indian diaspora and it’s not surprising you can get great fish curries in Mauritius. Simply create a mildish sauce with spices and curry leaves and add delicious fresh fish with aubergine slices.
Day Fifty Four Dish: Aloo Gobi Origin:India and Pakistan Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Nan Potato is the all-time favourite for side dishes and cauliflower is its popular partner. It’s very simple to make with cooked potato and cauliflower pieces added to some Base Curry Sauce. Both vegetables work well with the sauce and soak it up nicely so you get a double dose of flavours and textures.
Day Fifty Three Dish: Green Chilli Chicken Origin: Bangalore (South India) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice
Green in appearance and with plenty of green chillies, this South Indian dish is dryish and fiery in heat. The dish is also sometimes Andhra Chilli Chicken as a nod to the heat from that neighbouring state. It’s a quick dish to make, with the chicken first marinated with the chillies, coriander, curry leaves, garlic, ginger and yoghurt, then added to a sauce of onions, tomato and mixed with spices.
Day Fifty Two Dish: Naga Chicken Origin:Nagaland (north-east India) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice
Nagaland is one of the smallest states in India with a population of fewer than two million people. Located in the far north-east of the country, bordering Myanmar (formerly Burma) it is famed for the super hot Naga Chilli. Used in curries it gives a slightly sweet and tart flavour as well as fierce heat, producing a dish that is on par with a Vindaloo in the hot stakes.
Day Fifty One Dish: Curried Mussels Origin:Modern Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: French bread
The classic mussels dish is the Belgian speciality of mussels cooked in a white wine sauce with shallots. This version adds the mussels to spices and coconut milk to produce a mild curried dish.
Day Fifty Dish: Devil’s Curry Origin: Malaysia Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Steamed Rice
The history of the Devil’s Curry bears stark similarity to that of the Indian Vindaloo. Portuguese explorers, much like in Goa, landed in the coastal state of Malacca in Malaysia during the late 15th century. A transgression by early explorers towards the rulers of Malacca resulted in their incarceration, which in turn led to a full-scale invasion by the Portuguese during the early 16th century. During the 30 years of occupation that followed, Portuguese sailors were encouraged by their king to take up wives and start families. The history books have established this period as the origin of the creole ethnic people of Portuguese and Malaccan descent known as the Kristang people. It is the European-Asian fusion cuisine of the Kristang people that, like in Goa, brought together local spicing and Portuguese chillies. The Devil’s Curry truly is Malaysia’s answer to the Vindaloo and is courtesy @thecurriedlondoner.
Day Forty Nine Dish: Vegetable Curry Origin: India and Pakistan Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice and Chapati
There are 1.3 billion people in India and 55 million in the Indian diaspora across the world. Hundreds of millions of these are vegetarians so there is naturally a huge number of vegetable curries. This is the staple British Indian restaurant vegetable curry. Take a good serving of your Base Curry Sauce, add a bit of garlic, a sprinkle of spice and the vegetables for a great medium-strength curry. Garnish with fresh coriander.
Day Forty Eight Dish: Sri Lankan Salmon Curry Origin: Sri Lanka Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Steamed Rice
As with many South Indian dishes, Sri Lankan cuisine combines the spices of India with the creaminess of the coconut and tanginess of tamarind to create that delicious taste of the coast. Fish is an abundant resource in Sri Lanka and while it is usually cooked in chunks, with a little extra patience and care cooking the salmon whole absorbs the flavours well and looks great too. You’ll need a large, flat-bottomed pan to cook the salmon darnes whole or split the sauce into two pans.
Day Forty Seven Dish: Prawn Korma Origin: India (Mughlai) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice
In Britain Korma is associated with a mild, creamy and often sweet curry. It is, however, a style of cooking where meat is braised in ghee then slowly cooked in added sauces and there are, in fact, hot and spicy kormas. This is a restaurant-style version so it includes plenty of yoghurt and cream (although no coconut cream) and works well with the briny shellfish.
Day Forty Six Dish: Karahi Paneer Origin: North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: PilauRice
Named after the pot in which it is cooked this is also known as Kadhai Paneer. The wide, deep circular pot is popular for cooking all over the sub-continent but especially North India and Pakistan. A karahi masala is made by dry roasting and grinding whole, aromatic spices then adding it to a tomato and onion gravy with red peppers and cream.
Day Forty Five Dish: Manchurian Paneer Origin: Kolkata (Indo-Chinese) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Chapati
This is an Indo-Chinese dish that combines the flavours and cooking techniques of both India and China. The chunks of cheese are fried in a chilli batter then stir fried with garlic, ginger, pepper and spy sauce and top with spring onions. The cuisine emerged from a group of Chinese people, now numbering 2,000, in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and there are a number of restaurants serving the hybrid cuisine in Chinatown in the city.
Day Forty Four Dish: Achari Chicken Origin: North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice or Chapati
Achari Chicken is for lovers of pickling spices. Take a good serving of the Base Curry Sauce, add some chicken, a bit of garlic and a sprinkle of spice for a great medium-strength curry. Just with salty, tangy pickles. There is a similar Bengali dish called Shatkora Chicken that uses the shatkora citrus that is native to the Sylet region of Bangladesh, the area a large number of the owners, chefs and waiting staff running the Indian restaurants in Britain hail from.
Day Forty Three Dish: Prawn Balchão Origin: Goa Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Steamed Basmati Rice or Chapati
For such a small state Goa has a rich and varied cuisine. Drawing on influences from Portuguese (who ruled Goa for 450 years until 1961) and Indian cooking and naturally using the the abundant fish and shellfish Goa has produced some superb dishes. Prawn Balchão is one of them. The fiery prawn dish, considered a pickle by many, includes dried chillies, peppercorns and tamarind to create a hot but tart flavour.
Day Forty Two Dish: Egg and Potato Curry Origin: Punjab Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: As it is
Few people consider egg curries yet it makes a popular dish in India and Pakistan. In this Punjabi-style recipe, boiled eggs are sealed then added to a tomato sauce that has been infused with aromatic whole spices. The addition of the potato means it can eaten as it is although rice goes well with it.
Day Forty One Dish: Chicken Pasanda Origin: North India and Pakistan Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry”(see recipe here) Eat with: Steamed rice
This is another dish from the famed and Mughal era when dishes were rich and luxurious. This is a chicken version although traditionally the dish cooked with goat or lamb that is flattened, marinated then cooked in aromatic spices. Using a whole chicken breast makes a nice change from the usual chunks of most curry dishes and no-one can dispute that the yoghurt, nuts and pepper combination create a dish worthy of the famous royal courts from the 17th century.
Day Forty Dish: Mauritian Vegetable Biryani Origin: Mauritius Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry”(see recipe here) Eat with: Chutneys
Biryani is a popular dish all over the sub-continent and among the Indian disapora. In Mauritius you’ll find it everywhere: in restaurants, hotels and on street corners, with many people selling portions of their homemade dishes out the back of their cars or on small stalls to raise a few extra rupees. During the Hindu celebration of Ganesh’s Chaturthi locals will eat only vegetarian food and biryani makes the perfect celebration dish. Rice and the other ingredients are mixed together with whole and ground spices and slow cooked to create a fragrant, rich dish. Biryani is a celebration dish and this vegetable version from Mauritius and party pre-cooks ingredients before layering them and leaving covered so all the flavours infuse. You can cook the rice while the vegetables are cooking but keep an eye on it as you don’t want to overcook it.
The famous Kathi Rolls are from the streets of Calcutta in West Bengal but they are now famous all over the world. The rolls are ideal for commuters eating on the go and would traditionally have included meat, fried onion and spices in a paratha. Today Kathi Roll has become a catch-up phrase for any spicy wrap so you are likely to find it will all sorts of fillings.
Day Thirty Eight Dish: Sauce Rouge Curry Origin: Mauritius Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry”(see recipe here) Eat with: Rice and fried potatoes
A popular Mauritian dish, Sauce Rouge Curry (simply meaning Red Sauce Curry) combines ingredients used in Indian and European cooking and reflects the rich history of this Indian Ocean island. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on the island in the 16th century and the small African state was subsequently ruled by the Dutch, French and British so it has drawn on a range of cuisines. Today’s population is diverse in ethnicity but has a predominantly Indian population who are descendants of the half a million indentured labourers brought to Mauritius in the 19th century and early 20th century.
Day Thirty Seven Dish: Chicken JalfreziStir-Fry Origin: Bengal Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Butter nan
Jalfrezi means spicy stir-fry and originates from West Bengal (now in Bangladesh) dating back to the days of the Raj. The chefs of the day brought together meat and vegetables leftovers from the huge Raj banquets in a stir-fry added just a little spice and allowed the dish to cook in it’s own juices. Today the bright colours and varied tastes of the peppers, onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves has made this one of the most poplar dishes in Britain but inevitably it has morphed into something different and includes a healthy dose of Base Curry Sauce. This is the stir-fry version, quick, tasty and fresh.
Day Thirty Six Dish: Curried Sausages Origin: Australia Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry”(see recipe here) Eat with: Chunks of bread
This feels like a dish that time forgot. Almost certainly taken to Australia by emigrating Brits in the 1950s or ’60s it’s got all the nostalgia of food served up by granny. And Australia’s contribution to the curry world is great. Very simply it combined fried or baked sausages (preferably spicy) with onions, potatoes, peas and carrots, all in a mild curry sauce that is little more than curry powder, flour and water.
Day Thirty Five Dish: Sweet and Sour Prawns (Kolmi No Patio) Origin: Persia (Iraq) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry”(see recipe here) Eat with: Basmati rice
The Parsees brought their signature sweet and sour dishes to India when they moved from Persia (Iraq) to escape persecution in the 7th century. Their best known dish is Dhansak and most people plump for chicken but this dish shows just how perfect prawns are when combined with the sweet (jaggery) and sour (tamarind) tastes. Cook the prawns with the shells on to absorb all the beautiful flavours.
Day Thirty Four Dish: Murgh Nawabi Origin: Lucknow, North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry”(see recipe here) Eat with: Basmati rice
This is a dish from the predominantly Muslim city of Lucknow in North India and dates back hundreds of years to the era of the Nawab-Wazirs (who goverened what was known as the state of Awadh at the time). The Nawabs were the royal leaders that followed the great Mughlai era and they were renowned for their great excess. This rich dish of yoghurt, cream, nuts and sultanas is certainly one that fits the bill.
Day Thirty Three Dish: Peppers Stuffed with Chilli and Garlic Mushrooms Origin: Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry’s” kitchen Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry”(see recipe here) Eat with: Nothing else
Mushrooms are superwhen curried and go excellently with chillies and garlic. You’ll need to chop them up for stuffing but bear in mind that they shrink considerably when cooked as you don’t want them too small. There is a little bit of work hollowing out the peppers but they work well when cut lengthways. Leaving the stalk on is a nice touch for the presentation. The actual cookng is simple enough. Once the mushrooms are fried in a little butter they can be added to a simple mix of spices plus lots of garlic and chillies.
Day Thirty Two Dish: Pakistan Fish Curry Origin: Pakistan Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Mushroom rice
Pakistani Fish Curry, also called Sindhi Fish Curry, is made by marinating pieces of white fish in yoghurt with garlic and spices. Whole spices are then fried, then onion, tomato and chillies added before the fish pieces are cooked. The dish is a popular winter dish and is traditionally cooked using pomfret, but you can use any firm, white fish.
Day Thirty One Dish: North Indian Handi Origin: North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Nan
Handi refers to the broad-based pots in which the dish is traditionally cooked. Handi pots are used all over the sub-continent resulting in thousands of versions of this chicken dish. This is the archetypal NorthIndian Handi, courtesy of @TheCurriedLondoner, producing a glossy, onion and tomato-based gravy, wrapped around boneless chicken thighs, finshed with a splash of cream.
Day Thirty Dish: Muglai Malai Kofta Origin: North Indian (Mughlai) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Basmati rice
This deliciously rich dish dates back to the Mughal empire, which ruled India for over 300 years from the 16th century. The cuisine combined central asian cuisine, where the Mughals originated from, with the Indian cuisine and spices, creating a wealth of rich, aromatic and often creamy dishes. Few fit that description better than this Mughlai Malai Kofta – meatballs in a creamy sauce. For some reason meatballs are often overlooked in Indian restaurants, yet they work so well, especially with the saucy, creamier dishes. Be careful when pan-frying the meatballs so they don’t break up or cook them in the oven.
Day Twenty Nine Dish: Muttar Paneer Origin: North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Basmati rice
Paneer is an Indian cheese that is made by bringing full-cream milk to a boil then adding vinegar or lemon juice so that it curdles. Once the excess moisture has been pressed out and it’s cooled a soft, crumbly cheese forms. It’s best served after frying it so the edges are crispy and the middle soft – and it’s delicious with creamy dishes like this North Indian favourite.
Day Twenty Eight Dish: Lamb Bhoona Origin: Punjab Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau rice
Bhoona (or Bhuna) is a style of cooking where whole spices are cooked in hot oil to bring out the flavours. The flavours in the oil then infuse all the other ingredients that are added to the dish. The dish is cooked very slowly so the moisture evaporates from the sauce that is added. Because no extra water is added during the cooking process the end result is a dry dish with the chosen meat coated in the thick, rich sauce, rather than swimming in it.
Day Twenty Seven Dish: Chicken Chilli Dry Fry Origin: Indo-Chinese Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Aloo Ghobi
Chicken Chilli Dry is an Indo-Chinese stir-fry dish, combining flavours from Indian and Chinese cuisines. It first developed along border areas, where people swapped ideas and ingredients, and developed new dishes but it’s particularly renowned among the Hakka Chinese a small group of people who settled in Kolkota from China. This dish is a very hot, dry dish and should always be served fresh.
Day Twenty Six Dish: Butter Chicken Origin: Punjab Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau rice
It’s a quarter of the way through my challenge and it’s pretty hot. Tuna Salad anyone? Alas I have a milestone to celebrate so I’m making the tasty Butter Chicken. My friend, who’s a chef, says he doesn’t use standard butter when he makes it, just a lot of ghee (clarified butter) while my other friend who’s a big fan of the dish says he likes a bit of coconut in his Butter Chicken. For the record I use butter straight from the pack and no coconut and I reckon it’s spot on. Lot’s of butter by the way. And double cream. And sugar. Dieters please refer to Tuna Salad above.
Day Twenty Five Dish: Panang (Phaenaeng) Curry Origin: Thailand Where: Green Dragon, Liphook, Hampshire, England Eat with: Jasmine rice
Panang Curry is a spicy Thai dish with coconut and peanuts. The paste, like the red and green pastes includes galangal, shrimp paste and lemongrass for that distinctive Thai flavour, with a heafty dose of red chillies for the kick. Chicken is excellent in Panang Curry, although the pork and vegetarian versions are popular. As with other Thai dishes the vegetables should be sauteéd and tasty sweet and sour flavours enjoyed with rice.
Day Twenty Four Dish: Ibe Katsu Curry (Deep-fried prawns in curry sauce) Origin: Japan Where: Zaibatsu, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, England Eat with: Steamed rice
Japan’s main contribution to the curry world is Katsu Curry and it’s a dish that is gaining in popularity as curry lovers go in search of different dishes. It’s usually served with a breaded chicken (like a wiener schnitzel) but I plump for the prawn version. At the tiny, but popular, Zaibatsu three very large prawns are served with a mound of sticky rice with Japanese curry sauce (think chip shop sauce) plus potatoes and carrots.
Japanese curry sauce is known as Tonkatsu sauce and it is made from purees of vegetables and fruit combined with vinegar and yeast. As with the sauce served in British chip shops or Chinese takeaways, the sauce is made by combing a pre-bought block of it with oil, flour and water. It creates a pretty standard, mild and sweetish curry sauce that can, more or less, be poured over anything that takes your fancy.
Day Twenty Three Dish: Chicken Tikka Masala Origin: British Indian Restaurants (probably in Scotland) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau rice, chapati
Is there a more famous curry dish in Britain than this delightful mix of marinated chicken pieces cooked in a tandoor then mixed with a creamy, tomato and onion sauce? Some reports say Jalfrezi or even the humble Korma has become the nation’s favourite. But Chicken Tikka Masala, which rocketed to fame when the-then Foriegn Secretary Robin Cook said it was “a true national dish”, remains ubiquitous. It remains hugely popular in restaurants, it’s a staple of every supermarket when it comes to ready-made curries, if a pub has just one curry on the menu it’s probably this dish. Quite frankly it’s hard to avoid, whether you’re shopping for sandwiches, pastas or pizzas.
It was created in Britain – where exactly depends on who you listen to, but evidence points to a restaurant in a Scotland – when an enterprising chef realised Chicken Tikka was too dry for the local palates so added it to a moreish sauce. It might have it’s detractors who are after ‘authentic’ dihses – although it does have roots in the north Indian Chicken Makhani – but there’s no denying it’s very tasty.
Day Twenty Two Dish: Chicken Chettinad Origin: South India Where: Mogul, Church Street, Greenwich, England Eat with: Basmati rice, chapati
Chicken Chettinad is one of my favourite dishes. The south Indian classic combines chillies, mustard seeds and coconut – and tonight myself and Mogul restaurant owner Mr Dev have chosen on-the-bone chicken for extra flavour. But it’s a night tinged with a sadness because this legendary restaurant, which has been in Greenwich for 40 years (the last 33 of them under the auspices of the same family), is about to close. Barring a last-minute solution, overheads, red tape and the effects of the lockdown mean that I could be eating the last curry ever served by the Mogul.
Chettinad is a region in Tamil Nadu, a large state in the far south east of the country. The cuisine of the area comes from a community called the Nattukotai Chettiars, who, as renowned traders, picked up goods and ideas from across the country and beyond. I thank them for this fine curry.
Day Twenty One Dish: Chicken Dubby Origin: Bengal Where: The Taste of Raj, Blackheath, England Eat with: Pilau rice
Chicken Dubby is a Bengali dish I’m told. It’s a pretty mild curry I’d say, in a thin curry sauce. tasty enough but probably lacking in the kick I’d expected. The menu says it’s a medium hot curry with Kashmiri chillies, garlic, ginger, onions and a chef’s special sauce.
Paneer Shashlik is a popular North Indian kebab that is made up of chunks of cottage cheese, peppers, onions and tomatoes. Cooked in the tandoor, it’s served with iconic charrred edges and is delicious with chapati and your favourite pickles or chutneys.
Paneer is Indian cottage cheese that is made with full cream milk that is heated then curdled by adding vinegar or lemon juice. Once drained and cooled a delicious firm (but airy) cheese forms. Paneer is used in many Indian dishes and is excellent with kebabs as retains its shape and does not melt easily.
Day Nineteen Dish: Chicken Jalfrezi Origin: Bengal/British Indian Restaurants Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Garlic nan
Jalfrezi has become one of the most popular restaurant curries, with Base Curry Sauce mixed with different coloured peppers, onions, tomatoes and chillies to create a lovely range of tastes and colours. In true British restaurant-style it has evolved into something quite different from the original Chicken Jalfrezi, where the ingredients are cooked in their own juices.
The dish originated in Bengal when chefs, accompanying the hunters on expeditions, would have to rustle up what they could, so they created a stir-fry dish that would almost certainly have included meat. It could be said to be the ultimate mash-up or leftovers dish.
Day Eighteen Dish: Prawn Rogan Origin: British Indian Restaurants Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice
This dish was created by the Indian restaurants in Britain and bears little similarity the dish it emerged from: Rogan Josh. A medium-strength dish, it’s based on a classic curry with the addition of the extra tomatoes and red pepper added to the Base Curry Sauce to mimic the redness of the authentic lamb version. There’s no denying that prawns work well though with the saltiness of the shellfish providing a nice counter to the tartness of the tomatoes.
Day Seventeen Dish: Lamb Curry Origin: Throughout India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Pilau Rice
The classic Lamb Curry is one of the most popular dishes on the menus of Indian restaurants. Thick, dark and meaty, whqt’s not to like?
For many people lamb is the tender meat of tiny little animals who spent their brief lives leaping through the flowers in the sunshine across the mountainside. There are a lot of grey areas (including variations from country to country when it comes to laws regarding descriptions) which makes it the meat that is almost certainly the most open to “incorrect” descriptions by less-than-honest waiters and butchers.
Lamb is certainly the tenderest of sheep meat and is from a sheep up to one year old. In reality, if you buy lamb or see it on a menu then it could be up to two years’ old (if aged from one year to two year sheep are called hoggets, but the term is rarely used except by farmers and the people who buy the meat from them). As lambs are slaughtered from a month old, just what you are getting when it comes to lamb, can therefore vary hugely. Young (or baby) lamb is meat from a lamb under 8 weeks and spring lamb meat from a lamb 3-5 months old.
Day Sixteen Dish: Lasuni Mutton (Mutton with garlic) Origin: Throughout India and Nepal Where: Mountain View, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, England Eat with: Pilau Rice
Lasuni means garlic in Nepalese so this dish is simply mutton with lots of garlic. There is a dark sauce befitting the dark meat and you are pretty much guaranteed a few slivers of garlic in every mouthful. Definitions of sheep is probably the least understood of all meats by diners and buyers. Any sheep meat from an animal over two years’ old is mutton. It is certainly not considered lower quality meat and would be the preferred choice in many dishes – it’s certainly excellent in this dish. The meat will be darker than lamb (sheep meat gradually darkens with age) and despite it being tougher (muscle sinews develop with age) fans of mutton say it’s tastier than lamb. Mutton requires longer cooking time than lamb but as this is normal for many traditional curries it is a natural choice for the chef.
Day Fifteen Dish: Keema Kukhura (Mince with chicken) Origin: Nepal Where: Gurkha’s Inn, Colomb Street, Greenwich, England Eat with: Garlic nan
This is the first Curry Club meeting for months and there’s a festive spirit in the air, with even the grumpiest of members raising a smile or two. I plump for my favourite dish in the Gurkha’s Inn: Keema Kukhura, which is chicken with mince. Just to clarify, this is not a dish of chicken mince, it’s a dish that comprises chicken chunks and mince. The dish makes no attempt at ‘delicate this’ or ‘balanced this’, it’s simply a spicy meat feast. And I love it.
It’s not a dish you’ll find in many places so I always tuck in when I visit this restaurant. It’s naturally thick in dryish sauce that is medium spiced. It’s particularly good when washed down with a cold Gurkha beer.
Day Fourteen Dish: Chicken Chilli Masala Origin: Punjab Where: Mogul, Church Street, Greenwich, England Eat with: Pilau Rice
The Mogul is the Curry Club’s restaurant of the year so it was a pleasure to join the owner Mr Dev for a curry after lockdown.The Mogul has been the beating Indian heart of Greenwich centre for 40 years so the owner’s recommendation it was: Punjabi Chicken Chilli Chicken. The classic tomato, garlic and ginger sauce with fresh chillies was the business. Fresh chillies just have that heat to cut through the sauce and each mouthful forces a sharp in-take of breath, so beloved of heat lovers. A delight.
Hot, hearty dishes such as this are much beloved in North India and it’s not surprising that they have become hugely popular in British Indian restaurants. Thick sauce and that cutting fresh chilli heat are great for lovers of the old-school Madras and Vindaloo dishes.
Day Thirteen Dish: Smoker Chicken Tikka Origin: North India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Wrap, salad and mayo
Chicken Tikka is an absolute classic North Indian dish. With the help of a friend who’s in the know of “how to use a smoker properly” it’s time for a classic dish twist: Smoker Chicken Tikka. A smoker works by cooking the meat (or whatever) with the heat of the smoke and not direct heat. There are electric smokers but we used a traditional one. There are two chambers and the wood is burnt in the first to create the coals. Apple or hickory wood soaked in water are added to the coals t create more smoke and add flavour. The smoke drifts through to the second chamber where (in this case) the marinated chicken is waiting. The residual smokey heat cooks the meat very slowly (and very smokily).
We used deboned chicken thighs which had been marinated in our Tandoori Marinade for a few hours. Chicken breast will dry out too much and meat on the bone takes hours to cook in a smoker. We then placed the meat in the part of the second chamber furthest from the first chamber to avoid the direct heat and left it for 90 minutes, turning it once.
The result was nicely cooked chicken with the slightly charred edges you’ll get from a tandoor. But it was way more more smokier than a tandoor, which uses direct heat and smoke for cooking. Wraps with salad and mayo or spicy sauce make the wait worthwhile.
Day Twelve Dish: Chringri Malai Curry (Prawns with coconut milk) Origin: Bengal Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Basmati Steamed Rice
Chringri Malai Curry (also known as Bengali Malai Prawns) is a dish, not surprisingly, from Bengal, the region that straddles east India and Bangladesh. The dish includes coconut milk, an ingredient that is rarely used in British Indian Restaurant Style dishes despite many of the restaurants being run by Bengalis. I’ve no idea why this isn’t as much a staple as Jalfrezi (another dish of Bengali origin), Dopiaza or Dhansak.
To make it prawns are marinated in chilli flakes, turmeric and salt and combined with coconut milk to create a beautiful coastal favourite. The addition of sugar to the mustard oil creates a beautiful red colour, something akin to the Red Thai Curry.
Chringri Malai Curry is a celebration dish which would be served at weddings and birthdays and the prawns are cooked with the shells and heads lefts on for taste and presentation.
Day Eleven Dish: Chicken Curry (Chinese takeaway-style) Origin: UK/China Where: Noodle Time, Nelson Road, Greenwich, England Eat with: Egg Fried Rice The curries from Chinese takeaways are not a patch on the richer, more nuanced Indian curries. But every so often they have a strange attraction, especially after a couple of pints. As simple as the curries your gran used to make, they are little more than some curry paste or powder added to water plus the main ingredients (chicken, pork, shrimps etc) and some al-dente vegetables. The ones I grew up with were simply chicken and an absolute mass of sliced onions. This version from the value-for-money Noodle Time included green peppers, onions, mushrooms and for some reason just a single piece of red pepper.
Chinese restaurants first appeared in the UK in the 1880s to service the visiting Chinese students and seamen. They boomed after World War Two when the servicemen returned from Hong Kong in search of the food they had discovered while away. Hong Kongers filled the slots and because their food is dominated by Cantonese that’s the main style of food found in UK restaurants and takeaways.
According to a survey by KPMG in 2019 Brits favourite takeaway food is Chinese, ahead on Indian food and fish and chips. I’m not sure many people would claim this type of curry is particularly Chinese though.
Day Ten Dish: Thai Green Chicken Curry (kaeng khiao wan) Origin: CentralThailand Where: Oscars, Calle Cruz, Fuengirola, Spain Eat with: Chips or Jasmine Steamed Rice
This is a rather rapid return to Thai food so soon into the challenge but Oscars did such a good Red Thai Curry that it had to be done. The Thai Green Curry has three little chillies next to it in the menu so it’s rated higher than the red in the heat stakes. Who am I to argue with a Thai chef? Although I probably upset her by going rogue with my side of chips. Chips are delicious dipped in the thin sauce but don’t have the soakability of rice so it’s always a trade off.
Green Thai hails from Central Thailand with the name (like the red curry) stemming from the colour of the chillies used. As with the red the paste is made up of chilli peppers, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, coriander and lemongrass and then cooked with coconut milk. And as with red curry it’s rather delicious. I may have got stuck in the Thai curries rather early in the challenge but I certainly found a place that knows how to cook them.
Day Nine Dish: Palak Chicken (Spinach and chicken) Origin: Punjab Where: Biryani, Fuengirola, Spain Eat with: Butter chapatis I visit Biryani on only its second day of business. Based just off the port area it certainly has plenty of competition, not only from other Indian restaurants (there are a couple nearby) but also a string serving every imaginable type of cuisine for the locals and tourists alike. From the quality of the dish I had it certainly has a good chance of surviving.
Clearly a Punjabi restaurant, and “of course!” a Punjabi chef I’m assured, I have not need to go any further than the Palak Chicken. Great chunks of marinated chicken cooked with spinach and spices and mopped up with butter chapati. It’s makes the perfect mid-afternoon curry as the temperatures outside reach the sweltering mid-thirties and the little pieces of fresh ginger used as garnish as provide bursts of flavour every so often. I’m delighted that the chapatis come buttered as standard. “Oh yes, so you can enjoy the full flavours of this dish.”
This hearty, slightly sweet-tasting dish is a Punjabi comfort-food favourite but is now popular all over the world, where it is often listed as Sag (meaning greens) Chicken. It’s best, and much more tasty, if cooked so the sauce is rich and thick and just coats the chicken pieces.
Although there are a few Thai-style curries, the red, green and yellow are the best known, the difference originally being the colour of the chillies used. They make a nice alternative to Indian curries with their thinner soupy sauce and sharp, punchy heat. Each one is made using a paste then adding coconut milk create the sauce. The paste for red curries is made up of red chilli peppers, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and coriander. Lemongrass provides that distinctive Thai curry taste.
Oscar has been in the heart of the tourist area in the town of Fuengirola and is highly rated by ex-pats for it’s value and Thai food, thanks to a native chef. There is a decent selection of Thai dishes on the menu but I’m on a curry mission so plump for the Red Thai, which is given two little chillies on the menu for heat. These are my first prawns on the 100-Day Challenge and they are spot on soaked in the red sauce with strips of crispy vegetables.
Day Seven Dish: Chicken Madras (British Indian Restaurant Style) Origin: UK Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Basmati Steamed Rice
If you walked into a restaurant in Madras (now called Chennai) in India and ordered a “Madras” you’d almost certainly be met with a blank look. It’d be the same as walking into a restaurant in the English capital and asking for a “London”.
The Madras is a British invention and its connotations with “hot” stem from the traders and soldiers who were in the city from the time the British arrived in 1640. Not only do South Indians love spicy food but the city is extremely hot and humid, with temperatures usually over 30°C (86°F) and frequently reaching 40°C (104°F).
Those early ex-pats would have brought back the tastes of India when they returned home with their pots of spice mixes, or early curry powders. As there were no standard for these spice mixes (just as not all curry powders are the same today), it’s possible that the mixes with a little bit extra zing were called “Madras” to acknowledge their extra heat.
The early Indian restaurant owners in Britain carried through this thinking by adding their own hotter mixes or more chilli powder to their standard curry to create the Madras Curry and why today many people are able to order virtually any dish on the menu and ask the chef to make it “Madras hot”.
Day Six Dish: Keema Muttar (Mince with peas) Origin: Punjab Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Butter nan
I must admit a good lasagne would go down well tonight. Even a burnt one. But I plough on in my 100-Day Challenge. So on Day Six I plump for what is one of my favourite dishes: Keema Muttar. Curried lamb mince with peas and spice for a dry, super tasty dish. I used to get asked in the restaurants why I ordered this dish. I was told it was for old guys with not teeth. Lately none of the waiter’s have been saying that. Should I be worried? Get good quality mince, use a proper garam masala and you’ve cracked this dish. Don’t go easy on the peas: the pop in the mouth lovliness is a treat with the dark meatniness of the rest of this dish.
Day Five Dish: Chicken Dhansak (British Indian Restaurant Style) Origin: Persia (Iraq) Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Brown rice
There’s this woman I know. For the purposes of this this story let’s call her my mum, for indeed that’s who it is. She loves Dhansak. Really loves it. Every time we go out to an Indian restaurant, and there have been many visits, she follows the same routine. She’ll pick up the menu and every so often exclaim “Oh!”, when she sees a dish of particular interest. “This looks nice. Chillies, cream and special spices.” Then a bit later, “Oh! I’ve never had that one before. It’s a dish from South India. Bet that’s tasty.” Finally, when the popadoms are but crumbs on the plates she orders her Chicken Dhansak. She just can’t resist that thick sweet and sour sauce, full of chicken chunks, lentils, vegetables and healthy dose of garam masala; a dish that more like a stew than a curry in reality. The old school 1980s restaurant version of the dish used to include a chunk of pineapple but you rarely get that anymore.
But that’s enough about my mum. Let’s have a history lesson. Dhansak is dish that comes from Persia (now Iraqi). The Parsees (from Persia) were followers of the ancient religion Zorastrianism, the dominant religion in the area at the time. But when their country was invaded by Arab Muslims in the 7th Century they fled south to escape persecution and settled in Gujerat. They took their cooking skills with them and Dhansak is one of the best known of the dishes, with it’s distinctive sweet and sour taste,a combination more associated with Chinese than Indian cuisine. Lots of eople fell in love with it, including my mum. I wonder if she misses that chunk of pineapple?
Day Four Dish: Goan Fish Curry Origin: Goa Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Steamed Basmati Rice
What’s more exotic than a fish curry cooked on the beach? Unfortunately this was cooked on the hob at home but you get the picture. Coconut milk, tamarind, juicy white fish and blazing heat (unfortunately from the electricity in this case) creates a dish that is soooo Goan.
Goa is more famous for the searingly hot Vindaloo but the location of this tiny state, along the western coast of the country, by the Arabian Sea, means seafood naturally features prominently in its cuisine. Chillies are also important in Goan cuisine having been introduced to to the country by the Portuguese in 1498. And there are plenty of them in this dish. Check out this link for more about Goan cuisine.
Day Three Dish: Chicken Sarabi (Chicken with alcohol) Origin: Delhi Where: Maharaja, Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland Eat with: Pilau Rice
Sarabi (or more commonly sharabi) means drunk as in alcohol, which this dish includes. The Maharajah is a small neighbourhood takeaway near the mouth of the Tolka River in north Dublin and looks out towards Dublin port where you’ll sometimes see the Holyhead ferries. They use brandy in their Chicken Sarabi, although other types of alcohol such as whisky or wine are used by other chefs.
It’s a classic tomato-based sauce with cashew nuts providing a thick texture, but the mix of spices, as if the wont of many curry places, simply described somewhat mysteriously using the establishment’s name – Maharaja spices. You can order the dish as mild, medium or hot so I plump for “as it should be made”, which I’m told is with two chillies. There’s not an option for tipsy, drunk or plastered when it comes to te amount of brandy.
Day Two Dish: Lagan Ka Murgh (Chicken with yoghurt and nuts) Origin: Hyderbadi Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Nan or Pilau Rice
Hyderabadi dishes draw on the area’s royal history and this Lagan Ka Murgh is no different, with plenty of yoghurt, almonds and spices. The area was home to the great Persian state known as the Bahami Sultanate and the Nizams of Hyderabad, who initially ruled the area as part the famed Moghul empire and later under the British.
The dish is relatively simple to make, with pieces of chicken marinated in yoghurt, garlic, ginger and spices and then added to pastes of onion and toasted almonds. This dish is also called Dum Ka Murgh. Dum is a style of cooking where meat is cooked slowly in a sealed container, dating back to when hunters would dig pits in the ground while out on expeditions. The hunters would then light fires in the pits and cover them, the pits warming up like ovens and protecting the flames from the wind. Luckily there’s a butchers down the road so I could skip the hunting bit and the modern sealed pans work a treat with electricity. Traditionally this dish would be cooked with on-the-bone chunks of meat but this recipe uses boneless chunks, which work just as well with the thick, creamy sauce.
Day One Dish: Pepper Chicken Origin: South India Where: Cooked by Dan “Half-Man, Half-Curry” (see recipe here) Eat with: Chapati
The 100-Day Curry Challenge deserves a hot and spicy start. Chilli is usually associated with curries but it didn’t arrive in India until the Portuguese shipped it over in the late 15th Century. Before that the king of heat in the local food was pepper. It’s still used in many dishes, of course, but it’s chilli that gets all the hot-heads jumping up and down in excitement. Pepper provides a sharp, intense heat and it’s remains popular in the South Indian states of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu (where you’ll find Chennai, previously called Madras). Pepper Chicken is a dish that’s cooked in coconut oil, ensuring that classic South Indian taste throughout, and pepper is added twice – at the start in the bargar (infusing the oil with the flavours of wholes spices) and at the end. The resulting taste is wonderfully fresh and well as hot.
Day Zero Dish: Fish and Chips Origin: England Where: Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland Eat with: Bread and Butter
It’s fair to say I eat a lot of curry. I have done ever since I fell in love with Indian food in my teens, and it’s a diet which has led to me being dubbed Dan ‘Half-Man, Half-Curry’. But I have to admit I skip the odd day when my yearning for a plate of bangers and mash or burger and chips gets the better of me. I know, I know, I feel ashamed of myself in the morning. Curry has been there for me through thick and thin, and there I go risking the whole relationship for a quick fling with a dirty cheeseburger.
The only thing I can do to prove my love is be exclusive. So for the next 100 days I’ll be setting myself the challenge of eating a different curry every day. There’ll be some old favourites in there – Tikka Masala, Vindaloo and Korma – that’s for sure. But over the next 100 days there’ll be many dishes I’ve never tried, and many I’ve probably never heard of, as I go in search of great curries from the different regions of the sub-continent and around the world. I’ll be cooking a lot of dishes myself (and posting the recipes) but there will, no doubt, be some trips to my favourite curry houses and takeaways and I’ll be a few tips from some friends who work in the industry.
But as it’s still Day Zero there’s still time to squeeze in another one of my favourites. Right, I’m off down the chippy…