Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, to give her her full title, never once set foot in India. However, she did like a good ruby. So much so, she instated Indian chefs in her kitchen, who apparently raised merry hell by insisting on grinding and blending their own spices. One of the royal kitchen regulars was heard to cry, “Why do they do this when we buy in our own curry powder?
Obviously, to ask the question is to miss the point, and therein lies the evolution of the ‘kari,’ from a huge range of Indian sauces, into a homogenous series of variously chillied loose gravies that make up the classic ‘British Asian’ cuisine, and runs the gamut from mild korma to arse-burning vindaloo.
I’ll talk about the genesis of British Asian cuisine another time. For now, we are going back the Royal household, and the favourite curry of Queen Victoria. This recipe was covered in scant detail in the BBC series ‘Royal Recipes.’ In the VR version, the meat ought to be quail, but for some reason I can’t find any, so I did this with poussin, which are available from Waitrose and Ocado. This is a nice, fragrant curry, and quite mild. The spicing relies on basic, British curry powder and some fresh, grated ginger. Freshness comes from the curious addition of grated apple.
God Save the Queen.
Poussin and potato curry
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 thumb of fresh ginger, grated
- 6 fresh tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
- 250ml water
- Two poussin, jointed
- 1 bramley apple
- 2 large potatoes, peeled, chunked and parboiled
- 2 tbsp coriander, chopped just once
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the ghee in a large saucepan, and sauté the onions gently for 5 mins until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
Reduce the heat, add the curry powder and cook slowly for about 10 mins.
Grate in the ginger and add the tomatoes. Add half the water and bring up to a simmer. Add the poussin legs and and just enough water to cover them. Simmer gently for 1 hour.
Remove the legs from the curry, and allow them to cool a little.
Meanwhile, blitz the sauce in a blender until smooth. Pick the meat from the legs and and add back to the sauce.
Put the curry back on the heat, and peel and grate the apple. Squeeze the apple juice from the grated flesh into the sauce, and then add the flesh as well.
Cut the poussin breasts into bite-sized pieces and add those to the sauce with the parboiled cooked potato.
Bring the curry to a simmer, and cook on a low heat for 20 mins until the potato is cooked through. This curry is meant to be quite thick, but if it is getting dry, add a little more water (there is a bit of judgement needed here).
Once cooked through, season the dish, and add the chopped coriander.
Serve with steamed rice, and traditional curry accompaniments such as wilted spinach and mango chutney.
Butter can be used instead of ghee, but you need to be careful not to burn the butter when you are cooking out the curry powder. Ghee does not burn, and you can make it easily (heat unsalted butter in a pan; allow it to bubble to cook the solids; skim off the whey proteins that float to the surface; cool a little to solidify the solids a bit more; filter through a coffee filter to obtain the clear, yellow ghee).