St Leonards and Hastings Wonky Women’s Institute

GUEST speaker Shirley Saeed curried a lot of favour with a full house of members at the January meeting of the Wonky WI.

Shirley, who has just published her first recipe book, Authentic Curries At Home, explained how to cook nutritious, healthy Indian food that’s so tasty it knocks the socks off your average take-away.

Members learned how to build up the flavours of any curry with a base of fried onions, garlic, ginger and chilli. Shirley saves time by batch cooking a large amount then freezing so a little can be used when needed.

We also discovered the secret of her spice mix. To create the perfect Garam Masala, Shirley grinds the seeds of black cardamom, cinnamon, black cumin, white cumin, black pepper corns, cloves, and star anise.

Where many members have been going wrong, it seems, is in using spices that have been lurking in the back of the cupboard for years, when they should really only have a shelf life of a month. The best bit was, of course, in the tasting, and members wolfed down samples of Shirley’s aubergine pate, tarka dall (lentils), and chana masala (chick peas).

Also on the night’s agenda were the National WI’s resolutions, with members voting for the campaign they thought most worthy, from an end to female genital mutilation to raising awareness of organ donation.

If you’d like to attend a Wonky WI meeting, please come along at 7.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month at Frimley, 64 London Road, St Leonards, at 7.30pm. Non-members can attend three meetings for free.

Memberships are currently being renewed for 2014. Please visit for details.