This month, I hijacked 4 popular dishes from the Union Jack, bundled them together, christened it ‘The Curry Club’ and launched it at The Jones Wood Foundry in New York.
Yes, Great Britain may be known for it’s tweed and plaid, but there is a culture of gold paisleys that weaves through it; Indian. Since the 1950s, people from countries like India that were under the commonwealth rule, began migrating to the U.K. They formed large communities and now over 60 years later, they are very much within the fabric of the British culture.
‘Afternoon Tea’, suggestive of a hot pot of tea with finger sandwiches and scones may include a more than appropriate warm triangular pastry filled with lightly spiced potatoes ‘samosa’, music drawing from Bollywood beats. But for most, the best is the ritual of ‘beer and a curry’.
For many Brits today, the origins of their curry flavored chips may be blurry as the 2 cultures continue melt in to each other. When I met Brit expat, Chef Jason Hicks (remember, his yummy rissoles a few months back)?, he told me that he has always wanted to put a curry amongst his carefully selected menu items out here in New York. For him, this was not just a British mainstay but also a cultural evolution that deserved to be there as much as fish and chips.
But what does curry mean for the Brits? Something with flavors that round out more delicately, a little sweet, a little tart, a little chewy through dried fruit and a little crunchy through toasted nuts. Other expats were on the same page as Jason. They wanted cold crisp beer, curries fusing the best of British ingredients and technique to Indian spices and a quaint setting with rugs and mahogany tables. I realized that something needed to be done here. When expats couldn’t get to Britain, it was time to bring Britain to them. The Curry Club was born!
I designed four popular dishes for the Curry Club series that is being offered in collaboration with Chef Jason Hicks at The Jones Wood Foundry each Monday for the month of November. Last week, we offered creamy shrimp curry topped with buttered fava beans. A popular dish on the Indian menu with a British seasonal vegetable. If the word on the street is to be believed, its is said that patrons did a double take to make sure that they were in fact in New York and not a pub in Nottinghill.
Recipe for Creamy Shrimp Curry and Fava Beans
- 400g shrimp (deshell and reserve shells, devein and keep tails on)
- 2 TBSP. Oil
- 400g Shrimp Shells
- 1 TSP. Garlic, minced
- ¾ Tsp. Salt
- 1 cup white wine
- 8 Cilantro stems
- Pinch of saffron
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 peppercorns
- 1 ½ TSP. mustard seeds
- 24 curry leaves
- 2 whole dried chilies
- 1 ½ medium onion
- ¾ TBSP. Ginger, minced
- ¾ TBSP. Garlic, minced
- 2 cans unsweetened coconut milk (13.5 oz can each)
Butter runner beans, ½ a cup, boiled, shocked and skins removed (with a gentle rub, they slip right off)
A few sprigs of cilantro
1) Heat oil, sweat garlic until soft, add shrimp shells and sauté until they turn red. Add wine and remaining ingredients and reduce until it is like syrup. Add 4 cups of water and reduce by half. Strain and reserve stock
1) Make wet paste of the ginger, onion, garlic
2) Heat oil, add the mustard seeds, when they start sputtering, add curry leaves and red dried chilies
3) Add wet paste, fry over moderate heat to cook out raw taste
4) Add coconut milk and reduce until it coats back of a spoon (like green curry),
5) Add shrimp stock and reduce until it lightly coats the back of a spoon (like a Thai green curry)
Toss the butter beans in butter and a pinch of salt. Chop the cilantro and use both as a topping for the curry
Saira Malhotra, is of British –Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: www.passportpantry.com where she shares approachable and international recipes