Curry favor

In Recipies on August 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I am not sure why curry dishes did not catch on in America.  A curry dish can be mild, pungent, hot, sweet, and anything in between.  Although curries are often thought of as staples of Indian (South Asian) food, curries are popular throughout the Near East and Middle Eastern regions.

A friend in the Scottish Highlands says her husband, a stout Yorkshireman, prefers a curry to almost everything except a good “bit of roasted beef”.  That she has no trouble finding curry powders of every description in shops dotting the North Sea coast testifies that curried foods appeal to a wide variety of palates.

One of my favorite curry blends is from Iraq, where the perfume-like aroma of cardamom adds a flowery tone.  Curries are popular in Lebanon and Israel as well and the bright yellow tones given to the dish by hefty amounts of turmeric in them imparts a sunny, Mediterranean ambiance to the food.

Curry powders abound!  Rogan josh, balti from Pakistan, garam masala from Punjab, sate from Indonesia, and vindaloo from Goa can be purchased from any good spice store or home chefs can make up their own versions.

A fun addition to any kitchen is an authentic Indian or Pakistani spice box.

World Market offers authentic spice boxes.

These covered boxes are made of sheet tin and look like small jewel boxes.  Inside, are nested 5-10 smaller covered tins.  I keep several curry powders in the smaller tins, just like the cooks who live in the areas where they are made.  Pulling the box from its cupboard adds a sense of the exotic when cooking some of the easily prepared curry dishes.

Curried vegetables make up one of our favorite vegetarian meals.  Served over aromatic basmati rice, curried vegetables are so good that carnivores will forget the absence of meat in the meal before them.

Which curry is “best”?  Visit a spice shop and follow your nose!  After you have experimented with the pre-mixed blends, work a little of your own alchemy and try your hand at blending small amounts of your own recipe.  Households in the “curry belt” often have their own, special (and top secret) curry blends.

Here we go!

1 green pepper, coarsely chopped

1 sweet red pepper, coarsely chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped

2 TBS olive oil

4 large cloves of garlic, minced

2 C broccoli florets

2 C cauliflower florets

1 C chopped mushrooms

1 C Asian corn (may use canned)

1 TBS curry powder

½ tsp cardamom (optional) OR ½ tsp cinnamon

1 C vegetable stock or water

2 tsp corn starch

½ C dried apricots, figs, or, pineapple (go with figs!), chopped

½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, red and green peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.  Sauté until onion just begins to soften.  No not allow to brown.  Add garlic and stir well for about 1 minute.  Reduce heat to low-medium and add mushrooms, corn, fruit (if using).  Stir in the curry powder and cinnamon (or cardamom).  Cover and reduce heat to low.  When the broccoli and cauliflower is “fork tender” add the cornstarch to the water or broth and mix it into the curried vegetables.  Return heat to high until liquid thickens.  Remove from heat and add tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

Serve over basmati or white, long-grain rice.  Bowls of fresh melon are a nice accompaniment, as are small glasses of sweet, cardamom-infused tea.


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