There comes this point in my classes, right when my students have reached more than a few spices, to get into the curry connundrum. There are still many who would tell you that there is a single spice or defination to curry, but, listen to me, it is just not so simple. A curry depending on your frame of reference can refer to a spice blend or a saucy dish.
Today, I shall share with you the first base spice blend, a blend of cumin and coriander in equal proportions. It tends to be the base in a lot of spice blends including of course what is sold as curry powder. Just as a point of clarification, there are spice blends that are used and validly called curry powder. However, most Indian cooks worth their curry, tend to have their own blend and so I try not to generalize. I personally do not keep a blend pre-mixed but vary my seasonings according to the dish, however the closest that I have to a pre-made all purpose mix is this cumin and coriander blend. To make this is simple and its flavorful fragrant notes will blow you away.
In today’s I have married this with a seasonal bell pepper and chicken curry. Yes, I am sure everyone can see that crisp fresh and vivid bell peppers are in season. We shall see their homey and accomodating side as soon as I tell you about this spice blend. I am actually excited. Mixing, matching and blending is where spices really start becoming fun.
Cumin Coriander Powder
Prep/Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Makes 1/3 cup
Keep Fresh for at least 8 to 10 months
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons cumin seeds
Method of Preparation
1. Place the spices on a small skillet and toast on medium heat for about 1 to 2 minutes. Keep shaking them lightly and remove from the fire and soon as you get the light and toasty scent of the spices. You do not want to brown them. In a huge time crunch you can skip this step.
2. Place the spices in a spice or coffee grinder. I actually have both, (Well, I wanted to see if there was a difference, I shall tell you all about kitchen toys on a different day and time) and there is not a huge difference in the texture although the spice grinder is softer and holds more.
3. Grind to a smooth powder and place in an airtight jar and use as needed.
So, onto the curry. This recipe is a simple one, that is my little sibbling’s favorite. It does not look pretty but it tastes and smells good. If you are trying to cook something different while adjusting to your back to school routine, this is your curry for the day.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 to 30 minutes
4 tablespoons oil
1 onion, cut into a dice
2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tomatoes, cut into a dice
2 bell peppers, diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
Method of Preparation
1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about 1 minute, add in the onion and saute for about five minutes, until the onion wilts, softens and begins to turn softly golden at the edges. the
2. Add in the ginger-garlic paste and cook for about 30 seconds, the water should evaporate and the paste should mix into the onions.
3. Add in the chicken with turmeric, red cayenne powder and the salt and stir well, the chicken will release its juices and then turn pale golden in about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Add in the tomatoes and cook on medium low heat for five minutes. The tomatoes at this point will turn into a soft saucy gravy.
5. Add in the bell peppers and simmer for 15 minutes, until the the flavors mix and the mixture is the texture of a chunky sauce.
6. Stir in the cilantro and enjoy with your choice or starch or even as is.
Rinku Bhattacharya is a daytime financial professional, who spends the rest of her time immersed in food. Rinku is the author of the blog, Cooking in Westchester, where she shares her life experiences, original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, and has found her classes a great way to teach and learn.