The product ranges at the two major supermarket chains, Safeway and Coles, continue to dwindle in favour of their own house brands of doubtful provenance; in fact of unknown provenance as far as the consumer is concerned. The smaller IGA chain of independents allows its member stores to stock product according to local need, something Safeway and Coles can't or won't do.
IGA deserves support. A huge number of small businesses have been cut out of representation on Coles and Safeway shelves across Australia by the two majors, in favour of cheap imports. If that's globalisation, I'm not buying. Give me quality and the hell with China.
Example: Margaret Rowland Authentic Indian has been manufacturing genuine high quality curry products for more than forty years; but, as far as I am aware, has never been stocked by Safeway and Coles. Margaret Rowland probably can't manufacture in sufficient quantities for their vast supply chains. All the more reason to support Margaret Rowland. Another reason to support her is that - as I read on the company's quaint website - in between manufacturing genuine curries, pickles and spices, originally in East Preston, she had ten children. That's a busy woman.
I bought a jar of Margaret Rowland tikka masala paste from the IGA store in Brunswick, right there at the tramstop on top of the hill, next to Rumeli's Turkish restaurant.
Tikka masala is apparently a traditionally hot curry for chicken, but it is of course ideal for currying any kind of meat or vegetable. You can follow the recipe on the jar, but I varied it as follows:
Potato, cashew and tomato curry.
Fry a finely chopped onion in a little oil. Now throw in a good handful of raw unsalted cashews, two chopped cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of grated ginger. Stir until the cashews just start to brown.
Add two large tablespoons of tikka masala paste and a dash of water. Stir until smooth. Add a teaspoonful of fenugreek powder and stir through. The Margaret Rowland tikka masala paste is mild; I added some extra chili here.
In another pot, parboil two large potatoes cut into one inch cubes and half that amount of similarly cubed pumpkin until barely soft. Drain and add to curry. Stir to coat. Add another onion, sliced into eight segments. Continue to add water - from the pot in which the vegetables boiled - gradually, to maintain consistency. Simmer very gently for ten to fifteen minutes. Now add two very good largish tomatoes - the truss or vine-ripened type, not billiard balls - cut into eighths. Simmer until the tomatoes have softened but retain their shape.
Serve on long grain rice, squeezing lime juice over. And here's to a long, hot summer. (With a little rain every now and again, of course. We don't want the lawn to die.)