Andaaz translates as 'estimation'.
If the word sounds familiar, it might be because lots of Indian restaurants are called Andaaz, or Andaz.
That’s because the idea of estimation is key to Indian cooking culture.
I didn’t know this until last weekend.
We were at a wonderful dinner hosted by my mate Sandip and his wife. In passing, my missus mentioned that she reckons I’ve never made the same dish twice. She’s probably right, as usual.
It’s because I hardly ever use recipes.
That’s Andaaz, said Sandip, immediately. He then went on to explain the concept, adding – interestingly – that the word can also mean ‘personal style’.
We speculated on why Andaaz is so central to Indian cuisine. There’s no doubt many factors.
But in the end it’s surely about India having a genuine food culture.
Because in a genuine food culture, no one really bothers offering - or following - exact recipes. Cooking is everywhere. It’s currency. Cooking is what you grow up with. It’s what surrounds you and it’s what just what you do.
I love it. It’s like selon le marché on acid.
Andaaz is clearly not for everyone. Most folk I know love following a recipe and working their way through to a brand new dish, perfectly executed. There’s a lot to be said for that. (Just ask my kids, who’ve been on the wrong end of more than one of my ‘bold experiments’.)
And even the most grizzled, Andaaz-happy cook needs a bit of inspiration from time to time.
So rest assured that we’ll keep on sharing recipes and ideas – like the fabulous one below for Sandip’s mum’s Bengali Lamb Curry.
The market reopens in September.
BENGALI LAMB CURRY
2 lbs diced lamb shoulder
cinnamon (very small stick)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
1 1/2 tbsp garlic and ginger (minced or paste)
4 tomatoes (peeled preferably)
Heat 6 tbsp (plenty of) oil in a large pan (best with a lid).
Add whole spices and fry on medium heat.
Add finely chopped onion and fry until it just starts to colour.
Add 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste and fry gently for 2mins making sure not to burn.
Add 1/2 tsp salt.
Add ground spices and stir in well. If it’s too dry add more oil and a little water.
Turn up heat and add lamb. Stir thoroughly on high heat to seal lamb and until fat starts to render. Make sure the base doesn't burn.
Add 1 tsp salt (or to taste).
Add water at any stage if getting dry.
Add tomatoes and continue to stir.
Turn down heat once tomatoes break down.
Add chillies (depending on how hot you want it).
Cover and simmer until meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
NB: Sandip’s mum is very clear that 'you'll never make tasty Indian food if you are not prepared to use enough oil or enough salt!'.