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David Ross

eG Cook-Off #80: The Aromatic, Exotic Flavors of Curry

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11 hours ago, Okanagancook said:

Where is @sartoric???

I remember seeing loads of great curries on dinner plate outta the kitchen.

Ooh, I’m in, thanks @Okanagancook !  This topic is so close to my heart (well perhaps a little lower anatomically).

Curry - a word invented by the British and adopted by the Indians. The cuisine is hugely popular in Australia, it’s not unusual to find an Indian restaurant in even a small country town.

 

Tonight I made fish in mustard gravy with fresh mangrove jack, a firm white fleshed fish. The recipe is from a book by Meena Pathak (of the Patak curry paste fame), this soft cover book was found in an op shop, best 50 cents I ever spent. 

The gravy is made with toasted white poppy seeds crushed in a mortar, then blended to a paste with onion, garlic, ginger, green chilli, cumin, coriander, turmeric powders and mustard seeds. The paste was fried in a little mustard oil, then puréed tomatoes and water added, simmered for 5 minutes then fish chunks added. I finished it with some lime juice and chopped fresh coriander. 

Seen below and served with lemon ginger rice, dill potatoes, my (well Madhur Jafferys) everyday okra, tarka dal, a blob of cucumber & mint raita and half a paratha. 

87235518-161B-433B-81F3-BBFC845D0E9D.thumb.jpeg.4a010ece8641a56535f927ad6476e363.jpeg

 

I think there’s about 20 Indian cookbooks on my shelf, plus at least half a dozen books encompassing curries of the world. Charmaine Solomon is a favourite, as is Madhur Jaffery and Christine Manfield. 

 

It’s probably not wrong to say we’re obsessed with Indian food, (actually, all things Indian). In exactly six weeks time we should be on final approach into Indira Ghandi Airport New Delhi and ready to eat our way through Rajasthan and the Punjab. 

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@sartoricWelcome back!  Lovely looking plate.  Thanks for taking the time to post.  I have a couple of questions.  

 

Do you think mustard oil adds flavour to the dish?  I have not used it.

 

I've seen the use of white poppy seeds in pastes before...Madhur Jaffery's recipes I think.  Why are they included?  Is it to bind the rest of the spices for frying or as a sauce thickening agent?

 

I like the look of the rice and dal is my favourite legume dish. 

 

Will you be taking us along on your Rajasthan and Punjab trip (typing while on my knees)?

 

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I made tamarind water for my upcoming curry cook.  Tamarind seasoning is used in many curries especially South Indian, Indonesia, etc.

Tamarind:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamarind

I had the pulp that can be purchased in blocks.

Charmaine Solomon's books says to soak a walnut sized piece of pulp in 125 ml or 1/2 c of warm water for ten minutes or so; squeeze the pulp with your fingers; and strain through cloth.  Here is the process.  I dated the bottle and it is in the fridge.  

 

While talking about ingredients there is a picture of my spice boxes.  These little things are very handy when making curries.  They seal quite well keeping the spices fresh.  I do have a stash of more of each spice sealed in vac bags for freshness.  https://www.amazon.ca/Philco-Masala-Dabba-Spice-Box/dp/B00G7S201G/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1537642590&sr=8-16&keywords=spice+boxes

 

DSC02728.thumb.jpg.23680f62ca4b19016423aa22894c69b2.jpgDSC02729.thumb.jpg.c74c9a9a7b5b1b956a13ae7eedb65c54.jpgDSC02730.thumb.jpg.aec7beef8de6adbd9de9598f670640af.jpgDSC02731.thumb.jpg.43a85ebbe3f1323424917d6e79c4af9a.jpg

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I love those spice tins. I first saw one at the home of a dear neighbor - both husband and wife grew up in India.  I have a fondness for doing tamarind water from whole pods because...I love the seeds aesthetically (also love loquat seeds) and well Julie Andrew & Omar Sharif in The Tamarind Seed...  

 

My general curry confusion is definition. Is it a highly spiced (not heat but spices) gravy over several cuisines or?  I like The Japanese S&B powder. I have a gorgeous Thai mortar and pestle but often use canned pastes for South East Asian curries. The ones that come in a can like tuna and usually have a mama face logo. Such a broad area - but carry on - I love it all. 


Edited by heidih correct fruit from kumquat to loquat (log)
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7 hours ago, KennethT said:

@sartoric Did you make all of those?  If so, wow!  That's a lot of work!  Must have taken all day!

I made the potato dish and the okra yesterday or day before that...I tend to make a big batch of any given dish and use over a few days. We eat Indian food almost exclusively. It helps that I have a willing kitchen hand.

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5 hours ago, Okanagancook said:

@sartoricWelcome back!  Lovely looking plate.  Thanks for taking the time to post.  I have a couple of questions.  

 

Do you think mustard oil adds flavour to the dish?  I have not used it.

 

I've seen the use of white poppy seeds in pastes before...Madhur Jaffery's recipes I think.  Why are they included?  Is it to bind the rest of the spices for frying or as a sauce thickening agent?

 

I like the look of the rice and dal is my favourite legume dish. 

 

Will you be taking us along on your Rajasthan and Punjab trip (typing while on my knees)?

 

Thanks @Okanagancook

Mustard oil is very pungent, I use it frequently though sparingly, and yes it does add an extra flavour layer. Sesame oil (til) is also in my pantry, this is not the dark roasted sesame oil of Chinese cooking, but rather a pale oil from the unroasted seeds.

I think the poppy seeds definitely thicken the sauce and probably help to bind the paste. They’re quite common in South Indian dishes.

Seeing you asked so nicely, yes, I’ll put a travelogue together on our Indian food experience. We’re staying in a few family run places where I hope to invade the kitchen. There might be a cooking school, and there will definitely be markets !

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I guess that’s why mustard oil is sold in small bottles.  I shall have to try it.

Cannot wait for your travels...whatever you have time for would be gratefully appreciated.😁

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I think I may have every spice known to man.

The pantry has its own spice drawer.

D71A76E3-5036-48C9-A567-1ABC4EDDF8C2.thumb.jpeg.5b6860c638978f778e2f68911d7ca940.jpeg

 

My spice dabbah contains mostly seeds, including cumin, mustard, fennel, cloves, cardamom, plus crushed chilli and bay leaves.

A0E61718-5C16-44D5-A802-9D6DD82709F2.thumb.jpeg.f49ada0d6e7fd01c7eafa55686764599.jpeg

 

Then there’s the frequently used spice powders on the bench top, here I keep different masalas (mixed spice blends, usually roasted individually then ground together) with a current library favourite Rick Steins India. 

3B11D026-EFAA-48B7-B581-067043CE9AAB.thumb.jpeg.b2f6a56497b6ffe1944b84575dc93292.jpeg

 

I did say obsessed....

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13 minutes ago, Okanagancook said:

Do you use black cardamom?  Love that spice.

Yep, it’s in there somewhere. I’ll pull out a few of the more unusual ones later.

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27 minutes ago, Okanagancook said:

I guess that’s why mustard oil is sold in small bottles.  I shall have to try it.

Cannot wait for your travels...whatever you have time for would be gratefully appreciated.😁

 

Ha! last time I bought it was years ago but in a liter bottle!  The warning label of "external use only" was of mild cncern but I was told to ignore. It definitely was a flavor component. I'd just altered my cooking style so have not purchased again.


Edited by heidih (log)
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1 hour ago, sartoric said:

I think I may have every spice known to man.

The pantry has its own spice drawer.

D71A76E3-5036-48C9-A567-1ABC4EDDF8C2.thumb.jpeg.5b6860c638978f778e2f68911d7ca940.jpeg

 

My spice dabbah contains mostly seeds, including cumin, mustard, fennel, cloves, cardamom, plus crushed chilli and bay leaves.

A0E61718-5C16-44D5-A802-9D6DD82709F2.thumb.jpeg.f49ada0d6e7fd01c7eafa55686764599.jpeg

 

Then there’s the frequently used spice powders on the bench top, here I keep different masalas (mixed spice blends, usually roasted individually then ground together) with a current library favourite Rick Steins India. 

3B11D026-EFAA-48B7-B581-067043CE9AAB.thumb.jpeg.b2f6a56497b6ffe1944b84575dc93292.jpeg

 

I did say obsessed....

That is an impressive spice collection 

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3 hours ago, Okanagancook said:

I made tamarind water for my upcoming curry cook.  Tamarind seasoning is used in many curries especially South Indian, Indonesia, etc.

Tamarind:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamarind

I had the pulp that can be purchased in blocks.

Charmaine Solomon's books says to soak a walnut sized piece of pulp in 125 ml or 1/2 c of warm water for ten minutes or so; squeeze the pulp with your fingers; and strain through cloth.  Here is the process.  I dated the bottle and it is in the fridge.  

 

While talking about ingredients there is a picture of my spice boxes.  These little things are very handy when making curries.  They seal quite well keeping the spices fresh.  I do have a stash of more of each spice sealed in vac bags for freshness.  https://www.amazon.ca/Philco-Masala-Dabba-Spice-Box/dp/B00G7S201G/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1537642590&sr=8-16&keywords=spice+boxes

 

DSC02728.thumb.jpg.23680f62ca4b19016423aa22894c69b2.jpgDSC02729.thumb.jpg.c74c9a9a7b5b1b956a13ae7eedb65c54.jpgDSC02730.thumb.jpg.aec7beef8de6adbd9de9598f670640af.jpgDSC02731.thumb.jpg.43a85ebbe3f1323424917d6e79c4af9a.jpg

 

I prep my tamarind a little differently.  I put the necessary amount of tamarind paste in a small saucepan with lid, and add double the amount of water in ml to the tamarind by weight.  So, typically for a 2 person curry, I use about 25 g tamarind paste and add 50ml water.  I bring it to a boil, then cover and let steep and hydrate for about 5 min.  Once done, in the same pan, I'll mash the paste with a fork until it's all completely hydrated, then just dump into a strainer.  Using a spoon, I'll press the thinned paste through the strainer until I'm just left with the skins.  Then scrape off the tamarind paste that has collected on the bottom of the strainer and mix with the watery liquid that went through the strainer.  It results in a thicker tamarind liquid, which I like since it doesn't add too much extra water to the curry.  I can always add more plain water if needed.

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While we’re talking tamarind, here’s some black tamarind. It’s black because it’s been smoked, lends the typical sour taste, but also a smoky flavour. Used mainly in South Indian cooking, and very sparingly, it’s really strong.

B1039DC7-CD06-45A9-A329-D834033A03F8.thumb.jpeg.41258945c16fe4ea8e0181da05ef6880.jpeg

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This is a favourite curry featuring tamarind, eggplant and chickpeas. Note the curry leaves, if there’s one thing that makes a curry taste extra special, it’s curry leaves (Murraya koenigii) the tree grows easily here. 

40EE948C-46F4-4A48-885F-F99FCA476049.thumb.jpeg.871a70c4807a0b7d456e02dd95d53745.jpeg

 

Served with lemon rice, chickpea flour pancakes, potatoes and pol sambal (a Sri Lankan coconut and chilli relish).

FE5703D7-455A-4485-BAA2-70E8D9653ADF.thumb.jpeg.3aa101d13ae758c105bb4d2eb98b7e18.jpeg

 

The trees, the large one is 3 metres tall and a few years old, the smaller one is a pup. Yes, they produce pups ! My kinda tree.

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There are many different preparations for tamarind.  Since I was using Charmaine’s recipes, I made her preparation.  I have a jar of tamarind liquid for use with the Syrian cookbook Aromas of Aleppo and it is way thicker than the one I just made....and on and on it goes.  I think what’s important is to add a bit and taste, then add more, etc.

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@sartoric another interesting plate.  The eggplant dish looks like a nice combo and the coconut sambal seems a 

perfect accent to the other dishes.  I am fortunate that The Great Canadian Superstore opened a big store here about 3 years ago and they regularly have fresh curry leaves.  Just got a package and they just cut the branches off with the leaves attached.  I have to freeze most of them because we do not eat curry everyday.  They also routinely have okra, baby eggplant and occasionally the little green Thai eggplants which have amazing flavour, curry leaves, fresh young ginger, fresh lime leaves...in little old Penticton of 35,000 WASP old folks!  I feel obligated to buy something from that list so they keep bringing it in🙄

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38 minutes ago, sartoric said:

This is a favourite curry featuring tamarind, eggplant and chickpeas. Note the curry leaves, if there’s one thing that makes a curry taste extra special, it’s curry leaves (Murraya koenigii) the tree grows easily here. 

40EE948C-46F4-4A48-885F-F99FCA476049.thumb.jpeg.871a70c4807a0b7d456e02dd95d53745.jpeg

 

Served with lemon rice, chickpea flour pancakes, potatoes and pol sambal (a Sri Lankan coconut and chilli relish).

FE5703D7-455A-4485-BAA2-70E8D9653ADF.thumb.jpeg.3aa101d13ae758c105bb4d2eb98b7e18.jpeg

 

The trees, the large one is 3 metres tall and a few years old, the smaller one is a pup. Yes, they produce pups ! My kinda tree.

 

 

I think we are all coming to your house for dinner.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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21 minutes ago, Okanagancook said:

@sartoric another interesting plate.  The eggplant dish looks like a nice combo and the coconut sambal seems a 

perfect accent to the other dishes.  I am fortunate that The Great Canadian Superstore opened a big store here about 3 years ago and they regularly have fresh curry leaves.  Just got a package and they just cut the branches off with the leaves attached.  I have to freeze most of them because we do not eat curry everyday.  They also routinely have okra, baby eggplant and occasionally the little green Thai eggplants which have amazing flavour, curry leaves, fresh young ginger, fresh lime leaves...in little old Penticton of 35,000 WASP old folks!  I feel obligated to buy something from that list so they keep bringing it in🙄

I hope it works.  When the FreshCo in Peterpatch redid itself and opened up, they carried all sorts of goodies which one doesn't expect to find in the 70,000 town of mostly WASP old folks.  Well, a lot of those items have disappeared from the shelves and bins.  Very sad. 


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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I hope they keep it up.

Actually they seem to be stocking more exotic stuff since they opened.  There is also a big East Indian population in the surrounding country side....fruit farmers.  They have Long Beans, Japanese eggplants, cassava, lemon grass, taro root, Asian squash, and jicama.

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@sartoric That black tamarind sounds amazing... I have to look for it around here. 

 

I also love curry leaves and use them in quite a few of the curries we make.  I keep saying that I should grow a curry plant - I gather they grow easily in hydroponics which is a plus for me...  plus, the only store around me that has them sells them for like US$5 for a small branch!  It's highway robbery, but I pay it because I don't have much other choice other than going really far away, or growing it myself.

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Well, that has planted a seed....maybe I can take one of those branches in my package and grow it up.

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I imagine a cutting would root well. I've thought of trying it but the branches I can get don't look fresh enough. One day when I get some time I'll try it anyway.

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2 hours ago, Darienne said:

I think we are all coming to your house for dinner.

Anytime @Darienne, it’s a long flight but you’re more than welcome.

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