Throughout our India ~ Africa journey, in Southeast-Asia, UAE or the African islands, there was much similarity in the influence of Indian food on their local cuisine. In the local market in Mauritius, like other nations, I saw lots of spices and nuts, which explained that one of the roots of their local cuisine is Indian curry. In Mauritius, I saw lots of okra, which locals call ‘ladies’ fingers’ or lalos.
After checking a little, I found out that okra stewed or in curry, is indeed one of their favorites. I was intrigued to make okra curry, especially since it is now okra season.
The first time I made a basic curry sauce was in 1982. It was a recipe I found in a Japanese cookbook I purchased the previous year in Japan. The result was marvelous and extremely satisfying. Since then, I have learned of more spices and made some adjustments in spices used and the ratio. This basic sauce may be made in a larger quantity and frozen for future usage.
Curry, the basic sauce
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 4 Tbsp oil
• 4 pods green cardamom
• 3 whole cloves
• 1 stick/quill (7.5 cm/3″)cinnamon
• 500 g/ 18 oz (2 med-large) yellow/sweet onions, very finely minced (or if grated, drained)
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 2 tsp garlic & ginger paste
• 2 tsp coriander powder
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• ¾ ~ 1 tsp red chili pepper powder
• ¾ tsp turmeric powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 Tbsp water
• 1 kg/2.2 lbs = 3 cups pureéd/minced good quality tomatoes (best blanched to remove skin,
de-seeded and finely minced); ripe, meaty Roma tomatoes used here
• 1½ tsp garam masala
• 2 ~ 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped
◊ In a non-stick pot, on medium-high, heat 4 Tbsp oil and add cardamom pods (crack them between your finger), cloves, cinnamon stick, and stir for few seconds. When fragrant, add minced onion and cumin seed. Stir every minute, and after 10 minutes, more frequently, until the onion is well caramelized (total… about 28 minutes).
◊ Add garlic & ginger paste, stir for half a minute and then add coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili pepper, turmeric powder, salt, 2 Tbsp water and stir for a minute.
◊ Add minced/pureéd tomato and bring to boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium. It is very important to stay by the pot and stir often (to avoid coagulation) until the oil separates and the tomato is well fried (20 minutes). Add garam masala, stir and turn off the heat. At this point, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick may be removed. Yields about 2 cups of curry sauce. Sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro/coriander and it may be served as is.
Or, there are choices of variations.
♦ Okra Curry – Usually, recipes call for briefly sautéing the okra (200 g ~ 300 g) before adding to the curry. However, boiling in salted hot water for 2 ~ 3 minutes works perfectly. After drained, cut the okras or add whole, if small in size. Add the okras to the curry sauce at the time you add garam masala. Simmer for 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
♦ Vegetable Curry – Add vegetables such as cut potato, carrot, cauliflower, cooked chickpeas, at the time
garam masala is added and 1 cup of hot water and cook until vegetables are done. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
♦ Cashew Curry – Add up to 6 Tbsp of cashew paste/mill at the time garam masala is added, and simmer
for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
♦ Chicken Curry – Add 6 pieces of skinless chicken (make a few shallow cuts on each piece), 1 bay leaf (optional), 4 Tbsp fresh cilantro and ½ cup hot water before you add the garam masala. Cook/simmer
for 25 ~ 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked. Add garam masala and simmer for one more minute.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
~ Bon Appétit! ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?