Thursday, 19 May 2011

Something impossible.

I'm British. I can't help that.

It's an affliction which means that I shout at contestants in The Apprentice once a week and then delightedly discuss their mistakes with my colleagues, with my friends, with my Mother.

My nationality is also apparent through, (what I like to think of as), my good manners. I know the difference between a soup spoon and a dessert spoon, thank you very much. Furthermore: I apologise when strangers bump into me.

Incidentally, being a Brit also means that I have a weakness for curry that I've made from a jar. Yes, I know that I could make something more authentic with a tin of tomatoes and a few onions, and yes, I should know better since my lessons with Beena, (my cookery teacher in Jaipur, I talk about her here). Sometimes, though, I just want some miscellaneous curry. Sometimes I want something made with non-specific meats, vegetables and spices, that I can ladle on my plate and munch on while I watch Lord Sugar lay into some big-headed business bigots. (I could have called the contestants boring - just to continue this alliteration charade - but we all know that's not true.)

You may have heard, and possibly disbelieved, the legends of 9p curry sauce from the Sainsbury's Basics range. If you did believe the stories, then you probably wrote the product off as something disgusting and probably toxic. I'm here to show you that you were wrong. You can make a tasty and altogether enjoyable dinner out of curry sauce that costs less than ten pence.

Using a cheap sauce does mean that you need to put a tiny bit of extra work in, though. I like to think of Basics curry sauce as something that I use instead of tinned tomatoes, (and at 1/3 of the price). I still fry onions, garlic and chilli, before adding a few spices and my vegetables - followed by the 9p sauce. While the curry simmers down, I add water, tomato paste and yogurt, and I season the food thoroughly with pepper before serving it, (the sauce doesn't need much more salt, you can just add that to taste).

Try not to judge before you sample this recipe. After all, if you really don't like it, you've only wasted 9p. Look down the back of the sofa and you'll probably replace your lost money.

Super cheap curry.

A glug of sunflower oil
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 chilli, (I used 1 cube of frozen chilli)
Various vegetables, (I used 1 potato, 4 mushrooms, a few green beans, spinach and peas)
Whatever spices you have knocking around, (for example, cumin, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric...)
Leftover meat, (I used leftover roast chicken)
9p curry sauce (!)
1tbsp tomato puree
A few globs of yogurt

Get your onion, your garlic and your chilli chopped up and cooking happily in a frying pan. Get them looking beautiful and golden before throwing your veg in there, cut up however you like.

Allow it all to cook down a bit, get it looking tasty and golden, then add whatever spices you have to the pan. Curry spices obviously, not the allspice you used for your christmas cake. Fry them off - this allows the essential oils in the spices to warm through and impart their flavour to the rest of the ingredients.

When you think you're ready, take a deep breath and get the cheap curry sauce out of the cupboard. This dinner will be nice, I promise.

I hate sultanas in curry, they remind me of school dinners. Unfortunately this 9p sauce has got sultanas in it, so I normally sieve them out. This adds an extra step and a little bit more watching up for Mr Meat to do, but it greatly adds to my enjoyment of my dinner. If you pop a little bit of water through the sieve, you'll ensure that you don't waste any of the sauce that's stuck to the sultanas.

 If the sauce looks too thick, add a little water and allow everything to simmer until your vegetables are cooked through. Add your tomato puree and stir it in, then take the sauce off the heat and chuck the yogurt in there too. Hopefully your pan isn't so hot that the yogurt splits, but even if it does, it doesn't affect the flavour.

Serve with rice, I hope it's nice!

I make this meal out at costing £1.95. That's ridiculous.

P.s: I hope, dear reader, that you have noticed my literary prowess in this blogpost - namely, my use of rhyme and alliteration. I'm rather proud of it.

P.p.s: I hope that my generalisations about what being "British" means don't cause anyone any offence, they were merely added for dramatic effect.