A Brief Interlude for Curry

I’ve been talking quite a bit about cooking and food these last few months. In my post about the Eastern Townships, I wrote about the food and travel handbook I’m working on,  (ED: finished now yay!) and my hours of food research has meant that I’ve been on a bit of a cooking kick, primarily curry or smoked lamb with mint.  Joe, who read the Eastern Townships post, commented to ask after the curry meals, so I thought I’d put up a brief post with a rough and tumble recipe and the finished product.

It’s about time you get a short post, no? Every time I sit down to write something brief, it turns into a post of over 1500 words. Even the last post about travel stories was meant to be an “oh hey, I had a great travel day!” and  - of course – it ended up as a meandering ode to connectivity, travel and storytelling.

I always get carried away with the stories. But hopefully that’s part of why you’re reading in the first place!

Enough already, where’s the recipe?

Right. Where was I?

Curry.

Chickpea coconut curry

Chickpea coconut and zucchini curry, from yesterday

What fascinates me about cooking is both the way that different tastes mix and blend together, creating perfect matches from seemingly unrelated beginnings, and the history and trajectory of each ingredient in a meal. Curry meals provide the perfect plate for both of those interests, and allow me to be liberal with my spicing all the while thinking of how caravanserai fanned their way across nations long ago, to bring spices to the masses.

Quick and Easy Curry

This is not a precise recipe, nor is it anything I’ve adapted from cookbooks. Really, it’s just a two-pot meal filled with the spices I like to eat, easy and fast to make.  Photos from an iPhone 3GS.

Ingredients

1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup of water
1 sweet onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 zucchini or 2 cups of broccoli florets or another green vegetable of your choosing
1 can of chickpeas
Rice (Basmati, Jasmine or wild rice)
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp of sugar

Spices, in order of their copiousness of use:

Cumin
Ground Coriander
Turmeric
Smoked Paprika
Cardamom
Cloves
Cayenne
Cinnamon
Salt & Pepper
2 tsp of sugar

Topping: Fresh cilantro, chopped and roasted cashews, chopped

The Cooking

  • Heat wok with olive oil.
  • Add onion and garlic (chopped) and all of the spices noted above. I don’t measure out the spices but use depends on how your tastebuds like to eat. Go light on the smoked paprika and cayenne if you don’t like spice. Regardless, cumin should be the dominant taste, not the cloves/cardamom (so I tend to be liberal with my cumin use).
Coconut curry spice mix

Spices with onions, garlic and some olive oil.

  • As the onion starts to soften, add 1/4 cup of water to keep the spices from drying out. Cook for another 5 minutes and then add the rest of the water, so it forms a bit of a paste.
  • Add in zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add can of coconut milk and after the contents begin to bubble lightly, add the 2 tsp of sugar. Stir well.
  • Take a small taste with your spoon and see how the flavours blend. I tend to add a second round of spicing here, with emphasis on the cumin and coriander. Often the heat has faded slightly too, so I include more cayenne.
  • Add your chickpeas, and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve over rice, topping the curry with the chopped cilantro and cashews.

Note: If you want to add meat to this dish, I’d suggest lamb or beef. Before chopping into pieces, sear lightly on both sides then set aside. Once the coconut milk has been added with the sugar, cut the meat into squares and add in, pre-chickpeas.

Not the most precise of recipes but it works every time and I’ve switched up my spice ratios depending on my mood. A few of you sent me your photos when you made maklouba; if you try your hand at the curry, I’d love to see it!

Bon appetit!

-Jodi