My latest New Statesman column concerns curries and authenticity. It was prompted by Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection recipe for chicken tikka masala -- a dish created in the UK, but one with no less right to be regarded as authentic than many to be found in India. Or rather, dishes in India are often as bastardised as those to be found in Indian restaurants here.
I remark in the piece on the fattiness of Blumenthal's creation. The fattiness comes not only from the ghee, but from the coconut milk, as I discovered the other night. I browned two onions with some garlic in groundnut oil, added my spices and stirred them round a bit, and poured in a can of coconut milk and a couple of ladlefuls of chicken stock. I wanted this mixture, to which I planned to add some cold roast chicken, to simmer and thicken. First, I bubbled it on the hob; then, when I had to go out for an hour, I put the saucepan, uncovered, into a low oven.
I had a thickened sauce by the time I came back. I also had, separated from it, a phenomenal quantity of fat. The finished dish was one of the most disgusting things I have ever cooked: greasy, heavy, and crude.