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The Curry Wars: Are you a Soldier, or Collateral damage?
Do you really know what Curry is?
Hopefully since you wandered to my article you are truly curious as to what Curry really is. It is much more vast than the super atomic spicy Indian yellow curry Westerners often blindly associate with the word "curry".
Curry is a spice blend cooked onto vegetables, meat, poultry or seafood. It can be wet, or dry. It can be mild to Oh My God! It all depends on how you want it.
There is yellow, Green, Brown, Golden Just about every color you can think of...
Curry is heavily through the European, Middle Eastern, Indian to East Asian cultures. Most of them do not call it curry. They have their own word for it. Curry is a westerner term.
Thanks to travel and vast trading Curry is all over the world now.
Curry is also an appetite stimulant. So, if you know anyone who needs to eat but can't seem to get them to, Curry could be an option. Garlic is also an appetite stimulant, Garlic is usually in curry so that's a double incentive.
The curry I have been exposed to first was Japanese golden curry. It has the consistency and taste of a rich hearty beef stew. Or any other meat that's used. I have also had Indian and Thai curry. Thai curry uses coconut milk. Sometimes peanuts. So I'd stick to Japanese (which I'm making for you here) just to avoid any allergy issues. (If you're allergic to an item in my recipe omit it. curry is awesome like that. you can ad-lib just about he whole thing)
Do you like beef stew? Do you like pot roast? Great! We're half way there then ^_^ When I make it with beef, if you take the word curry out of it, its like a thick beef stew with rich flavor. (or any meat)
This is also the perfect vegan dish! Just take out the meat and cram as many veggies as you wish! A lot of countries make vegetable only curries. The sky is the limit!
Little origin history: The word origin is slightly foggy, but Its most associated with the British, during their extensive early days of trade with the East. I won't bore you with the history... Lets get to the food!
Oh! And if you've eaten my Curry, or make this curry for yourself let me know how it turned out for you in the comments below ^_^
How to Make From Scratch Curry
No.. no no ... don't be scared... this is simple stuff... I promise.
I find that this recipe makes enough for 4-8 people depending on how much they eat and if someone sneaks in for seconds ^_~
Non-Edibles You'lll need:
2-6 Quart Pot
(I prefer a Crock Pot if you have it)
Wooden spoon (or whatever you have)
If you have a rice cooker that is Freakin awesome!
if not a pot you can cook rice in works just as well
4-6 Cups of rice (jasmine is my fav, but whatever is on hand works too)
2 Bay leaves (3 if they are small)
2-4 whole cloves (1/2 tsp of ground clove if you don't have whole)
Curry powder (to taste so keep the container on hand)
2 cups of Flour (keep the flour around in case you need more than 2 cups)
2 Tbsp Oil of your choice or butter/margarine
1 pound o' cubed Meat (stew meat or cube up a steak or two is perfect)
1/2 Onion ( I like vidalia, or spring onion, but sweet onion works)
2-4 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on size and how much garlic you like)
1/2 A small bag of baby carrots (or whatever kind of carrots you have on hand)
6 potatoes (canned ones are fine and I love the cubed ones!)
Optional: (I have added these in various times (sometimes more than one option) to change it up or to even add some more bulk, or if I couldn't get to the store to get carrots or potatoes)
corn (de-cobbed or drained)
Apples (one - two cubed up) & Honey 1-3 tbsp depending on your tastes (sweetish curry)
Pineapple chunks are AWESOME ^_^
Mixed seafood (trio: scallops, shrimp, crab)
Just about anything really
Getting Started. The Final Ingredient... Heat!
Get your crock pot set up (or your stew pot) with 6 cups of water (initially). Turn it on for 4 hrs or high (if you want to have it take a long time put it on low or the longest time setting your pot has). Turn it on a get the water heating even if you don't have the veggies ready to go in. It takes forever to heat water when you're ready for it.
Put in the bay leaves and the clove.
Prep work on your items makes cooking faster!
If you have a little time to think about this and want to make the people in your house worship you, get yourself a zip-top baggie large enough to comfortably hold your meat. Cut up your garlic and onion as directed and place in the baggie. Add: 2 tbsp Curry powder and 2 tsp oil (whatever your preference) a dash (and I mean a dash) of either vinegar or lemon juice whatever you have around the house. Squish it around a little until its like a slightly runny paste (add more oil if not runny enough) toss in your raw meat squish that around till everything is coated evenly. and put in your fridge for a few hours to over night.
Cube or medium thick cut everything!
With the onions, I like to semi-thick cut it all the way across the onion, then cut those in half making half rings. remember the bigger you cut it the longer it takes to cook. Try to cut the veggies evenly so they all cook at the same time, the same doneness.
If you plan on letting them cook on the long setting cut them a little bigger so you have something to eat when the timer goes off. If you make the veggies too small they'll cook away and you'll be left with a vegetable slurry instead of curry lol
Cut and Put the carrots in the pot first. They take the longest to cook. You would think potatoes, but carrots are much more dense. Now you can peel potatoes (or not, your call, wash them well regardless) then cube those up. by the time youre done all of the potatoes you can put those in. If they are canned, put them in after the meat. You can put more potatoes in if you know your family are potato monsters.
The optional ingredients are pretty easy. Corn can go in whenever you want to put it in, asparagus and green beans if they are fresh/frozen put them in the beginning. If they are canned put them in about an hour or so till the end. Same with broccoli and cauliflower, put those in about and hour or so till the end. Apples & Honey, put 1/4 of the apples in with the party, then the rest about 30-60 minutes till the end.
In your frying pan:
Fire that bad boy up and get some oil or butter in it.
If you marinated, go light on the oil/butter. Remember you marinated with oil.
Toss in your onions and Garlic while the oil is till warming up. When you start smelling the onions and garlic cooking and see them sort of bubbling add the meat. (stir occasionally)
You want to flash sear your meat (do not cook it through) you just want to get a little color on the meat... Makes it taste good. At this point I would also add salt and pepper.
When the meat has a good sear on it; Put a tsp or two of the curry powder onto the meat and stir it around coating the meat evenly. (if you marinated the meat, eyeball it and adjust with the adding of the extra curry powder)
Add the flour (a tablespoon or so at a time) and a little bit of water a tsp or so just to get things moving. Stir that around with the meat until it turns into very very thick gravy.
Add another tsp of curry. (trust me its not going to be a lot of curryness) mix that in well.
At this point I add a few more dashes of salt and pepper.
Pour all of the contents, scraping everything in the pan into your pot with the vegetables.
Give it a good stirring.
OK... home stretch..
Now all you have to do it wait for the goodness.
Bring everything to a boil, if it is in a normal pot, stirring often. Once its bubbling very actively, set it on low (if you want to cook it for long time) or medium (if you're ready to eat within the next 40 minutes or so). Cover, and let it do its thing. Stir occasionally.
Taste it occasionally. If you want stronger curry add curry powder a tbsp at a time, stirring well and tasting it every addition. You can add, but its hard to take it back out. So taste after every tbsp.
Salt and pepper if you want. Like I said, taste it and add what it needs. But taste it after every add.
If by the last hour the liquid still resembles a loose stew rather than a gravy, add more flour.
To add flour:
whisk 1/2 cup flour to 1/3 cup water. Whisk till no lumps (a slurry). then add it to the curry. remember when you add flour you're going to have to tweak your spices. so taste taste taste.
It is done when the carrots and potatoes are soft. To tell this, poke a big carrot (there will be one no matter how awesome you cut). Try a few randoms carrots from around the pot. Three or so should be sufficient. If the fork goes in easy, and it removes easy. You are done! Enjoy!
I make Rice. I tear up oriental food, so I have a 15 cup rice cooker from korea. (don't jaw drop at the screen... it was on sale and cheaper than a tiny american one. They even threw in 2 free 25 pound bags of rice- the good asian stuff. I'm telling you, I made out.)
You can make rice, toast, noodles or pasta. Really you can use anything..
Wash your rice until the water is clearish. See how long your rice says to cook it. lighty salt the rice water.
My rice cooker is pretty much set and forget.. it takes 14 minutes to cook perfect rice.
I wait till about 30 ish minutes before the timer for the curry is supposed to go off and I cook the rice, that way it doesn't sit for hours and get wonky, but I have enough time to make more if it turns out not to be enough. (unexpected guests smelling the curry wanting some etc ^_~ )
If you have regular plain rice and want to be fancy.
If you have it... take 2 sprigs of saffron, and place it on top of your rice/water. Let it cook halfway, and take the sprigs out. Stir the rice (in cooker or pot), and put the saffron back in (the same saffron you took out) it will very lightly flavor the rice, and be OMG yummy...
Ok Ok Ok... You want the cheater way... :P
Not much different and not really a short cut... have to do everything the same except do not use the garlic, flour, clove, bay leaves and the curry powder (I'd still use the curry to marinate the meat) just salt an pepper the meat when you sear it, skip the curry powder if you did not marinate.
There are pre made curry mixes. Golden Curry brand curry mix is personally a favorite. Check your ethnic section of your store (usually where the ramen is or the soy sauce). It comes in a few different options.
The curry bricks (reminds me of bakers chocolate), and liquid single serve curry that already has potatoes and carrots in it (just add meat or heat and eat as is) I've only found the latter in Asian grocery stores, if you luck out and have one... I'm jealous.
Vermont brand curry is another (some of those have the apple and honey already in it).
You really want to cheat even more?
Ok. This is super cheating. I've done this when I need curry fast. This will require a shopping trip, unless you already have this stuff on hand.
Things you'll need:
2 Canned Carrots (you can also get the pre cut fresh, but canned will take less time to cook)
2 Canned diced potatoes
2 Canned green beans
2 Canned Corn
pre cut/cooked meat most meat aisles, freezer sections. or refrigerated sections have this.
If not grab one of those rotisserie chickens they have already made, at the front of the store on those heat counters.
You will still need your rice or other side.
You can get the microwave steam rice, or the minute boil bags.
You will need one of the curry sauce packs like the Golden curry. Find that in the Ramen, or ethnic section. Usually around soy sauce.
For added flavor, I do not drain the canned stuff. I Do drain the corn, that flavor gets powerful. Skip the water directions on the box. Add one can of water for every can of vegetables, minus the corn. Use a can one of the vegetables came in. Add more cans of water if you find it doesn't look like it is enough.
For a small batch (one can of everything), use one block of curry, or 1/2 a box (they come in 2 blocks unless you get the huge economy pack)
For a large batch (2-3 of everything), use two blocks of curry or the whole box (the blocks can be broken into quarters so that second block I'd add a quarter at a time until it tastes how you want it)
The picture to the right (bottom), shows what the curry looks like in the pack. That is actually one block. Like I said, they can be broken into quarters. I suggest breaking the curry up regardless, it makes for easier blending in. Break the curry up in the pack. It is flexible. unless you do not mind your hands smelling awesome for the rest of the day...
The curry blocks melt like butter so stir those in well when you add them. I usually plop them in the pot, give them a few minutes to soften, then stir. It is much easier.
You can follow the directions on the curry box. I like to leave my curry to cook just a little longer than the instructions. I find it infuses the curry into the veggies better the longer I let it simmer on low.
With all the curry, no matter how you end up making it.
You can eat it over the rice.
Mix the rice in the curry.
Mix the two in your bowl.
However you wish to eat it.
That goes for noodles/pasta, or whatever your side ended up being.
I won't judge you if you want to cheat... honestly the curry powder is cheaper. And you can adjust the flavor yourself to exactly how you want it... you can also pat yourself on the back for doing it from scratch. A huge YAY feeling ^_^
Good luck... and go get your cook on ^_~