[This page was originally created in the last century, albeit the mid or late 1990s. The rewrite retains the contents and context of the original as far as possible.]

If I had my way, we would eat chicken curry at least once every day. Being Regitarians, I can no longer enjoy lamb curries.

The first really good book we encountered was Charmaine Solomon's Indian Cooking for Pleasure. That seems to be out of print now, but that's ok because it has been far surpassed by those below.

Probably the best book on curries and certainly the best value book on the subject is Kris Dhillon's The Curry Secret. Using this book, its basic curry sauce and a few additions you can replicate the majority of boughten curries. Click the cover for a link to Amazon. [April 2010] This has been suplemented by the New Curry Secret.

Pat Chapman has played quite a large part in our curry lives. I think it was his Curry Club which had an inspirational shop in Covent Garden, long since closed. His early books were great but it must be said that he milked the cow almost dry at one point. There are two of his books which I heartily recommend, one of which I will detail a recipe from. For a general work his New Curry Bible [new edition 2004] will answer nearly all your questions and needs. I think his greatest gem is Vindaloo and Other Hot Curries, from which is taken the Singapore Sling (or Brandy Curry, as we know it). I can't find that in Amazon, but, here's the recipe

Brandy Curry

1.5 lb (675g) chicken breast, skinned filleted and cut into 1.5 inch (4 cm) cubes
3 tbl vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6-12 fresh mixed red and green chillies
1 tbl green peppercorns in brine
1 tbl vinegar (any type)
6 oz (175g) onion, finely chopped
2 tbl hot curry paste
1 tbl mango chutney, finely chopped
6 fl oz (175 ml) stock or water
4 fl oz (100 ml) brandy
1 tsp soy sauce
water from a coconut
3 tbl minced coconut flesh
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt to taste

I have never found peppercorns in brine of any colour; I use a lot more garlic; instead of coconut water and flesh I usually use most of a tin of coconut milk or half a slab creamed coconut dissolved in hot water; for the stock I use weak marmite, but I have never really been happy with that notion. Update Nov 2000 - I found a jar of the said peppercorns in, of all places, Asda Woolwich - within site of the Dome. And I now tend towards M&S Chicken Stock Gloop. Having run out of brandy (bought to set fire to the Christmas pudding) I can now report that it tastes just as good with rum (bought to make the Christmas puddings), but that too is running out fast. Update Sep 2003 - I have been converted to the use of fresh coconut, finely grated which gives less grease and a much improved texture.

Anyway. Heat the oil in a large karahi or wok. Add the garlic, then 30 seconds later add the chillies and green peppercorns, stir-frying continuously. One minute later add the vinegar and onion, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes so that it becomes golden brown.

Add the curry paste, mango chutney and stock or water. When simmering, add the chicken and cook for 15 minutes. Add the secret weapon - the alcohol - and the soy sauce, coconut water and flesh, and basil leaves. It should not be too dry, so control it with a little water as needed. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Salt to taste, garnish and serve.

This is the richest curry of them all. I hope Pat does not take exception to publishing this. If you try it you will almost certainly [want to] buy the book and therein you will find a recipe for a curry gravy vastly superior to that in the Curry Secret. Use the sauce to make the Vindaloo which follows it - now our standard recipe, with the addition of a lentil curry base.

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original page created in the 1990s - one of the first pages on the site - rewrite April 2010