Curry for a Lady

I love curries.  Love, love, love.   I love them even more now that I’m a bit more familiar with the cooking techniques and spices that are considered basic.  Anjum Anand had an Indian Food Made Easy series on BBC that was really a great intro to the genre.  You can find it on the Cooking Channel now, which to be honest isn’t really my cup of tea, save for series like hers. 

Tonight, I did a take on her Bengali Butternut Squash recipe, only with the last winter squash we picked up at Rennick’s a few weekends ago.  It was a turban squash that I probably, in hindsight, should have roasted.  Fortunately, Hades was the one that wielded the knife and not me.  And score! no trip to the hospital.  I really recommend this be done with a more manageable squash like a butternut or acorn.  Really.  Your local emergency room will thank you.

A Chelsea Girl’s Curry

2 T vegetable oil

1 bay leaf

½ tsp panch phoran (a blend of equal quantities of fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin and mustard seeds), available from Asian supermarkets, also known as Bengali five-spice

Pinch of dried red pepper flakes

1 small onion, chopped

½ t ground turmeric

2 t ground cumin

1 heaping t ground coriander

salt and sugar, to taste

2 t ground or grated  fresh ginger

1 lb butternut or acorn squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 c boiling water

1 c chickpeas (I used dried chickpeas that I soaked and cooked in salted water, but use canned if you like, taking care to drain and rinse if you do)

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.  Add the bay, panch phoran and pepper flakes and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring well to combine.  Add the onion, stirring to coat, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft.   Add the ground turmeric, cumin and coriander, the salt, sugar and ginger paste and stir well. Add a splash of the boiling water, stir and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the squash, chickpeas and boiling water.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  Taste for seasoning.

Serve with basmati rice that’s been cooked along with a broken-up cinnamon stick, four or five crushed cardamom pods, four or five whole cloves and salt.

PK Tip – This is a delicate curry, not at all hot or spicy and ohmygawdmymouthisonfire!  Spicy as in, yes, there are spices in it, just not hot ones.  In light of this, please don’t go for the knee jerk response of wine pairing and serve it with a Gewürztraminer.  We served this dish with Yard Dog (a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Vioginer blend) from McLarenVale in Australia.  Eleven bucks at Whole Foods.

Playlist included Fluorescent Adolescent, skillfully covered by Kate Nash.

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