Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Camel Curry and Other Unlikely Delights

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"Take one camel hump and mince finely. Add diced shallots, capers, Tabasco and a raw egg and mix thoroughly..."

I have a morbid fear of being the first person to arrive anywhere. It's nothing to do with being fashionably late - more to do with awkwardness and not knowing what to say.

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And so it is that my husband and I find ourselves overshooting Number 1, Somewhere Street*, London as we're 10 minutes early and there's no way in hell I'm walking through that door till it's at least 5 past the hour.

As we trot past, I turn and see someone go up the steps, and I hiss to the hubby, "That's Henry" and he replies, "Who?" and I say, "The guy from Leon" and he replies, "Oh, Dimbles - you should have said" (sorry Henry - it's that Harry Hill's fault).

And then I begin to laugh, embarrassed, and my husband says, "He's going to hear you and spot us and think we're mentals. Pretend to be on the phone".

So we stand next to a skip and I pull out my mobile and I gesture wildly.

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A few minutes later, I say to my husband, "What time is it now?" and he says, "It's still only eight", so we wait a little longer and then stride confidently back towards the house only to be caught by another guest, who says, "Which way did you guys come from?"

"Around," I say, my face turning red, and I run up the steps into the home of ...

Writer and presenter Stefan Gates is the Gastronaut. A food adventurer if you will. He's eaten walrus in Canada, sea slug in Korea and cane rat in Cameroon.

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And so when a group of brave souls decide to cook camel, of course he offers his house as the venue. Even if he doesn't initially tell his lovely other half, photographer Georgia Glynn-Smith.

There's ten of us - Stefan and Georgia, Paul Hart from How Not To Do a Food Blog, writer William Leigh, Spanish food expert Rachel McCormack of Catalan Cooking, Becca Rothwell from How to Make a Mess, photographer Tom Bowles, Henry Dimbleby from Leon, my husband, and me.

Exotic meat suppliers Kezie Foods have kindly sent us a gratis consignment of fresh camel steaks, camel burgers and diced camel.

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I've gone for Cinnamon Camel Curry - a variant of the Burmese Cinnamon Chicken dish which went down a storm at my Wild Garlic pop-up.

Stef's making camel kebabs with sumac and aubergine, Henry's grilling the camel burgers as well as camel steaks with garlic and thyme butter.

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Rachel has all the fixings to make camel empanadas - a delicately spiced filling of minced camel meat, rosewater and almonds, plus the pastry ingredients.

It's all a bit too many cooks, but good fun as Rachel instructs us using her entirely Spanish language recipe book and we all take turns to try to make the empanadas. Georgia and Becca daringly embellish them with camel shapes - Georgia's is possibly a little more successful (Henry asks, "Who made the jellyfish?").

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Paul has made the base for the African stew potjiekos and intends to add raw, diced camel to start cooking now.

I mention that my camel has been simmering for about five hours, so he decides to make camel tartare instead. As you do.

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Rather a lot of tasting occurs.

The steak, kebabs and burgers never make it to the table as we all dive in. The rarer bits of steak are wonderful, the rest less so. The kebabs are alas rather chewy, and the burgers resemble bouncy beefballs - like the ones you get in Asian noodle soups. Which I like but no-one else seems keen on.

The empanadas are also demolished early on - they're a little like Cornish pasties but better - fragrant with a good depth of flavour.

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So what's camel like then?

The upshot is this - camel is good stuff (quite gamey) only when braised to b*ggery or virtually raw.

I know this sounds mad, but the point is that it has zero fat and is incredibly fibrous so, whilst my five hour treatment renders the meat tender-ish, my curry is loved despite rather than because of the camel.

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The tartare on the other hand is spoon-scraping-bottom-of-bowl good - I actually lick the bowl clean.

It's so delicious it's almost as good as the heavenly venison version I had at Launceston Place.

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Becca's dessert is brought out for us all - a thankfully 100% camel-free flourless chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and blackberries.

A triumphantly chocolatey end to an excellent camel adventure.

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Anyway, if you fancy making Burmese style Cinnamon Camel Curry (and why wouldn't you?), here's the recipe.

Cinnamon Camel Curry

  • 1 kg camel, diced
  • 6 medium white onions
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • 4 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Marigold bouillon
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

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Sauté the diced onions in oil. Add 400 ml water and all the other ingredients except for the camel, and then simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the camel and stir, so the meat is thoroughly coated with the sauce, then simmer again with the lid on for FIVE HOURS, topping up with water when necessary to avoid it sticking.

(or use the same amount of goat, beef or lamb and simmer for 2 1/2 hours).


With thanks to Kezie Foods for providing the camel


TB1_2190
Copyright
http://www.thomasbowles.com/

*not the actual address, oddly enough

19 comments:

  1. Camel! Coolest thing ever. You and your exotic meats Mimi ^_^ Yaru ne.

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  2. Awesome post MiMi... but whats happening to my head in those photos? I look like an extra from a Frank Miller film or like I'm trying to dodge CCTV!

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  3. @Sasa - I like odd things, innit ^_^

    @Pavel - Thank you, dude. Um, re your head - I dunno - Will's head is doing the same thing.

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  4. Liking the sound of the camel curry, i think i might try this recipe out, but use some pheasant instead.

    It sounds like the evening was a blast. I love the different ideas people had about what to do with the meat. That tartar does sound very yummy indeed.

    One thing though - YOU CAN'T GET BETTER THAN PASTIES. I'm going to set Mebyon Kernow on you ;)

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  5. The recipe! You posted the recipe! Sod the camel I'm making cinnamon curry with whatever I can get my hands on first...probably beef.

    Brilliant post MiMi, as ever you put us to shame with you writing skills!

    I have a photo of you actually liking the tartare bowl clean if you'd like that? I was *this* close to putting it up on my post, but bottled it at the last second in case you hated me for it!

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  6. Also I thought you told us it simmered for 8 hours?

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  7. @The Grubworm - Pheasant curry is gooood. As for Cornish Pasties, those are good - these were better :)

    @Becca Rothwell - You haven't seen the photo of me in my next post ... and started cooking at 12 so what I meant was I started cooking eight hours ago :P

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  8. Looks like you had great fun and sounds delicious! Especially the camel empanadas.
    www.robertgiorgione.com

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  9. Camel! That is not a meat that you would think to go out and buy. Maybe a slow cooked Camel Rendang?

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  10. @Robert Girogione - Yep, that Catalan Cooking knows her stuff

    @May - Yes! Rendang! Exactly :)

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  11. This didn't happen, I'm not listening lalalalalalalalalalala

    *sigh*

    great post MiMi

    .....I suppose

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  12. No I wonder what the "provenance" of the camel is? UK grown or imported?!

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  13. @FoodUrchin - Calm yourself, dude. I have zebra in my freezer.

    @TomEats - Camel provenance is Australia according to the Kezie Foods website. There's wild camel overpopulation there - the Oz government has been encouraging people to eat it - that article was found for me @aphida :)

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  14. Wow, this looked like a real hands on, fun evening. Very cool. Great post

    P.S. - I think i am the other way around, i have a fear of being the last there, maybe that's from being last picked in football at junior school, haha.

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  15. Really interesting post, and very curious now to try camel meat. Will have a look at Kezie Food's site right now. I remember seeing Stefan Gates at Leon's book launch party but was too shy to say hi, I thought his programme on E numbers was quite interesting. Before I started the blog, I wanted to call it Gastronaut, I was gutted to find someone else had the name already, so I have Stefan to thanks for The London Foodie name!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

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  16. @Lost in the Larder - Keen-o :)

    @The London Foodie - Kezie stock all sorts of unusual meats eg kangaroo and ostrich!

    Oh, you should have gone to speak to Stef - he's lovely!

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  17. a bit late to the party.. but...

    THANKS for posting this great article.

    We live in Dubai, and have just finished a delicious camel curry; courtesy of your fabulous recipe.

    The only differences were that we used fresh ginger and garlic, only 3 sticks of cinnamon, and we threw in some roughly chopped baby spinach about a minute prior to serving.

    The flavour base itself was fantastic, and we have added it in print to our permanent cookbook.

    with great thanks,
    Brendan & Kate

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  18. @Brendan & Kate - How lovely to hear that someone has actually made the recipe! Thank you :)

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  19. Just starting cooking this for a party tonight and it smells so so good! I got the camel from everymeat.co.uk and collected it from their warehouse in derbyshire.

    I'll let you know in five hours how it tastes!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!