I spoke in a recent blog about my preference for smaller, tapas-style, plates when I am eating in restaurants and at it’s National Curry Week, it seemed perfect timing to discuss how Indian food can fit into this category.

Back in the day, you sat down, ordered a sauce-laden main course like Chicken Bhuna and sharing amounted to splitting some pilau rice and a naan bread as big as your head.

Thankfully, Indian food has become much more refined in recent years and many restaurants are taking a ‘less is more’ approach.

I came across one recently during a visit to London. Dishoom styles itself as an Irani-style café which were once so popular Bombay. There were almost 400 in the city in the 1960s where as now there are only 30.

Eating at Dishoom is quite an experience. Aside from the characterful buildings they are located in – the one I ate in Kings Cross is in a restored Victorian warehouse – the whole menu is based around sharing.

You can start with breakfast where you can have a two fried eggs on chilli cheese toast, spicy scrambled eggs served with home-made pau buns and grilled tomatoes, or a bacon and egg naan roll.

Their all day menu is really amazing. On my visit I had the most amazing lamb samosas, keema pau (spicy mince lamb and peas with a toasted, buttered, home-made pau bun), the best chicken curry (or a ruby as it is called on the menu) I have ever tasted and some gunpowder potatoes (smoky grilled potatoes tossed with butter, crushed aromatic seeds and green herbs) and the black house daal, one of their signature dishes.

It sounds like a lot but because the plates are small, and the food is so delicately cooked and presented, it doesn’t fill you up like some Indian food does.

There are four Dishoom restaurants in London but the good news is that they are about to open their first outside of London, in Edinburgh, which is great news.

If that has whetted your appetite and to celebrate National Curry Week, here’s a recipe for Chicken Pathia, a lovely hot and sour dish.

Chicken Pathia

Serves 4

Ingredients
For the tomato sauce:
• 1 large onion (chopped)
• 1 tablespoon of garlic (minced)
• 1 table spoon of ginger (minced)
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 400g can of plum tomatoes
• 250ml water

For the pathia:
• 1 large onion (chopped)
• 1 green pepper (chopped)
• 1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
• 1 teaspoon ginger (minced)
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• Handful of chopped coriander
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
• Juice of half a lemon
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• Dash of red food colouring
• 4 chicken breasts
• 250ml chicken stock

Method

1. Begin making the sauce by frying the minced garlic, minced ginger, coriander powder, paprika and turmeric for about a minute to release the flavours.
2. Add the onions and fry for a further 10 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and water and simmer for approximately 1 hour until the mixture is thick and most of the water has evaporated. Blend the mixture until it becomes thick and velvety.
4. Begin to make the curry by frying the onion, green pepper, minced garlic, minced ginger, cumin powder and coriander powder for around 10 minutes.
5. Add the sauce you prepared earlier, along with the chicken stock, cinnamon powder, cayenne pepper, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, red food colouring and salt to taste. Give everything a good mix and add the chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes and add the chopped coriander.
6. Simmer for another 20 minutes until the curry has reduced and serve with rice.

John Connell
About John Connell
Development & Innovations Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.