Monday, May 6, 2013

Make It Yourself Monday: Makeshift Curry

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We needed a last minute dinner, I've never made a curry before, I didn't use a recipe (though I used this one as a loose inspiration guide), and my father and grandmother, who were included in the meal, can't eat spicy things. So here is a recipe for sort-of curry. If you like more spice, you can pump it up with extra curry powder, or red pepper, and you could probably add a bit of salt too, which I didn't, because I was going for sweet and mild. But it's easy and pretty quick and even kids will probably be fine with it!

You will need:

1.5 lbs potatoes
2 carrots
1 yellow onion
1 tbsp curry powder (or more if you want it spicier)
1.5 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1/8 tsp cinnamon (a bit less)
1/8 tsp ginger
1 block extra firm tofu
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 cup white rice (you can substitute brown and follow the cooking directions on the package
pinch salt

This all served 5 with a couple portions of curry left over (but a bit less of the rice)

Before you do anything else, get your rice going. Rice crash course:

Rice is actually just as easy to make as pasta, it just needs to sit on the stove doing its own thing a little longer. For white rice, you will need a 2:1 ratio--in this case, 2 cups water to one cup rice. Put the water in a medium pan, slosh in a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and bring the water to a boil. Once it's boiling, add the rice, stir, cover, and reduce to a low temperature. Keep an eye on the time--white rice usually takes around 18 mins, but can easily go several minutes longer or a bit shorter. When all the water has cooked over and the rice is soft and fluffy, remove it from the heat. After it's sat for a bit, lift the cover off for a while to let any extra moisture evaporate. Fluff it with a fork so it doesn't clump.

Now, time to fry the tofu! Cut it up into bite-sized cubes, so it looks like this:

I didn't really have time, but ideally you should press your tofu to make sure it can absorb plenty of flavor. To do this, put the tofu on a cutting board with a layer or paper towels or a folded tea towel (not terrycloth) between the board and the tofu. Then, put another layer of towel on top, and a heavy flat board on top of that. If you have time, stack some things on it for weight (phone books work well) and leave it while you go twiddle your thumbs for a while. If not, you can use my rush method of pushing all my weight onto the top board on and off for a few minutes. 

Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and heat it to medium. Toss in the tofu, and sprinkle it with the powdered ginger and the cinnamon. It will smell like french toast. Fry until golden, then remove and set aside. Turn off the heat, but keep the pan. Reusing saves dishes. 

Chop your potatoes, onion, and carrots into nice bite-sized pieces. I used fingerling potatoes, which made this super easy, but any good potatoes will work. When you are done you will have three beautiful piles.

Get back to that pan. Melt the 1/5 tablespoons of butter into it. Add the tbsp of curry powder, and stir it around for a minute or two on low heat. 

Then, add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. When it is boiling, add the potatoes, carrots, onions, bay leaf, and 1/2 cup water. Then, reduce to a simmer and cover. Boil until the potatoes and carrots are tender and starting to absorb flavor (This will take anywhere from 12-20 minutes or so. If you get impatient to check a potato, run cold water on it AND cut it to cool before you try it. I learned the hard way). Stir occasionally. 

Serve over rice! Take a better picture than I did, without a begging puppy in the background, because I forgot about this post until I was eating outside in poor light. 

Enjoy! Let me know if you try it, and what variations you use. What I really wanted to make was Massaman, a type of Thai curry, but I was missing all kinds of things, beginning with the fact that I had curry powder instead of paste (and they don't even go with the same cuisine), so this was the result. I do highly recommend Massaman, though!

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