Authentic Indian Curry

My husband and I, on many occasions, have shaken our heads at the “curry” powder they sell at stores. Curry isn’t something that is premixed in a bottle. The beauty of “curry” is that it is customized. It becomes a family legacy. You learn the way your mom makes her curry and try to replicate it and 9 times out of 10 it’s different. That’s because it becomes YOUR curry. Then over the years you perfect your curry, learning from errors to create the perfect curry that your kids come home from college for. And the cycle repeats.

My family was mostly vegetarian, we ate chicken on occasion and by occasion I mean it had to be Christmas, or someone important was coming over. When I got to college, I ate a bit more meat and diversified a little, but I hadn’t really gotten into seafood or anything besides chicken and beef. Still it was American style and mostly bland. I ran home to my mom’s food almost every weekend.

When I met Jayesh, I realized just how much I hadn’t experienced food and it’s complexities. He introduced me to flavors that blew my mind. We both really enjoy eating and cooking, most of all cooking together. Together we have perfected our curry and much like a relationship, it took time, it took work, but we got it right.

On our first date Jayesh cooked for me his famous steak and I was thrilled that his steak recipe would be in my life forever. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Probably because you haven’t tried it. Together we explored the Indian spices, we experimented and tried different things, we had many victories in the kitchen. It’s a delicious love story…we fell in love over curry.

Here is how I make a basic authentic Indian curry. You can add any meat to this and it will alter the flavor slightly with the flavor of the meat. But these are the steps you use before you make any curry dish.

There are no measurements because that’s not how Indians do it. It’s always ‘a little of this’ or ‘a palm full of that’ or better yet ‘just wait for the color to change’. It’s fun.

Here what you will need:

Fresh Ingredients:

Onion – this will make up the bulk of the gravy so do as little or lot as you want.

Tomato – I usually use a can of Hot Rotel, but fresh tomatoes are just fine.

Jalapeno – how hot do you want it? I usually use one whole one, but if you don’t want it too spicy use a half.

Ginger – Use equal amounts as garlic

Garlic – I like a lot of garlic, it tastes good, smells good, and it’s great for you. So probably 3-4 big cloves.

“Curry leaves” aka sweet neem leaves aka ‘limbdo’- one full “branch”. About 20 leaves, 10 if they’re really aromatic. These are optional.

Tomato Paste – for thickness and a bit of tart flavor

Dry Ingredients:

Cumin-Coriander powder

Red Chili Powder

Turmeric

Salt – to taste

Peppercorns – 6-7 for a nice kick

Dried Red Chili – one or two depending on how much heat you want.

Mustard seeds – black ones just a couple of pinches.

Cumin Seeds aka ‘jeeru’ – 4-5 pinches

Cinnamon stick – one broken up

Before I get into this recipe, I made this to slow cook chicken. So it’s concentrated curry. I’ll let you know through out the recipe what changes I made. If you’re slow cooking meat like beef, lamb, goat, chicken, do what I did so that there is enough flavor to get into the meat and enough flavor after the meat releases water. Here we go!

Start prepping by chopping up all the fresh ingredients. I like to make things easier so I use a vidalia chopper but you could course chop the onions in a food processor. They just need to be diced up. I use my magic bullet and make a paste out of the ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. If you’re using fresh tomatoes you can throw those into that ginger garlic paste as well. I like the tomato chunks from the rotel so I just pour the can in to the pan, liquid and all.

Heat up some oil and add in cumin seeds, peppercorn, mustard seeds, cinnamon, dried red chilis, and curry leaves. Add the curry leaves after the other ingredients are mostly fried up. The leaves fry faster and will start to burn.

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The mustard seeds will start to pop so be careful. Once that’s happening add in the onions. Stir the onions frequently, and cook until they are translucent.

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Once the onions are translucent, add in the ginger garlic jalapeno paste and stir. Let it cook for just a minute or two.

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Add in the tomatoes if you’re using canned tomatoes.

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Stir and cook for just a minute or two. Then start to add in your dry spices. The trifecta goes in first. I do about equal amounts of red, yellow, and brown. With perhaps a little less of the yellow because it can add too much bitter. The idea is to round out the flavor so you don’t taste too much of anything. I added heaping spoons to this. HEAPING.

Cumin Coriander Powder

Cumin Coriander Powder

Turmeric Powder

Turmeric Powder

Red Chili Powder

Red Chili Powder

I did about two-ish spoons. The color should turn a golden rust color. Add in some salt to taste. At this point you can add Garam Masala if you want and also ground pepper adds a nice heat. The thing with adding flavors…you want to build. I build layers of heat. So I season the oil, sauté jalapeno, add chili powder, and that creates a different kind of spicy than if you just add chili powder at the end. Its tasty and tolerable.

At this point you might notice the curry looks a bit dry.

I add in Swanson’s chicken broth. You could use vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian. It’s better than water which will completely dilute your flavor. I use the low sodium broth so it doesn’t throw off my salt proportions. If you’re slow cooking with this, you want to add a bit more salt than necessary. As you’re tasting it, if it seems like something is missing or it seems kind of bland, try adding a bit of salt. It really opens up the other flavors. Something else I do is add sugar to round out the flavor. It shouldn’t taste sweet though, just enhance.

After broth add in about a tablespoon or so of tomato paste. This will thicken up the gravy and add a tangy flavor. Don’t add too much. Just little by little until the consistency is right. This is the consistency you need if you’re slow cooking:

 

If you’re planning to finish up on the stove go ahead and add the meat in and watch the consistency. The meat will release water so in the end if it’s too watery just simmer until the water cooks off.

The longer you simmer curry the better the flavors get. So if you’re using seafood that cooks pretty fast, let your curry simmer for a while before adding in fish or shrimp.

If you’re using a tough meat like lamb or goat, use a pressure cooker or slow cooker to get the meat tender. I do this with chicken sometimes, but mostly we do chicken on the stovetop.

If you want the meat to be tasty, do not cook it before you add it to the curry.

I didn’t get a picture of the end result, but I used about 3-ish pounds of boneless skinless thigh and it was AMAZING.

Like I said at the start, curry is customized for you. So you can follow my recipe and make modifications. Maybe you don’t like it too spicy, maybe you don’t like the mustardy heat. Just change up the proportions and make your own. Let me know if you have questions!

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Mint Mocha Coffee

This morning I got a little creative.  I don’t have pictures, and really no measurements because I eyeballed everything.  I had some Ghirardeli milk chocolate chips and half and half left over from the Red Velvet Trifle that I made so I wanted to use them up.  

I put a pot on low-med heat and put in about 1/2 cup of half and half.  You could use milk or heavy cream whatever you have in your fridge.  I added about a handful or two of the chocolate chips.  I didn’t want the mixture to be too thick or chocolatey so I went easy on it.  You could add as much as you wanted.  If you use milk you might want to add more to thicken up the milk a bit.  If you don’t have chocolate chips you could use Hershey’s Chocolate syrup.  

After the chips were melted I added in a few drops of Peppermint extract.  It smelled SO good!  While this was going on I brewed about 20 oz of coffee in the Keurig.  Currently we have a really strong French Roast so it’s almost like espresso.  

That’s it!  Easy right?  Tasted better than the coffee shop!  The flavor was a lot like peppermint bark which I am currently obsessed with.  It was cold and snowing this morning so this was the perfect warm drink to snuggle up to.  Enjoy!

Hello I am Mommy Dearest

I’ve taken on a new job.  Of course I still do hair and makeup, those are my passions, but I have a bigger passion.  Being Mommy!  I got the wonderful chance to stay at home with my angel and I jumped at it.  We put him in Montessori School a few months ago, but he started getting sick all the time.  We know that’s normal, but each time he was sick I would have to stay home from work and after a while it just seemed ridiculous to call in all the time.  So I quit my job and decided to stay home to nurture and grow my angel full time.  

 

So far it’s been a few weeks, and it’s been wonderful.  He’s such a smart kid and it’s really nice to watch him explore and learn new things.  He’s very curious and cracks the biggest grin when he learns something new.  Potty training is going so well.  Each day I feel so blessed to be able to do this.  Years ago I thought I’d never be able to stay home and just be Mom.  Now that I’m here and I have this wonderful child with the most adorable smile, how could I be anywhere else?!  We have a new routine, and he’s very quickly become my best friend.  There’s a special bond between mom and son and I’m experiencing it right now.  My favorite part of the day is when he hugs me tight and says ‘Love you!’  No paycheck, award, or recognition even matches what that feels like.  

 

I can’t lie, I did hesitate a bit to begin with.  I told my husband that I felt uncomfortable not contributing.  He looked at me for a beat and shook his head.  ‘You are contributing the most, you’re raising our child.  Who else is better cut out to do this?’  This man is a gem.  Instantly I felt comforted.  He had faith in me, and that feeling is contagious.  He supports my dream and now my new role.  Everyday he gives me a new reason for why I feel so lucky to get to have a family with him.  It gives me pride in my new role.  

 

I feel so incredibly blessed.  

Hocus Pocus 2013!

Well, we’re done with 2012 and on to 2013.  Looking back I think I’m overall pretty happy with the way the year went.  We learned a lot, laughed a lot, and made some big decisions that turned out to be the best.  I hope everyone had a year worth reflecting on and I wish you the best for 2013.

 

To start the year off right I’ve decided to share with you my recipe for hocus pocus rolls.  Why hocus pocus?  Because they’re MAGIC!  They taste like a cinnamon roll with none of the effort, there’s a disappearing act that is pretty cool, and they are magically DELICIOUS!  Did I have you at cinnamon roll?  I thought so.

Here’s what you need:

roll of crecent rolls

marshmallows – 1 for each roll

melted butter or ghee

cinnamon sugar mix

 

First POP that can of crecent rolls open and lay them out.  Then take a marshmallow coat it in ghee or melted butter and cover with cinnamon sugar.

Hocus Pocus Rolls

 

 

Next you want to place the marshmallow in the center of the roll and roll it up so that the marshmallow is completely sealed in there.  I only made four rolls because we don’t give much sugar to my son so I left the other four plain for him.  Anyway, I left a couple unsealed to show you what happens.  Nice of me, huh? 🙂

Hocus Pocus Rolls

 

Next I brushed some ghee over the top and dusted a little bit of cinnamon sugar on top.  Pop them in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

Hocus Pocus Rolls

 

When they come out, they’ll look totally normal, but the magic is waiting on the inside!

 

Hocus Pocus Rolls

 

As you can see, if you leave them unsealed, they poop all over the place and it’s sticky and hard to unstick.  SO, make sure you seal them up.

 

Here’s what happens when you do it right:

Hocus Pocus RollsAs you can see, there’s no marshmallow in sight.  It’s just cinnamon sugary goodness with “icing”.  SO good.  SO easy.  Try it out!!