Thursday, March 8, 2012

Curry In a Hurry 'N Rice Pulao

Though I haven't posted here for a while because of enjoyable distractions of writing, family and travel, I've been collecting and trying out lots of old and new recipes.
Recently a relative mentioned a friend was going to try some Indian recipes and this reminded me of this recipe, written up years ago for friends who wanted to try their hand at Indian cooking.
I invited these friends for an Indian lunch and gave them a gift of a printed copy of these recipes and an inexpensive plastic box containing the whole spices, a couple of spoons of the curry mix and some Basmati rice so they could try the recipes out themselves.
They were really surprised and delighted and I hope others who want to try Indian curries will too.

Curries, contrary to the picture that seems to go with the word are not burning hot.
The original word is from Tamil Nadu in South India was 'kari' and meant a blend of spices.
Years ago every Indian household started the day with using a roller stone on a flat stone platform and grinding fresh spices for the day. Now the whir of the blender and the availability of all these spices in the stores have made the stone grinders of yesteryears obsolete in most households...but with the mod conveniences and lack of time and a servant to grind the spices emerges on fact: the curries don't taste the same.
To get back to the present, curries should not be dominated by oil or chilli powder. Flavoring should be so subtle that no one flavor stands out and the final result is a harmony of spices that delight the palate. In the South of India where my roots are, curry and rice go together so here are two recipes for you.


Ingredients (TSP: teaspoon, TBSP: tablespoon, med: medium.)

(1 lb chicken or 2 cups of mixed, chopped vegetables like cauliflower, beans, peas carrots,
3 Tbsps olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
1 medium sized onion
4 med. tomatoes
Curry powder mix ( ½ teaspoon chilli powder, ¾ tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp coriander seed powder, ⅛ tsp turmeric, ¾ tsp garam masala, ½ tsp pepper powder).

Heat 3 Tbsps oil, put in one bay leaf, one stick cinnamon, 3 cloves.
(remove the bud of the clove as it will burst in hot oil)
Fry spices on medium heat till you get a good aroma and bay leaf turns brown. (1-2 mins)
Slice one medium sized onion.
Add to bay leaf etc. and fry till golden brown.
Add 4 chopped tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, curry mix and vegetables.
Fry for 10-15 mins. Aroma should be great.
Add enough water to cover vegetables and let them simmer till done.
If using frozen peas etc, fry potatoes and cauliflower first for 5 mins
Or if using all frozen veggies, zap potatoes in microwave with little water for 3 mins to soften.
Add salt, one tbsp ketchup, pepper powder, simmer, taste...enjoy!

***This is a red can turn it into a ‘coconut white curry’ by adding a small (5-6 oz) can of coconut milk.
*** this can become a green curry by blending and adding ½ bunch of cilantro leaves and one green chilly instead of red chilli powder.  Other powders in the ‘mix’ must be included in recipe.
Chilli powder in American supermarkets, gives a red color to curries and isn’t too hot.

Where spices/powders are concerned err on the side of caution as less is more if you aren’t used to them.  Increase usage if your palate demands more spice.



Basmati rice (available from Indian grocery stores...the long grained, fragrant quality of this rice enhances this dish.)
Olive oil
Bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves.
1/2 medium onion
Garlic paste
Frozen peas
Water and salt. pinch

Wash and drain rice.
Heat 3 tbsp oil, fry bay leaf, cinnamon stick and three cloves as above.
Add ½ sliced onion and fry till light brown.
Add 1 tbsp garlic paste and ⅓ cup frozen peas and rice.
Fry 3-5 mins on medium heat.
Add water and salt (double water to rice) and bring to a boil.
Lower to medium and cook for 8 mins or till water is absorbed.
Grains of rice should be separate but when a grain is pressed between thumb and forefinger it
should be soft.

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