three or four onions of medium size (I like plenty of onions) and chop them
two cloves of garlic (again to taste, I like garlic) and chop or press fine.
these to cook very gently in three tablespoons of olive oil. Cook till soft
and just about to brown.
a tablespoon of flour and stir in.
curry powder (obviously varying amount according to strength of curry powder
and taste of guests).
very gently, making sure onions do not stick to pan.
a small apple, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices.
longer you can cook at this stage the better.
three tomatoes cut small, with all their juice.
some stock and let the curry bubble and hiss. At first a pint of stock may
seem too much, but as the curry cooks the stock will be absorbed, especially
if the curry is made a day or two before. Again it is a question of taste as
to how liquid you like your curry to be.
salt, a handful of raisins, a teaspoon each of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, along
with other mixed spices, a few thin slices of pimento cut small, a tablespoon
of coconut, any herbs available, a tablespoon of mango chutney and a squeeze
of lemon juice.
rest of stock in gradually and stir.
can simmer all day; I favour making a curry on, say, Thursday, to be eaten on
you leave the curry to cool it should be taken from the pan and put in a
dish, then put back into the pan and warmed very slowly.
an hour before you propose to eat the curry, put the meat in, cut in fairly
small chunks. It must have all the fat removed. Pork is always good, with
chopped-up sausages of all kinds. Personally, I like mutton best and chicken
you use uncooked meat it must be cooked with the onions and curry powder.
are naturally inclined to use leftover meats for curry. This is perfectly all
right, but if really good meat is used the result is correspondingly good.
dash of Worcestershire sauce and Angostura may be added during the cooking
duck is dried in the oven, but popadums are not at all easy to cook without
making them greasy. A fish-slice is useful in holding them down and removing
them at the right moment from the pan.
banana (at least one per person) is good at relieving the hot taste of the
curry, as is cucumber cut in small chunks and dressed with vinegar and brown
prawns and eggs can be used instead of meat. If eggs are used they should be
hard-boiled and set in halves on the curry.
and ends of potatoes and vegetables may also be called into play, though the
last should be used in moderation. A purely vegetable curry can be very good.
Some hints of the famous Powell prose style
there, and it’s by no means the end.
He then goes on at what seems
to me needless length about how to cook rice.
Fortunately he ends with the thoroughly Powellian remark, “Leftover
curry may be used for mulligatawny soup.”
Well yes it may.
In a book titled The World As it Is, Patrick French quotes one of Powell’s relatives
as saying of the curry, “it was disgusting but we had to pretend to like it.” I think the relative was were being a bit
harsh. In fact this sounds like a typical
home-made English curry of the very old school. The first curries I ever ate in other people’s
homes always involved raisins and bananas, which now sounds as much
Polynesian as Indian. But I was never
offered Worcestershire sauce, much less Angostura bitters.
One of Powell’s less obviously admirable traits: he found Margaret Thatcher
sexy, (though it’s amazing to discover how many did: JG Ballard and
Christopher Hitchens among them).
Powell writes: “I continue to find Mrs.
Thatcher very attractive physically. Her overhanging eyelids, hooded eyes,
are the only suggestion of mystery (a characteristic I like in women, while
totally accepting Wilde's view of them as Sphinxes without a secret). Her
general appearance seems to justify Mitterand's alleged comment that she has
the eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe …”
On the other hand he had his doubts
about Thatcher as a hostess, suffering through a number of Prime Minister’s
dinners, including this one described in his 1985 journal:
“In the anteroom before
dinner we were given well-iced non-vintage cgampagne (International
Cooperative Wine Society?) “it
appeared that, owing to last-minute changes, the food (cooked mostly by
Vanessa Thomas), which we subsequently ate, was brought down by car from
Ladbroke Grove. It was eatable,
without being at all exciting; the claret was decidedly dim…”
- Some, no doubt, would have been reluctant to sit down with Margaret
Thatcher, but Powell had, a long time earlier, once sat down with the Great
Beast himself, Aleister Crowley.
Powell was working for the publisher Duckworth who had published a
book in which Crowley thought, indeed hoped, he might have been libeled. (In a later case the jury decided he was a
man impossible to libel.) So Powell
and Crowley had lunch at Simpson’s in the Strand: they both had the roast
mutton. Powell drank beer, Crowley
drank milk. The event seems to have
been essentially uneventful, but I think Powell’s description of Crowley gets
him absolutely. “There was much that
was absurd about him; at the same time it seems false to assert - as some did
– that his absurdity transcended all sense of being sinister. If the word has any meaning, Crowley was
sinister, intensely sinister, both in exterior and manner.” The account appears in Messengers of Day.
- We now know that Crowley was also a maker of curries. Here’s a passage from his book The Confessions of Aleister Crowley:
“The weather made it impossible to do
any serious climbing; but I learnt a great deal about the work of a camp at
high altitudes, from the management of transport to cooking; in fact, my chief
claim to fame is, perhaps, my “glacier curry.” It was very amusing to see
these strong men, inured to every danger and hardship, dash out of the tent
after one mouthful and wallow in the snow, snapping at it like mad dogs. They
admitted, however, that it was very good as curry …”
Well this sounds like tosh, doesn’t
it? In any case the recipe has been lost, if it ever existed, but a recipe, without
quantities, for “Riz Aleister Crowley” “to be eaten with curry” was found
among his papers at Syracuse University: raisins are again involved, along
with almonds, pistachios and “cardamoms (very few).” The MS looks like this – (I found it on http://dangerousminds.net/,
but I’m not sure where it originates):
As with Powell, this sounds like overelaborate
instructions just for cooking rice, but I suppose a little effort is to be
expected when you’re “Making it a Poem of Spring.”