Monday, February 18, 2008

Cooking Indian food in Manhattan

I live in Manhattan, where single people neither cook, nor is there an expectation that they will do so. I find this strange as I cook a proper meal at least once if not twice a day in London. I brought my knives over with me, but discovered that the kitchens are so tiny here that it’s usually just simpler to eat out or order take out. (It’s not just Carrie Bradshaw who keeps her cashmere sweaters in the oven, in her (abnormally large) apartment)

Thing is, after several months here, I’m fed up with eating sub-standard takeaways (& they are generally extremely bad), or with spending most of my income in restaurants. (Originally I was excited at just how cheap it was to eat out here and it is, but do that every day and it soon mounts up.)

So, I girded my loins and decided it was time to cook for my friends, to bring a little bit of London to New York. As BA craves Indian food, like all English expats, and Americans J & F love spicy food, curry seemed good. I biked up to the Union Square Greenmarket, and nearly killed myself on the way home, wobbling down 2nd with my vegetable-filled calico shopping bags hanging off the handlebars.

I don’t use cookbooks, (they're for reading in bed), preferring to cook from memory, adapting recipes in my head to suit the season and the contents of my cupboards. I tied on an apron over my tailored black wool short shorts, kicked off my 4" patent Mary Janes, sharpened my Globals and set to work.

I poached mushrooms in fried onion-enriched coconut milk with coriander, made a chickpea curry, using mashed potato (it thickens the sauce) and tomato puree with garam masala paste, and composed my favourite spinach curry soup. thickening it with coconut cream to make it less soupy. Finally I stir fried chiffonaded curly kale in a very hot wok with chilli oil for a couple of seconds, melted butter to pour over warmed through naan breads and made raita.

Pudding was plum studded cupcakes (I made up the batter in the autumn & froze it), baked in the toaster oven, with vodka cocktails with mango or blueberry purees. (We were going dancing afterwards).

I'm glad I made the effort, as the girls arrived with Ketel One, pink & yellow roses and dressed to the nines. We lit tea lights, arranged the flowers, and ate the lot. Who says fashion girls don't eat?