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Old 10-30-2005, 06:31 AM   #1
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Indian Spices

I can't resist talking about what I did yesterday afternoon. I got a call from hubby saying "Claire come down here to Harry's and bring your curry." So I got in the freezer for a quart of veggie curry I always have on hand, and went to visit. Our Pakistani friend had a buddy visiting from London and they both seemed to love my curry. But Syid said he wanted to make curry for us tomorrow (today). So I took him to the spice shop across the street. THAT is what was fun. He hemmed and hawed and debated this combination over that. "Do they have garam masala?" "this curry blend should have tumeric in it, yes of course it does, so I don't need the tumeric". I was in heaven. Needless to say, I'm dying to taste his meatball curry!

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Old 10-30-2005, 09:43 AM   #2
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I've never eaten any curried foods, but am curious about the flavor. What sort of recipe would you recommend for the uninitiated? My husband is pretty good about trying new things as long as I just spring it on him without giving him too much time to think about it.
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Old 10-31-2005, 06:40 AM   #3
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I recommend buying something in a jar or can by the name "Patak". If your curry is likely to be a one-time experience, buying the individual spices to make up a curry will leave you with a cabinet full of spices, and if hubby doesn't like it ... well, there they are. Buy some basmati rice to pour it over. Buy your favorite vegetables (I personally like potatoes and cauliflower in my curries), and your family's favorite meat (since I make mine for the freezer, I make it vegetable and when I thaw it, throw in leftover meat if I have it and we want it). My version of curry is very much a vegetable stew. But I honestly don't recommend buying all the individual spices until you have tried it ... buy a blend (Pataks is usually the entire gravy, but a dry blend, sauteed with onions and garlic, then pour in some chicken stock, works as well). Then, if you like it, you can start buying the individual spices and experiment with recipes.

One thing that makes it fun for a novice is condiments. Buy some chutney, a jar of peanuts. A local Asian grocer will also have different kinds of pickles. In southeast asia and Hawaii some ground coconut. Fresh herbs. For most people, being able to add to their meal like this is fun.

I suspect Yakuta will find this thread and give you a REAL recipe. One of these days we'll meet and have a curry festival!
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Old 10-31-2005, 08:15 AM   #4
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How was Syid's curry Claire? Tell us about it... did he share his recipe with you?
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Old 10-31-2005, 08:54 AM   #5
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For the uninitiated the spices in a curry may be too strong so I agree with Claire that before you invest in a long laundry list of spices go ahead and buy a readymade curry paste (Patak's that Claire recommended is good).

Follow directions to cook or add it to pan and add cut up and skinned chicken to it. Chicken and curry go really well and you may surprised that your husband may actually enjoy it. I also recommend rice with it. Basmati would be good but any other instant kind will work as well.

Ensure you don't forget to garnish the curry with cilantro. It's not just to make it look pretty but is also for the peppery flavor that goes well with Indian food.

It's hard for me to suggest condiments (like pickles) to someone who is not exposed to Indian flavors. Indian pickles can be very strong and are an acquired taste (even the sweet ones).

Instead make a simple raita with plain yogurt, pinch of salt, black pepper and a tiny bit of sugar. To this add a finely chopped onion, tomato, cucumber and some fresh cilantro. Raita, Rice and Curry go well together.
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Old 10-31-2005, 09:12 AM   #6
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Thank you, friends. I can see that I am due for a trip to Carbondale. (I live in Benton, about 40 miles away.) As it's a university town, there are people of a lot of different ethnicities living there, and the grocery stores stock their shelves in accordance.
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:32 AM   #7
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Good grief!!! What a pain! All of a sudden I was tossed off this board! Did I offend someone?

Syid's meatball curry was delicious!!! I make a very strong curry, his was very subtle. I suspect he went easier on the spices for American taste buds ... but it was delicious. Almost anyone could eat it (I cannot say that about my generic Indian/Pakistani curry)(which these guys love). It was a wonderful weekend, and we loved the curried meatballs. But shopping for the spices was the most fun of all.
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:35 AM   #8
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BTW, Constance, when I went on the road, Benton happened to be one of our early stops (assuming it is the same Benton, there aren't too many original names in this country!!). Is your town the cute one with a great prison museum??
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Old 11-05-2005, 07:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
Good grief!!! What a pain! All of a sudden I was tossed off this board! Did I offend someone?

Syid's meatball curry was delicious!!! I make a very strong curry, his was very subtle. I suspect he went easier on the spices for American taste buds ... but it was delicious. Almost anyone could eat it (I cannot say that about my generic Indian/Pakistani curry)(which these guys love). It was a wonderful weekend, and we loved the curried meatballs. But shopping for the spices was the most fun of all.
I am glad you had a wonderful dinner!! I also like my curry not too spicy, it seems to me that you get to enjoy the harmony of the flavours better when you are not breathing fire with runny nose... I never tried meatballs in curry, but it is a very tempting idea... but I am not sure if it is proper to use pork in Indian food (I know beef is a taboo in Indian food and I don't eat lamb)... I don't remember seeing it amongst any indian recipes... does anyone know for sure? Yakuta?
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Old 11-05-2005, 07:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Constance
I've never eaten any curried foods, but am curious about the flavor. What sort of recipe would you recommend for the uninitiated? My husband is pretty good about trying new things as long as I just spring it on him without giving him too much time to think about it.
At times I when I don't want an overpowering curry flavour I like to add a dash of homemade curry powder to things like root vegetable soups (it's wonderful with carrots), mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and sprinkled over poultry. These can be mild options for your first few goes with the flavour of curry.

LOL, my DH is much the same way Constance, seems that a sudden ambush can be the best plan of culinary attack sometimes
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Old 11-06-2005, 05:04 AM   #11
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Pork is a taboo in Pakistani or Bangladeshi foods. They are, in the main, Muslims - and like Jews, do not eat pork.

Very, very few 'Indian' restaurants in the UK would cook with either pork or beef. Usually it's lamb, chicken and fish.
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Old 11-09-2005, 06:02 PM   #12
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Hi urmaniac, yeah Pork is not popular in India except in Goa which is a resort town that was heavily influenced by the Portuguese and the majority of the population is Christian.

I am a Muslim so I don't eat pork but I do eat beef. Meatball curry also known as kofta curry is once again a moghulai preparation (influenced by the Muslim immigrants). I use ground beef to make my meatballs but ground goat or lamb can be substituted.

It's made by marinating the ground beef with ginger paste and spices (chilli powder, cumin and corrainder powder, salt, finely chopped cilantro and handful of fresh mint). Next you make a curry (with onions, tomatoes, freshly ground Indian spices and garam masala), add some yogurt to it. Next you add some water to make the gravy a tiny bit thin and then place the raw meat balls in the gravy and let them simmer for an hour until the meatballs are cooked. They soak up the gravy and the gravy thickens. You garnish it with cilantro and serve it with naan and rice.

Its delicious if you are into curries.
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Old 11-10-2005, 07:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakuta
Hi urmaniac, yeah Pork is not popular in India except in Goa which is a resort town that was heavily influenced by the Portuguese and the majority of the population is Christian.

I am a Muslim so I don't eat pork but I do eat beef. Meatball curry also known as kofta curry is once again a moghulai preparation (influenced by the Muslim immigrants). I use ground beef to make my meatballs but ground goat or lamb can be substituted.

It's made by marinating the ground beef with ginger paste and spices (chilli powder, cumin and corrainder powder, salt, finely chopped cilantro and handful of fresh mint). Next you make a curry (with onions, tomatoes, freshly ground Indian spices and garam masala), add some yogurt to it. Next you add some water to make the gravy a tiny bit thin and then place the raw meat balls in the gravy and let them simmer for an hour until the meatballs are cooked. They soak up the gravy and the gravy thickens. You garnish it with cilantro and serve it with naan and rice.

Its delicious if you are into curries.
Mmm, sounds delicious Yakuta!! It is great to know that you can use beef in certain dishes, that gives more variety to what I can cook. Usually I don't have problem with just using chicken or fish, but this idea of "meatball" for curry really intridued me. I don't care for "minced" chicken and as I said, I don't eat lamb. Exactly what spices do you mix? Aside from garam masala, we have ground coriander, turmeric, cumin and cardamom. Will this combination work? I do have curry powder too but I would like to try a made-from-scratch version... Also would you toast and cook cardamom, too? I was always told to just add a dash to the dish just before the cooking is done because they would lose the intense flavour when they are cooked too much... I followed this advice always, but is this true?
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Old 11-10-2005, 05:59 PM   #14
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urmaniac the spices you have should work just fine in the curry. If you really want a good flavor in your curries and want to make a spice mixture from scratch (This is my generic curry powder I recommend the following)

3 tbsp of whole cumin seeds
3 tbsp of whole corrainder seeds
3 dried red chillies ( I like arabol but whatever you can get your hands on)

Dry roast them in a pan and once they are slighly brown you can grind them. I store them in a jar. I add a little bit of turmeric powder to it and some salt and here you have your generic curry powder to use which is much much better than any store bought versions you can ever buy). You can use this for marinades or curries. It's really versatile in any dish that calls for curry powder.

Also I am not a big minced chicken or lamb fan. I am not a big lamb eater and I prefer goat to the gamey lamb any day. You can use ground beef in keema matar, Indian style kababs and kofta curries. Normally Indian recipes never call for beef because beef is taboo in the Hindu culture just as Pork is in the Muslim and Jewish culture and India has a fair amount of religions to accomodate :-).

I am sure you can use ground pork as well (nothing prevents you from being creative). If you like it stick to it or switch to another meat.
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Old 11-11-2005, 09:11 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakuta
urmaniac the spices you have should work just fine in the curry. If you really want a good flavor in your curries and want to make a spice mixture from scratch (This is my generic curry powder I recommend the following)

3 tbsp of whole cumin seeds
3 tbsp of whole corrainder seeds
3 dried red chillies ( I like arabol but whatever you can get your hands on)

Dry roast them in a pan and once they are slighly brown you can grind them. I store them in a jar. I add a little bit of turmeric powder to it and some salt and here you have your generic curry powder to use which is much much better than any store bought versions you can ever buy). You can use this for marinades or curries. It's really versatile in any dish that calls for curry powder.

Also I am not a big minced chicken or lamb fan. I am not a big lamb eater and I prefer goat to the gamey lamb any day. You can use ground beef in keema matar, Indian style kababs and kofta curries. Normally Indian recipes never call for beef because beef is taboo in the Hindu culture just as Pork is in the Muslim and Jewish culture and India has a fair amount of religions to accomodate :-).

I am sure you can use ground pork as well (nothing prevents you from being creative). If you like it stick to it or switch to another meat.
Yakuta, I am terribly sorry about peskily persisting, but your reply produced yet another question!! Our current spices in possession are already ground, in powdery form, except for cardamom(this we grind them fresh each time). I know this is not ideal, but we only acquired the proper spice seed masher (a little bowl with a thick stick) just a few months ago... now we intend to by the whole seeds at the next opportunity (we live near the quarter where many indians/pakistanis have specialty shops, so they are fairly easily available), but the ones we already have will take some time before we finish them... do you have any tip for toasting already ground spices, IF that is possible... I think they would burn too easily... I have tried just adding the spices during the process of sautčeing onions, gingers and garlic with oil, and let them cook a little before adding something more liquid. Is this method passable? Or should we just get the whole seeds? (I don't think they are so terribly expensive... whole seeds usually cost less than grounds...)
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Old 11-11-2005, 11:16 AM   #16
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Normally ground spices have a very short shelf life (less than a couple of months). They may still work but they really add nothing to the flavor given all the essential oils have evaporated and what's left is literally a sawdust kind of a mix which is better to toss out.

It's hard to toast preground spices because it will do nothing to perk them up. I would say continue using them as you do today (toasting them in oil) until you run out and then just buy whole ones. It's not a laundry list of ingredients if you buy whole since you can really use the same spices (cumin, corrainder and chillies) in Latin American, Carribean and Spanish cooking as well.
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Old 11-11-2005, 11:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakuta
Normally ground spices have a very short shelf life (less than a couple of months). They may still work but they really add nothing to the flavor given all the essential oils have evaporated and what's left is literally a sawdust kind of a mix which is better to toss out.

It's hard to toast preground spices because it will do nothing to perk them up. I would say continue using them as you do today (toasting them in oil) until you run out and then just buy whole ones. It's not a laundry list of ingredients if you buy whole since you can really use the same spices (cumin, corrainder and chillies) in Latin American, Carribean and Spanish cooking as well.
My spices have been on the shelf more than a few months, I was just thinking it seems like I have been having to use more of them than before lately, probably it was because they were losing their punch, so we will replace them with the whole seeds soon. Thanks Yakuta, as always for being so helpful... you should publish a book on proper indian cuisine!!
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Old 11-11-2005, 12:03 PM   #18
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Urmaniac no problem. I guess cookbooks are effective only to an extent. There are so many of them out there and I am still not convinced people get everything out of them.

I prefer working in smaller groups and both sharing and learning from others. I do this with some of my friends from different ethniticities and have cooking parties where we decide on the menu and then meet up and try different things. It works better that way. I also like this forum because people are not just here to read but are truly open and want to try something new and are wiilling to take a chance.

I personally have used so many of the recipes that people have shared and I have really not been disappointed.
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