Thursday, April 20, 2006

The infamous Crack Curry

I know it's kinda an overload for one day, but I wrote it up and some people (*ahem Nate ahem*) so here it is...

Indio-African Curry

So this recipe started when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. Going through my Mopane Johnny Namibia Peace Corps Cookbook. I ran across a curry recipe, it looked good save one thing. It was butter and milk based, and I’m mildly weight conscious at best. Thus I went about modifying the recipe so it was tomato based (healthier and still tasty). After some unique creations I finally settled on what would come to be known to other Volunteers as “Margarette’s Crack Curry.” It was apparently quite addictive. Though replicating this recipe outside of Namibia and my usual ingredients has proven a challenge it hasn’t been impossible, and who heard of coming to India and not making curry. So here it is.

African Ingredients:
Curry powder (mild)
Veggie Seasoning
Black Pepper
1 Garlic clove
Fresh Ginger
Green Pepper

2-3 Big tomatoes (per serving)
Broccoli/ Cauliflower

Indian Ingredients:
Veggie Masala
Garam Masala
Fresh Curry Leaves
Black Pepper
3-4 Garlic Cloves (really little here)
Fresh Ginger
Green Pepper

3-4 little tomatoes (per serving)-they don’t really have big ones here
Tomato Puree

Since I don’t really measure anything this should help a little
· Base Spices- These spices are ones you probably can’t really add too much of. And give whatever you are cooking its initial flavor, start at about ½tsp each
o Curry powder (if you are using it), Veggie Seasoning/Masala, Garam Masala
· Seasoning Spices- This tunes the flavor to what you are cooking: in this case Curry. Start with about 1 tsp of each and then tune to your own tastes. When in doubt add even amounts of each.
o Turmeric, Cumin, Curry powder or fresh curry leaves
· Enhancing Spices- These aren’t really necessary but they do add a little kick to the flavor by bringing out the best in the others. ½ Tsp should do it
o Thyme, Fennel
· Table Spices- Salt and Pepper – Definitely needed, but amount can vary drastically.
o Pepper- Curry and Pepper can react to make things really spicy. Start with about 1tsp and go from there depending on tastes
o Salt- Again unfortunately needed (if you have grown up in a low sodium household like mine). You may need to start with 1 ½-2 tsp.
· To Taste- Till it tastes good to you. You do have to eat this so as long as it’s good to you that’s what is important.

Step 1: Chop/Dice Green pepper, Onion, Garlic and Ginger (do enough ginger to just about equal the garlic). Set a side to sauté later

Step 2: Chop veggies. What veggies one uses doesn’t really matter that much, as long as they are ones you like.
· White Veggies (cauliflower, cabbage) generally absorb flavors and spices pretty easily
· Green Veggies and Carrots tend to have a flavor that will carry through the spices so make sure it is one you like.
· Mushrooms and Eggplant are pretty meaty vegetables
· I guess you could add some sliced chicken if you wanted to most other meats throw off the flavor balance. I prefer soya nuggets.

Step 3: Using about 2 tsp. of Olive Oil in a good-sized sauce pan- Sauté the Green pepper, Onion, Garlic and Ginger till the onion becomes clear
· Add re-hydrated soya nuggets or chicken shortly after

Step 4: While things are sautéing go ahead and cut the tomatoes. These are the last to add since they take the least cooking time. If you have soya nuggets start to add base spices now (I also add a some pepper here, but I really like pepper.) Then add veggies in order that things take to cook.
· Cabbage, Carrots, and Eggplant take pretty long to cook so add them first
· Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cucumbers are medium cookers
· Tomatoes and Mushrooms cook quickly
Remember to stir and shift the veggies so that get cooked evenly

Step 5: When the medium cookers are in, add Tomato Purée, if you don’t have tomato purée then add the tomatoes and some water. Also add the Fresh Curry Leaves here if you are using them; more flavor is released if you crush them or rip them a bit first.

Step 6: Mix all together and add Tomatoes and Seasoning Spices. I add a fair amount of water until I feel that all is getting flavored and cooking well. If too much water is added, don’t worry it will evaporate off.

Step 7: After about 3mins of stirring and cooking add Enhancing Spices. (If you want to know the difference they make taste the curry before and then again a few minutes after you’ve added them) You can now feel free to cover the curry and let it simmer and season itself while you make your rice, set the table, read a book, etc.

Step 8: After about 2mins of simmering stir-in Table Spices. This is a good point to take out a piece of Carrot or Broccoli and a White Veggie and taste it to see how flavorful this curry really is so far. (A veggie with a strong taste and one that will pick up flavors easily are good to judge just how much more spice is actually needed) Add Base or Seasoning Spices (or anything else you think it needs) to taste if needed.

Step 9: Cover the curry again and let it self season until the veggies seem properly cooked to you: soft but still crunchy, completely soft, etc. (The long cook veggies are what I judge by. One the cabbage is soft and seasoned I declare the curry done) It may take another 5-10mins to finish depending on heat of the eye, types of veggies etc.

Step 10: Serve with rice (Brown in Namibia, Basmati in India) or just bread if you are feeling lazy after all of your efforts, and ENJOY!

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