I have never been to India though it seems everybody else I know has, from Delhi to Simla to Goa and beyond. Two of our dearest friends lived in India for years, and one day we hope to emulate them. Until we find ourselves flush with funds, however, it looks like the closest my family and I will get to that storied subcontinent is when we make curry.
We came across an Indian-style lamb curry in La Cuisine de France by Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion, 1961), and it was terrifically easy to make. Lovers of Indian cuisine, take note: It was not authentic, being more of a denatured Eisenhower-era variation, a sort of safe curry for fearful palettes. Nonetheless it was enjoyable, though I would frankly add a few more tablespoons of curry powder to up the Indian ante. Our daughter, in particular, found the individual toppings (chutney, slivered almonds, et cetera) a lot of fun.
CARI DE MOUTON (LAMB CURRY)
SOURCE: La Cuisine de France by Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion, 1961)
5 tablespoons butter
2-1/2 pounds lamb or mutton neck meat, cut for stew
5 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 bananas, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 apples, peeled and cut into quarters or eighths
4 tablespoons slivered almonds
4 tablespoons seedless raisins
1/2 cup orange marmalade
Heat the butter in a deep heavy pan until frothy. Add the meat and cook over a low fire until the meat is slightly cooked on all sides. The meat must not brown.
Add the curry powder, allspice, and a pinch or two of salt to 3 cups of water, mix thoroughly, and pour over the meat. Add the bananas and the apples. Cover and simmer for at least 2 hours. If the sauce thickens too much, add water.
Serve very hot with boiled rice, and in little side dishes serve the slivered almonds, raisins, orange marmalade, and chutney sauce.