What are your favourite curry foods?

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What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Paul B. » Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:24 pm

Curry. It's a spice that I never grew up with, so it was only the experimenter in me that finally got around to using it. Now, I understand that curry is not a monolithic spice, or even a single variety of spice, but a mix of spices that varies from hot to mild and in all likelihood, in colour and flavour. I buy the standard curry that we get at the local butcher shop; it's a bright yellow-green colour and has a fine aroma, and is only mildly hot. I like it and use it mainly for my goat or mutton stew, but see myself applying it often to my modified sosaties (I say modified because the ones I made last weekend were way too sweet - no more apricot jam and brown sugar on meat for me).

What are some of your favourite foods in which to use curry?
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Ian Sutton » Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:01 pm

Paul
My favourite curry spice is Cumin (either seeds or powdered) and when I used to make curries regularly, this was often the dominant spice. It's very aromatic and it's always the aromatics, rather than heat, that I look for in curry. Another good one to look for is "massala" (as in the ubiquitous Chicken Tikka Massala) which is red in colour and gives a sweetness as well as spiciness to the dish.

I presume when you mention "curry" you're referring to a "Garam Massala", which from what I recall is a "house blend" of ground spices made up in bulk and then tweaked for each dish depending on preference. The colour you described sounds like it's the same thing.

IMO Duck can work fantastically well with curry (and I recall pheasant was good as well), but possibly, the classic Indian curry is the railway station vegetable curry, which bubbles away gently for 4-5 hours. Never had goat, but goats a natural for stewing and for blending with strong flavours, so I suspect it's pretty good.

Just don't ever have Bombay duck (if you want to retain a seat at the same table as your friends) :lol:

regards

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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Jenise » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:43 pm

Paul, Ian...time out!

Lemme 'splain: Paul is talking about what in North America is the ubiquitous spice blend simply called 'curry powder'. It's kind of the white guy's all-purpose curry seasoning. But from brand to brand, you'll note substantial differences in flavor. Curry powder itself did not exist per se in India, but was the result of Englishmen taking residence in India and then wanting the spices to bring home to their wives. Various Indian cooks and shopkeepers would assemble a blend and send that on its way. Voila, curry powder or powder-to-make-a-curry-with, but each would be as different as the purveyor who made it.

Ian, Garam Masala is therefore not what Paul is talking about. GM is a more or less prescribed set of ingredients, and it includes some of the sweeter spices like cloves, also dried orange or lemon rind.

Now Paul, curry powder can be a blend of many things--there is no one right set of ingredients, and within Asian cuisines different accents are favored depending on the end use. In Asian markets, you'll find not "curry powder" but specific blends for each of meat, chicken and fish. And sometimes you'll find the powders named for the dishes they might become, like Ian's Chicken Tikka Masala.

Now all that said, what I think Paul really means to ask is not what is your favorite curry, but what's your favorite use for curry powder. Is that right, Paul? Your question, as phrased, is somewhat misleading depending on one's cultural understanding of what curry is.

Presuming the latter, I'll answer it by mentioning the first thing I ever had curry flavor in, which I loved instantly and hold dear to this day. I was in sixth grade, and a friend's mother made this packet of Reese's "Curry Rice" that was then stocked in the little laundry-cupboard sized section of the grocery aisle called "Gourmet Food", when 'gourmet' was synonymous for "food you didn't grow up with". After that day, I required that my mother keep it stocked in our home, too, and to this day I make my own version of that rice. [/i]
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:01 pm

Jenise wrote:Now Paul, curry powder can be a blend of many things--there is no one right set of ingredients, and within Asian cuisines different accents are favored depending on the end use.


Yup - only a non-cook would use packaged curry powder - sort of like using catsup instead of making a tomato sauce, or using mayo from a jar when you can make your own so easily.

And Jenise is right - the spice blend is adjusted to suit the food with some spices being used only for certain types of curry. Fenugreek, for instance, only seems to work with a fish curry.

IMHO the curry mix gets added early on and is properly cooked to improve digestability, and the heat of the dish is adjusted at the end with Garam Masala, which is not subjected to significant cooking.

We have a very large Indian population up here and some good Indian restaurants.

Bill
in either Vancutta or Hongcouver, never sure which

PS - anyone else like curried hard boiled eggs?
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Ian Sutton » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:29 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:PS - anyone else like curried hard boiled eggs?

No, I've generally preferred to keep my friends!
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Jenise » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:32 pm

Bill--well, add me to the list of non-cooks then. :) Really, I have a blend that I bought in California that I adore and can't duplicate mixing my own ingredients, one of those that came from one of the Asian stores I talked about. No idea which, of course, which is why I have to use it sparingly for fear of running out. The blends are entirely viable, I only meant to clarify that 'curry powder' isn't standardized--there are as many variations of 'curry powder' as there are Indian cooks.

Re Garam Masala, the word 'garam' means warm/hot/heat and you're right that it's often added the end of cooking in it's home cuisine of northern India. But garam masala isn't neccessarily hot, many versions are quite mild. But the highly aromatic ingredients tend to be rather fugitive, so adding--or reseasoning--at the end of cooking has a more pronounced effect. It's my favorite seasoning for lentil soup, for whatever that's worth, and I always reseason but it's not for heat.

Any favorite Indian places in Van you'd recommend? It's getting about time for an Indian fix.
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:59 pm

Jenise wrote:Bill--well, add me to the list of non-cooks then. :)
Any favorite Indian places in Van you'd recommend? It's getting about time for an Indian fix.


Geez - good thing I didn't say it was tantamount to 'cooking' a TV dinner..... :wink:

Yes, many, but try Vij's first http://www.vijs.ca

Buggers take almost all of the Poplar Grove Gewurz (I am lucky to get 1 case a year) but they make some of the best Indian food in BC.
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Jenise » Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:18 pm

Well, I think the point you were making is that all curries are not made with 'curry powder'. And you'd be right, but it's also very understandable that someone from an entirely different cultural background wouldn't know that. Bombay's a long way from Warsaw.

Say, did I tell you that I'm thinking about switching to a curried oyster terrine for Saturday?
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:54 pm

Jenise wrote:Say, did I tell you that I'm thinking about switching to a curried oyster terrine for Saturday?


ImageImageImageImageImageImage
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Larry Greenly » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:36 pm

I made a curried chicken loaf (sort of a meat loaf with chicken) last week, using a store-bought curry powder. If I make creamed eggs on toast, I sometimes use some curry powder for a variation.

I also occasionally make Thai curried whatever, using Thai curry pastes.

Turmeric, the usual main ingredient, has been found to have beneficial health properties.
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Aug 02, 2006 9:13 pm

Larry Greenly wrote:Turmeric, the usual main ingredient, has been found to have beneficial health properties.


It is also a rather effective dye, as SWMBO found out when she dropped some on a kitchen floor once.....
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Jenise » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:47 pm

I've been to Vij's--great food. Clever and surprising. But it's fusion. What if you just want a good old vindaloo and some naan?
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Bill Spohn » Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:43 am

Try the Del-hi Darbar on Main - heard it is good but haven't tried it.

Glad you went back to the original terrine. Oysters aren't all they are cracked up to be. Had a dozen once and only 3 of them worked....... :P
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Larry Greenly » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:10 am

Only nine worked for me.
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Paul B. » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:50 am

Jenise wrote:Lemme 'splain: Paul is talking about what in North America is the ubiquitous spice blend simply called 'curry powder'. [...] Now all that said, what I think Paul really means to ask is not what is your favorite curry, but what's your favorite use for curry powder. Is that right, Paul? Your question, as phrased, is somewhat misleading depending on one's cultural understanding of what curry is.


That's it, Jenise! I knew that curry is by no means a standardized thing, but being a complete curry novice until recently, I figured that the blend that I get at my butcher's shop should suffice until I get a little more knowledgeable about the variations. I've got straight cumin as well at home, but the curry powder I bought, although it certainly has a fair proportion of cumin just going by aroma, also has turmeric - that psychedelic neon-yellow pigmentation is way out! I once got some on the counter and it was a devil to get out.
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Carl Eppig » Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:56 am

Paul, the plain ole curry you find in most North American markets is best suited for Indian foods. You might check out a book or website on the subject. Once you get into curries, many cuisines including Indian have a whole range of them you can make from scratch with very little effort if you keep the various spices on hand. Other lands such as Indonesia, and other SE Asian countries use them extensively as well; and in these the plain ole doesn't do very well.
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Jenise » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:51 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Glad you went back to the original terrine.


I had no intention of switching. Just wanted to shock you. I like raw oysters but cooked oysters gross me out. Bruce must be stopped from ever acting on his idea for an oyster terrine. :)

So what's this lobster and sweetbread thing you're making?





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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Bill Spohn » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:08 pm

Jenise wrote:I had no intention of switching. Just wanted to shock you. I like raw oysters but cooked oysters gross me out. Bruce must be stopped from ever acting on his idea for an oyster terrine. :)
So what's this lobster and sweetbread thing you're making?


Consider me routinely shocked, my dear.

Bruces nefarious bivalve designs were easy to thwart - I reminded him that he wasn't a player - he was getting through the gate as another contestant's 'date' (Heaven knows what duties that might imply) and would not be called upon to contribute food.

I am doing a recipe created at Tour d'Argent (it was in researching this that I came across the rather arcane duck smothering practice they have for making their signature pressed duck).

It is layered sweetbreads, lobster and sliced black truffle in a Port jelly.

I shall be most upset if my gelatine fails to set, but will then claim that I had always intended it to be a freeform terrine, a sort of ris de veau/homard soup.....
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Jenise » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:17 pm

Well it sure sounds interesting. Can't wait to get started on mine. In fact, I'm heading over to your side of the border to shop for ingredients later this morning.

I laughed at your description of Suz and the lobsters. Maybe you should keep them in the pool.
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Bill Spohn » Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:40 pm

Jenise wrote:I laughed at your description of Suz and the lobsters. Maybe you should keep them in the pool.


She refuses to be anywhere around when they get cooked - afraid of hearing banging on the lid, I expect.

I will remember to take a lid and wooden spoon, and bang them and make little plaintive lobster sounds within her hearing..... :twisted:
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Re: What are your favourite curry foods?

Postby Paul Winalski » Sat Aug 05, 2006 2:56 am

Paul,

"Curry" is probably one of the aspects of Indian cooking most misunderstood by westerners. It's an anglicization of "kari" and refers to the aromatic leaves ("curry leaves" in English) often used as a seasoning, especially in southern India. The British occupiers applied the term "curry" to stew-like dishes employing curry leaves, and it then evolved into a general term for any highly-spiced stew-like dish from India or Southeast Asia, or even to any stew-like dish that involves adding curry powder.

Curry powder, as found in Britain and North America, is unknown in India. It's thought that it originated when some Englishman stationed in India asked his Indian cook to make up a spice mixture he could take home to England and use to put a bit of the flavor of India in his food. The backbone of the blend is cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and turmeric. Sun brand, from Madras in India, is the main brand we can get around here in New England. The major volume spice companies, such as Durkee and McCormick, make their own similar blends.

In authentic Indian cooking, each dish has its own masala or spice mixture, which is made up from the individual spices in the right proportions for the dish being prepared. Whole spices are often dry-roasted or fried in a tiny amount of oil to release their aromatics before being ground. Masalas very often end up being "wet", as the dried spices are ground with fresh herbs, onions and garlic to form a paste that's then added to the dish. There are some ground dried spice mixtures such as garam masala that are either added as components of a dish's masala or used as a garnish on the finished dish, but they're very different from western curry powder.

My mother once asked an Indian friend, Sri Balakrishna, what brand of curry powder she used. After expressing horror at the thought, she wrote out a recipe for curried chicken involving preparation of a wet masala. It illustrates the basic concepts very well. I'll post it in another topic.

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