Holding Onto Summer….

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Camp curry

From this weekend’s trip to Fire Island National Seashore.

Curry (made in advance) is an excellent meal to bring while camping. I’ve discovered that it reheats well on a camp grill or stove. You can make your curry at home, pack it in a disposable tin and then set the tin on top of the fire. Boom! A hot fragrant meal that is the envy of other campers. Serve over rice, which you can also prepare in advance. (No need to reheat the rice, esp if your curry is bubbling hot from the camp stove, as this one was.)

The recipe I used was my own Easy Indian Curry.

Below, my pal Carolyn and her son enjoy a late October day at the beach. 

Fire island

San Francisco Curry

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San Francisco Curry

On a recent vacation to San Francisco, we arrived into the city late after a day in Sonoma, followed by a wander through Muir Woods.

Not wanting to stray far from our hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf, we headed to the Curry Leaf in Russian Hill, a casual place that promised to provide “genuine and authentic Indian and Pakistani cuisine” at reasonable rates. It did, indeed. We tried a few staples (see above), and since it was BYOB, the hubs ran across the street to buy a bottle of beer. We chatted up the friendly owner, who would up sending us over some complimentary desserts. Curry love!

Check out Curry Leaf for an easy meal, the next time you’re in the city by the bay. It’s not full-service, but the restaurant is cuter than most to-go places, and the food is delicious and fragrant. Curry Leaf, 943 Columbus Ave., San Francisco.

Camp Curry

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Camp curry

When you’re sparingly packing a few items to bring with you, on a ferry, to a remote island — what should you bring?

A curry, of course!

Ahead of a recent camping trip to Fire Island with a group of eight, I made my Easy Indian Chicken Curry (who doesn’t like a hot spicy meal, while in the wild?) and poured it into a disposable aluminum pan. It turned out — the pan was a stroke of genius. When we reached the island, we were easily able to heat up the curry at the campsite by starting a fire in a grill, and setting the entire pan on top of the grill. Perfect! Thanks to a quick-witted pal named Carolyn, we also had pre-made heat-and-serve rice (which she buys at Target – see here.)

Because we all brought our appetites, we had this meal paired with some delicious steaks and red wine….a nice way to rough it.

Below, the tarp where we set up our picnic tables and devoured our meals. 

Camp Curry

Hello, Lover (Proper Greeting for Brazilian Curry)

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Brazilian curry

The co-workers and myself recently had lunch at BarBossa, a Brazilian joint in NoLita, and lo and behold – there was a curry on the menu! Shrimp & Avocado Tomato Curry, pictured above. Probably not representative of Brazilian cuisine….but it was nevertheless delicious. I have not thought of adding avocado to a curry before, so thank you, BarBossa, for the inspiration.

Curry & Peas

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Peas & curry

I’ve never thought to add plain old green peas to my curries, but after having this delicious Penang Curry from Thai Angel in Soho, I am going to give it a shot.

Happy National Curry Week!

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A frequent tipster named Rod has informed CrackingCurry.com that it’s….wait for it….National Curry Week in the U.K.!

Well that’s cause for celebration. Tonight, I’ll be making an old favorite, Thakkali Payaru Curry from South India, to pay tribute to this momentous event. Could an American version of National Curry Week be far behind?

I think not. I share a picture of a meal I was served, while at a business conference in Miami last week. Coconut curry with chicken, served over jasmine rice. Delicious, too. (And I liked the finely sliced snow peas.) Clearly this whole curry thing — once an ethnic cuisine reserved for a select audience — has gone mainstream.

Don’t forget to “like” National Curry Week on Facebook.

My curry dish at last week’s National Association of Women Business Owners conference in Miami. 

NAWBO curry

A Substitute for Dry Mustard

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IMG_0645 - resized.jpg

An Orange and Ginger Chicken recipe that I recently tried called for “dry mustard,” which I didn’t have on hand and couldn’t easily locate at my neighborhood grocery store.

But I knew I had black mustard seeds in my kitchen cupboard, which I’ve used for countless Indian curries. Hmm. I was pretty sure that dry mustard is usually yellow in color. How on earth could black mustard seeds turn into something yellow?

Well, who knew! As I started to pound the black mustard seeds in my mortar and pestle, this is what happened (see above photo). Turns out they’re black on the outside, but a sunny yellow in the inside. I’m sure that’s a metaphor for something. Regardless, my problem was solved.

 

A Task for Perfectionists

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kaffir lime leaves shredded

If you have a dining companion who’s a perfectionist, as I do, here’s a good task for that person: Make him slice the kaffir lime leaves!

I’ve written before about how to shred kaffir lime leaves, a technique that I’ve recently learned is called “chiffonade.” I don’t have the skill, patience or — truth be told — desire to know how to do such an exasperating thing. Which is why I am glad I do know someone who does. Here’s a photo of his handiwork, above.

Where to Find Fresh Thai Ingredients in New York

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Bangkok Center Grocery

I’ve often complained that it’s tough to make curry, even in New York, because it’s difficult to find fresh ingredients — things like lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves — for which there are no substitutes. One of my reliable haunts is Kalustyan’s, at 28th and Lex, which is particularly noted for its Indian spices, dried chilis and other fixings (like frozen naan).

The other is Bangkok Center Grocery on Mosco Street in Chinatown, where I routinely make pilgrimages. Especially as I’ve begun focusing on Thai curries, this place is a godsend. It’s small and a bit cramped, but amazingly well-stocked with pretty much anything you could possibly need for a Thai curry. One of my first trips there, I picked up all the ingredients for a green curry paste, and brought it up to the counter — to my amazement, the young Thai guy working there took one look and said, “I see you’re making a green curry paste.” This is a place where curry-a-holics, like myself, are welcome.

On a recent trip, I found the usual assortment of things I have trouble locating elsewhere, from cans of coconut cream (cream, not milk) to fresh bunches of holy basil. And a highlight: they had just gotten a shipment in of kaffir lime leaves (pictured left). That’s  something like the holy grail, for this blogger.

The store seems to have a new website, with links to suggested recipes. This one for Penang Curry with Chicken looks delicious. I may need to head down to Bangkok Center Grocery to pick up some ingredients….

How to Slice Kaffir Lime Leaves

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Kaffir lime leaves

There is nothing so wondrous as a kaffir lime leaf.

These deep, glossy, emerald-green leaves impart a heavenly aroma: it’s a scent of rich citrus, as if already infused with coconut and spice. The addition of kaffir lime leaves can make or break an Asian dish, especially Thai cuisine, and the zest of kaffir limes (which look like odd, nubbly versions of regular limes) is an integral part of many curry pastes.

Is there a substitute for kaffir lime leaf? Maybe, but I can’t imagine anything that would add the same delicious impact.

There are numerous ways to add kaffir lime leaf to a dish – you can bruise it, you can tear it, you can add it whole. Or, you can slice it finely. Here’s how I learned to do that in Bangkok.

Take the leaves (most kaffir limes leaves are in double sections) and fold them over so you can grasp the spine, as pictured above; remove the spine. Stack the leaves on top of one another, shiny side up. Roll into a tiny scroll, and then slice finely.

Add a number of kaffir lime leaves, sliced in this manner, to a dish, or use as a garnish. I was surprised in Thai cooking class how many kaffir lime leaves we used — perhaps more than six to a dish. So in doubt, add a few more … and enjoy the result.