Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Love Affair with Curry

When I was a little girl we went to a restaurant for Easter Sunday once called Patricia Murphy's. My mother always cooked, especially for holidays, but this year she wasn't feeling well, so my grandmother took us out to dinner. It is a restaurant that no longer exists and you can see information about it's history and tradition here: Patricia Murphys Gardens in Yonkers

Lamb being a traditional Easter choice for a meal was on the menu and they made it with a herb and curry rub. My mother HATED curry, and she couldn't eat dinner that day because the whole place reeked of the perfume of the curry.

After that, I assumed that I didn't like curry. And, until I was out on my own and cooking for myself, I continued to believe that. When I finally tasted it at an Indian restaurant I fell in love. I also love the Thai curries that I have tried. So, now I cook them for myself or order them at a restaurant any time I can.

I just got a new cookbook called 660 Curries, The Gateway to Indian Cooking by Raghavan Iyer. Well, it is an encyclopedia of flavor on every page. I will have to finish this review and spend the rest of my living days reading and cooking from this book and I still won't be able to try half of them.

Curry is the gateway to Indian cooking. It is the backbone of Indian cooking, it's the GLORY of Indian cooking. Curry has nothing to do with the powder in a can and everything to do with amazing flavors. Curry is the dazzling layering of spices and ingredients, the familiar made new and the exotic made accessible. Not to mention all the tasty sauce to mop up with rice or bread. 660 Curries is Salmon with Garlic and Turmeric, Grilled Chicken with Cashew-Tomato Sauce, Lamb Shanks Braised in a Fennel and Cumin-Kissed Broth, Toasted Tamarind-Rubbed Shrimp, Pork Ribs with a Sweet-Sour Glaze. 660 Curries is traditional, contemporary, extraordinary, and it's jam-packed with easy one dish dinners that dance on the palate, in recipes created for the home kitchen. Even some of the more exotic ingredients are easily gotten from a list of mail order sources or some easy substitutes.

The beginning of the soft cover book has 16 pages of full color photographs. The chapters are plentiful and complete.

1 - The Curry Quest - history and information
2 - Spice Blends and Pastes
3 - Appetizer Curries
4 - Poultry, Game & Egg Curries
5 - Beef, Lamb & Pork Curries
6 - Fish & Seafood Curries
7 - Paneer Curries
8 - Legume Curries
9 - Vegetable Curries
10 - Contemporary Curries
11 - Biryani Curries
12 - Curry Cohorts

It also has 4 Appendix

Metric Conversion Charts
Glossary of Ingredients
The Elements of Curry
Mail Order Sources for Spices and Legumes

In over 800 pages there is more information than you ever need. I wanted to find just one recipe to try first so I closed my eyes, flipped the pages and pointed and chose Pigeon Peas and Peanuts with Jaggery. It was awesome. My husband wants to know when I am going to try something else from this book.

1 cup oily or unoily skinned split yellow pigeon peas (toovar dal), picked over for stones
1/2 cup raw peanuts (without the ski)
2 cups chopped fresh or frozen fenugreek leaves; or 1/2 cup dried fenugreek leaves soaked in a bowl of water and skinned off before use
1/2 cup shredded fresh coconut; or 1/4 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut, reconstituted
1 tablespoon crumbled jaggery or firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon tamarind paste or concentrate
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 to 6 fresh green Thai, Cayenne or Serrano chiles, to taste, stems removed, slit in half lengthwise, do not remove the seeds.
2 tablespoons Ghee or canola oil
1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground asofetida

1 - Place the pigeon peas and the peanuts in a medium-size saucepan. Fill the pan halfway with water and rinse the pas by rubbing them between your fingertips. The water will become cloudy. Drain this water. Repeat three or four times until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now add 4 cups water and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface. Stir in the fenugreek leaves. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pigeon peas are tender, 20 - 25 minutes.

2 - Stir in the coconut, jaggery, salt, tamarind paste, turmeric and chiles. Continue to simmer the dal, still over the medium-low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the flavors meld, about 5 minutes.

3 - Heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds. Cover the skillet and cook until the seeds have stopped popping (not unlike popcorn), about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the asaferida. Pour this into the dal, and serve.

Note: To reconstitute coconut, cover with 14/ cup boiling water, set aside for about 15 minutes, and then serve.

Jaggery: A bamboo like sugarcane that dots the landscape in India. Mexican stores sell a similar product called piloncillo. Dark brown sugar is an easy substitute.

Ghee: Clarified Butter

Asafetida: A member of the carrot family. It is dried and then grated. It smells like the worst thing you have ever had in a kitchen. A cross between dirty socks and rotten onions. But, when cooked it tastes like oniony-garlick. (I can't get past the smell. I don't use it, I use onion and garlic!)

As a post note: I ran into another review with many pictures and other recipes for this book on line. Check out this link.

1 comment:

MoCookbooksEtc said...

Oh, you have me wanting something with curry! Great review, Diane!