part-time musings

Music to watch revolutions go by…

A journo currently working in exciting times in Mali introduced me to this epically cool Amazigh (Berber) music. It’s from Brian Shimkovitz’s brilliant site Awesome Tapes from Africa. Right now the situation in Mali and the repercussions of the Arab Spring are very much on my mind. Not least because they constitute almost half my work currently, one way or another – a year is apparently how long it takes for dramatic events in the real world to find their way onto scholarly pages.


Proper propaganda…


Picture from Incredible Edible, Todmorden

I’m such a huge fan of the idea of ‘propaganda gardens’ and I love what these guys and gals are doing in Todmorden. Basically some people in a community take the lead in planting small patches of garden – often using donated materials – and make the garden freely available for anyone to use. But here’s what’s great – the idea begins to grow (geddit?) because it’s relatively easy for people to get involved by giving their time or donating tools, compost or plants etc. Talk about grassroots.

Mystery murgh makhni recipe…

Matt’s recent culinary experiments inspired me to offer him my recipe for Murgh Makhni (Butter Chicken). So this is it. I can’t remember where I got it – it’s written out on a sheet of Mount Nelson notepaper, but I last stayed there ten years ago and have to say can’t remember it involving any recipe swapping. Mystery. Anyway, it’s easy peasy despite the longish list of ingredients, and as good as any chicken I’ve had in India.

Heat the oven to 180C (which Google tells me is 350F).

This is for about 1 kg of chicken fillets, preferably thighs.

2 inches fresh ginger root, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

80g ground almonds

170ml plain yoghurt

4 green cardamon pods

1/2 red chilli, chopped finely (or chilli powder if that’s what I have. I’m not Martha Stewart)

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (or, yes, whole cloves if that’s what you have. Really)

1/2 ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon garam masala (mine’s from my favourite Bombay mum, Mrs Goregoaker. I’m eking it out till I go back. Also, this is a hint to anyone who’s reading this who may, for example, be stopping over in Bombay en route from Singapore in July. Ahem.)

About 300g of chopped tomatoes

Salt for seasoning

large onion, sliced

about 5 tablespoons of ghee (or, let’s be realistic here, butter or margarine or your favourite lactose-free alternative)(And yes I know it’s a lot. Don’t freak out, it’s Butter Chicken, remember.)

4ish tablespoons of cream

5ish tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro, for our American friends)

Grate the ginger and garlic, and add to a dish that can go in the fridge. Add to this, the ground almonds, the yoghurt, chilli, spices, tomatoes, and salt. Add the chicken and give it a good mix. Cover and pop in the frigo to marinade for a couple of hours. Now fry the onion in the ghee/butter/alternative until soft and brown. Easy tiger, you’re not looking for blackened onions here so be gentle and keep an eye on it. Then add the chicken and the tomato/yoghurt marinade and fry for a few minutes. Add the coriander and the cream and maybe a mug of water if it’s looking a bit dry or you want it to stay in the oven for a bit longer. Bake it in the oven for an hour, or up to two hours. I start it off covered with a lid, then remove the cover about half an hour before the end to let the edges brown a little.  Voila.



Fascinated by these photographs by David Tribby of civic decay in Gary, Indiana, which reminded me of Karl Marx’s words, “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”