Creating a curry from scratch is a real pleasure. However, not all of us can afford the time during the working week. And that is where ready-to-use curry powders and pastes come into their own. Many of them are top notch substitutes for MYOs.
Depending on the region, most Asian curries are created around a spice blend such as ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, coriander and chilli. Not all of these are hot so if you’re making your own blend then use the ‘hot’ spices such as chillies and ginger carefully.
Dry spices are best heated gently for a few seconds to unlock the flavours. They’re usually ground using a pestle and mortar but a small food processor or blender also does the trick nicely.
Curry dishes are a staple throughout Asia, Africa and the Caribbean and in each region the spice combos have undergone a slight metamorphosis. Curry was popularised by Indian immigrants and the spices and ingredients used were predominantly locally sourced. Caribbean curries usually contain more turmeric and allspice and less red chilli. Africa has one of the most varied selection of curries in the world sometimes using aphrodisiac beetles and the hottest of red chillies.
Tip: To tame the heat in a curry add diced banana, stewed apple, cream, coconut cream or yoghurt.
MADRAS-STYLE LAMB CURRY
The weekend is the time to experiment with curries and the aromas wafting from the kitchen will capture the most diffident curry critic.
Curry Paste: 2-3 teaspoons chilli paste
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
3cm knob root ginger, peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon each: paprika, ground coriander
4 black peppercorns
1 small cinnamon stick, broken into pieces,
1 teaspoon each: cumin seeds, fennel seeds
1/4 cup water
Curry: 1kg stewing lamb
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large onions, diced
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup coconut milk
To make the curry paste, place all the ingredients in a mini blender and process until fairly smooth.
Trim the lamb of any excess fat. Cut into 3cm pieces.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onions on medium heat until softened and golden. Add the curry paste, stir well, and fry on low heat for about 10 minutes.
Add the lamb and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the tomato paste, stir well then add the warm water. Cover loosely and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Slowly stir in the coconut milk and heat through gently. Serves 6.
PUMPKIN & CANNELLINI BEAN CURRY
900g pumpkin, seeded and peeled
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon each: cumin seeds, cardamom seeds
3 tablespoons Thai yellow curry paste
2 tablespoons lemon grass paste
1 cup each: vegetable stock, light coconut milk
400g can cannellini beans, drained
Garnish: 2 limes or lemons
1/2 cup mint leaves
Cut the pumpkin into 3cm chunks.
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Sauté the onion on medium until softened. Stir in the spices, yellow curry paste and lemon grass paste. Add the pumpkin and mix until the pieces are coated with the curry paste mixture. Add the vegetable stock. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and slowly add the coconut milk and cannellini beans. Return to the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked.
Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the curry. Quarter the other lime to serve on the side. Scatter the mint leaves on top.
Great served with naan bread. Serves 4.
CURRIED CHICKEN SLIDERS
I used a 10-pack of gourmet brioche slider buns but an 8-pack of regular slider buns could be substituted.
Sauce: 4 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon each: curry powder, chilli paste
Sliders: 500g minced chicken
1 teaspoon each: grated root ginger, curry powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 teaspoons canola oil
8-10 slider buns, lightly toasted
1 cup finely sliced cabbage or spinach
1/2 cup finely sliced red capsicum or grated carrot
Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Combine the chicken with the ginger, curry powder and garlic. Mix well. Form into 8-10 even patties.
Heat a non-stick frying pan or ridged pan and add the oil. Swirl to coat the pan. Cook the patties on medium heat for about 4 minutes each side or until cooked.
Spread the cut sides of the toasted slider buns with the sauce. Top the bases with the cabbage and capsicum. Top with the patties and more sauce. Place the tops on and serve immediately. Makes 8-10.