Garlic Curry with Chapatis & Cucumber Pachadi


Garlic Curry

I now laugh in the face of normal quantities of garlic. Since chicken with 40 cloves I consider myself a hardcore garlic eater. I’m sure you can smell my breath from wherever you are. This recipe contains a whopping 3 whole bulbs and on top of that 3 whole onions, which is a lot of allium considering there’s not much else bulking out this curry save a couple of tomatoes, chillies and spices.

The recipe comes from a book called ‘Indian’ by Das Sreedharan. In it, Das describes how people, “wonder how the garlic is so well tamed by the spicy and tangy tamarind sauce” and it is, but still…wow. Eating this curry is a little bit like being slapped in the face with a spicy lemon, I imagine. At first you pucker up with all that tamarind and then the double heat of red and green chilli kicks in before you cautiously lift a now yellow clove to your lips and bite down on a still crisp and still strong, whole clove of garlic. Then another and another. I really got into munching them down but it definitely felt a bit weird.


I served it will a coconut-heavy vegetable number and we scooped up the lot with my first attempt at chapatis using my new tava. I need to practice getting the shape more uniform but otherwise they were pretty fine and I even managed to get them to puff up a little bit.

I am of the opinion that no curry meal is complete without some sort of raita or other yoghurt based accompaniment and my favourite now is this cucumber pachadi, a recipe from one of my Flickr contacts, which you can find here. It is unusual (to me, at least) in that diced cucumber is first gently simmered with ginger so it is lightly cooked and then cooled and mixed with the yoghurt and a coconut, chilli and mustard seed paste. A temper of coconut oil, dried red chilli and curry leaves is poured on top. I served this to friends recently and they literally squabbled over the bowl.

One more thing about that garlic curry – I would suggest leaving it overnight before serving if you can bear it. Most curries are better the next day but with this the garlic and tamarind really get busy with each other overnight, melding into something just that little bit softer. You still won’t need to worry about vampires though; I was sweating that shiz for a week.

Garlic Curry (from ‘Indian’ by Das Sreedharan)
Serves 4

75g tamarind pulp (from a block)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
200g garlic cloves, peeled (yep)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
10 curry leaves
3 onions, peeled and finely chopped
3 green chillies, slit lengthways
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tomatoes, finely chopped

Put tamarind pulp in a bowl with 900ml hot water, breaking the pulp up as much as possible. Allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes before straining the water into a bowl through a sieve, pressing down on the pulp to extract as much as possible.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and add 50g of the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the fenugreek seeds and the dried chillies and fry for 1 minute. Remove and drain oon kitchen paper. Transfer to a blender and process to a fine paste.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pan then add the fennel and remaining fenugreek seeds and cook for 1 minute or until they are golden brown. Add the onions, curry leaves and chillies and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and then add the turmeric and chilli powder, followed by the chopped tomatoes. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the remaining garlic cloves, the garlic paste from the blender and the tamarind liquid. Cook on a low heat, stirring often for 15 minutes or until the mixture is thick and the garlic well cooked. I actually cooked this for about 15 minutes longer and the garlic was still crisp.

Chapatis (from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Bible)

Mix 125g chappati flour (or equal mix of white and wholemeal flours) with about 120ml water and a pinch of salt (my addition, chapatis don’t usually have any) to make a soft dough. Knead well for 10 minutes then shape into a ball and put aside in a bowl with a damp cloth over the top for at least 15 minutes. You can also chill for future use.

When ready to cook, set your tava or heavy based frying pan over a medium high heat while you knead the dough again and divide into six balls. Dust your surface with flour and roll out into a circle about 13cms in diameter. Pick up the chapatti and slap it in your hands to get rid of extra flour then slap it on the tava. Cook for ten seconds then flip it. Cook for another 10 seconds then flip again and using a damp cloth, dab it all over then flip it again – this should make it puff up.

Repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Apparently you can do the puffing up bit just by putting it in the microwave.