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Hot Licks and Fast Runs

The editor strikes back with a creation all his own.

Article from Home & Studio Recording, January 1986

A step by step guide to constructing, testing and fault finding your own curry.

With Christmas just around the corner, this month's project is a little out of the ordinary in that you don't need to be able to solder, you don't need an oscilloscope and you can eat the results.

Having spoken to a great number of musicians, engineers and music biz people generally, it has become obvious that there is some mystical link between this section of the population and Indian food. Bands stop off for a curry on the way home from gigs, engineers send out for take-aways during long sessions and we at Music Maker invariably hold our production meetings in the curry house next door.

It is however a relatively simple task to cook good Indian style food at home and if you follow a few basic rules, it needn't be quite the hit and miss affair that you might expect it to be.


One thing that deters many people in attempting curry recipes is the long list of spices involved, but don't panic. Most towns have at least one Indian or Pakistani corner shop and these will undoubtedly stock everything that you need. Not only do they sell these spices very cheaply but they are usually very helpful and will label all the bags for you and even offer advice on cooking.

Once you have bought a couple of ounces of each spice that you're likely to need, these should be transferred to screw topped jars which will help to keep in the flavour for many months. I use my old coffee jars but as a last resort, you could buy something.

So far then, having spent only two or three pounds, you have enough ammunition to keep you in curries for weeks. By the way, don't even think about using curry powder!

If you can't find an Indian food shop, you could try one of those health food shops which can be easily located by following any Citroen 2CV with a 'Save the Ant' sticker in the rear window. When it stops, the occupant, wearing corduroy trousers or a long flowery skirt, will make a bee line for the nearest such establishment to top up his or her barrel of lentils.

OK, so now you've got all the fiddly bits so let's start cooking.



This project comes in three parts: the meat, the sauce and the rice. For the meat section, I've chosen Tandoori chicken as it's easy to make, but if you have half a turkey left, you could skip this part and pour the sauce over a few turkey slices. The following ingredients are calculated to feed four (or one Motorhead roady) but may be scaled accordingly. All spices are ground unless otherwise stated.

Tandoori Chicken Ingredients
Four chicken quarters
One small pot of plain yoghurt
Two tablespoons of cooking oil
Two tablespoons of lemon juice
One teaspoon paprika
One teaspoon coriander
One teaspoon cumin
Half teaspoon chilli
One or two cloves of chopped garlic
Half teaspoon ginger
Quarter teaspoon red food colouring

Mix the oil, yoghurt and spices in a bowl and then add the finely chopped garlic to make the marinade. There is a pureed garlic which comes in tubes and this is an excellent alternative, but if you inadvertently mistake it for toothpaste, no one will talk to you for weeks. The red food colouring is a vegetable dye powder available from all Indian food shops, but it is possible to use the bottled stuff normally used for colouring cake icing at a pinch.

Next, wash the chicken quarters and then make four or five deep cuts across the flesh with a sharp knife (or tape splicing blade). Place the chicken quarters into the bowl with the spice mix and spoon the mixture over the chicken and into the cuts until they're well coated. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to marinate for between four and 24 hours. Then, the chicken pieces are simply placed on a greased baking tray and cooked in a hot oven (400°F or gas mark 5-6) for 30 to 35 minutes. Tandoori chicken is delicious with salad and a slice of lemon or served with the Ransak sauce detailed next.

If you have any of the marinade left, try coating a few whole mushrooms which can be cooked in the oven along with the chicken for around 20 minutes or grilled separately. This is a good vegetarian alternative to chicken and the sauce itself uses no meat products if you omit the OXO cube.

Ransak Sauce

So named because of its effect on the digestive system of the recipient, this sauce is easy to make and may be varied in strength according to how many green chillies you use. Using all eight chillies produces a real afterburner but if you're a softie, you can miss them out altogether. I have divided the spices up into groups A and B as these are added at different times during cooking so the easiest thing is to measure these out into separate bowls before you start.

Ransak Sauce Ingredients
Spice Mix A
Half teaspoon black pepper
One dessertspoon coriander
Half dessertspoon cumin
One teaspoon red chilli powder
One chicken OXO cube
Half a cup of milk

(Mix these spices with a little of the milk to form a paste and leave to stand whilst you fry the onions).

Spice Mix B
One dessertspoon dried fenugreek leaves
One dessertspoon fresh coriander leaves
One teaspoon garam massala
Two white cardamom pods
Two bay leaves
Two whole cloves
One piece of cinnamon bark
Quarter teaspoon of orange food colouring

Additional Ingredients
Two cloves of garlic
Four onions
One pound of tinned chopped tomatoes
Up to eight fresh green chillies
One tablespoon frozen or fresh spinach
Half a cup of vegetable oil
Quarter teaspoon whole fennel seeds

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and add the fennel seeds. When these start to sizzle, add the onions, green chillies and the garlic, all finely chopped and keep stirring. Fry for a few minutes until the onions start to brown and then reduce the heat and add spice Paste A. Stir in the paste and if you've done everything correctly so far, you should be greeted by that familiar smell that comes out of the drains near Indian restaurants. Don't let the mixture burn and after a couple of minutes stirring, add the tinned tomatoes and the spinach. For a finer texture, you can put the tinned tomatoes into a blender for a couple of seconds before adding them to the mix.

When the tomatoes have been thoroughly mixed in, stir in spices B and add the rest of the milk after which the whole concoction may be transferred to a casserole dish (with lid) and then placed in the oven for an hour or so to simmer at around 300°F or gas mark 2. If you are doing this at the same time as the tandoori chicken, put the sauce near to the bottom of the oven to prevent it burning.

After the sauce has cooked, serve it garnished with a few onion rings and a few tandooried mushrooms with perhaps a pinch of fresh coriander leaves on top. Before we move onto the rice, a few words about coriander leaves. In my area these are only available from Indian shops and usually there is only one delivery per week. The best bet is to buy a bunch or two and then chop up the leaves and place them in a bag in the freezer where they will quite happily wait until you need them. You can miss them out if you can't get them but they really are worth any effort involved in tracking them down.

Pilloried Rice

Whilst rice may seem to be an easy substance to cook, it often emerges looking more like school rice pudding than the light fluffy and separate rice served at good Indian restaurants - but it's easy to get right if you follow the rules.

First, the type of rice: Basmati rice is best and can be obtained from most supermarkets but you can use ordinary long grained rice at a pinch. The packet will often tell you that the rice has been washed already; don't believe it! The first thing that you must do before attempting to cook rice is to wash it thoroughly under cold running water in a sieve for at least one minute. Failure to do this will invoke the curse of the school rice pudding.

Place two cups of the cleaned rice in a saucepan and add cold water until the water is about three quarters of an inch above the rice. Adda touch of yellow food colouring and a piece of cinnamon bark and you're ready to go. Bring the rice to the boil and then turn down the heat to simmer and put on the lid. Leave the rice simmering for eight minutes and don't take the lid off to look at it. After eight minutes, remove the rice from the heat and only then remove the lid. You should find that the pan contains nice yellow fluffy rice, perfectly cooked. If the pan's full of carbon, read through the instructions again.

The rice is delicious just as it is, but if you like pillao rice, it can be converted as follows.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in your frying pan and add a little chopped garlic. When the fat is hot, put in the rice and stir continuously. Also add at this point a little grated coconut, one heaped teaspoon is enough, and keep stirring. If you like true luxury, add a few chopped mushrooms, cashew nuts and some chopped apple at this point. Now remove the pan from the heat and place the rice in a serving bowl. To add that finishing touch, sprinkle a tiny amount of red food dye onto the top of the rice and leave it for a minute or two before giving the rice a gentle stir. This will result in an attractive yellow rice with the odd few red and orange grains in true Indian restaurant style. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve in an oval stainless steel dish for maximum authenticity.


This project is fairly easy to test though it's as well to have a couple of pieces of test equipment around in case there are any problems. A bottle of calomine lotion gently chilled in the fridge can be a real life saver the next day, especially if you miscalculated the number of green chillies.

Seriously though folks, if you stick to these instructions, you should be able to persuade yourself that you can cook after all. This recipe has been field tested on other Music Maker staff members and most have lived.


The influence of curry on the music business of the last three decades cannot be underestimated. Many famous tracks were, in fact, written under the influence of a hot vindaloo or a quick biryani. One has only to think of the Beatles' 'Ceylon and Winding Road', Phil Collins' 'You Can't Curry Love' or the likes of Ian Tan Dury to appreciate this. It is said that the entire side two of The Dark Side of the Moon was inspired by a chicken massala and that Ultravox's 'Vienna' was the direct result of Midge Ure's musing upon a spiced poppadom.

Now, however, the home studio owner has the chance to construct his own curry without having to buy the expensive and at times unreliable models currently on the market. This project, I'm sure will prove useful to many home studio owners, particularly when you consider that second hand models represent poor value for money and are frequently unusable.

Further information obtainable from H&SR, (Contact Details).

What others have said about this project...

'Makes sitting on a soldering iron seem like pure luxury' — Ben Duncan.

'This curry enjoyed me immensely' — Dennis Hill. (Director, Music Maker)

'Like cleaning the space shuttle exhaust with your tongue — with the engine running.' — Nigel Lord. (Editor, Rhythm)

'Perhaps more green chillies would have helped. — Paul White.

'If the Bhuna process had been slightly longer, the Massala mushrooms slightly more copious and the tandoori chicken marinated for a further week, I wouldn't have noticed. — Dan Goldstein. (Editor, E&MM)

'Pass the wine, Nigel. ' — Tim Goodyer (Music Editor, E&MM)

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Tascam 246 - an Un-Reel Machine

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Spring in the Air

Publisher: Home & Studio Recording - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Home & Studio Recording - Jan 1986

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman



Feature by Paul White

Previous article in this issue:

> Tascam 246 - an Un-Reel Mach...

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