Recipe Testing with a Difference

Photograph: Fanny Charles Keralan Cauliflower and Coconut Milk Curry


Guild member Torie True Bhattacharyya was looking for volunteers to test some recipes for her new book, Chilli and Mint – Homestyle Indian Recipes from a British Kitchen. Much of it focused on the Bengali cuisine of her husband’s family, and Fanny Charles at the chance to try some new dishes and discover new tastes.

‘We loved the surprising Chicken Liver Curry (it helps if you like chicken livers, of course) and Keralan Cauliflower and Coconut Milk Curry (pictured) is already a favourite.

‘Opium Chicken (a culinary benefit of the unsavoury East India Company) and Coconut and Sultana Chana Dal both needed ingredients that aren’t available in rural Somerset. Torie sent panch phoron (Bengali five spice), Indian bay leaves and Kashmiri chilli powder, and we ordered white poppy seeds online. (In bigger towns you may find these in good Indian or Middle Eastern grocers.)

‘I soaked the yellow split peas for the Chana Dal overnight as advised and based on previous experience doubled the suggested cooking time, but the dal was what can charitably be described as crunchy. Perhaps Torie should put a time warning with the recipe? My mistake; wrong lentils. Chana Dal, also called Bengal gram or yellow split chickpeas, will cook in under an hour. And it is delicious.’