Healing Spices: Curry ~Rachel

"Borrowed' from Savory Spice Shop Raleigh's FB page

A few weeks ago (yeah, I’m a bit behind), I attended a curry class at my favorite store in Raleigh…Savory Spice Shop! Lindsay Rogers is the niece of owners Cindy and Bob and has accomplished A LOT in the restaurant/food world in her young years (she is only in her 20’s) so it was lovely to hear her speak about curry. We got some info on types of curry, components of curry and Lindsay demoed Cindy’s Curry Chicken Salad (which was awesome) and a Moroccan Chicken Skewer (with Tan-Tan Curry Seasoning) and herbed dipping sauce (also awesome).

Here are some of the random things I learned about curry and its components:

Also "borrowed" from the Savory Spice Shop Raleigh FB page

  • Curry is not a spice in an of itself…it’s a collection of spices (Ok, I already knew that but wasn’t sure if you all did).
  • Almost all curries contain cumin, turmeric and coriander.
  • Indian curries typically contain cardamom (a pod from the rainforests & Africa that has a eucalyptus/floral flavor)…cardamom is also heavily used in chai tea.
  • Turmeric often always leaves behind a yellow stain….lemon juice will get it out!
  • Curry leaves, which have earthy and citrus flavors, can be treated like a bay leaf but only add it to your dish in the last 5 minutes as they are delicate.
  • There are lots of different “regional” curry styles…For example, Thai curry is known for its heat because of the use of chiles .
  • Perhaps the best known curry is Tikka Masala, which is most popular in the UK. Masala simply means mixture…I learned that from Alton Brown.
And most importantly…
  • To make a curry paste out of a curry powder, use equal parts of water, olive oil and curry powder! You can make a paste out of any curry powder, rub it on some chicken or lamb (or whatever protein you choose) and let it marinate in the fridge overnight. It’s fantastic!
I didn’t escape class without buying some spices (Dave yelled at me when I got home). I bought some whole cardamom pods that I have yet to use. Apparently it is fabulous in coffee (mimics a Turkish coffee) but since I can’t drink coffee right now, that will have to wait. I also bought:
  • Garam Masala: This is an all-purpose curry powder!
  • Tikka Masala: This is AMAZING in Savory Spice’s own recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala…very creamy!
  • Rogan Josh: I haven’t used this yet but it’s good with lamb. If I ever find lamb stew meat, I will be set. I don’t think it will work with the ground lamb in my freezer!
  • Tan-Tan Moroccan Seasoning: I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t starve if I was in Africa…I haven’t met a meal inspired by North African (or Kenyan) cuisine that I didn’t like. This was a fabulous marinade for chicken.
  • Zanzibar Curry Powder: This is Lindsay’s favorite curry powder and I now know why. It’s a fabulous mix of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, yellow mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric, brown sugar, paprika and cayenne…and lots of cinnamon. I made a paste out of this and marinated some chicken with it. It turned out wonderful just sauteing the chicken in a pan….it was very moist. Since there is brown sugar in it, you have to be careful not to burn it so you need to cook a little lower and slower.
The Healing Spices book devotes a whole chapter to “currying” and explains that curry is a cooking style, not a particular spice. It also explains that every curry is savory and every curry is spiced. I think that probably goes without saying, right? Most of the chapter is devoted to the different curries around the world, so I figured I would take you on a tour of the world.
  • Basic spices: black pepper, coriander, cumin, red chile, turmeric
  • North Indian curry (Punjabi): Mild & creamy, sometimes nutty, accented with yogurt
  • South Indian curry (Tamil): Hot & fiery with a lot of coconut
  • East Indian curry: Tangy…Often contains things like fenugreek seed, tamarind and cilantro
  • West Indian curry: Hot and sour…Often contains vinegar
Sri Lanka
  • Curries are often called black curries because the spices are roasted very dark
  • Almost always include cloves and cinnamon which are native to Sri Lanka
  • FIRE!!! They pound chilis into their curry paste!
  • Lemongrass is pretty common
  • Fish sauce and shrimp paste are often used (Anyone else surprised by this? No? Me neither!)
  • Very delicate but also heavily influenced by Indian curries
  • Influenced by Chinese, Indian and French cuisines
  • Milder curry than Thai or Indian with a sweet & sour flavor
  • Sugar is on the list of the common ingredients
  • Often contains exotic ingredients like manioc (cassava), salam leaf, trassi (dried shrimp paste)
  • Often served with crispy fried shallots (yum) and hard-boiled eggs (double yum)
  • Slightly sour, fruity and hot
My curried turkey and potatoes recipe is coming up next. Experiment with different curry powders and pastes and I guarantee you will like at least one of them! My next Healing Spices post will be about turmeric, one of the main ingredients in almost every curry. It’s probably one of the best spices you could be eating.
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  • Cindy Jones  On August 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    you did a lot of research on this. you rock Rachel. Love this and you.

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