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Breaking down the parable of meals authenticity

One could also be shocked to find the true origins of some common international cuisines. Meanwhile, Megan Jane de Paulo shares a scrumptious butter hen recipe that advanced from dishes far and extensive.

AUTHENTICITY IN FOOD can not exist. To declare a restaurant in your native space is “authentic” is inconceivable even when the chef was born within the location of the origin of the delicacies, as a result of to 1 individual that shall be genuine, however to the following it’s not. A recipe of 1 grandmother shall be totally different to the recipe of the grandmother subsequent door.

Authentic delicacies is a fable. As journey and colonisation elevated, nations have borrowed and been influenced by meals and produce throughout broad distances, in lots of instances adopting and adapting components to their very own common cooking.

For instance, the well-known Japanese dish tempura was delivered to Japan by Portuguese Catholic missionaries within the sixteenth Century. Tomatoes solely started to be eaten in Italy in the course of the fifteenth Century and didn’t change into ubiquitously culinary till the nineteenth. Yet some would declare that tempura and marinara sauce are genuine to their respective nations.

True authenticity can solely be achieved by travelling again in time to the second of a selected locale and munching on a handful of uncooked foraged greens and nuts, or an unfortunate native creature who wandered too shut and is roasting over a fireplace with explicit bushes at that stage of evolution. Nothing could be replicated authentically once more.

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A bowl of udon is no less “authentically” Japanese if the chef who made it is a second-generation immigrant from China; a barbecue rib no less smoky and tender if made by a woman; and dumplings no less authentic in a restaurant decorated in a modern cafe style.

Authenticity is a reinforcement of stereotypes and has nothing to do with the most vital aspect of food – flavour. Authenticity only exists in the tastebuds of the eater, to each individual with memories of flavours experienced at a particular moment in time at a particular place.

Many of my recipes of so-called authentic dishes are far removed from the commonly believed originals because I work towards recreating my food memories from travelling and eating around the world. I also add in flavours I feel complement others even when not traditionally added.

I never make a claim to any authenticity. This butter chicken recipe has evolved from elements of butter chickens consumed on Oxford Street in Sydney in the early ’90s, via a small downstairs Indian restaurant in Harajuku and tinged by the influence of a neighbour in Cairns (who also introduced me to fresh curry leaves from her tree). This recipe is authentic to me and my experience only.

It’s also pretty damn delicious.

Butter Chicken and Spinach

You can use fresh baby spinach or frozen spinach. Red capsicum adds more veggies that match the flavours – you can pre-roast/char and skin it, too.

Don’t skip on marinating properly – it pays off. Yes, I’m heavy-handed with spices. I like flavour.

I’ve said 500 grams of chicken thighs, but there will be enough marinade for even 800 grams.

Stage One: Marinade


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If you can’t source ancho chilli powder which has a smoky flavour aspect, blend together some smoked paprika and cayenne pepper powders. Tandoor cooking involves clay pots and charcoal, and all these spices in the marinade and curry can lean into the smokiness.

The lactic acid in yogurt works its magic in tenderising and keeping the meat juicy. Also, it holds the seasonings and spices in place, especially if you use thick creamy Greek-style yogurt.

It also works slowly – that’s why marinating for several hours is best.

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Stage Two: Cooking


Secret ingredient

Wondering how I got that amazing colour in the photograph without adding 40 million chillies?

I used Tandoor food colouring. You can find either liquid or powder colour at your local Asian grocery.



Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion slices, move them around with a spoon so they don’t burn for a bit, until they soften.

Grab chicken out of marinade and add to pan. Fry for a while directly (they won’t cook through – that’s fine, they’ll be simmered in sauce later) then put the chicken and onion in a heat-proof bowl.

Add another splash of oil to the pan and add all the dry spices plus the ginger and garlic and fry them to help release their fragrance, then add in the tomato paste and passata and mix.

Add in the cream and stir.

Add the chicken and onion back in. You can also add in some water if the sauce is too thick. If the red capsicum hasn’t been roasted, add in now. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Add in spinach, stir through to wilt (this is pretty quick).

Stir through ghee before serving on fluffy rice, scatter fresh coriander on top.

Megan Jane de Paulo is a Melbourne-based, inner-city latte sipper and social media provocateur. You can follow Megan on Twitter @gomichild.

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