Every so often I used to head down the Northern Line to a vibrantly grubby place called Tooting to drink beer and shoot pool with a mate. Partly because I love The Color of Money – my fave Scorsese (along with Goodfellas obviously), I wanted to strut around a dingy pool hall pretending to be Paul Newman…before getting my arse kicked.
Quickly my game would unravel and thoughts would turn to the scores of decent Asian eateries in the area. Down-to-earth cafés, curry houses and takeaways interspersed by chicken shops, old blokey pubs, Tesco bloody Express and Asian grocery stores all along a big hustly main road.
Our post match feast would consist of tandoori chicken, chickpea curries, daals, biryanis, steaming scorched breads. Each plateful as tasty and vibrant as the one before. Each mouthful alive with fresh balanced spice. Each dish ridiculously reasonably priced. Truly you can like a maharaja for less than a tenner.
So here’s an idea to spice up excess Christmas dinner tatties. What could be better than turning sad leftovers into something approximating chips smothered in proper curry sauce?
The highly technical part of this recipe is to squidge and cut cold roast potatoes into chip shapes. Use a chopping board or an oven tray to press them down before cutting. Then brush with oil and reroast in a hot oven.
Now there’s probably a million ways to make a tomatoey curry. Here’s one: Fry cumin, coriander and mustard seeds along with dried chilli, black pepper and turmeric. Add chopped onions, minced garlic and ginger, tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and coconut cream. Cook out then blitz until smooth and garnish with fresh chilli.
Another way is to open a jar of Pataks. As always with me it was a close call. But freshness of spice is everything. And it’s the holidays – no excuse not to pull my finger out.
Ingredients: leftover roast potatoes, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried chilli, turmeric, black pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, red chilli, coconut cream.