I think I might have mentioned The Taste of War
here before. A fascinating
look at how different nations made choices about food rationing and what a diet ought to look like under rationing during WW2. It seems she has done it again, just as I'm learning how to cook curries without 'curry powder' (a British invention entirely unknown to cooks in the subcontinent). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors
will make you hunger for spices and delicate flavours you never even knew existed. Poor, or lucky, India, had successive waves of invaders bringing ingredients and techniques from Persia, Portugal, Britain, France, the New World and so on. Tellingly, the people there made what they wanted of them, as is illustrated by the fact that all the vegetables introduced by the Brits, usually served boiled in Britain, are never, ever, served by boiling alone in Indian cuisine. I've been at this for a few months, making a new curry each weekend with NO curry powder. I love to open the cupboard with a shelf of spices, in whole and ground forms - cumin, green cardamom, black cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, mace, black mustard, fennel, curry leaves, turmeric, cinnamon, red and green chilli powder, fenugreek, asafoetida, nigella, poppy seed, sesame seed, anise seed, star anise, black, white and red peppercorns, cloves and so on - and take a huge lungful of goodness from it. It's wonderful - and all available (including a wet and dry spice grinder
) from Amazon if not locally. I think I'm ready to fall at Lizzie's feet and worship.
But if you need to know why you should join me in my fascination with the joys of curry, the BBC have just released an old series of cookery programmes on curry on YouTube and they are well worth watching. The playlist starts here