Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting curried away

Jasmine posted, in complete disgust, about the Milk Calendar's attempt at a curry recipe. Not without reason on two counts: Jasmine knows her curries, and the Milk Calendar, as usual, has taken some strange shortcuts (and, of course, tried to incorporate Milk. With a capital M.)

Last Friday night Mama Squirrel was part of a kind of curry-making marathon, hosted by a dear homeschooling couple (who are also longtime friends) and attended by approximately fifteen other wanna-be curry makers. Some people arrived at four and went on a grocery mission; the rest of us arrived at five and chewed on samosas and sweet-potato chips while we received our battle instructions and an extra cooking station was installed.

The whole thing took about two hours and involved about a dozen pots and a rice cooker, a large container of cut-up chicken, two rainbow trout, some other meat, several containers of homemade tomato sauce and tomato-with-chilies sauce, a container of paneer, many onions, some ginger, some garlic, some baby-sized eggplants, basmati rice, and more that I can't remember. Somebody spread sauce on the fish, somebody wiped measuring cups and spoons for the next round, somebody chopped onions, somebody was brave enough to do a whole chicken curry with coconut milk. Mama Squirrel, feeling vastly intimidated by the whole thing, settled for stirring the dhal.

The chicken biryani was voted the best dish of the evening, followed closely by the eggplant dish. While Mama Squirrel doesn't feel quite up to trying to reproduce either of those, she did bring home some little tips that might improve her attempts at slightly Canadianized curry. (All of which makes the Milk calendar's rather pathetic curry recipe seem pretty sad. After all, if I can do better than that...) One is that vegetable curries aren't traditionally made with garlic, but with ginger. Another is that, when you're making chicken or other meat curries, you start with quite a bit of oil; then the oil seems to disappear into the meat and you might think you need to add stock or other liquid because the whole thing's getting very dry; but don't do that, just keep stirring it and scraping it and letting it cook, and eventually this weird thing happens: the oil starts to come back out and you have this nice sauce around the meat again.

See, I did learn something.

A few nights later I had cooked up some chickpeas in the pressure cooker and decided to make "Very Quick Curried Chickpeas" from The Goldbecks' Short Order Cookbook. This is my modified version.

Curried Chickpeas

1 clove garlic, chopped (I substituted some grated fresh ginger)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. oil (I think I used 2 tbsp.)
2 tsp. curry powder, or more if you want
1 cup chopped tomato (I used canned diced tomato)
3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
(And salt! The recipe didn't include any, but I thought it needed some.)

Saute garlic (or ginger) and onion in oil AND SALT for 2 to 3 minutes until tender and transparent. Add curry powder and saute 1 minute longer. Add tomato and chickpeas, cover (I didn't cover it because we didn't cover most of the curries), and cook about 10 minutes until the tomato is soft and the beans are hot.

And no flour or cornstarch in sight.


Jacqueline said...

Mmmmm. Sounds like you had a wonderful Friday night!

jasmine said...

What a great party--really like the diverse ingredients -- chicken, trout, various veg. Sounds delicious.

The milk people have been snooping around my blog. Hopefully their new calendar will have tastier recipes...


Sebastian said...

What a cool party. An Indian friend once held a cooking class at her house for about four other ladies. I can still smell the yummy goodness that was her kitchen. Her spices just smelled so alive.

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