Make Your Own Mahal

Sick of spending £12 on swap currys that you won’t remember? Let NICOLA BARTLETT teach you how to make your own.

Cindies Cookery curry Drinking Mahal Nicola Bartlett Swap Wine

It is a little known fact that Cambridge boasts a sizeable Bangladeshi and Indian population, so where is it that the average Cambridge student samples the culinary delights of the South East Asian continent?  The Mahal: that bastion of cultural subtlety and dining splendour where all curries are alike and you can get absolutely shit faced before wending your way to Cindies.

Here’s how to create that unique atmosphere from the comfort of your very own corridor.

What you need:

Several bottles of cheap plonk: £5.00 is too expensive and I happen to know Sainsbury’s does a rather fine table wine. Sainsbury’s Basics Wine is dirt cheap, still made with grapes (we think) and retails at £2.68 for a bottle of red.

None of that expensive plonk please, we’re students

Serves 5

– 1 red onion (£0.97/kg)
– 1 sweet potato (£1.20/kg)
– 1 Aubergine (Sainsbury’s Aubergines, Basics 500g £1.64 for 3)
– 250g of lentils (pre-washed) (Sainsbury’s 1kg red lentils £1.76)
– 1 can of chickpeas  (Sainsbury’s Chick Peas In Water 410g £0.53)
– 1 can of chopped tomatoes (Sainsbury’s Chopped Tomatoes, Basics 400g £0.33)
– 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala (Sainsbury’s Garam Masala 42g)
– 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (or more depending on your taste) (Sainsbury’s Hot Chilli Powder 33g £0.67)
– 1 clove of garlic (Sainsbury’s Garlic, Basics x2 £0.39)
– Vegetable oil for frying
– 500 ml of boiling water

Total costs are an astounding £6.15 if you have some spices, which at £1.23 per person beats any student beans voucher. Adding meat, of your choice, will push the price up.


– A large pan
– A frying pan
– A wooden spoon
– A chopping board
– A sharp knife
– Garlic Press (if no one’s Mum thought to pack them this then crush the garlic with the flat of your knife, peel the clove and chop finely)
– Kettle

Hungry mouths

The how to:

– Dice the onion and fry in a pan with the pressed garlic, garam masala, paprika and chilli seeds. (For all those carnivores this would be the moment to fry the meat in the spices)
– When the onion is soft and translucent (you don’t want it to turn brown), add the aubergine and fry until the skin has begun to brown. Whilst you’re doing this chop the sweet potato in half, cover with water and kitchen paper and place in the microvave for roughly 4 minutes, depending on the size of the potato.
– Add all the vegetables to a large pan and pour in the boiled water.
– Next add the washed red lentils, and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for a few minutes before adding the chick peas, chopped tomatoes.
– Season with salt and pepper and add more of the spices depending on taste.
– Allow to cook for approximately half an hour or when the mixture is significantly reduced. You want the red lentils to have disintegrated slightly and the sweet potato to have broken down to create a thick texture.
– Persuade a keen friend to be on standby for when the oven turns itself off allowing you to get going on the booze.
– When the curry is reduced (or thickened) take off the heat.

Serve with rice which can normally be taken from whichever naïve person has left their kitchen cupboard unlocked, or if you’re feeling plush, with naan bread and poppadums.

Then put on your swap costume. Curry stains are a must.

Go out into the corridor neck a bottle of wine.  Techniques at this stage include the strawpedo or Amy Winehands and let the fun begin…

The Tab does not recommend using a sharp knife when under the influence nor does it condone the throwing of food in college property or the stealing of rice or other comestibles. The Tab would like to remind you that consuming more than two units of alcohol a day can have a detrimental effect on your long term health.

For the morning after, scrape up whatever of the sick you can. Most stains can be removed by soaking – some can’t, but no bedder is scary enough to merit a trip to buy actual cleaning product.

This recipe is unfortunately unsuitable for students of Caius as some form of cooking apparatus will be required.