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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Curries: The Ultimate Comfort Food

In practically every country but the U.S., curries are a standard fare. Relatively simplistic dishes that can be dressed up or down and made with virtually any combination of vegetables and meats, curries are delicious, comforting, and simple. If you aren't familiar with curries, they make an excellent weeknight dinner because they can be whipped up in a hurry, but if made with an array of veggies, a lean meat, and served over brown rice, they are a perfectly balanced meal.

My family has grown to love curries in the past few months, and I've made an effort to try as many different sorts of curries as possible. Japanese curry lacks the sweeter flavor that Indian and Thai curries carry, and Indian and Japanese curries are creamier and thicker than Thai. Japanese curry roux blocks can be picked up at almost any market, but they often contain MSG, so it's best to use a recipe to create your own roux. Thai curry paste is inexpensive and none of the brands at my local ethnic market contained MSG, though the red curry that we had was very spicy. Any of the curries can be made mild or spicy, sweet or savory, thin or creamy.

Versatility is the name of the game with curries, and they can be adjusted for nearly any palette. I've decided to include several curry recipes here for a one-stop curry making recipe post... keep in mind that these are suggestions, and can be adjusted based on your palette and what you have on hand. Enjoy!

Classic Indian Curry

2 cups cubed yukon gold potatoes
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, diced or put through press
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 pound chopped chicken breast, lamb, steak, or shrimp
1 can coconut milk
1 can coconut cream

4 t curry powder
4 t garam masala
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t ginger
2 t cumin
salt and pepper to taste
dash of paprika and turmeric

1. Parboil potatoes and carrots for ten minutes, drain. Warm EVOO in large skillet. If cooking with meat, add that now and cook until just browning. If cooking with shrimp, saute in skillet while parboiling the potatoes, then set aside. Add potatoes, carrots, and onions, and cook until onions are translucent. Add bell pepper, cook about five minutes longer, then add all spices and coconut milk.

2. Simmer this for about thirty minutes, then add remaining ingredients (and shrimp, if applicable) and simmer another ten minutes or until sauce is creamy and vegetables are tender. Serve over brown rice!

Japanese Curry

2 c yukon cold potatoes, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb of chicken, lamb, or beef, chopped
2 T EVOO or canola
1 - 2 cups water
Japanese curry roux (blocks or homemade)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook meat in oil until just browned. Add vegetables and cook together until onions are translucent. (Parboiling might be helpful for the carrots and potatoes, if you are in a hurry!).

2. Add water and curry roux, still well, adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Serve over brown rice!

Thai Curry

2 c sweet potatoes, cubed
1 lb lamb or beef
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 c fresh or frozen peas
1 can coconut milk
1/2 c vegetable broth
1 T brown sugar
1 T lime juice
1/3 c chopped cilantro
1-2 t Thai curry paste
Salt to taste

1. Brown meat, add sweet potatoes, onions, curry paste, lime juice, and cilantro. Cook ingredients together until onions are translucent. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for half an hour or until meat and potatoes are fork tender. For a creamier curry, add coconut cream instead of (or in addition to) coconut milk!

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