Last year, BBC Good Food celebrated its 25th anniversary in the culinary world by conducting a huge poll to find out Britain’s favourite comfort food. Whilst British classics like apple crumble and scones with clotted cream sashayed their way into the top ten, a few specialities from other cultures also made a cameo. Pizza and lasagne demonstrated our country’s appreciation of global cuisine but ultimately, it was a sweeping victory for that meal that is not only the quintessentially British dinner but a contender for the quintessentially British experience – the Sunday roast.
Whether you are more of a Sunday lunch homebody, cooking for friends and family, or a ‘pop to the pub’ kind of customer, nobody can deny that the roast dinner is a firm part of our culture here in the UK. Sunday has traditionally been a day of indulgence, where work goes on hold and we are encouraged to relax, regroup and enjoy some decadent food.
However, last year the Telegraph reported that the number of roast dinners cooked in Britain had dipped by eight percent compared to the same period in 2013. Perhaps this busy, modern world is leaving us with less and less time to cook – let’s face it, after a long week of work, when faced with the decision of slaving away over a hot stove or popping out for a slap-up meal at one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants, most of us would choose the latter.
Perhaps it’s time to give the Sunday lunch a bit of a revamp and get creative in the kitchen. Why not combine it with one of our nation’s favourite global cuisines and spice up our Sundays by adding a little Indian influence to the humble roast dinner?
Give a roasted bird a touch of the exotic by mixing up a marinade inspired by the northern states of India. In this region, the hot, clay tandoor oven is used to bake all manner of meats and a marinade of thick, clinging yoghurt flavoured with chilli and spices helps tenderise the meat and lock in the juices.
Try natural yoghurt, lemon juice, tomato puree and a teaspoon of chilli powder, coriander, cumin, garam malasa and cinnamon. Add a little garlic and ginger to the mix and rub it all over the bird, pushing some of the mixture between the skin and the breast.
When East met West during colonial times, a whole new tradition of cooking was born. For those that had relocated to India, keeping the tradition of Sunday lunch alive relieved any homesickness – but who could resist experimenting with the mouth-watering spices on offer?
Melt a little butter or heat some oil and brown your beef. Mix it with onions, potatoes, chopped red chillies, cinnamon and cloves with just a splash of vinegar and cook until tender. This dish is particularly suitable for the pressure cooker, also known as dum pukht in the Aadhi region of India.
And of course, a roast dinner is nothing without the trimmings! Don’t forget to season your potatoes and veggies with a sprinkling of garam masala and chilli powder to sufficiently spice up your Sunday lunch.