Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear Coventry City Council Parking Services

Sent: 28 September 2011 17:43
Subject: Visiting my mum.
Coventry City Council
Parking Services

Dear Sir,

I live five minute's walk from a Morrisons supermarket, but I choose to do much of my shopping at local shops wherever possible.  I really really like shopping somewhere where the staff care and are more personable, helping you our wherever they can.  For example, this afternoon I needed some spices as I'm going to see my mum this weekend.  She gives me a shopping list as she lives in Flamborough so it's quite a trek to Coventry's Foleshill Road where the best deals are on Asian foods.  By the time you've taken into account the petrol you'd be considerably out of pocket.   She also likes shopping locally but can't due to where she lives.  She's well jealous that I can pop in the car and nip to a place where all manner of world foods are available.  Growing up in Bradford she, like me, is used to having that convenience, and now she doesn't have that option.  That makes her sad, and when my mum's sad then so am I.  So that's why I try to make her happy by bringing a lovely parcel of exotic spices when I visit.  I'm sure that you don't like it when your mum's sad, and I'm sure you'd do the same to make your mum happy too.  Mums should NEVER be sad.

Anyway, I'm digressing.  So this afternoon I went to the Foleshill Road to get some things and support my local small businesses.  Unfortunately when I arrived there were no parking spaces, so I had to park on a single yellow line.  Naughty I know, but I was only going to be five minutes and I have to get my mum's things.  Remember how sad I told you she was when not being able to use local shops?  Well not getting a package from her son would probably make her even sadder.  She might even cry a bit, and we wouldn't want that.

So into the shop I went.  They're so helpful there - I couldn't find a small pack of black cardamoms, a member of staff saw me looking and pointed me in the right direction.  So kind!  I like it when people are kind, don't you?  I also needed some urid daal and couldn't find that.  I need that to make my Chettinad pepper chicken.  It's lovely, if you like I can give you the recipe.  It's easy to make and it tastes delicious.  I like to put lots of chilli in mine, but you might like it milder.  It still tastes lovely either way.

So on leaving the shop with my carrier bag full of food I found I'd received a parking ticket (ref. CV01995942).  "Oh no!", I thought.  "That's not really fair!".  It was either park there or make my mum sad, and after all my car wasn't causing an obstruction - it was right by a large van which was delivering stock to the shop I was in.  They're essential to the shop's running, and in a way so am I.  It's not as though there was anywhere else to park.  I started to wonder how my mum would feel about this.  I might not even be able to go see her now, after all £35 is a lot of money.  Oh no, now I'm imagining my mum crying again.  I'll move swiftly on.

I paid the ticket and just have to hope that I can afford the petrol to take these delicious spices to my mum's.  Did I say she lives in Flamborough?  It's a long way away and I can only stay two nights.  You'd like my mum if you met her, she makes an amazing curry.

When I see her I'm sure she'll wonder if Coventry Council are looking at helping the small businesses there by easing parking restrictions or building a small car park?

It would also make me very happy if you would be able to refund my fine, this would no doubt make my mum happy too and she probably wouldn't cry any more.  Also, just in case you want it here's the recipe for Chettinad pepper chicken.  You can get all the ingredients on the Foleshill Road (don't bother looking in Morrison's, they don't sell half the stuff!)

1tbsp oil or ghee (you can use less if you're watching your weight, it works fine with 1tsp)
1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
8-10 dried chillies
3tbsp coriander seed
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp white poppy seeds

Add these to a small amount of hot oil and fry briefly until lightly roasted (about 2 mins).  Grind into a powder.
Put this in a blender and add 5-6 tbsp water and:

5 chopped cloves of garlic
20mm ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt

Blend into a paste and put to one side.

The take:
4 tbsp oil or ghee (I use less, my mum is watching her weight.  1tbsp is fine)
3 bay leaves
5 green cardamom pods
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 cloves
1 1/2tsp urid daal (remember the lovely assistant in the shop?)

Fry this briefly until the daal starts to go a pinky red colour, it takes about 2-3 minutes.
Add to this:
15-20 curry leaves
2 diced medium onions (I like to cut it thinly into half-rings, but you could dice it if you like)

Fry for about 5 minutes until the onion's gone soft.  The add the spice paste you made and a chopped tomato and about 500-600g chicken.  I use a whole jointed chicken.
Give it a good stir round for a minute or two, then add about half a pint to a pint of water and simmer it away for about half an hour.
After half an hour, turn the heat up and reduce the sauce until it's going thick.

You can serve it with rice, bread or even on its own.

Yours Faithfully,



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