Japanese Chicken Curry with HYPERJapan and S&B (collaboration)

Guess who was panicking in an airport M&S looking for ingredients for a Japanese curry the afternoon before an event where she had to present the recipe? That’s right, me. Some time in August, HYPERJapan came to me with an invitation to a Curry Party with chef Avinash Shashidhara. As the weeb I am, I couldn’t say no, even if I knew it was the day after I would be flying back from visiting my family (and dinosaurs) in Italy. It sounded like a fun challenge too, especially when I expected to get a cosy Waitrose delivery on Sunday morning to get all the right ingredients to show off my knowledge of niche Japanese food (katsu chicken is not the only thing you eat with a curry roux) and make some nice Hokkaido-style venison curry (it may not be Sika deer but it’s still a deer). 

Of course, things never go to plan, and that’s how this recipe came to be. 

Ingredients (makes 4+ portions)
* A box of S&B Golden Curry in Medium Hot (gifted)
* 600g of chicken thighs
* A min of 300 ml of vegetable stock or other alternatives (I didn’t have chicken stock at hand but I would likely have used vegetable bouillon for a more gentle flavour to the roux since thigh meat has more flavour than breasts)
* 1 generous handful of white rice per person (I used a normal long grain which would be the standard rice at any supermarket because that’s what I had at hand)
* 2 handfuls of red grapes

Procedure

  • Start with a cold pan and brown the chicken thighs in their own fat (believe me on this one, the trick of the cold pan was originally from Gordon Ramsey)
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and toast the spice mix for a few seconds, then add the chicken back and coat it in the spices.
  • Add the broth to cover the meat, bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to a low simmer for the duration of the cooking for a slow-cooked dish, or to a medium one for a faster one. I left it to cook on its own for 1h but then the meat was at rest for another 3 hours before I reheated it for dinner. The goal is to cook the meat thoroughly and reduce the roux to a thick but still runny sauce. 
  • After halfway through the cooking, add red grapes for a hint of sweetness (the longer they stay the softer they will be, but also the more flavour they will add)
  • Boil or steam the rice according to the instruction on the rice package and the instrument you use (if you have a rice cooker I am well jealous) and serve

The idea of adding grapes is, of course, unorthodox, but as much as it gives a heart attack to my mother (who refuses anything savoury that uses fruits other than tomatoes etc) it does work. I did it, initially, to provide some colour and texture knowing that I had to take photos, but all I had at hand was one of those large mixed berries fruit salads that I grabbed in a 2 for £5 offer at the airport. It was my first time using the S&B curry cubes, the only other time I cooked a Japanese curry at home I used a ready-made sauce pouch from Waitrose, but the cubes (which they sell too, by the way) are much tastier. It may have to do with the fact I have used the full box for that amount of chicken, so maybe a smaller amount will give you a similar flavour to the ready-made one, but one thing I love about curries is that they are an explosion of flavours and, in that regard, Japanese curry can be quite mild. That’s why I am excited to try Chef Avi’s original recipes from the event, which are a fusion of Japanese and the traditions of the part of India where he is from originally.

The reason why this post is going live about 10 days after the event itself has to do with the fact I wanted to try those recipes and report on them, but unfortunately, I’ve had 3 days of migraines in a row and that didn’t happen. I didn’t want to delay the post any further so it’ll be just the chicken curry this time, and I’ll make a follow up soon, especially once I (hopefully) get to go to the Japan Centre and grab some of the Sake in their Cold Sake festival to go with it. 

Continue Reading

Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Brasserie

Afternoon Tea (Brown's)

I’ve loved Brown’s since I had breakfast in the Oxford one many moons ago. It’s a mid-price range place that covers your needs from breakfast to dinner and looks really nice inside without being stuffy and pretentious. It’s a smart casual place, which is what you need when you want to have a good time without putting in the effort to dress up. We had a couple of gift cards that came from family members that insist they need to buy Christmas presents, and it was a very welcome compromise. Back in the time before lockdown, we have attempted to go for an evening meal at the Mayfair branch after Mass at Farm Street, since the worse-half was, at the time, reading Brideshead Revisited after two years of me pleading for it to happen.

Mayfair is still closed, and I was itching for a change of pace even if it came at the cost of wearing an uncomfortable mask that makes me cough and get a headache, so we decided to turn it around and have an early afternoon tea at the Victoria branch instead, before Mass at the Oratory. It’s a quiet hidden spot in Cardinal Place, or at least it was at the time. We passed by the Botanist on Sloane Square on our way back to the station and you’d think Covid-19 was never a thing judging by how packed it was. It was still well attended and lively, even with the social distancing measures, and the staff was courteous, so it never felt like living in some kind of dystopia. 

Continue Reading

Intuitive Eating: my experience

Food in 3 plates

In the latest Soul Care post about nutrition, I mention in passing that my food philosophy nowadays (after a lifetime of disordered eating of various shapes and forms) is Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is not a diet, but rediscovering the way our bodies were created to work. For me as a Catholic woman, God has made us need food, but also able to enjoy it, giving us hunger cues and other signals that indicate to us that it’s time to eat, or that we’ve had enough and we are satisfied with what we had.

This approach to nutrition originated with the work of Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the mid-90s, but it has some commonalities with previous discourses in psychology and the way the 3rd wave feminist movement looked at fat and women issues in the 70s. To this day, it appears to still be strongly linked to the fat acceptance (also referred to as liberation) movement, but I believe it shouldn’t be the stuff of radicalism and instead be the mainstream. The diet industry keeps us engaged in a rat race that replaces God’s vision for humanity with a lot of negative feelings life self-loathing, desire for controlling and punishing the body for just existing and taking space and moralising our food choices even when we’re in no real danger to our health, and so far the best option I have found to counteract this mentality is Intuitive Eating. 

Continue Reading

My 5 favourite comfort food recipes

Woman Cutting Cilantro

If this title gave you a vision of me as a perfect tradwyfe who always cooks wholesome meals from scratch with organic ingredients and doesn’t spend a significant amount of money in take-aways, I’m here to reassure you that I am not. I had two take-away pizzas last week alone. But, unless I am ill or out of food and unable to go buy some due to illnesses, I tend to cook from scratch. I love cooking, as you’d expect from someone writing a cookery book, but I also have my times when I just want to feed myself something comforting and nourishing that takes little time to make. How long it takes is one of my criteria for “comfort food”, but for others, it may be different. 

Continue Reading

Our Honeymoon Story

Dreams and reality don’t always match. When you marry a retail worker in the middle of the (retail) Christmas season, you are lucky to get any days for a honeymoon at all. So, instead of jetting off half-way across the world, we only had time to go somewhere closer to home and so, we went to the happy place of all happy places: Disneyland Paris. 

Continue Reading
1 2 3 6