I went to university in Bradford.
Ah, your mind has gone to a bad place hasn’t it? You’re thinking ‘hotbed of Islamic fundamentalists’ and ‘race riots’. Well, maybe sort of yes. But four years in Bradford was good for an innocent southerner...
In my second year we had a power cut so we dashed to the shambolic corner shop for candles. It was quite a surprise to hear chickens screeching followed by a dull thud and then silence. Oh look, how – err – cultural. The man is killing chickens in the corner shop and that cleaver is looking none too clean! No wonder it stinks in here and that’s why the cat is prowling around. But hey, who am I to judge? If it’s good enough for Islamabad...
Throughout October and November there were nightly explosions. Mostly they were fireworks in celebration of first Diwali and then Bonfire Night. But one night we heard an enormous bang and the kitchen glowed orange.
“Wow!” gasped Rachel, “That was a massive firework!” “Nope” said Muna looking out of the window, “They’ve set a car on fire by our gate.” We rolled our eyes and got back to the washing up. It was just another Diwali/Guy Fawkes November night in Bradford.
There was never any need to go to a firework display because fireworks were being launched from every terraced house on our road. The trick was not to get hit by one on the way back from lectures.
But although it was a bit rough Bradford holds a special place in my heart. After all, if it weren’t for Bradford, I wouldn’t know the meaning of good curry.
Curry is to Bradford students what formal hall and gowns are to those ‘up’ at Oxbridge; a hallowed tradition. For the ‘Bradfodian’ (you heard it here first) this meant regularly winding up pissed in a curry house in the early hours after the student nightclub.
It meant cheering when the thick, spicy broth arrived and scooping it up with soft, doughy chapattis. It meant lots of Tiger beer. It also meant waking up with a garlic-breath hangover, fingernails stained with cumin and a doggy bag on the bedside table bathing you in pungent fumes of congealed ghee.
Curry was the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Forever and ever, Amen.
Ah but I miss those days when I could handle my drink, dance ‘till the early hours at Club Rio Campus and top it all off with a dopiaza.
Every bonfire night I think fondly of Bradford, curry, the burning car and the time some youf drove onto the pavement trying to kill a group of my friends. It IS grim up North, but curry is the redeeming factor and at least they know how to make Bonfire Night go with a bang.
I hope you have a wonderful bonfire night. If you can’t get to Bradford for curry, why not make some Parkin instead?!
Parkin means oats and for so long oats were a no-no for those with Coeliac disease because of cross-contamination. Now there are a range of GF oats available (see here). However there was a recall of certain brands of oats in the UK recently, please check HERE for details.
Non-GF recipes for Parkin state confidently that it gets better the longer you leave it and don't cut it for 'at least' a week. As you might suspect, GF flour doesn't act in the same way as wheat flour. I made a batch on Monday and today (Thursday) it is past its best. So this means: make it then eat it, Yay!
All versions need:
1 tbsp ground ginger (I added more :-)
a big pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
100g dark muscovado sugar
175g golden syrup
175g black treacle
125g dairy free margarine/butter
a few twists of black pepper (optional) = ½ tsp
approximately 100ml of milk/rice milk/soya milk/coconut milk/etc
225g of Doves Farm Gluten Free self-raising flour
200g gluten free oats (I used Bob's Red Mill GF oats from Waitrose. I had to grind them because they were very big. For other GF oats see here)
1 heaped tsp Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer
2 tbsps of ground linseeds
1 mashed banana
a big pinch of guar gum or xanthan gum
6 tbsps rice milk
Use 1 beaten egg in place of the above egg-replacing mix
With wheat flour:
Use 225g of plain wheat flour
- Grease and line a 20cm square tin
- Pre-heat the oven to 170˚ Celsius
- If using the egg-replacing mix, put all the ingredients into a bowl and use a mini whisk to get it really smooth. Set aside
- In a large mixing bowl put the oats, gluten free flour/wheat flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger, mixed spice, cinnamon, salt and the black pepper if using
- In a medium saucepan melt the dairy free margarine, treacle, golden syrup and sugar
- Pour the syrupy mix into the flour mix and stir. Add the beaten egg or egg replacing mix and mix until smooth
- Add about 50ml of 'milk' and stir it in. How does it seem? You are aiming for quite a sloppy mix because the oats and the GF flour will absorb liquid during baking. So add as much as you see fit. If using wheat flour you can reduce the liquid slightly. If it ends up quite squidgy after cooking, it's not the end of the world, Parkin can get away with squidge
- Bake for about 45 minutes, lowering the temperature if need be to ensure that the middle cooks but the top doesn't brown
- When the parkin has risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When completely cool remove from the tin and slice into squares
- Now grab your woolly hat and sparklers; it's time to act like a five-year-old again! (Note: if you're in Bradford, watch out for stray fireworks and blazing cars.)
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