Rick Stein’s India
A lover of all thing exotic, Rick Stein heads to India in search of the perfect curry. chats with the lovable chef about Rick Stein’s India.
Rick, you’d spent time in India before making this series but this was your first time visiting in a professional capacity, right? I’d been going there with my family for about 20 years but I’d never filmed there. Great Britain is addicted to curries – just about anybody I know, even from when they were little, always liked going for a curry, so when I thought about doing a program in India I thought it would be well- received.
That’s because there’s a feeling we don’t have the curries like they have in India, and I think that’s the case in Australia too. We’ve had close to it but I thought if I went out in search of the perfect curry there would be a bit of a journey in finding out what they were really like. Exploring a nation’s cuisine is a big ask, I imagine – there must be a lot of diversity from region to region. Yes, I was faced with the realisation that the task was so enormous I was only going to scratch the surface. But I was able to establish certain particularities about curries in certain parts of India, and I was able to go after the ones the British are most familiar with and find really good versions of them.
The other thing I was able to do was discuss with various Indians what is meant by curry – while we tend to use it to describe all kinds of Indian dishes, it’s not a word that exists in India. Are there basic fundamentals to making a proper curry? You start by heating ghee – a clarified butter – or oil. You fry whole spices in it, then add onions and maybe garlic or ginger. After that are the dish’s main spices, whatever they might be, although they will almost always include turmeric and chilli powder. And then you add the main element of the dish – meat or fish or vegetables – and finish off with a pinch of the main spice just before serving it. The terms “curry” and “heat” are often synonymous, but that’s not necessarily the case in India, is it? Not really, no. They’re always fragrantly spicy but heat is not always there. I’ve had complaints from people about a beef vindaloo I feature being too hot, and I wanted to write back to them saying “… and?” [ Laughs] But it’s true, in India they tend not to think in terms of spiciness or heat, it’s just about what the dish needs.
Rick Stein’s India, ABC1, Monday, 8.30pm