Saturday afternoons mean a feast of crisps on the couch but that’s Alan Shearer’s only food vice. The football man gets to grips with a pan for a curry masterclass – the perfect festive dish for post-Christmas dinner parties…
It’s fair to say that Alan Shearer and a frying pan are not natural companions.
As much as he loves a curry the reality is that in general it is brought to the table by someone else rather than a home-made labour of love from his own kitchen.
But he’s up for the idea of a curry masterclass with his good pal Bob Arora at Sachins in Newcastle.
Alan and his family have been regulars at the restaurant for years, “Lamb makahani and chicken dhal are their favourites”, pipes up Bob.
However, this is the first time the footballing god has gone anywhere near the ingredients himself, you can tell by the way he gingerly holds the spoon and stirs the sauce – and the way he doesn’t attack the sauce mixture that gathers around the sides of the pan.
Still, he is an enthusiastic amateur. We meet on a Monday after one of Alan’s busy TV weekends. His working life involves much to-ing and fro-ing up and down the nation’s motorway.
Weekend television for Match of the Day happens in Manchester and he usually gets back home to Newcastle in the early hours of Sunday to be able to watch son Will play football.
Tuesday or Wednesday Alan might head back down to London for more punditry. Is that when he hits the motorway service stations for a sneaky burger takeaway or Krispy Kreme doughnut? Funnily enough no. He is no junk food junkie.
“I have never had to worry about how much I eat but I do like curry, quite spicy – Italian and Chinese food. I am lucky that I travel a lot and eat out at good restaurants – places in Doha and Dubai stand out.
“Saturday afternoon it is a case of lots of cups of tea, chocolate and crisps but that’s the only time I eat rubbish”, he laughs.
Alan is a fan of fish – blackened cod a favourite. He is fond of Asian style of cooking and a favourite restaurant is Zuma Japanese in Knightsbridge.
When he is at home he’s had the luxury of a restaurant come to him – with Terry Laybourne and his right-hand man, Nick Shottel cooking and hosting a dinner after he bid for their services in a charity auction.
“Works both ways – it is something great for charity and we have good food and company.”
That’s when he dips into the wine cellar. He’s a big wine fan, has a decent cellar and loves malbec and sauvignon varieties.
He doesn’t really rate the North East’s restaurants compared with places like Manchester or London – apart from this curry favourite.
“I love it when Bob just brings over a plate of starters – it might be monkfish, lamb chops, salmon – it’s always great.”
We get on to the subject of memorable meals. Alan recalls when he was a boy their house was one where dad’s tea was on the table, ‘five minutes after he got home from work’.
He loved his Sunday lunch and even today that remains a favourite. But his most memorable meal was also the most nerve-wracking.
“I had lunch with the Queen and I was petrified”, he laughs.
“It was certainly memorable – although I can’t remember the food – it was a charity lunch for the military and I was there with Lesley Garratt and others – I will never forget it and would never be blasé – it was certainly memorable.”
Bob Arora owns Sachins, Forth Bank, Newcastle; sachins.co.uk
On the menu: Turkey Shearer
What to do with your leftover turkey? Alan and Bob have it covered…
Curry leaves and yoghurt are key players in this easy Punjabi curry sauce. It’s the perfect palate pleaser for those post-Christmas dinner parties.
What it’s got going for it:
A nice healthy curry, especially if you use turkey or fish as the base.
A puree of garlic and ginger add some punch at the start and it is worth getting hold of fresh curry leaves which add a nice fragranced touch.
Ingredients (serves 2)
3 onions, chopped
2 1/2 tsp oil
5 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 1/2 tsp garlic and ginger puree blended with a pinch of salt and a little oil and water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 chilli if you want more heat
1/2 pint water
3 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tsp tomato puree
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger puree followed by the spices and gently cook down for five minutes. Add splashes of water if the mix looks too dry. You should have a thick sauce.
Chop the tomato and add to the spice mixture and cook until it is soft and blended into the sauce. Add fresh chilli at this point if you like extra heat.
Add cubes of diced turkey to the pan and heat through on a low heat, mixing until the chicken is cooked through and has taken on the colour of the spices and flavour. Remove from the heat.
Mix the natural yogurt and tomato puree together. This needs to be added to the hot pan and stirred in – you should not heat the mixture now or the yoghurt will separate.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve immediately with rice and naan bread.