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Curry in a hurry: 4 easy recipes for Indian dishes that are perfect for busy weeknights (gallery)Four Easy Curry Dishes
Gallery: Four Easy Curry DishesPrint Email >Grant Butler | The Oregonian/OregonLive By Grant Butler | The Oregonian/OregonLive OregonLive.com
on January 20, 2014 at 8:00 AM, updated January 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM
Creating authentic Indian curry dishes is intimidating to a lot of American home cooks. The recipes can seem long and daunting, loaded with unusual spices and herbs that can only be found at an Asian specialty market or an Indian grocery. Then there's the labor they require: Toasting and hand-grinding spices; clarifying butter; simmering sauces for hours under constant watch.
Maybe going out to an Indian restaurant for dinner seems like a better idea.
But there are a lot of Indian curries that are a snap to make, using ingredients that can be easily found at your neighborhood grocery store.
"Yes, Indian cooking can be complex and time-consuming. But it can also be very simple," says Portland cooking instructor Sophie Rahman.
"You can make a flavorful curry with a minimal amount of time. We live busy lives, and we don't necessarily want to sit down and grind every spice from scratch. Everyone wants to have a good, healthy meal, but they don't necessarily want to spend six hours in the kitchen."
Taking the intimidation out of Indian cooking is the driving force behind Raghavan Iyer's terrific new cookbook "Indian Cooking Unfolded," which features 100 easy recipes using 10 ingredients or less. Iyer's recipes, like Sassy Garbanzo Bean Curry and Ultimate Chicken Curry, don't use things like asafetida, fresh curry leaves or fenugreek, which would require going to an Indian market. And he keeps the number of ingredients down by conjuring complexities within a recipe by using the same ingredient in different ways.More The most-common mistakes people make when preparing curry dishes at home.Most common Indian spices are now available in the bulk section of well-stocked mainstream grocery stores, and more well-stocked Portland grocery stores now feature an expanded number of Indian ingredients in their natural/specialty foods sections.
As important as those spices are, for Rahman, the key to successful curry dishes hinges on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. When she's teaching her Masala Northwest classes, you won't find her making sauces with mealy hothouse tomatoes in the dead of winter, or using winter squash and sweet potatoes in the middle of July. That's why her Cauliflower and Potatoes With Spices (also known as Aloo Gobhi) is the perfect dish for right now.
"It features cauliflower, which is in season," she says. "The flavors that come out in that dish are the turmeric, the ginger and garlic, and the cayenne. There's a lot of freshness to the dish, so it doesn't taste like it's been sitting around."
And dishes fueled by ginger, garlic and cayenne are perfect during flu season, since they ramp up the metabolism to help ward off illness.
Rahman says easy curry dishes are more in keeping with the way Indians eat every day, and that the lavish Northern Indian dishes we get at restaurants are more royal cuisine than everyday fare.
"Restaurants think that people want these complex spiced sauces and lots of butter and cream," she says. "But the typical Indian can't afford to use lots of butter, nuts and meat. There's this myth that that's what Indian cooking is."
Rahman has high hopes that Indian cooking will continue to become more popular here, and she sees easier recipes with accessible ingredients as the key to that happening.
"In England, when you go to any event, they'll have a curry dish. Every pub has a curry night, and every grocery store has their own line of curry sauces, spices and mixes," she says. "So what's happened in England is similar to what what's happened in American with Mexican food. We're familiar with it and not intimidated with it. So familiarity is a big part of understanding Indian cuisine."
-- Grant Butler>
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