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Sodexo chefs design alternative ‘sustainable' curry for government

10 July 2012 by

Contract caterer Sodexo has been called upon by the Government to reimagine the curry using local or sustainable ingredients and a reduced meat content, as part of a project to help England to produce more food, more sustainably.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched the conclusions of its Green Food Project earlier today.

The report came in response to concerns that as global populations rise and diets and consumption levels change, there will be a challenge to the world food system. As a result, Defra established a steering group of farming experts, environmental experts, food experts and government officials, as well as representatives from the British Hospitality Assocation (BHA) to look at how England could increase its own food production while also improving the environment.

Defra said it had set out the first steps on the road to: using less energy and water in food production; increasing crop yields; introducing more innovative technology; improving conservation management; and boosting numbers of talented, entrepreneurial young people making careers in the food industry.

The project steering group also set up a series of sub-groups to do an initial examination of how it might reconcile the objectives of improving the environment and increasing food production by looking at five test cases: wheat crops, the dairy sector, bread, a curry dish and gerographical areas.

In the curry sub-group, Sodexo development chefs Wan Mak and Rodney Zeiler were asked to produce a curry reducing salt and the amount of fat and dairy product in the recipe (by substituting coconut milk with fresh tomatoes). The chefs also substited protein sources (for example, by introducing chickpea flour into the roti), reduced the dependence on less sustainable products including rice and meat.

On launching the report, farming minister Jim Paice said: "With our increasingly hungry world, every country must play its part to produce more food and improve the environment. Britain already punches above its weight, but we're a small island with limited space, so we've got to show leadership and play to our strengths more efficiently.

"We're not talking about setting Soviet-style targets but an overall approach in which the whole food chain pulls together. Whether it means embracing new farming technology or people wasting less, we've got to become more sustainable."

The full ingredient list for the alternative curry is:

Chicken dhansak (Serves 5)
200g mixed lentils (green and brown)
500g chicken (light meat, deboned/skinless, from an approx 1kg whole chicken)
10 black peppercorns
8 cloves
1″piece cinnamon
1/4tsp grated nutmeg
1″ piece of mace
2 large bay leaves
1 star anise
3 dry red chillies
1tbs cumin seeds
1tbs coriander seeds
1tsp sesame seeds
1tsp turmeric powder
40g fresh coriander leaves
Small bunch mint leaves (20g)
1tbs tamarind paste
1tbs garlic
1tbs fresh, crushed ginger
2tbsp rape seed oil
Garnish with fresh coriander
1 litre chicken stock (without salt, see sub recipe)

Chicken stock 150g celery
50g leeks
50g onions
1 bay leaf
50g carrots
500g chicken bones

Chickpea Roti (Serves 6)
125g plain flour
100g chickpea flour
1tsp rapeseed oil
150ml hot water

Spinach, pea & sweet potato curry (Serves 5)
500g orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
200g spinach
200g peas
100g fresh chopped tomatoes
250ml vegetable stock
1 onion finely sliced
2-3tsp Madras curry powder
10 curry leaves
2 cardamom pods
1 fresh bay leaf
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
30g fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbs rapeseed oil
Garnish with chopped coriander

By Neil Gerrard

E-mail your comments to Neil Gerrard here.

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