Saturday, October 31, 2015

A colorful Halloween curry …

As many of you are well aware, we enjoy finding opportunities to create cooking traditions around various holidays or even events in general. Through the years, we have come to create some traditions around Halloween. The recipe I am sharing in this post is one we have more or less created on our own using a few assorted recipes as a bit of a starting point. We like it, most of all, because it tastes good. We have also found it a great recipe for this time of year because it is warm, filling, and features some great fall colors that add to the spirit of the season.
For a little background on curry …
Curry is a cuisine that originated in India. The term, curry, refers to a dish that is prepared using a number of characteristic herbs and spices such as coriander, turmeric, cumin, and chilis. Curry dishes can be "wet," meaning that they are covered in sauce, or "dry," meaning that the liquid has evaporated and the remaining meat or vegetables are coated with the spice mixture. Today, curry dishes are part of the cuisine across many of the southeast Asian countries, each with its own distinct style. The following picture shows a number of Indian vegetable curry dishes.
Curry powder itself seems to have appeared around the 18th century. It is proposed to have been generated by Indian merchants to sell to members of the British government and military. Although curry powders can vary somewhat based on region, most contain a mixture of coriander, turmeric, cumin, and chilis. The turmeric is what gives the curry its characteristic yellow color.
Given that curries can vary based on geographic region, consider this curry to be in the tradition of the Intermountain West of the United States. As I have said, we do like it, and I hope you will too. Here is how we put it together.

Ingredients:
4 tbsp butter or margarine
One large onion
3/4 cup flour
6 cups chicken broth
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1.5 - 2  tbsp)
2 cups cream
2 tbsp curry powder (we like the Hot Madras powder)
Carrots
1 green bell pepper
4 or 5 potatoes
1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Cooked jasmine rice

Steps:
1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Chop the onion and saute until the onions are soft and golden. The below picture gives you an idea as to how coarsely I chop the onion.
2. While the onion is cooking, go ahead and get the chicken started. I typically cut it up into about 1 inch chunks and cook it up in a pan on the stove. I add a little water and a tablespoon of oil, cover the pan with a lid and let the chicken cook until done. Once it is cooked, just turn off the heat and let it sit until you are ready to add it (and the resulting broth) to the curry mixture.
3. Once the onions are nice and soft, stir in the flour until well mixed. 
4. Slowly stir in the chicken broth and lemon juice so that the flour is dissolved into the liquid.
5. Stir in the cream and curry powder.
6. Now it's time to cut up the vegetables. Here is a picture of the carrots and the bell pepper so that you can see how coarsely I cut them up. My advice is to add the carrots first and let them cook a while before adding the bell pepper and potatoes. The carrots take longer to cook, and the potatoes require less time to cook so this is how I try to have everything cooked up nice at the same time. Once I stir in the carrots, I make a judgement as to whether the amount looks right to me. For this batch of curry, I ended up adding additional carrots. On a side note, I had plenty of carrots in the garden, many of which were a bit small so this was an easy opportunity to use a bunch of them.
7. Once the carrots are about halfway cooked, stir in the bell pepper and potatoes. Slowly simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. We love the taste of potatoes that have soaked up the flavor of the curry powder. Yum!
8. Stir in the chicken and the broth you created in the process of cooking it.
9. Heat through and serve over steamed jasmine rice.

Here is a picture of the curry cooking on the stove. We like that this recipe makes a batch that will give us leftovers for a couple of days.
Wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween with very few tricks and lots of good treats.