Ah, curry… one of my ultimate comfort foods. When I tell people about curry, I usually get a blank stare like that of a deer facing down a semi. “Curry?” they usually say, scratching their heads. “What is this… ‘curry’ that you speak of?”
Well, I will tell you. Curry is a magical pixie dust from a far, far away land (typically the Middle East). Next to lavender, it is the closest thing to happiness I have eaten. It tastes like a baby unicorn swaddled in a rainbow and dipped in epic… in short, curry is amazing. And it isn’t cute. This stuff packs a punch, so use with caution.
Okay, that was a little dramatic. What do you expect from an author/poet?
Contrary to my initial assumption, curry itself is not a spice but a blend of spices–cumin, tumeric, and corriander to be precise. It also comes in different colors… come on! Who doesn’t like colors? I don’t see salt parading around in colors! Know why? Because salt only wishes it were half the spice that curry is!
Well, I got one blank stare too many. As a proponent of curry, I have made (one of) my mission(s) in life to educate the clueless public about its epictude. I finally broke down and made my celiac friend Morgan some curry… and what better to serve this with than a batch of semi-mujadara (Note: Mujadara is a rice/lentil pilaf with caramelized onions, but I omit the onions in this recipe because I add them to the curry sauce instead.). I modified the recipe a little from my original to make it gluten free, but it actually turned out better than the last one. Also, let it be noted that this recipe is for a double-batch (so I can disillusion twice the number of people… or just eat a double portion myself. ^^). Health benefits aside, this stuff is also cheap as hell to make, which is a good thing for undergraduates and graduates alike who are on an extremely tight budget (that is about to get tighter… thank you, Mr. President. >_>).
- 3-4 chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2/3 cup milk (I use 2%… if you were looking for authenticity, then coconut milk would be good).
- 2 1/3 cups chicken stock (homemade and gluten free)
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 3-4 tbsp curry powder
- A small drizzle of honey, probably about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp.
- 2 cups frozen veggies (I use corn and green beans because I’m an American, but any frozen veggies will do)
- 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
- 1/4 cup celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 cup brown rice
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 bay leaves
- A dash of black pepper
- Brown chicken in olive oil in a sauce pan. After chicken is finished cooking, add milk, chicken stock, curry powder, and honey. Bring to boil.
- Mix corn starch with an equal amount of cold water. Combine with curry sauce and chicken mixture. Simmer for an obscene amount of time (i.e. until the thicken is so tender, it feels like biting into a soft, happy pillow of awesome. For me, this is usually at least an hour).
- Chop onion, carrots, and celery.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add bay leaves, rice, black pepper, and lemon juice. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add lentils.
- Just after adding the lentils, add the carrots, celery, and onions to the curry mixture (they take longer to cook than the frozen veggies do).
- When rice and lentil mixture has about 15 minutes left to cook, add frozen veggies to curry mixture. Continue simmering until the rice mixture is finished cooking.
When the curry is done, it will look something like this:
Similarly, the semi-mujadara looks a little something like this:
For absent friends, a curry care package can easily be made.
Of course, I make no claim to authenticity with this recipe. In fact, this is so American, I hesitate to call it curry. However, the very nature of the recipe sustains my purpose for it: something cost-effective, delicious, and something that the general public would consume.
Supporting Anecdote: Once upon a time, my dad got adventurous in the kitchen and made authentic Indian curry. Although my dad only used half of the curry powder recommended, he still thought it was too spicy, and my mother wouldn’t even touch it. I wound up consuming the whole batch bowl by bowl, mixing it with the mujadara to cut the spiciness back.
Moral: If you are interested in eating authentic curry, I suggest using this recipe as a baseline and gradually increasing the amount of curry powder used in the cooking process before diving right into the real McCoy.
Enjoy the recipe, everyone! I hope your first curry experience keeps you coming back for more!