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. 

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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. 

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Micro-living: the good, the bad and the ugly

Small Loft Flat

A few days ago, a British politician made a comment about how poor people should buy 2kg bags of fresh potatoes instead of the more expensive and smaller bags of frozen ready-cut chips, and it got me thinking about how many people have no idea what life at the bottom is really like. This is not, however, a post about that. If you’d like to read more on that, you can find a lot of thoughtful pieces on the Steel Magnificat blog on Patheos Catholic. Living in small spaces is an urban thing that transcends class: nowadays, London houseshares in zone 1-2 come for a minimum of £800-£1000 per month per room depending on area. You can’t pay that much if you are earning a retail wage. Even the houses that are large by city standards are not that big when you think of how much space you’d get in the countryside. The cost of a zone 1 flat can buy you a French castle. In fact, Savills has a few going right now for the cost of a 2-bedroom flat in Battersea, let alone a 5 million+ Chelsea penthouse. 

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My Catholic Home Décor Wishlist

Wall Art

In last week’s Soul Care installment I talked about spiritual health. One way in which I take care of that is to have constant little reminders to raise my sight to God. My phone background rotates Bible or saints’ quotes, my iPad is fixed on Romans 15:13, my laptop is just a photo of flowers because I’m hopeless at keeping a clean desktop…I get intentions reminders from the Echo app, and have a home altar on the top shelf of my bookshelf. What is missing is, aside from a flag hanging from the door of my wardrobe, anything hanging on the walls. That’s the downside of renting and being forbidden from hanging things on the walls. So, instead of being a post about what my home looks like, it’s a post about what I wish I had in my home. I’m sure it’ll be full of lovely things and perhaps brands you didn’t know. 

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I changed my sleeping habits…here’s what happened

I gave in at last. After two weeks of sleeping by day and staying awake by night I was reading Stylist in bed long after my husband had started snoring, and came across an article from September about the Kaizen method. Since I’m going through a phase when everything Japanese (bar Marie Kondo) is an immediate favourite for me, I decided to give it a try. One reason why I am so into the Japanese lifestyle lately is its general moderation (hence why I am no fan of the decluttering guru as above). Traditionally, the Christian West had an understanding of virtue as the medium between two things (say, courage is the medium between foolhardiness and cowardice), so it really resonates with me as I seek to find the right balance in my life.

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