On the way home on Saturday, I stopped off at an Asian supermarket close to where we live.
It’s a ramshackle, haphazard kind of place, piled high with a huge range of things. There are sacks of rice piled high, fruit and vegetables – big bunches of coriander, five for a quid, coconuts, curry leaves, chillies, small aubergines, and – this time – crates and crates of watermelons for £1.50 each. There are racks full of spices, in big, heavy bags for pennies, everything from cumin, to paprika, mustard seeds, coriander seed, cinnamon, turmeric … absolutely everything under the sun.
I never tire of these places. They’re exciting and vibrant. They’re the places that make Bradford a great place, and they’re a great resource for anybody who cooks. There’s absolutely no need to pay a supermarket an exorbitant amount of money for small and mean jars of past-it spices when there are places where you can buy far, far better spices for a fraction of the price. I’d bet that a tenner spent in one of Bradford’s many Asian supermarkets would establish a very fine store cupboard of spices, enough to make pretty much any curry you fancied.
This time, I bought one of those watermelons with the sole aim of decanting a bottle of vodka into it through a funnel (I know, I know … ), a big bunch of coriander and a bag of spices to make this curry. It’s a basic chicken curry, but one that has a deceptive depth of flavour. There’s a lot going on in there, but it’s very easy to make.
The backbone of this curry is desiccated coconut, that’s been gently roasted in a dry frying pan until it turns a golden brown. The coconut’s natural nuttiness starts to shine through when coconut is toasted like this, but it’s a dangerous game – a second’s distraction can mean that your coconut burns, so keep an eye on it. Toast about 50g in total, and set it aside in a bowl when it’s done.