Some twenty years ago in college, my wife and I became friends with a number of the Indian graduate students. One friend, Bala, opined that American food was bland. My wife was raised on her Southern grandmother’s cooking and started exchanging spicy recipes. This is one of Bala’s recipes, the only one that I know we still have. Words that appear like this are her own words verbatim, including British spelling. She calls the curry a gravy. When you see the word gravy, think curry.
My personal favourite way of using this recipe is to prepare the curry, then stuff a whole chicken with it, and rub the rest on the outside of the chicken. Slow cook the chicken for a couple of hours until the bones slide out of the meat. The chicken should have absorbed the curry flavour.
Serve with plain yogurt. This not only tones down the spiciness, but also compliments the flavour well.
Recipe for a basic gravy, the meats can be varied. Each kind of meat gives a different flavour to the preparation.
|Camp Friendly:||Yes with preparation|
|Yield:||Bala says 4 servings, but typically 6-8 servings|
|Ovens Needed:||One 12″ dutch oven|
|3||Medium sized onions, chopped fine. The finer these are chopped, the thicker and smoother the gravy will be.|
|4 cloves||garlic, chopped fine. If you prefer a garlicky flavour, increase quanitity.|
|½ inch piece||ginger root, chopped fine. Peel the root before chopping.|
|2||Green chiles, chopped fine|
|The above stuff can be blended together in a blender. Makes the gravy very smooth.|
|4||Medium tomatoes, roughly the same size as the onions, or one can (15 oz.) of diced tomatoes. Diced tomatoes give a slightly sour flavour to the curry, for a variation can use stewed tomatoes. Or one 8 oz. can of tomato paste.|
|½ tblsp||cumin seeds|
|5 tblsp||Oil or butter or margarine. (Each gives a slightly different flavour)|
|1 tsp||red chili powder, not flakes. (Start with slightly less than this, can add more if required.)|
|¼ tsp||turmeric powder|
|1 tblsp||coriander powder|
|1 tblsp||cumin powder|
|1 tblsp||curry powder (optional)|
|¼ tsp||nutmeg powder (optional)|
|¼ tsp||clove powder (optional)|
- Bag #1: Finely chop onions, garlic, ginger, and chiles in food processor. Run the result through the blender. Mmmmm… hot onion smoothie. ☺
- Bag #2: Remaining ingredients except cumin seeds. First run tomatoes through food processor and blender as above.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed container on medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds. Heat the oil till the seeds start popping.
Add onions. Fry them till slightly transparent. If they start sticking to the bottom of the pan, reduce heat to medium. Add a little more oil if required. Keep stirring. When onions become brown and really transparent (about 8–10 minutes), add the garlic, chilies and ginger root. Keep sprinkling with water if the paste starts sticking to the bottom of the pan or the oil starts smoking too much. Fry for another 2–3 minutes till the new stuff is nicely mixed up in the onions, and add the tomatoes.
Stir the mixture till the water from the tomatoes is nearly evaporated. Lower the heat to medium. Add the dry [ingredients] except nutmeg and clove. [See my notes below.] Fry till water evaporated and on pushing the paste to a side, with a spatula, the oil leaves the paste. If the paste starts sticking to the pan, sprinkle with water.
This is the basic stuff required for the gravy. Taste it at this point to see if the salt content and the chili is to your liking. If you add additional stuff, stir the gravy around for a minute for the [ingredients] to get fried into the gravy. If the gravy becomes too salty, don’t worry, the addition of the meat will balance the salt. I usually deliberately make the gravy slightly salty.
You have a choice of meats in beef chunks, chicken pieces, ground beef, pork chunks. If you leave the bones in, it ends up tasting nicer. For the amount of gravy you’ll get with the above recipe, you can add about 2 pounds of beef chunks, 8 chicken drumsticks, same amount of ground beef or even vegetables. The veggies can include cauliflower florets, carrots, potatoes, peas, green beans, corn, mushrooms, green bell peppers — just let your imagination run wild. Other variations are garbanzos (2 cans), red beans (2 cans) anything.
Add the meat or the veggies, stir the mixture till the pieces are all coated with the paste, fry for a minute or two. Add 2 cups of water and let the whole mixture simmer till the meat is tender. About half an hour for chicken, longer for beef or till the meat is as tender as you please. I usually remove the skin off the chicken I use. Cover the curry while it’s simmering, keep checking periodically to see water level. Add more if required. Stir it once in a while to prevent stuff from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
If you have a pressure cooker, the meat comes out tasting better because the pressure makes the flavour penetrate the meat. Add enough water to cover the mixture about ½ an inch over level of the mixture. I wouldn’t use a cooker for the veggies, they’ll go too soggy. One whistle on high heat, lower the temperature, another whistle on low heat, shot off and let it cool down, for chicken. Two whistles on high and one on low for other meats.
If the gravy is too watery to your liking, cook open on high for a few minutes till extra water teams off, if too thick, add desired amount of water and let it come to a boil once.
When done, turn off the heat sprinkle the nutmeg and clove on the curry, stir well, garnish with sprigs of coriander leaves, and serve on a bed of rice. The gravy can be made without the optional stuff also, but these things just add the the flavour
Serve over rice. Serve with plain yogurt. This not only tones down the spiciness, but also compliments the flavour well.
- As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
- I always add all of the ingredients.
- I double the garlic.
- My wife likes things extra hot. 1 tablespoon of red chili powder, a big Anaheim chile and 3 jalapeños for her.
- I put the nutmeg and cloves in with the other spices. Otherwise I find them too dominant.