By Tom Havran
When I fix a great curry, I feel like I’m snuggling up to something warm, comforting and wholesomely good. The experience of fragrant spices, aromatic heat, and silky texture all combine to do more than simply satisfy my appetite; the effects of curry build to engulf all of my senses and nourish my whole being. If I’m feeling down, I turn to curry because it will give me an emotional lift. Curry is medicine that I love to take, a sort of gastro-therapy for my body, mind and spirit.
You can’t hurry love, nor can you hurry curry. It takes time to light this fire, and attention to detail before the dish can weave its complex culinary spell. Curry is a multilayered fusion of exotic spices, fresh aromatics and involved cooking techniques. Curry is born of a hands-on conjuring process that ultimately brings about a climax of sublime expression, proffered on a warm bed of pristine basmati or jasmine rice, with a side of pillowed flatbread.
If I wrote a book on this topic, I’d call it the Curry Sutra, and it would contain five steamy chapters. Here’s the brief for each:
1. Spices. SPICE is the spice of life! The seasoning line-ups, recipes and names for curries are as disparate as the preferences of the people that love them, resulting in an impossible-to-crack formula of match-making. There is no standard for a properly spiced curry, but most curries do share some fundamental DNA, having a core group of spices that includes earthy turmeric, smoky cumin, smoldering chili, lemony ginger and perhaps some nutty-floral coriander. After these, any combination from a long list of supporting spices gets involved in the affair: mustard, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace, black pepper, celery seed, caraway and fennel. The common denominator is a complex diversity of aroma, flavor and heat, blended into a coherent and dazzling expression — similar to the way a fine wine, symphony or perfume would be realized. Continue reading