Who doesn’t like curry? This Indian standard is healthy, exotic, and escapist. Plus most recipes are blissfully easy to prepare, with only a few unusual ingredients here and there. Strangely, however, my husband and I have never enthusiastically explored making Indian cuisine at home, even though the ceiling-high ladder holding the majority of our cookery books contains a few volumes about subcontinental fare, including Curries of India by Harvey Day and Sarojini Mudnani (Nicholas Kaye, 1955).
Curries of India is a slender, deeply charming publication, from its orange-and-yellow jacket to the jolly illustrations. The chapter headings are delightful too, especially the last, “Those Alarming Side Dishes.” Clearly Indian food was still a curiosity in the United Kingdom of the 1950s, at least to some degree. Day seems to have been a devoté, however, with several curry-recipe compilations under his belt. As for his co-author, Mudnani, I have learned nothing. Could someone enlighten me about that individual’s career?
Recently we have been entranced by Curries of India and have made a few of the recipes therein. All have been toothsome and big hits within our family; even our eight-year-old daughter, Catherine, has left the table with only praise. The curry pictured above is Aloo Kolbi, composed of gently simmered shrimp, coconut, chilies, and tomatoes. Try it; you’ll like it. You might want to ramp up the spices though; I found it just the tiniest bit bland, probably the authors’ being considerate of sensitive British palates.
SOURCE: Curries of India by Harold Day and Sarojini Mudnani (Nicholas Kaye, 1955)
SERVES 6 PEOPLE
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground chili
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut (ie shredded)
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 green chilis, cut lengthwise
4 tomatoes, cut into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 ounces fat [ie lard; we used olive oil instead]
Brown onions and garlic in the fat [we used olive oil] and put in tomatoes. Add a cup of water and all the spices except the coconut. Salt and simmer for 4 minutes. Add potatoes, chilies, and shrimps and cook until the potatoes are done [in other words, fork-tender but not squishy]. Add the coconut, stir, simmer gently and serve.