When the really cold weather hits at this time of year, do you know what my favorite comfort food is? Not the soups and stews of my family recipe books, but the flavorful warmth of curried dishes from India!
Indian food is one of the great cuisines of the world and I find its delectable combinations of spices compelling.
Despite what you may think, Indian curry recipes are not necessarily hot. Hot food to me is just painful without flavor, so I’m always cautious about ordering in Indian restaurants. I ask the cooks to make my dishes “tourist grade,” so I can eat them. The cooks are most happy to accommodate as they are amazed at my enthusiasm.
I’ll tell you a little story that was a little embarrassing, but was educational for me at the time:
Once I walked into an Indian spice shop and looked around for a can of garam masala for an Indian recipe I wanted to try.
I looked high and low through exotic foodstuffs, and then asked the kindly man behind the counter. He looked at me, amused.
He then took me to the back of the shop where a vast array of containers filled with various spices awaited. There were cardamom, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, tamarind, and turmeric, and other heady spices, too numerous to remember.
Masala, he explained, is a custom blend of spices made to suit your own taste. OH! Did I feel sheepish! I thought I could just buy a commercially prepared blend of garam masala and be on my way.
I later discovered that I wasn’t so far wrong. Rajah makes a ready-blended garam masala that can be found in the international food sections of many supermarkets – next to the red and yellow can of S&B Oriental curry powder.
Curries – a world of flavors
Although curry dishes can be found in many countries throughout Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia (especially Thailand), my favorite curries are from India and its neighboring Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
It doesn’t matter to me which region the Indian curry recipe is from, whether Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayali. They all have unique ingredients and spices and, to me, they all taste delicious.
Despite the complex tastes, Indian curry recipes are really simple to make, and require no special cooking knowledge or techniques.
Indian Curries Fast and Slow
Some Indian curry recipes can be made in minutes – if you cheat with a canned spice mix!
Others require several hours to allow the spices to blend and build into a wonderful melange of high and low flavor notes.
Whether you make your Indian curry recipe with chicken, lamb, beef, shrimp or vegetables, serve it with hot rice for a rich and satisfying dish.
So here I am, curled up on the sofa in front of the fire with a bowl of Indian curry and hot rice nearby, cooling slightly as I finish this note.
For me, making and eating an Indian curry recipe is a great way to chase-away cold winter nights – especially if it contains potatoes. That’s real comfort food.
And, yes, I have a special section in my family cookbook just for Indian curry recipes.