I had a deprived childhood. I grew up without curry.
My dad was never fond of curry to start with, and the fact that he spent several months in Pakistan at one point didn’t help at all. So Mom never made anything with curry in it, nor did we ever go out to eat at Indian restaurants.
Which means that I spent a significant portion of my life without knowing the culinary joy that is curry powder. Once I discovered it, of course, I enjoyed it whenever I could. My favorite is Vietnamese curry, where potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and some kind of meat all get cooked together in a bright yellow broth. But I’m also fond of Thai coconut soup. One day when I was jonesing for some of this, I came up with a quick and easy version of it:
Thai Shrimp And Coconut Soup
1 pound shrimp, raw
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons lemon grass, sliced
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mild yellow curry powder, divided
1 can coconut milk
1 can potatoes, sliced, drained
1 can carrots, sliced, drained
4 leaves fresh basil, julienned (if available)
Peel, wash, and de-vein shrimp. Pat dry with paper towels. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place shrimp in pan and immediately season with garlic, lemon grass, ginger, salt, and about half of the curry powder. Stir-fry just until cooked, about a minute. Reduce heat and pour in coconut milk. Add potatoes, carrots, and remaining curry powder (taste to see if it needs more). Simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into bowls and garnish with basil (if available). Serves 2.
This recipe is good with just plain yellow curry powder, but even better with red Thai curry powder.
Of course, I’ve already posted my recipe for Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches, but eggs and curry are so good together, why stop there?
1 dozen eggs (bring to room temperature)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce OR 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Paprika or additional curry powder to garnish
Caviar to garnish, optional
Place eggs in saucepan and cover with lukewarm water so that they are completely covered. Bring to boil over low heat to minimize cracking. Once they are boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool eggs by running cool water over them.
Peel eggs carefully and cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in small bowl. Mash thoroughly with fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, spices, and Worcestershire sauce or curry powder. Blend thoroughly with fork. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Spoon or pipe yolk mixture into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika or more curry powder; add 1/8 teaspoon caviar to tops of eggs if desired.
Curry powder gives just the right touch of savoury warmth to deviled egg filling, I think.
And to finish up for this week, one of my recent inventions, a light and easy cucumber salad spiced up with a bit of curry:
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible and shake to mix. Refrigerate several hours, or preferably overnight.
I like this one because I’m currently counting calories, and a substantial serving of this still fits neatly within my daily calorie allowance.
But where do you find good curry powder, you ask? Just about everywhere. I’d bypass those little glass jars in the grocery store, if you have other options. And if you’re on the internet, you have other options!
- Penzeys: Still my favorite on-line source for herbs and spices, they carry sweet, hot, and Maharajah-style curries.
- Savory Spice Shop: Also a fine purveyor of herbs. I got my red Thai curry there.
- Local ethnic markets: We have a fair number of ethnic markets in the Denver area, including middle eastern, Indian, and oriental. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t see what you’re looking for!
- Specialty markets: Specialty grocery chains, such as Sprouts and Whole Foods, sometimes carry gourmet brands as well as bulk spices. I also got a jar of very yummy-smelling curry powder the last time I was in a Trader Joe’s.
So if you’re like me, and you grew up curry-deprived, maybe now’s the time to find out what you’ve been missing!