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   17 Dalry Road, Edinburgh EH11 2BQ




  October 29th 1993

Indian style for winter warmth

INDIAN food always appeals greatly to me, particularly with the onset of the cold weather. There is nothing better than something hot and spicy (but not too spicy) when the wind is blowing a gale outside.

Here are some essentials to cooking and eating good Indian food, whatever the weather.

Grinding your own spices is intrinsic to good Indian cooking. Old jars of spices lurking at the back of your larder will taste stale and musty and certainly do nothing for the other splendid ingredients you have planned for the dish.

Either grind whole spices yourself (it is easiest in a coffee machine or small grinder) or buy them freshly ground from a whole-food or specialist Asian shop. Some recipes call for the spices to be ground to a paste, so a pestle and mortar is usually better for this. Many spices can be dry-roasted: this means toasting them in a dry frying pan, without any oil or fat, to bring out their flavours and aromas. Keep your eye on them, though, or they will burn.

Once you have chosen your recipes, decide what accompaniments to serve. Rice is the obvious choice, but I cannot resist naan bread, which also has the advantage that you can break off huge chunks and dip it into your fellow diners' dishes too.

This is, by the way, the authentic way of eating Indian food anyway (without cutlery)- although only the right hand should be used; the left is considered unclean.

The best naans, I think, are at The Verandah Restaurant in Dalry Road. Their Peshwari Naan (naan cooked with almonds and sultanas), or Naikoli Naan, which is flavoured with coconut, have to be tasted to be believed.

If you cannot face a long spice-grinding session, here is a recipe for cheats; you use, some bought tikka paste, but as long as yo use a reliable name, the flavour should be fairly authentic.

Serve with lots of cooling raita (yoghurt and cucumber salad), naan, dhal (spiced lentil) and pulao rice.

Easy Chicken Tikka

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 rounded tbsp tikka paste
4 fl oz natural yoghurt
I tsp sugar
4 chicken breasts, skinned and boned coriander leaves, to garnish.


1. Mix together the tikka paste with the yoghurt, sugar and a little salt. Prick the chicken all over, with a fork, then place in dish.
2. Pour over the yoghurt marinade and leave, covered, for two hours.
3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place under a hot grill for about 30 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. (Test with tip of a sharp knife; if the juices run clear, it is done). Serve at once, garnished with some fresh coriander leaves.

By Sue Lawrence