For many years I’ve been bored senseless by potted shrimp. And recently in Devon I swore that if I were to ever have another crab sandwich it would be under circumstances of extreme duress. And as for fish and chips, there is only one acceptable situation to eat them, and that is in winter on a cold and blowy beach. There, and only there, can you eat hot, salty, vinegar laced chips and pearly, soft white flaking fish. Even then it’s still rubbish.
However, I believe most things can be improved by the judicious application of spice. I’d add spices to anything, possibly even my toothpaste to pep it up and excite me. Wars and empires have been fought and forged over them, so the least I feel I can do is use them. And this recipe is proof why.
I’ve swapped prawns for crayfish, clarified butter for curry leaf infused ghee and replaced nutmeg, Cayenne pepper and mace with garam masala. (The nutmeg, Cayenne and mace have, in a nod to the original, gone into the bread).
It’s a pretty quick dish and a real flavour hit. Serve with the butter still slightly soft but deep yellow and translucent.
160g crayfish tails
A small handful of curry leaves, ideally fresh, the dried ones are a load of rubbish
1tbsp garam masala
A pinch of salt and pepper
2 spring onions
2 green finger chillies, sliced
A load of ghee (about 250g)
2tbsp coconut oil
A few coriander leaves
For the bread
2tbsp chickpea (gram) flour
2tbsp wholemeal flour
A good grating of nutmeg
1tsp Cayenne pepper
1tsp powdered mace
A pinch of salt
A few twists of pepper
Melt the ghee and coconut oil and add the curry leaves, garam masala and season well with salt and pepper. Leave to cool a little and skim the surface of any impurities.
Divide the crayfish between two pots and add the spring onions and chilli.
Pour the butter over the crayfish and leave to chill in the fridge until fairly set, but still spoonable, a bit like a melting mango sorbet. If serving later, you’ll need to remove them about half an hour in advance to soften unless you want to practice your spoon bending.
Make the bread (although it’s more like a sort of pancake-type affair) by mixing the ingredients together to form a fairly thick, spreadable batter.
Heat a cast iron pan until very hot then spoon on half the mixture and start to spread it around the pan, almost as if you were painting it on. As it cooks, this will become easier and you should be able to form a circle, but don’t worry, make it whatever shape you like, as long as it is an even thickness.
Leave it to cook until golden on one side, then flip over and finish it off. Repeat with the remaining mix.
Serve the bread with the pots of crayfish, a sprinkle of coriander leaves and some Bombay mix, which I suggest you buy. If you think I’m making my own, you can think again.