With so many recipes to choose from it was difficult to know where to start… so I went through my mothers spice cupboards and brought home those ingredients which were missing. My own store cupboards are stocked with everything from za’atar and pomegranate molasses to herbes de provence and saffron, through to cumin, coriander, peppercorns, szchewan pepper and more….yet i didn’t have fenugreek, mustard seeds and fennel which are essential to some Indian dishes.
As I read the recipes I remembered my mother planning her cookery classes before the beginning of term. She wanted to ensure her students learn the authentic way, as opposed to the ‘English’ version. One of her pet hates was ‘Uncle Bens’ easy cook rice – this was (and still is) as far removed from the fragrant long grain rice, or basmati rice that we grew up with. Cooking rice is something that is second nature to us, yet so alien to her students who would boil it to sticky submission or undercook it leaving a hard core. I chuckled to myself and decided that rice had to feature in our meal. So Sunday night supper was Chicken Biryani, Dhal and ‘Grannys’ cabbage. Dhal has always been a family favourite – comforting and warm with a hint of chilli, perfect for a dark winters evening, and Chicken Biryani is one of those dishes which leave perfect leftovers to be devoured by hungry kids another evening. ‘Grannys cabbage’ was a request from my eldest son – one of his favourite dishes she cooked regularly.
I was surprised at the simplicity of the recipes – yes, the whole meal took me 3 hours to cook from start to finish, but really, thats no more than a sunday roast. I followed them quite precisely, although cooked the biryani on the stove not in the oven, and substituted grated fresh turmeric for dried.
As I cooked and released the fragrance of the spices into the house, my sons started skulking around the kitchen wondering when they could eat. The greatest compliment being that it ‘smelt like Granny’s cooking’, as well as second helpings, empty plates, and a request to eat the leftovers when they came home from school the next day.
Recipes to follow below – these are photographs of the original recipes which my mother wrote for her classes.