>>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.


  • Curry powder, let me say is out. Apparently it is merely a way of conning the dumb foreigner. You don't make curry by dumping a spoon of curry powder into an ordinary stew any more than you make babies by dumping a spoon of baby powder into a bath.

  • Somewhere in the course of the proceedings you will have dry roasted and ground your favorite spices, cleaned and cut up your choice of ingredients and decided on your seasonings...

  • Depending on the time, the season, the year, the location, the region, the happy disposition of the cook, a curry may contain any, but not all, of the following:

  • allspice

  • almonds

  • aniseed

  • apples

  • assafeotida

  • bananas

  • beans

  • black pepper

  • brinjals

  • brown sugar

  • butter

  • cardamom

  • cassia

  • cayenne pepper

  • chillies, red and green, fresh, dried or pickled

  • cinnamon

  • cloves

  • coconut

  • coriander...the herb AND the spice...the fresh leaves and the seeds

  • cream

  • cummin

  • and dried

  • fenugreek

  • garlic

  • gram

  • jaggery

  • lemons

  • limes

  • mace

  • mango...tart green, ripe and sweet, fresh or dried (amchur)

  • melon

  • mint

  • mustard seeds

  • nutmeg

  • onion

  • orange

  • pistachios

  • plaintains

  • pomegranate

  • poppy seeds

  • pulses (channa, masoor, toor, moong, soorthee, urad dhal)

  • raisins

  • saffron

  • salt

  • sultanas

  • tamarind

  • tomato

  • turmeric...grated fresh or dried and powdered

  • + meat, fish, and vegetables

  • While you are cooking, COMPOSE....I insist on the poetic, because cookery is a creative art. It has been said at various times by various people--and has always been true--that every human being is an artist.


  • 1.

    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.

  • 2.

    Standardized measurements in recipes are the sort of thing that happens in a culture obsessed with the quantitative, at the expense of the Qualitative.

  • 3.

    So let us get to work with a good heavy pot into which you put some oil or butter,

  • 4.

    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.

  • 5.

    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.

  • 6.

    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.

  • 7.

    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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Posted by jackicamReport
Can you please simplify the ingredients (...and the dialogue) for the confused masses who will view your recipe with disdain. 'Cause us simple folk sure as heck wanna make a good curry ; )
Posted by smallest forestReport
Peace! So sorry if you're confused, but I didn't make all of this up and have quite a large collection of resources (that I love to cook from) that combine cooking, life, and philosophy in this way...I guess I'm not the only one who enjoys this sort of creative openness? An experienced cook does not really NEED a direction like "8 g. turmeric powder to 160 ml. of stock" to produce a satisfactory result, as I'm sure you know, we taste and deviate all the time, anyway. And for the inexperienced cooks? The good news is that if you Google search "Indian+curry+recipe" you get 13,400,000 results! So there is, theoretically, one curry recipe for almost every man, woman and child in Australia! Or, from another angle, you could cook one curry recipe every single day for the next 36 thousand years! There's bound to be one or two there that you'll be happy with. ;D Enjoy!
Posted by jackicamReport
: ) I grew up in a household that never cooked curries so ingredients and quantities don't come naturally to me. I do appreciate proper instruction in this case so I don't muck it up. I'd love to cook authentic curries with multiple depths of flavour but I need direction.
Posted by Huda Abu HamdiaReport
mmmm.. this sounds ymmy.. I like to try curry dishes.. they are always so delicious .. I even add curry to eggs when i jsut make it scrambled mixed with some chopped susage, it gives a unique taste which i love..
Thanks for posting...
Posted by smallest forestReport
Thanks, Huda! There must be as many curries as there are people who make curry, it is a good dish for exploring things!