False Advertising with Spicy and Making a Curry

Back in the beginning of November we went to Sway in Austin and had the most amazing Jungle Curry.  It was spicy!  Spicy with loads of flavour and I wanted to try to recreate it.  In “The Complete Asian Cookbook” by Charmaine Solomon there is a recipe for Kaeng Masaman or Muslim Curry and was classified as a very spicy curry.  Ooh, I thought, maybe this could be close to the curry from Sway.  Hmmm not so much.  The flavour was really good but I had to spike it quite a bit at the end of cooking to get some spiciness.

First up was to make the curry paste.  Given what I had in my pantry I used already ground spices, except the cardamom pods.  The only two ingredients I didn’t have was mace and shrimp paste.  And because it is hard to find galangal I substituted ginger.

In a small bowl mix 2 tsp of chilli powder (I do wonder if the book had an error and should be 2 tablespoons), 2 Tablespoons of ground coriander, 1 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.  Set aside.

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In a small skillet heat up 5 cardamom pods without any oil.  Shake the pan so the pods don’t burn.  You want them to be golden brown.  Grind them finely in a spice grinder.

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In a skillet saute 1 1/2 cup of chopped onion in olive oil.  Once softened add 5-6 finely chopped garlic cloves.

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Place in a food processor.  Add about an inch or so of ginger, coarsely chopped, and about an inch of sliced lemongrass.

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Pulse until it becomes a paste.

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Add the spices and pulse to blend.

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Cover and chill for a few hours to let the flavours blend.

When it’s time to make the curry gather the ingredients together.  The one thing I don’t have access to is tamarind pulp.  So I left that out.  The rest is pretty easy.  In a large skillet bring cubed beef, 14 oz of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of fish or oyster sauce, 15 cardamom pods, and a few dashes of ground cinnamon to a boil.  Then lower to a simmer.  Cook until the meat is cooked and tender.  The book did mention that you shouldn’t cover the skillet because it will cause the coconut milk to curdle.

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Remove the cardamom pods when the beef is cooked.  That way it won’t get confused with the peanuts!  Stir in a large handful of roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped.  Add all the curry paste you made earlier with 2 tablespoons of lime juice.

At this point, I tasted for spiciness.  I was already to be blown away but it was very mild!  So I added more chilli powder but not wanting that to be a dominating flavour I also added red pepper flakes until I got some heat.  The flakes are great because they don’t overwhelm the rest of the dish but brings the heat.

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Garnish with some peanuts and cilantro.  While this wasn’t close enough to the jungle curry it was a really nice curry.  And it showed me that making homemade curry paste isn’t overly difficult.  So I’ll be playing around with the flavours for my own paste.  🙂

 

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Chicken Jhalfrazi? Yes Please!

I enjoy a good curry and I love the seemingly infinite amount of variations you can find.  I mentioned yesterday in my Naan post that my husband made a wonderful curry.  I think it is by far my favourite to date.  It is Chicken Jhalfrazi from the “Best Ever Curry Cookbook” and it is quick and easy with amazing flavours.

We followed the recipe the best we could but didn’t have all the ingredients the way they called it out so we adapted it a bit.  And we adjusted the portions to only feed the four of us, not an army.  🙂

Chop a green bell pepper and a red bell pepper finely.

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Chop up some fresh ginger, onion, and garlic.

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The recipe calls for 1 1/2lbs of chicken breast to serve 4!  We used about 1/2 lb.  This was cut into small cubes.

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Heat up an iron cast wok with some olive oil.

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Once the oil is heated add in the veg and stir.  Then add 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste depending on your taste.  The recipe calls for 1 tsp of cumin seeds and 1 tsp of ground cumin.  We didn’t have the seeds so we upped the ground cumin a bit.  Next add 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir well then add the chicken.

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We didn’t have 14oz of canned tomatoes but we are surrounded by fresh tomatoes so we chopped up a bunch of fresh tomatoes and added it to the wok.  Stir and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

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To serve chop up fresh cilantro and mix into the dish saving some to garnish on top.  You can also add a bit of hot peppers as a garnish like my husband did.

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It was so good!  I’ve already asked him to make it again.  🙂