Hot and cold: polar opposites. Yet the two usually align in the most comforting of fashions: hot chocolate on a winter day, hot soup when you are cold from a fever, cold and foamy beer on a sweltering summer day, or a steaming main dish with cooling ice cream served for dessert. So one night, when we were about to do the most favored of the freezing Canadian sports (I don't say this about hockey, because hockey isn't just favored by Canadians, I believe it is in their blood. Its instinctive, and so, not a sport but a way of life.): curling. Most people associate curling with the word 'eh' and red-hatted mounties, and sadly, I am one of them (especially after the closing of the Olympic ceremonies - after that, I not only associated curling with our vernacular low and cops on horseback, but also giant beavers, floating moose, and Michael Buble). To change my mindset, I decided, with a few friends, to go to a free drop-in session at a local rink. But, as the lesson of hot and cold applies to curling, what warm, comforting dish would I make beforehand? A steaming bowl of spicy, creamy curry.
Curry is my go to dish. It is so easy, so versatile, and I usually have all the ingredients needed to make a quick, rich dish. Curry in and of itself is a really general term: it can mean a specific green, yellow, red or even regional variation of one of these curries, or a general medley of spices in coconut milk or tomatoes. The word, when used in the Indian context, actually means a 'side dish', to accompany bread or rice.
Curry powder is not the result of ground up curry leaves (though they do exist - I always found this very confusing). Instead, it is a mix of spices - usually coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper, with the occasional addition of spices such as ginger, garlic, fennel seed, cinnamon, clove, green cardamom, black cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper. If you want to make your own blend to have on hand (which is a good idea, then you can create a standard with the level of spice, and kind of taste you prefer, instead of recreating it with every new curry dish) - here is a good one. Masala means 'mixture of spices', though in many recipes, garam (meaning 'hot') masala is a specific ingredient to put in a curry. These mixtures vary and so usage of different ones can result in different tasting curries (I think they all taste good though). Once you find a mix that you like - stick to it.
There are a variety of health benefits associated with curry - many of the spices have been toted for their anti-cancerous properties. All I know is - curry is my comfort food. I think its higher on the list than chicken soup. There is nothing like sitting down on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket, some nonsensical tv blaring (such as deal or no deal), with a big bowl full of steaming spicy curry in front of you (Be sure to wear a bib - curry stains. I figured that out once when I was marinading chicken and decided to dig in there with my hands. For a week, I had people asking if I had jaundice.)
Kerala Prawn Curry - Kerala Eral Kuzhambu
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
2 cloves garlic—finely chopped
1 tsp. finely grated ginger
1 tsp. red chilie pepper
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. fenugreek
1½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. chili powder
1 cup canned tomatoes—chopped
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
16 large uncooked shrimp (prawns)—peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup basmati rice
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion and garlic for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger, red chilie pepper, cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika and chili powder and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 8 minutes. While the curry simmers, cook the rice according to the directions on the package. Add the shrimp and cilantro to the curry, cover with a lid, and simmer for another 4 minutes, then stir in the lime juice.
Serve on a bed of rice or with naan bread.