Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Simple Curry

One of my favorite things in the entire word is having friends over for dinner. I like sequestering myself in the kitchen for a few hours and tuning into Thelonious Monk, playing mad scientist with spices, and ignoring the rest of the world until friends knock on the door and it's time to set the table. Sometimes I plate and serve full courses, and sometimes I spread all the elements on the table, and let my guests put together their own plates. The following curry works best in the latter format, as people can choose how much rice, vegetables, sauce, and garnish they want. It's a good meal for a smallish (4-6) dinner party.

Cilantro, Coconut Curry Sauce, Cumin Scented Rice, Roaster Cauliflower and Carrots, Steamed Spinach and Choi Sum

Curry Powder:
Basically, if you have this combo on hand, you'll always be ready to make a fast, simple dinner. There's also the added advantage of having a curry as hot as you like without being pigeonholed by what your grocery store carries. The following lists the ratio of spices for the blend that I use, and I generally use 2-3 tablespoons for dish, so make a bunch and store it in a jar for future use.

1/2 Allspice
1/2 Black Pepper
1/4 Cayenne
4 Coriander
1 Cumin
1/2 Ginger Powder
1 Dry Mustard Powder
3 Turmeric
1 Fenugreek

To increase the heat, add red pepper flakes when you actually make your dish. This way you can adjust the heat to your liking.

Coconut Curry sauce with Vegetables and Rice:

For the sauce: I used 2 cups of coconut milk for the sauce, heated it on the stove, and added 2 Tbs of curry powder, 1tsp of slat, and 2 tsp of red chili flakes, and stirred until the sauce was thoroughly heated and the spices were incorporated. Feel free to adjust all seasoning amounts until the sauce is to your liking and if it tastes a little bland or slightly bitter, add salt before you add more curry powder.

For the rice: In a medium sauce pan, toast 2 tsp of cumin seeds in 1 tsp of oil over medium heat until the seeds start to brown and release an amazing aroma. add 1 Tbs of oil, 2 tsp salt and 2 cups of jasmine rice and toss until rice is coated in oil. Add water and cook rice as you normally would. If you are using a rice cooker, just toast the cumin seeds and add to the rice cooker at the beginning. When the rice is done, finely chop about 1/8 cup if cilantro and stir into the rice.

For the roasted vegetables: Chop whatever root and sturdy vegetables you have lying around (potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, onion, etc), so you have 4-5 cups, lightly toss in olive oil, lay on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a light dusting of salt, and bake in the oven at 400 F for about 30-40 minutes until the edges of the vegetables have started to brown.

For the steamed greens: Stem greens, and if you are using baby bok choi or choi sum, cut into quarters. throw in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes, or until soft and cooked. Have fun playing with what veggies you use, there's no reason to just follow what I used.

Serve with chopped cilantro, on plates that are equally as enticing as the food itself.


  1. Ah, Nicole, you would love and find some other fantastic creations to curry, I am sure.