When Hardeep Singh Kohli cooked for Rory Bremner, the resulting dish – a fusion of Scottish and Indian cuisine – went down a storm
Years ago I used to do an Edinburgh show called Chat Masala. Having started my live comedy career cooking curry and telling stories, Chat Masala seemed the perfect way to combine my love of cooking with my joy of interviewing people.
Given that I’d been around the entertainment business for years, given it was the Fringe and given that almost everyone loves a curry, booking guests didn’t seem a problem. In fact I was rather blown away at the calibre of folk that agreed to come on.
Rory Bremner, a man I’ve always held in the highest esteem, was prepared to be cooked for and questioned by me. Given his proud Scottish heritage (and forgiving him the fact he was Edinburgh rather than Glasgow born) I knew immediately what I was going to cook. What could be funnier than Haggis Vindaloo?
It was pressure enough cooking for a man one admires and I remember with such clarity being on stage berating myself for attempting a dish I had never cooked before just so as to garner a cheap laugh. Astonishingly the dish was not a disaster. Haggis is naturally spiced, peppery and delicious, ergo introducing it into the realm of masala isn’t as ridiculous a leap as one might imagine.
More importantly, Rory loved it. He liked it so much so that when he returned some years later he messaged ahead and asked if Haggis Vindaloo was on the menu at my Leith Craft Beer and Curry House. It wasn’t; but I phoned head chef Spencer and, as always, he stepped up to the plate. Bremner had his haggis.
All these years later Rory still mentions the curry. That’s what food does; not only does it evoke memories, it creates them. Whatever else, Rory and I will have haggis….
MacSween Haggis (to serve 2/3)
A couple of knobs of butter
3 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
half an inch of root ginger
A couple of finger chillies
A teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 tbp finely chopped coriander stems
Half tsp turmeric
Half tsp garam masala
Half tsp chilli powder
Half tsp coriander powder
1 tbp tomato puree
3 tbp chopped coriander leaf
A few tbp of water
A few tbp of corn/sunflower/rapeseed oil
1. Roughly chop the de-skinned haggis and, having smothered with butter, pop into a pre-heated oven (180C) for about 20 minutes.
2. Finely chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies.
3. Heat the oil before tossing in the cumin seeds and peppercorns before frying for a few minutes.
4. Add the onion and fry on a medium heat, keeping moving. After ten minutes or so add the garlic, ginger and chilli. You want the onions to colour and caramelize before adding the tomato puree.
5. Cook out the puree and once it has combined with the cooked down aromatics add the turmeric, garam masala, coriander and chilli powder.
6. Again, fry the rawness out of the ground spices; this should take a few minutes.
7. Toss in the coriander stems and passata. You now have a masala.
8. Transfer the oven-cooked haggis into the pot and mix well. Ideally the haggis should break down into a mince like consistency.
Let the haggis enjoy the masala experience. You might need to add some water to thin the curry down; be wary of the haggis sticking to the base of the pot and burning. (I have been known to add sour cream/crème fraiche/yoghurt to create a more mellow eating experience.)
9. Bearing in mind the haggis is already cooked, after quarter of an hour or so the dish will be done. Garnish with coriander, serve with Basmati rice or bread.