Curry

Curry

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A good curry meal, with its accompaniments and bowls of steaming rice, is something we all look forward to. A curry meal may consist of meat, chicken or fish curry, several vegetables dishes, a lentil and a rice dish. Some curries are very rich, the palate being refreshed with yoghurt or salad. Fiery curries are balanced by cooling, bland accompaniments. There should be a dry dish and a moist one, a rich dish and a light one. These dishes are all put on the table at the same time; each person then makes a selection to suit personal taste and palate.

A variety of accompaniments may be served with curry. They include cucumber or sliced banana, chutneys, pickles and fresh sambals. You might like to make Chapatis or Puris, the flat Indian breads that are used to scoop up the curry and its delicious gravy.

Curries are eaten with a spoon and fork. Each spoonful is mixed separately and should consist of rice, curry and different accompaniment. This way, the contrasting tastes and textures are appreciated and it is possible to adjust the hotness of the curries with the rice and the chutney.

Curry powder: This is probably the world’s earliest spice blend. In India housewives daily grind or bruise their curry spices on a ‘curry stone’, and throughout the world, curry enthusiasts are now blending their own spices.

Thanks to certain spices, all curry powders have a characteristic flavour. Turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, coriander and chilli are the basic spices. Beyond that curry powder may include allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel and ginger; the various combinations and amounts determine the flavour of the curry.

If you prefer to rely on a favourite brand of curry powder or curry paste, you will know by experience it is better to purchase it in small amounts and use it as quickly as possible.

Ghee: Most curries start with the heating of cooking fat. Traditionally Indians prefer to use ghee, which is clarified butter, believing it is nutritious and gives a richer flavour to the food. Nowadays most people use oil because of the cholesterol factor. You can use the oil of your choice: sunflower, sesame, corn or mustard oil. Because spices and onions have to be fried for a while at the start, butter, unless clarified, has to be used with care as it turns brown very quickly. See also Butter.

Sambals and accompaniments

Accompaniments are an essential part of every curry meal. They are easy to make and provide intriguing contrasts in flavour and texture which are most enjoyable. Sambals can be red or white, that is heating or cooling. Red sambals are made by grinding together chillies with ingredients like onion, dried fish or grated coconut. When the amount of chillies is reduced, the sambal is white, or cooling.

Serve one or two of the following sambals, plus a few commercially made chutneys and nuts, with your choice of curried food.

Banana Sambal: Peel and slice bananas at the last moment and sprinkle with a little lemon juice.

Coconut Sambal: Blend 45 g desiccated (shredded) coconut with 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, ¼ teaspoon chilli powder or a little finely chopped chilli, add salt and lemon juice to taste.

Cucumber Sambal: Dice or finely slice 1 peeled cucumber. If seeds are large, cut cucumber in 2 lengthways and remove seeds before slicing. Crush 1 clove garlic with a good pinch salt. Beat 125 g plain yoghurt with a fork, add cucumber and garlic. Blend well.

Fruit Sambal: Sour apples, firm plums, green mangoes or any firm fruit in season may be used. Cut fruit into small dice; mix with a little finely chopped red chilli, salt and lemon juice to taste.

Potato Sambal: Boil 2 potatoes, peel and cut into dice. Lightly mix with a little finely chopped green chilli and 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, preferably golden shallots. Sprinkle over a little olive oil, add salt and lemon juice to taste.

Tomato Sambal: Combine 2 tomatoes, cut into thin slices, 1 finely sliced small onion and a little green chilli, finely chopped. Mix lightly with a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. A little desiccated (shredded) coconut may be sprinkled over top.

Pappadams: These spicy lentil wafers are fried in about 1 cm hot oil for only 3–4 seconds. They increase in size and become crispy and golden. Bombay Duck: This is actually fish, which is salted and dried. Fry in hot oil or grill until crisp. Crumble over curry.

See also Chapati; Dhal; Lassi; Puri.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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