The food of India, not just Indian food
Indian Takeaway for Valentine’s Day
Down with a chest infection, I really couldn’t face the walk into Waitrose on a chilly Sunday afternoon in February. But it was Valentine’s Day, and I also couldn’t face a night without a special meal. So for the first time in months, I paid a visit to my local corner shop in Lewes to sample the delights of Chaula’s home cooking.
Chaula is a local legend. Her small restaurant on East Street has been running for several years, although the Covid pandemic seems to have interrupted activities recently. Before that, she sold Friday night curries from a newsagents off Southover High Street, and her frozen takeaway dishes are sold far and wide in the town and nearby.
I opted for Murg Makhani, a chicken curry, with Palak Paneer, a spinach dish with delicious wafers of salty cheese, and Sag Chaana, basically chick peas in a vegetable sauce. I made basmati brown rice and a yoghurt side dish, a perfect meal for two people for less than a tenner each.
The meal was delicious. Murg Makhani consisted of diced chicken marinated in a rich creamy sauce made from tomatoes, yoghurt and onions, flavoured with ginger, cashewnuts and a mix of spices. The ingredients list notes that the dish contains a hint of sugar, although I would have preferred it without. Palak Paneer had a lovely green colour and plenty of flavour: spinach with paneer (a type of cheese), and tomato, onions, garlic, ginger, cashews and melon seeds. The Saag Chana is similar but with chickpeas rather than paneer. Choosing the right wine with Indian food is always tricky, and I generally prefer soft drinks. Although we had opened a decent Primitivo, I opted for cranberry juice.
Chaula’s takeaway is frozen in small lidded plastic trays that can be microwaved or defrosted slowly at room temperature. I went for the speedy option, and the meal was ready in about 10 minutes. Remove the lids before putting the trays in the microwave, or you risk scalding your fingers when you serve it all up.