'But this is special Tatopani pumpkin dal, you will like my dal' said the beautiful owner. And she was right. The best dal I ever ate: maybe because I had walked a hundred miles uphill, maybe because of the hot springs and the orange orchards, but mainly because it just was the best.
Funky Pretty – cauliflower and aubergine curry
"Need some help?" enquired one of the two charming students sitting opposite us for the 'all you can eat' thali. The hotel on MG road had seen grander days (Winston Churchill once stayed there) but now was a very popular lunch destination serving delicious food. Friendly staff brought us a couple of teaspoons, but I had been to South India before and had no need of these.
Fish barbecue with Smokey* hot sauce.
Dodging the showers is easier when barbecuing for short periods. The steaks of wild trout shown here (line caught in a West Country river) take no time at all, and there is plenty of room on the grill for peppers and tomatoes (sausages can go on after all these have cooked).
This simple curry was circulating around North London in the 1970s. It has no pretensions to be anything else.
Leftover mullet paella
This recipe evolved from the leftover baked red mullet of a previous extravaganza. To follow the recipe without leftovers, simply start by braising or baking a mullet or similar in oil or butter, fennel slices and a little wine. Ingredients: cooked red mullet, as above. 100g paella or risotto (round grain) rice, several large bulbed …
My father used to make this. Ingredients: 600ml creamy milk, or semi-skimmed plus single cream, one heaped tablespoonful of round grain rice (pudding, risotto and paella all work well), the same of mucovado sugar, a good pinch of allspice. Butter. Rub a casserole dish with butter. I used not to do this but if you …
Root vegetable biryani
If you want great chicken biryani, go to my favourite blogger, The Lockdown Chef. For authentic, delicious lamb biryani, it's Mutton biryani - East African style from my friend Chachi's Kitchen, also available in print. This is not them. It is a vegan biryani, the sort of thing you might have paid a pound for …
No meat paella
Put the oil in a pan on a medium heat with the chopped marjoram, sliced fennel, garlic, chilli, salt, pepper and the halloumi cut into 1cm cubes. Stir this around for a few minutes, then empty out on a plate, leaving most of the oil in the pan. Now add the sliced onion and when it has gone translucent, the rice. You can put in a few strands of saffron now too.
Barbecue pork and beans
My first cookout was in the Girl Scouts. We cut a door in a Crisco can and lit a fire inside then cooked a hamburger patty on the top (bottom). Tasted wonderful. And in a single stroke Mrs Sampson taught me the basic human right of cooking outside.
I did eat proper Venetian risotto once, at a restaurant on the river Brenta. One moment I was sitting on the top deck of a tour boat surrounded by a European school party of smoking, carousing teenagers and the next I was in a totally silent restaurant eating an all white risotto. The afternoon session …