Red Hot Curries - Autumn 2010
My friend John the Cave Bague has recently been bigging up his heat tolerance as he has progressed steadily from a 2-chilli to a 6-chilli curry, and is adamanant that his kids (unlike some other kids I might mention - and you know who you are) have also learnt not only to tolerate such bottom-blistering feasts, but to even enjoy them.
So I recklessly offered to treat them to some of my hottest creations - the 2lb green chilli chicken, and the feersum Raha egg curry.
And if they were good I even promised I would bring out my selection of rare and exotic hot sauces for the kiddywinks to try.
Oh lucky them!

I also found a pretty scary looking Green Chilli Curry to add to the menu, but then I decided to take pity on their poor behinds with a couple of emollient dishes - one as gentle as a Lamb Curry, and the other a new and tasty-looking Butter Chicken. But mild.

And then there would have to be the usual staples - rice, naan breads, yoghurty sauces... My what an evening it was to be...

...So time to start the planning. Not too much early preparation required - a certain amount of chilli cleaning and trimming, marinating the two 3lb chickens overnight, and I was going to make up the egg curry sauce the day before. But I didn't get around to it.
Still, with the five curries and all, a pretty hectic schedule to keep to on the day. Plus a considerable amount of chopping, slicing, dicing and grinding to be done. Usually I just fit most of that stuff in around the cookery, but I thought it might make for some nice piccies if I got all those beautiful ingredients laid out together before I started on the cooking.

To be honest I probably let my enthusiasm run away with me a bit, five curries and the rest, especially considering the unfeasible number of those dishes that need last-minute work. Still I managed to get everything out and on the table ready to eat by 7 o'clock - only half an hour behind schedule.
Of course that might possibly have had something to do with the fact that none of my bloody guests managed to make it for dinner due to faeces beyond their control. Or was it bile?
Oh lucky them!

Consequently I skipped the naan breads, and any space in my schedule set aside for greeting guests, and laid the table for a lonely but very, very large dinner.

The Menu

Green Chilli Chicken
Raha Egg Curry
The fearsome hot curry staple.
Hare Mirchi Kari
Oh, this is gonna hurt!
Lamb with Cream & Yoghurt
A little something to take the edge off.
Butter Chicken
Like a gentle rain after the drought.

Coconut Rice
Naan Bread
Yoghurt Sauce

Oooh That's Gonna Sting Tomorrow!
The Chillies:
You're going to need chillies. Lots and lots of chillies.
You've got one 2lb chilli dish and another 1lb chilli dish so that's 3lb chillies by anybody's count
No point going to your poxy supermarket for that, at 6 chillies a teeny-tiny bag for 50p it would take more than the national debt to buy dinner. So it's off to the local Indian grocer for you my son.
They'll have chillies. Lots and lots and lots of chillies. And sell them by the pound too.

They'll need a good picking over to get rid of the mouldy ones, a good washing to get rid of the local Indian poo, and it's nice to snip their stalks short with a pair of scissors in the process - it'll make them a lot easier to eat later on, if you're that way inclined.

The Chickens:
Get a couple of nice free-range chickens from a good old-fashioned butcher Chop one of them into large pieces and set it to marinate for the Green Chilli Chicken.
Marinate the second one whole tikka-like for the Butter Chicken
Let them sit in the fridge overnight.

Marinating Chickens
Or at least - that's what I did.
Turns out, though, that Camellia Panjabi's Butter Chicken recipe is a bit of a disappointment, and nothing much like her pictures either. In fact, I really doubt she ever actually made the recipe - at least, the recipe as advertised. I should probably have guessed when she started adding ¼ teaspoon of this and ¼ teaspoon of that. Might as well just wave the spice jar at the chicken.
If I were you I'd try out a different Butter Chicken recipe, and I'd seriously consider cutting this chicken into pieces for marinating and roasting too. I'd probably skin those pieces as well.
Next time.
While we're on the subject, good though the Green Chilli Chicken was, I might also think about cutting up the larger chicken pieces and maybe skinning them to better allow the infusion of the distinctive green chilli flavour.

The Rice:
I thought it would be nice to have a sweet rice to calm some those nasty burny curries, so I tried a simple Coconut Rice recipe I found on the interweb. Too simple really - another recipe that doesn't really work if you follow it.
I mean - what is wrong with these people? Add enough water to just cover the rice I ask you! A good way to get rock hard rice. I knew I should have gone with Pilau.
You'll need to treat it the same way you would any other basmati rice and add double the volume of liquid as rice.
That'll do it.

The Mise En Place:
Whilst I don't usually go to such anal lengths as to prepare and lay out all my ingredients in nice straight lines with post-it labels and everything it does make for an impressive picture!
Indian, and particularly Chinese foods tend to have lots of fiddly bits which need advance preparation for adding at just the right moment in the production of a dish, so it's quite handy to have everything ready when required.
Mostly here it's chopping onions, crushing garlic, grating ginger, peeling tomatoes and especially mixing the spice mixtures with water or vinegar to make up the masala pastes.

Now we're good to go...

Coconut Rice
side staple veg
Mike Robinson's original recipe wouldn't work as written since it needs considerably more liquid.
I fixed it for you!

Serves 4

Measure out the volume of rice and put it in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
Measure out the volume of liquids and add enough water to make twice the volume of rice
Add to the pan and bring to the boil.
Cover, turn down as absolutely low as possible and cook for 6-10 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Careful! Coconut milk will easily burn.
The rice will now keep warm for up to half an hour until it's needed.
Slightly weird, but not bad.
Nothing special either mind you.
You probably won't need any salt (!) my coconut milk was already plenty salty.