Tag Archives: Curry

How we danced

I’m writing this all down before I forget.

I didn’t take many photos this past weekend. Or, none that were food related, anyway. Or of myself or my friends who were in town for that matter. For the most part, I was too busy simply enjoying the rightinfrontofme.

Instead took photos like this one:

Spotted on a quiet street in Brooklyn, which lead to a debate of who actually wrote it. (I’ll spare you the suspense: it was Alexander Hamilton.)

And this:

Look closely and you can see Jane’s Carousel in the distance. It’s a venue so secure in its own permanence that it has a plinth announcing “Since 2011″—I laughed when I first saw it, but on second thought, I like the brashness of it, the implied staying power. Something from another time, made modern by the architecture.

Naturally, the kids waiting in line don’t think about these things. They’re just happy for the chance to ride one of the hand carved horses. Or, if they’re really lucky, to get a chance to share one of the chariots with a friend. I thought about doing just that.

Then, surrounded by the children and their parents, I got bashful.

I’d like to say that’s unlike me, although that might be a stretch. It’s of no consequence. I knew that had I asked, my friend Ben would have done so—after all, in the first weeks of our friendship we had tangoed across the floors of the Tate Modern. It was closing time soon, so the docent let us be. I’d like to think that he also felt the Rothko room needed a little less red and a little more life in it.

At the present moment, there were places to go and sites undiscovered as of yet.

Including Cindy Sherman (the exhibit and the artist. Or, at least some of us thought).

And, then it was time for us to say goodbye. That’s the thing about having dear friends or family in different cities, you’re often saying goodbye or attempting to share experiences from afar.

It’s easy, if you have someone to show you the way.

In this case, while we can’t share meals, we can share recipes. This, then, is a variation on Ben’s Thai Green Curry.

brookyln bridge

Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Eggplant

1 bunch cilantro
2 limes, zested and juice
1 small knob fresh Galangal (appox. 1 TBS), peeled
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2-3 sprigs scallions—the white part should be roughly chopped and the green parts should be chiffonaded and set aside
5 garlic cloves, peeled roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
5-6 bird’s dried eye chilies
2 TBS peanut oil
12 ounces coconut milk
6 ounces water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 eggplant, roughly diced
fish sauce (approx 2 tsps)
soy sauce

garnish: scallions

Using a food processor, combine the cilantro, Galangal, garlic, dried bird’s eye chilies, onions, white portion of the scallions, and lemongrass stalks and pulse until the mixture becomes a thick paste. Add water if you are having difficulty getting into combine.

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over a high flame. Add in the peanut oil and allow to heat, approximately 1 minute. Add in the cilantro paste and heat approximately 5-10 minutes, until the paste become aromatic. Reduce the heat to medium low, and add in the coconut milk and water. Stir and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in the chicken and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer 10 minutes. Add in the eggplant, mix together and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the eggplant has become soft.

Season to taste using fish sauce (approx. 2 tsps, depending on how salty you like your curry) and soy sauce. Garnish with the green part of the scallions and serve with white rice.

Serves 4 as a main dish

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Curry in a hurry

chana masala

I order Indian food far more than I should. I can’t help it, and the fact that I live a stone’s throw away from New York’s Curry Hill certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

There’s just something about the cuisine with its heady mix of spices that I love. Perhaps its because the food makes me nostalgic for my student days in London, living on Drummond Street when my flatmates and I would scour every restaurant on the block for the best deals, eventually finding a place with a £5 thali and BYOB that became a staple. Or, it’s the intense flavor that characterizes the dishes, making them filling without being heavy.

beans

I’ve had this nagging sense that I could save myself a ton of money if I could simply learn how to cook Indian food myself. And, yet it’s the cooking that’s always eluded me. Each dish would be good, but, not quite there. Or, that was true until I found the recipe below.

The ingredients were mostly things I had on hand, or at the very least was familiar with, and the method couldn’t be more simple. The trick here is making sure that your spices are toasted well before adding any of the liquid. Let them go until they fill your kitchen with perfume. You’ll be able to tell when they’re ready just by the smell. Another trick, I suppose, is getting pointers from a South Indian friend whose mother taught her how to cook (see note below).

onions onions and spice

So, finally, curry from my own kitchen! And, now, yours, too.

The best part, aside from tailoring your dinner to your own personal tastes? Knowing it’ll be on your table in far less time than delivery.

Chana-ish Masala

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

A few notes before you get started:

  • Don’t get discouraged by the amount of spices that this recipe calls for. Once you have them around, the dish is basically a mix of pantry staples. And, what could be easier, or cheaper, than that?
  • And with regard to those spices: Smitten Kitchen’s version of this recipe calls for Amchoor powder. I had no luck finding it despite going to Kalustyan’s, which sells every spice under the sun. It turns out it was there all along, I was just too short to find it. At any rate, I substituted Anardana powder, which is another souring agent made from pomegranate seeds. I’m sure that Amchoor powder, which is made from unripe mangoes, would be lovely as well. In either case, if you don’t want to make the investment in the spices, doubling up the lemon juice should also give you the desired sourness to tie the curry together.
  • About the beans. Traditional chana masala is made exclusively with chickpeas. I used a mixture of chickpeas, red kidney beans and roman beans in the dish pictured here because I like the mix of textures and happened to have those varieties on hand.
  • And, last but not least, a friend of mine whose family hails from Southern India mentioned to me that her mother used to add brown sugar to her curries to give them an added depth and curry leaves for the aromatic smell. I’ve added both here. They’re optional, but well worth it. Together they’ll make your dish taste far more authentic.

1 TBS vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 TBS ground coriander
2 TBS ground cumin
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 anardana powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1 28 oz can of tomato puree
1 tsp crushed curry leaves (optional)
2/3 of water
6 cups beans
1/2 salt
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
2 TBS Brown Sugar (optional)

Heat oil in a large pan or dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over a medium heat until browned.

Turn the heat down and add in your spices (everything from coriander to garam masala on the list above). Cook for about 2 minutes, until the spices get fragrant.

Add in your tomatoes, water, brown sugar, and curry leaves and stir. Once the liquid is incorporated with the spiced onion mixture, add in the beans.

Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in salt, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce, and simmer for another 5 minutes so the the flavors have a chance to meld.

Serve with rice.

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