Ruth Drew was such a clever and funny writer; so sad that she died so young… here is her ponderings on curry:
Dissertation upon curry
In a large thick bottomed pan melt enough agreeably flavoured fat to fry a sliced onion sploshily. When these are beginning to colour, draw the pan off the fired and add, according to the sensitivity of your palate. 1 or 2 dessert spoonfuls of curry paste bought in a jar. Stir this well into the onion. Replace the pan on the stove adding, if necessary. a little stock to keep the mixture afloat. This is your basic material.
Into it put neatly cut-up morsels of delicious cooked meat, rigorously excluding all fatty lumps and other gristly or grisly oddments. A few cooked root vegetable bits and pieces may also be added in moderation. Add also 1 chopped eating apples, 1 tablespoon of jam, preferably plum or gooseberry; ½ bay leaf; ½ teaspoonful of salt; a light sprinkling of grated nutmeg; 1 generous teaspoon of castor sugar.
All this brew must be kept very gently simmering for at least 20 minutes and stock must be added if it at all dry. Failing genuine stock, one of th soup tablets, preferably Knorr-Swiss variety, can be used as a substitute.
The variations on this theme are endless. You can introduce a little fruit with discretion – a handful of well soaked sultanas or stoned raisin are an excellent trimming.
It is essential for the cook to taste this concoction during the process of manufacture: seasoning adjustments will probably be needed.
Ruth goes on to explain about cooking rice, and she adds ‘slices of lemon and piggish supplies of the best mango chutney must accompany this dish.’
Don’t you just love the way she writes? frying onions sploshily, keeping the mixture afloat, gristly and grisly oddments… What a clever and witty woman!