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Cookbooks 6: Madhur Jaffrey

6. Madhur Jaffrey. The pages of this book are wrinkled from splatter and speckled from spice. This week I prepared Makkhani murghi (Chicken in Butter Sauce), so that page 92 now has extra wrinkle and speckle. I’ve tried most of the recipes in this book. Seb, Shannon and family gave me the book for Christmas in 2007. With Indian cooking you have to start somewhere, so why not here? Madhur Jaffrey went to England in the Fifties to study acting, but it was her experience of terrible English food and poor-quality Indian restaurants that compelled her to write home for real recipes. These she started promoting, the genuine article, and the rest is history. Freshness, simplicity, richness. She explains how Indian has no strict rules. Variation of texture and colour at the table, that’s important. Variety of flavours, wet and dry both, please. At the table we may dip into dips, use knife and fork, dunk and mop, but are advised “most Indians like to eat with their hands,” more exactly their right hand. This brings to mind our friend Janet Campbell of blessed memory, who regularly scandalised diners at Phantom India and like restaurants in this way. Her fervent belief in teapots of chai, an eternity of them, added to her unorthodox ways, in the eyes of cutlery Melburnians. It was rave-up through the meal and namaste namaste namaste as we drifted out into the night.     

Recipe. Mix about 4 tablespoons of TOMATO PUREE with WATER to make 250 ml of sauce. Add a block of grated GINGER, 300 ml of CREAM, 1 teaspoon or so of GARAM MASALA, 1 teaspoon SUGAR, chopped CHILLI or I just use SWEET CHILLI SAUCE a slurp, a big handful of chopped CORIANDER, 4 teaspoons of LEMON JUICE, and CUMIN SEEDS. Mix all of this together and pour into a pan of melted DAIRY BUTTER about 100 grams. You the add the precooked CHICKEN, Tandoori if you like, enough for each diner. Serve immediately with BASMATI RICE.


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