|Really? This much spice for one little stew?|
Sometimes a thing is so blindingly obvious that I just don't see it, sometimes blind prejudice gets in my way, and sometimes I feel really stupid about it. Leicester is arguably the best place in the country to find and eat an authentic, excellent, curry (people certainly argue about it and I'm prepared to back my city to win on this). The thing is that I really can't handle hot food, anything but the very mildest of heat floors me and because there's no shortage of good (if beyond my pain threshold) curry to be had in the city I'd never thought about cooking it.
|spices being heated prior to grinding - very satisfying process|
When I was in Shetland earlier in the summer my step mother (who's a chef) was trying recipes for a wedding she was catering, one of them was a bhuna from Jaffey's book and long story short it was delicious - and here's the bit that makes me feel stupid - she'd gone easy on the chilies. Obvious isn't it, catering for a 150 people with wildly different tastes made a very mild heat more desirable and so all you need to do is dial it back a bit. Inspired I tried the same recipe when I came home (happily I had the same book courtesy of a Christmas present a few years ago) and it was pretty good. Since then I've been experimenting with a few other things in there and again they've been great which is all quiet exciting.
I'm sticking with dishes which are on the milder side anyway - if something is genuinely meant to be hot it would probably lose something fundamental by the time I'd scaled it back to my palate but cooking in a different tradition with a whole new set of spices is something I love doing, and in this case I couldn't be in a better place to do it, there is no ingredient no matter how obscure which I shouldn't be able to get hold of within a 15 minute walk from my flat (or at a push a 5 minute bus journey away). I also understand for the first time why the basic spices for this kind of cooking are so often sold in such epic quantities. I've never cooked anything that demanded so much seasoning or so many different seasonings before so learning my way around these flavours is going to be interesting.