>>adapted from Martin Versfeld's The Philosopher's Cookbook<<
If you want to understand a people you must understand its food production, cooking and eating. Cuisine is closely tied up with religion, philosophy and art. If you wish to study Chinese thought you must take an intelligent interest in Chinese agriculture and cooking....The ecumenical problem is the problem of how to eat with others, how to borrow ingredients and techniques from others and how to be ethnic without being exclusive. The possibility of living on American bread is not unrelated to the question of living with Americans.
This gives you a pukkah South Indian curry which I must admit tastes as divine as the Upanishads. Every single time you make a curry, it should be different; cooking must evoke some spontaneity. You must love what you are doing, but you cannot love what holds no surprises for you. Hence a good dish is like a good moral action--something has popped into it from that mysterious being, the person. One must avoid cooking by the canon law; remember that you are practising cooking and not domestic science.
Standardized measurements in recipes are the sort of thing that happens in a culture obsessed with the quantitative, at the expense of the Qualitative.
So let us get to work with a good heavy pot into which you put some oil or butter,
In which you braise finely sliced onions, and bay and curry leaves. Have you ever met a curry leaf? It grows luxuriantly in Darwin and all tropical climes. The crushed leaf smells amazing.
You must now add your pile of chopped-up meat, mixed with plenty of macerated garlic and toasted coriander and green ginger. The meat is usually chicken or lamb, though naughty people like the author have been known to use beef and pork. This is lightly browned, and to it you add coarsely chopped potatoes, a couple of tomatoes and, if you like, green beans. Other vegetables come to join the dance of colors, flavors and symbolism...which ones they are, and the parts they play, are up to you. Season with sea salt.
You take your ground up spices and to this you add some turmeric and a few chopped green chillies. Puddle it all in some water and pour over the meat. The curry must simmer briskly, until it has been thickened by the onions and potatoes, and should then be allowed to stand for a bit. While it is meditatively composing itself, chop up some green coriander. This you strew over the curry when you heat it up to serve. We curry snobs regard it as a must.
Curry is best served with basmati rice.
A recipe, which is a way in which you deal with Lao Tzu's Ten Thousand Things, is also a lifestyle. If you can get your ingredients to be and know and love themselves, they will ascend as a sweet savour from the altar which is your dining table. Reverence the food you prepare and eat, and suffuse your life with joy and love.
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