Sunday, May 22, 2005

It isn't difficult to make your own curry.

First, you'll want to make some ghee. It sounds so exotic, ghee, but it's only clarified butter - it won't burn as quickly as ordinary butter when you pour it onto a hot skillet. But, it's better to start with a skillet that's only just warm, rather than hot. As the ghee heats up, drop in some three bay leaves, a stick of cinnamon, maybe half a teaspoon of black cardamom seeds and another half a teaspoon of caraway. While the spices let loose a glorious noseful of savory perfume, you should, feeling like a witch as you do it, fill a generous mortar and pestle with half a yellow onion chopped fine, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a tablespoon of turmeric, a half teaspoon of dried coriander powder, a couple tablespoons of fresh peeled and grated ginger, topping it off with a generous squeeze of lemon. Forcefully, but not without finesse, muddle it all into a lumpy wet paste that you quickly add to the spices toasting in the pan - make sure you haven't let them burn, the bay leaves should merely be a toasty brown around the edges.

The paste will hiss and pop when you dump it into the pan, but stir it quickly with a wooden spoon and you'll suddenly have an entirely different smell than you had when you merely toasted a few spices in butter: less exotic and nutty, more solid and oily and satisfying.

It should only take a few minutes before it's ready for you to dump in 5-7 chicken breast halves that you've cut into bite-sized pieces. As the chicken cooks, the turmeric turning the pink of raw chicken into the yellow of the curry powder your mother surely used when she dumped a couple spoonfuls into a white sauce, poured it onto porkchops and called it curried pork, you're ready to dump in some cream and the generous pinch of saffron and the quarter cup of hot water the saffron's been soaking in since you started the whole process. All you need now are the cashews that you've chopped into a gritty dust, and a goodly time for the whole thing to burble away until the sauce thickens a bit and you're sure the chicken has gotten tender.

"Oh," your guests will say when you serve it, golden and hot, and they'll soak up the sauce with the bread you fried yourself in an iron skillet. "May we have some more?"

Sadly, there won't be any leftovers.

The Swedish word for the day is kryddor. It means spices.

- by Francis S.

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