Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking
Rice, pappadums, nan bread, chapattis etc.
In many countries, including the UK, it is assumed that you have rice with your curry, and indeed it goes perfectly.
Long grain rice, that is. The small stuff is for rice pudding. Get ordinary long grain, or Basmati if you like and are prepared to pay a bit more.
Cook it according to the directions on the pack. Or (if for instance you have been at the pre-dinner drinks and can’t focus, or have already thrown the bag away) use twice as much water as rice, bring to the boil, turn down to simmer with the lid on the pan at a jaunty angle.
Give it 10 minutes or so and check it. If the rice is dry but not cooked, add more water (boil some in a kettle to speed up the process). If it’s cooked but still wet, put it in a sieve and drain it.
If using wholegrain (brown) rice, add more water because it takes longer to cook.
If using parboiled rice, that means part-boiled, so it’s partly done already and will cook more quickly.
COWBOY Q&A 1
Why do you not put the lid on the pan properly?
Because if you do it will froth up and boil over, making a mess on the stove and smelling like you’ve set fire to your underpants.
COWBOY Q&A 2
What if it boils dry while I’m not looking?
If it has only just happened, scrape as much of the loose stuff off as possible and hope it’s enough. Smell and taste it to see that it doesn’t smell/taste burnt. If it does, throw it away and start again – and pay more attention next time, if that’s not too much to ask. But then again, it’s your problem. Do what you like. Just don’t come running to me etc. etc.
BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE RICE
All the other stuff you can buy ready-made. Pappadums (or poppadoms, or… spelt all sorts of ways) are often served as a kind of appetizer, with dips (chutney, tomato salsa, whatever, really – buy some appropriate ones ready-made). But you don’t usually use pappadums as the main bulk/stodge/fibre/carbohydrate for the meal – you need something more substantial.
Nan (naan) bread, chapattis etc. are used in their country of origin instead of rice, not in addition to it. But if you want to have them in addition, you’re in charge. Just remember it’s like having a western meal with potatoes plus bread plus pasta etc. Do you really need that?
If you don’t have any rice, having burnt it all, and also have no nan bread etc, having forgotten to buy it or ruined that too, do some mashed potato. To make it look like you meant it, put a helping on the plate, make a hole in the middle, smooth the outer edges into a circle and put the curry in the hole. Swear blind you serve it like this all the time because they do it in some remote area of the Himalayas, then listen to the happy grunts as people agree that it really works. Because it does.
What drinks go well with curry?
Beer is the popular choice because people appreciate the soothing qualities of all the water it contains. And it doesn’t have a subtle flavor that your spices will destroy (discerning beer drinkers may disagree).
If your curry is mild in terms of chilli, by all means wheel out the wine of your choice. If the curry is fiery, don’t waste your money – you won’t be able to savour it because the curry will have blasted your taste buds to hell anyway.