Two-Pots and his Madras curry.
Taarrank (Two-Pots) Chitnis arrived in Nambucca Heads on the 23rd of July in 1998. From India, Faridabad in Haryana state to be precise. Paperwork a little suspect.
Taarrank was twenty-seven years old and all alone in town, both parents long dead, his two brothers and one sister had travelled north from home and slipped into France in the back of a container. Enough said.
Taarrank could only cook, and could only cook curry, and only one curry at that. Madras curry.
The O’Brien brothers took him across the estuary of the Nambucca River after the local St Vincent De Paul outfit found Taarrank sleeping rough by the river. This was after he had told them he was the best Madras cook in India.
To prove it he showed them his two pots, both battered and blackened from woodfire on the outside yet scrubbed silver inside.
The brothers named him Two-Pots on the spot, and after shelling out thirty dollars for the shopping they waited for the Vinnies bloke and Two-Pots to get back to the river with the tucker.
It’s all ok to say you could cook in 1998, now for the test.
Tom O’Brien remembers the preparation.
‘ The bloke’s got a bag of food half his size and after me and Geoff got a good fire started for him over the other side he’s chucked about half-a-dozen chicken pieces into one pot and a chopped up carrot and onion in the other, after splashing a little veggie oil down, that done he lays out all the tucker on a couple of towels and arranges it into some sort of order. Fussy little bloke and not too strong on the English.
So as soon as the chooks cooked he whips them out and cleans the pot, then fills it with water and tosses in a couple of spuds and six eggs – lets that rip for a while.
Now he’s seen that the carrots and onions are soft and that’s when he lobs in two big spoons of this Madras Curry Paste, this stuff comes out of a bottle, he stirs the bastard up hard and mate the smell of it would make an elephants eyes water. This is a BIG chilli number so help me.
Then it’s bang smash wallop.
In goes a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato soup, a big spoon of tomato paste – you’d swear the little bastard was boiling blood!
Then in go some lime leaves and a good squirt of fish oil, then half a bag of frozen peas and he’s stripped off the kernels of two big ears of corn and in they all go, then a bloody sliced up zucchini, then the cooked chook, all ripped up into fair sized chunks.
That done he has a taste, screws up his face, and lobs in a big pinch or three of brown sugar. The little bloke was raising a sweat by now and Geoff and me are beginning to like the look of him. The smell coming out of the pot was beginning to take shape as well.
The spuds are done so after slicing them into quarters in they go, and the hard-boiled eggs are peeled and same for them. Then he opens a large can of coconut milk and eases that into the mix with a handful of chopped up coriander.
Now it’s time to go for a walk he says, thirty minutes please men. So we go, he stays.
When we get back Two-Pots had refilled the spud pot with water and banged in some Basmati rice.
Then out come the plates, out comes the bananas and yoghurt.
- and he was right the little bastard, he probably is the best Madras curry cook in India, and Nambucca for sure.’