A (Curry) Night to Remember

Curry !

I had the idea recently of organising a little curry night. I’ve been getting into all sorts of curry over the past couple of years, spurred on by Sharon introducing me to some excellent Malaysian curry. I’d never really understood the curry before then. I just figured it was a hot spicey kind of soup that other people ate, and that I didn’t like. I’m not sure why I had that idea, but I think it’s an important one to get rid of if you ever want to experience all the world of food has to offer.

Since then I haven’t looked back, having tried out a whole range of Malaysian, Thai, Southern Indian, North Indian, and Vietnamese curries, a good number of Moroccan tajines (which are almost kinda like curry), and doing my best to avoid Japanese curry, which still defies all logic.

So just last Saturday night a few of our closest curry making friends dropped by to share the love, and the food in their own special way. Sharon and I spent the better part of the day procuring supplies from Kongs (the local Asian supermarket), and preparing the base for her curry. I’m always amazed walking around in those places… it’s like, just when you think you have a pretty decent grasp on a type of food, you step one foot into a store, look around, realise you don’t know what even half of the stuff is for, and suddenly feel very small again.

A recent discovery along those lines for me personally was Asafoetida… which i’m sure is pretty common to my sub continental readers, but was a complete mystery to me. Turns out it’s a kind of spice made from the resin extracted out of the stems and roots of the Ferula plant, and is used particularly by Indians who are practitioners of Jainism, as a replacement for certain foods (onions, ginger, garlic) that they aren’t allowed to eat.

That has nothing to do with this post of course, other than to state formally that I still know bugger all about a great many things… and any education my learned readers are able to give is always appreciated.

So on to the curries.

Dan and Mabel brought a lovely lamb curry, I would say vindaloo, but I might be wrong, so i’ll stay general for now.
Dave and Mel also brought a lamb curry, this was a southern Indian style dish with no coconut milk and a predominant clove, cinnamon flavour to it.
Jen and Ben brought a Bicol Express (!). My first experience with Filipino curry and apparently one of the few of such dishes that exist in the Phillipines, It’s basically pork, chicken, beans, chilli, tumeric, and… ummm, stuff. Very tasty indeed and sadly too hot for the creator to manage, but well done Jen for taking one for the team.

Sharon made a Malaysian chicken curry. This one had a lot of ginger, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, garlic, onion, tumeric… all blended into a wonderful paste that got smeared all over the chicken (one the bone) while they cooked away for a good few hours til nice and fall apart-ified.
I was stuck for options, not having a home land from which to draw curry making experience from I either had to choose from my list of previous conquests that turned out ok, or tread the lonely road of experimental curry making.

Lamb curry Duck Curry

Plucking up all my courage, I turned the pages of Mel’s curry book she had kindly lent me, and settled on one that looked sufficiently different yet still tasty… Duck curry. A slightly odd choice perhaps, and not the most well known of all curries, but it was in the book dammit, and apparently is quite popular in the Kerala region of India where water fowl are more prevalent, and clearly not fast enough to not get eaten.

So I started with Duck breast… three of em, skinned and cubed. Fried a little fenugreek and fennel seeds in some oil and then added a whole onion, two green chillis, and a good dose of shredded ginger. When that was nice and soft I added some more chilli powder and a dash of turmeric. To that lovely concoction went the duck breast, to get coated and loved with all the spices and flavours. The rest was simple, throw in a few baby potatoes, a handful of curry leaves and a spash or three of coconut cream, and Babu’s your uncle. It turned out pretty darn good even if I do say so myself, and I do… Of course I am the worlds most biased food critic, and can quite easily overlook the slighty dry and somewhat gamey texture of the duck, which perhaps would have been nicer had I used it on the bone and cooked it for a couple more hours. Still, it was a triumph for experimental curriests the world over, and a great first effort.

Mel's mango cocunut puddings

We finished off with these lovely little mango and coconut puddings that Mel lovingly coaxed out their shells and served with a good dollop of ice cream.

All in all a great night, and like all things curry, the best was yet to come. Two days later and I’m still going strong with the left overs, and as much as a fan of Johnny Cash I am, there hasn’t been one ring of fire to speak of. Thanks to everyone for putting in the effort and all I can say is the next one will have some huge expectations… Anyone know where I can buy Iguana ?

13 thoughts on “A (Curry) Night to Remember”

  1. First time to your site – WOW! Love the idea of your party, love the photos!

    I adore curry, but have never considered the many varieties of it. In my kitchen, the variety of it depends on what’s in the pantry that day!

  2. Thanks Lisa, I think any idea for a party based solely around the kind of food you’re going to be eating is a good idea in my book :)

    Hi Toni, I think my style of cooking is much the same as yours 6 out of 7 days of the week… and curry is such a rewarding dish when you manage to make the most mundane of ingredients come to life with time and spices. Thanks for stopping by…

  3. Ah, Malaysian curries are the BEST!

    From what I understand, asafoetida is supposed to help you not produce so much of the ‘gas’ that those Indian curries are likely to create ;)

  4. Hey Matt
    as an aside to your post I can highly reccomend Sri Lankan curry, the nifty buggers curry everthing that has lived animal and vegetable for instance curried pineapple….to die for very spicy and refreshing, curried cashewsmild creamy and errr nutty currie beetroot “interesting”….no but seriously the cusine is excellent unlike Indian or Malaysian, very fresh and spicy not chilli hot, black pepper hot….

    regards and happy cusine creating

    shazza

  5. Cin, I have no idea what you mean about ‘gas’, as I am a gentleman, and have clearly never expelled any in my life… but I may just start adding a dash of that stuff to EVERYTHING from now on, for unrelated reasons…

    Neil, ever the thinker… I like your style… the world needs more subversive curry makers… I’ll be there with gloves on.

    Fer, I’d suggest whatever types you like to eat yourself. I personally love Thai red and green curries, which generally are kinda soupy with a lot of coconut milk. The core to most curries is using nice fresh ingredients to create your paste or spice mixture, and then time, the longer the better. I’ll see if I can get Sharon to post her recipe soon as I reckon it’s a ripper.

    Shazza, I’m aware of a good number of Sri Lankan curries (although haven’t cooked many), and my good friend and resident ethnologist Deb of TheFoodPalate.com is a keen advocate of all things Sri Lankan. I have indeed made a pineapple curry before, which mostly worked, and I’ve been told by Deb to go and buy a Charmaine Solomon cookbook to get the real deal… So we’ll see how it goes :)

  6. Hey Matt! I love curry…anything with more than five spices is worth a taste. I once had a dinner affair with some close friends called “A Curry Fury.” Like you mentioned, it’s really interesting how the dish “curry” changes throughout countries. I bet the duck was awesome!

  7. Thanks Marilyn :)

    Hey Maria ! That reminds me of a funny story back when I had no idea what spices were used for. I ended up putting a whole bunch of Chinese 5 Spice into a stir fry because I thought it seemed like a good thing to do…. It wasn’t.

    The curry is indeed a great style of dish that evolves and changes everywhere you go… my latest concoction was curried duck sausages… which were significantly cheaper than actual duck… but still really tasty :)

  8. Asafoetida – no prizes for guessing why the word “foetid” lurks in there. It stank out my kitchen drawer, despite being contained within 2 allegedly
    airtight containers. I’m going to stick with garlic in future! Be warned.

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