Warm and Furry Curry

I’m not sure how many people in America think of Indian curry powder when asked about their favorite comfort foods, but I’m one of them. Curry brightens my menus, warms my body, and if its got tumeric, lends my food a delightful, golden hue. There’s something about that unique combination of spices that I love, though as a chef I know that not everyone feels the same warm fuzzy affection that I do for curry.

While I love to make and eat curries (meat, bean and vegetable stews with different combinations of the spices that are in curry blends), I’m especially fond of using Indian curry blends in all kinds of other places as well, including chutneys, marinades, dips, and even baked goods.

Madras curry powder recipes are my favorite (heavy on the cumin, coriander, and black pepper) but I also keep cinnamon and clove-laden garam masala in my pantry at all times as well. I like to buy fresh whole spices from the co-op and grind them in my coffee grinder (never used for coffee!). If I make too much, I freeze some for later use.

One of my favorite chicken dishes is based on a recipe in the Cooks Illustrated cookbook. Although the recipe is intended for lamb, I find it works great with chicken too. You marinate the chicken parts, with or without skin and bones, in a blend of whole milk yogurt, brown sugar, curry spices, lemon juice, and salt. Wait at least four hours and then grill the chicken for incredibly tender and delicious results.

I also love the curried pumpkin and ginger scones recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. These are delicious spread with a sweet chutney or to accompany a curry, soup, or stew.

Another yummy way to eat curry is to drizzle this Lemon Curry Butter over steamed veggies and rice. Simmer one teaspoon of madras curry in one stick of salted butter with the juice from half a lemon, two minced cloves of garlic, and a tablespoon of fresh minced ginger. Great with greenbeans, kale, spinach, and collards.

Lentil soup with chicken, lots of lemon, a bit of coconut milk, and garam masala makes a great version of the Indian classic mulligatawny.

I always make sure to cook the curry spices in some fat before adding it to anything to reduce any bitterness. My latest creation inspired by curry powder is a Savory Curry Apple Squash Sauce. Here’s the recipe:

Saute two small sliced or diced onions and one inch of minced fresh ginger in four tablespoons untoasted sesame oil over medium heat. After fiveminutes, add one heaping tablespoon of madras curry powder and cook for one minute stirring often. Then add the flesh of one large roasted butternut squash and one roasted spaghetti squash (seeds removed), two peeled and sliced apples, and eight cups of water or apple juice. Simmer the whole thing until it is thick like stew (about 45 minutes) and then puree it in a blender. Taste for salt and pepper. This sauce is wonderful with coriander and lemon roasted chicken.

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