Friday, January 30, 2009

Becca's No Clue Curry

I'm a little nervous posting this one, since I'm afraid Ann and Daniel might come hunting me for messing up a classic. I've discovered Indian food over the past year and found that I love it, especially lamb! I had the good fortune of working with an awesome Indian woman named Radhika last year who shared some secrets about cooking Indian food, and helped me realize it's not as scary as I thought.

Since I don't have time to cook traditionally, I'm posting a few modified recipes that I make at home. This is from studying traditional recipes and figuring out how to modify for the time I have. I don't have a recipe set in stone, but just cook; this is what I did last night. I'll borrow from Tara's structure--Dishes first, recipes to follow:

Quick Chicken Curry
Basmati Rice

Quick Chicken Curry
Roughly 2 cups cooked chicken (about half of a rotissarie chicken left over from a night or two before)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can green chilis, diced
1/4 onion, chopped or frenched (or onion powder)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (I cheat, I use a heaping tablespoon of garlic from a jar I get at Costco)
6-8 oz plain yogurt (whatever size carton you get at the grocery store)
Curry powder, turmeric, ground cumin, red pepper flake, ground ginger, black pepper, kosher salt

In your favorite skillet on medium heat, add a pat of butter and melt. Add the onions and cook till soft. Add 5/6 of the tomatoes and all the green chilis. Add curry powder, cumin, and pepper flake to your taste. Add pinch of kosher salt, few cracks of black pepper, and sprinkles of turmeric and ginger. Turn to medium-high heat and cook until the liquid begin to boil; turn heat to medium and stir in carton of yogurt. Stir in cooked chicken; reduce on medium heat until sauce thickens and reduces, stirring occasionally (about 10-15 minutes, depending on the amount of liquid). Adjust taste and add more curry, cumin, or salt as you desire.

Basmati Rice
(note: If you have frozen peas, you can add them directly to the saucepan after the broth comes to a boil and you turn the heat down, or about 5 minutes before the rice is done--it depends on the texture you want. Closer to the end makes for peas that are crisper to the bite. You might need to adjust the salt and seasoning with the extra moisture from the peas)
1 pat butter
1 cup basmati rice (you can use white rice, but there's a nuttiness to the flavor that you'll lose)
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
Pinches of salt, turmeric, and black pepper

In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter then add the rice, stirring to coat. Once you start smelling the aroma that gets unlocked from the rice, add the broth or water, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then turn to low heat. Let simmer about 15 minutes (start checking around 12 minutes to make sure rice doesn't overcook). Done.

(I cheat quite a bit here)
1 can garbanzo beans
1/6 can diced tomatoes (kept from the curry above, or you could chop a tomato if making this alone)
1 t. dried cilantro
1 t. lemon juice
Kosher salt, black pepper, garam masala (or curry powder, cumin, and nutmeg)

In a small saucepan, combine beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and lemon juice. Add pinch of kosher salt, few cracks of black pepper, and sprinkles of chosen seasoning. Cook on medium low heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.

(This is Tom's favorite part)
2 fresh tomatoes (good ripe ones)
1 cucumber
6-8 oz carton of plain yogurt
1t - 1T lemon juice
Kosher salt, black pepper, ground ginger, honey

Peel cucumber and dissect, removing seeds. Cube and place in bowl. Cut tomatoes in quarters, remove seeds, and dice. Add to cucumber. Add pinch of salt, cracks of pepper, sprinkles of ground ginger, one squirt of honey. Stir together, then add lemon juice and yogurt. Stir--done.

Last night, I managed to get the timing down so that I started the rice, got the curry going, put on the chickpeas after the rice was done, and let the rice cook while made the raita and the chickpeas and curry finished. Around half an hour from start to finish.


Suze said...

mmm, looks good. you know, I've been tempted to post my recipe for pilaf up here, but I kind of made it up and I'm afraid it's not "authentic"!

Tooz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tooz said...

David is checking the dictionary. Right now, he says a definition of curry is "food with sauce". (This is a quote from my son-in-law.) If that's the case, then a lot of us make a lot of different kinds of curry, for almost every meal. For instance, readers of this blog have probably on more than one occasion eaten our chili with rice, which I guess would qualify for curry.

Becca said...

According to Merriam Webster, the first definition for curry as a noun is: "1: a food, dish, or sauce in Indian cuisine seasoned with a mixture of pungent spices ; also : a food or dish seasoned with curry powder"

So David is half-right. A curry is food with sauce, but that sauce must have curry powder or other pungent spices. I would surmise that the spices would have to include cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, star anise, cayenne, curry leaves, ginger, and/or nutmeg in some combination.

Curry powders are relatively recent to cuisine, coming from the British as they brought back the tastes of the Empire to the island. Garam masala is a type of curry powder (though I don't think it actually contains curry itself). Curry powders include other spices in the mixtures, and the colors reflect the combinations and heat levels--red curry powder includes cayenne and red chilis, and is much hotter than yellow curry powder, which contains cardamom, coriander, and cumin.

So, I don't think your chili with rice qualifies as curry, anymore than my tomato sauce and spaghetti or beef stroganoff does.