There is nothing quite so intoxicating as the pungent aroma of gently roasting Indian spices; gossamer swirls of exotic fragrance rising above an open skillet in my kitchen. This is nothing short of divine, at least to my senses. Indian cookery is a relative newcomer to my repertoire. It all began about four years ago with a desire to prepare our palates for travel to the Middle East and India in April of 2011.
Curries fast became a "go to" on the menu when cold and damp threatened to suck the life of me; on a day like today in fact. I awoke to a chilly 9.6C and while at first such crisp, clear air invigorated my every pore - Autumn is my favourite season, though perhaps not in August! - the sun too soon disappeared, taking much of my burst of energy with it. Then the rain started, big juicy drops of cold splat extinguished every last ember of enthusiasm. It's a good day for a curry!
|Crawford Market, Mumbai|
There's a pork tenderloin that I can roast separately and I've got a few carrots. I've got some cauliflower and two tomatoes sneaking up on their expiry date. I've got zucchini, a bunch of chard, a lonely red pepper and there's a tin of chick peas in the larder. A curry is such a great way to dispatch all these veggies that on their own are not enough for a meal. And I will make my own garam masala, hence the wondrous fragrance in my kitchen today. My recipe? Well the fact is that I never make it the same way twice. It too is dependent upon what's on hand in the spice drawer. Cumin, coriander, cinnamon pieces, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, peppercorns, fennel and some mustard seeds made it into today's rendition. Bay leaves, turmeric, star anise, and mace have also appeared from time to time. I make absolutely no claim to authenticity - I just use what I've got. Close is good enough. Here's a link to a very simple recipe for Garam Masala.
I recall one year my mother tried her hand at making an Indian dinner for business guests of my father. She sweated and slaved for at least two days in the kitchen, her face red with the heat of the spicing. She concluded that it must be much too hot and so did her very best to tone it down. The guests were very impressed with her cooking but after the meal when Mom made a point of asking, they allowed that it was not quite hot enough. Meanwhile both Mom and Dad were red faced, sweaty and speechless after their meal. Water and antacid consumption remained high for nearly a week. Close was too close?
Today marks the fourth year since my mother's passing. It's a great day to be busy in the kitchen, her favourite place. And it's a good day for a curry!
©2014 April Hoeller