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Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Thursday, 24 June 2010 11:41 UK
'Curry King' shares the Indian Emperor's final stew
By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
BBC Surrey

Curry has become something of a national dish in Britain

Restaurant critic Fay Maschler called him the "Curry Leader" and Loyd Grossman suggested he was a "Missionary seeking converts to curry"!

Haslemere's Pat Chapman would be the first to admit he is a "curryholic".

He's been hooked on the spicy dish since his ex-memsahib Grandmother taught him to cook curries when he was ten years old.

In 1982, Surrey's "Curry King" founded The Curry Club, in order to share his love of the dish with other spice fans.

One of the first curry houses in Britain was opened by Sake Dean Mahomed, in 1810.

The Hindoostane Coffee House in George Street, central London, served Hookha with real Chilm tobacco and Indian-style dishes.

It was really only in the early part of the 20th Century that Indian cuisine became accessible to the general public as more establishments started to open.

Eating curry
In March 2004, Surrey County Council formed the Surrey Curry Club to lower the amount of artificial colourings being used in restaurant dishes, especially the nation's favourite dish 'Chicken Tikka Massala.'

But when Pat Chapman was growing up just after World War II, there were still only a handful of Indian restaurants in Britain.

Now Asian cuisine is responsible for a billion pound industry.

Six generations of cooks

Pat's family have lived in India since 1730, and his love of curry was already forming when he started cooking his own, aged eight.

Encouraged and tutored by his grandmother, he is now considered to be an expert in his field.

He founded The Curry Club 25 years ago to share his knowledge of the spicy cuisine with like-minded curry enthusiasts.

He has written thirty-four books on the subject, has been described by the Daily Mail as the man who "Baltified Britain" and now travels the globe spreading the word about curry!

His recipe, Shah Jehan's Last Stew, is named after the fourth Moghul Emperor who built the Taj Mahal in Agra.

He had built the white marble mosque in memory of his favourite wife Mumtaz who died in 1647.

He originally intended to build a second mausoleum, a mirror image in black marble, opposite the Taj, across the River Jumna.

Sadly his eldest son had other ideas, knowing the project would bankrupt the country. He had his father locked up in the Red Fort, before declaring himself emperor.

Imprisoned and labelled as insane, Shah Jehan was given one meal a day, eating the same dish for seven years, until his death.

And according to Pat Chapman, this is it.

Shah Jehan's Last Stew


1 1/4lb (560g) lean leg of lamb, off the bone, unwanted matter discarded

3 tablespoons ghee

2 garlic cloves, minced

8oz (225g) 1 cupful finely chopped onion

1/2 pint (300ml) water to akhni stock

2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

3 or 4 pieces cauliflower in small florettes

20 Kenyan beans, topped and tailed

2 tablespoons green pistachio nuts

1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander leaves

6 stoned dates

4 floz (100ml) 1/2 cup double (thick) cream

20 saffron strands

aromatic salt


Some cooked onion tarka

Some whole fresh coriander leaves

The Paste

7oz (200g) 1 cupful blanched almonds

4oz (110ml) 1/2 cupful thick plain yoghurt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch (2.5cm) cube ginger, chopped

3 tablespoons coriander seeds, roasted and ground

1 teaspoon cummin seeds, roasted and ground

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

Spices (whole)

2 teaspoons cummin seeds, roasted

4 or 5 brown cardamoms

10 to 12 cloves

2 x 2 inch (5cm) pieces cassia bark

1 piece of mace


Asian cuisine is responsible for a billion pound industry

Mulch the paste ingredients down using enough water to achieve a creamy, pourable purée.

Cut the meat into cubes about 1 1/2 inches (4cm) in size, remembering that they will shrink during coking as the liquids come out.

Heat the ghee in a karahi or wok. Stir-fry the garlic and the spices for a minute, then add the onion and continue for 5 minutes. Add the paste, and stir-fry for 3 more minutes.

Using a 4-5 pint (2.25-2.75 litre) casserole with lid, combine the fried ingredients and the meat, parsnips and carrots and place into an oven preheated to 375F/190?C/Gas 5.

After 20 minutes, inspect and stir adding water or akhni stock if it is becoming too dry. Repeat 20 minutes later, adding the remaining ingredients. Add to taste, the cream, saffron and the salt. Cook for a further 20 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Serve garnished.

Serves: 4

Taken from Pat Chapman's Curry Club 250 Favourite Hot and Spicy Dishes

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