Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hurried Curry

A few things are on my mind this week. One is the recurring frustration with spice mixes marketed on shelves which can easily be produced at home. The featured "spice" this week which has grabbed my attention is curry. Curry, a blend of spices ubiquitous in Southeast Asian cuisine is traditionally concocted from a variety of spices native to the area. Often containing chilies, curries may also include cumin, turmeric and/or leaves from a curry tree (which, ironically, is not often used in the sauce or spice mixture), depending on the region in which it is produced. Curries from Northern Indian, for example, often differ from the curries or vindaloos of Southern India due to their use of coconut and peanut powder. The "alpha" curry, however, or prototypical recipe for the blend which had so many variations is simple, containing only four ingredients: garlic, onions, ginger and chilies (as well as a little cinnamon). To hear about this "base" curry recipe on The Splendid Table, click here (start listening about the 34 minute mark).

In the West, however, where convenience is king, curries are packaged and sold resembling little of the original recipe stated above. In fact, it was not until I viewed an episode of Chopped that I found one could create curry using simple ingredients in from the kitchen. Having seen rows and variations of curry paste on the grocery shelves or dry curries in the pantry section of Williams Sonoma, I had grown to think that curry was a spice in itself, like cinnamon or cardamom, not some exotic blend to be adjusted and adapted to one's tastes. Furthermore, in viewing the variety of curry pastes on the shelves, I noticed many contained an abundance of sodium and other synthetic ingredients, unlike its homemade counterpart. (To view the nutritional facts of a commercial curry paste, click here. If one chooses to "submit" to the homemade version of curry an abundance of health benefits await, including vitamin C from chilies and anti-inflammatory benefits from the ginger.)

So, in celebration of homemade variation, I offer you a site featuring a variety of curry dishes and in order to drain the last bits of "Winter" from out sinuses and prepare ourselves for warmer weather. Here, Jamie Oliver's site provides a variety of recipes in which one can cook and sample the different types of curries which exist throughout Southeast Asian cuisine. When looking to use your homemade curry in a simple dish, however, feel free to make The Splendid Table's recipe and combine with rice, carrots, cauliflower or meat. The options are as endless as our tastes! 

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