My passionate yet erratic affair with Indian food began in high school. One day, I arrived in home economics (although it wasn't technically that- rather, it wasn't allowed to be called that), to find
that we had a guest speaker. For the purpose of this blog, I'll refer to her as Mrs. Gupta.
Mrs. Gupta was a slightly taller woman, somewhere in her mid-fifties, with a bulky figure clad in a beautiful red and gold sari, a rich accent, and a no-nonsense attitude. For the next hour, she methodically
made her way back and forth across the makeshift cooking station that had been set up for her, shifting her way through the colorful spices and poking and prodding and simmering, all the while explaining what she was doing, what spices were common in Indian
food, and all sorts of other information.
I, of course, heard almost none of it. It was one of the too-numerous times that I was not well (which, it turns out, was due to the complications of a long term, undiscovered health issue, but that's
To be honest, the combination of ADD, sleep deprivation, and Mrs. Gupta's rich accent didn't exactly work in my favor, either.
At the end of her demonstration, Mrs. Gupta unveiled the giant amount of food that she had brought for all of us- each dish that she had explained how to prepare was included.
Among them were chicken tandoori, basmati rice, and a dish of vegetables in a very mildly spiced, yummy yellow sauce that had curry in it, which I never got the name of.
Each dish was wonderful- completely fantastic. I knew I needed to learn to make them; there was absolutely no other option.
I've wished many, many times that I'd forced myself to pay better attention to that woman, especially since I've never found another person who had such a matter of fact way of explaining the use of
spices. She didn't just tell us how to cook specific dishes- she educated us in the hallmarks of traditional Indian
Too bad I can't remember anything more than that.
But, I digress. Over the years, I've finally acquired a paste that allows me to make tandoori chicken. I've also learned (but not mastered) to cook the incredibly finicky basmati rice.
However, chicken and rice do not a meal make. And, while I truly love tandoori chicken, it's time to branch out.
In a nutshell, what my search includes is this:
-Other chicken dishes
-Yummy ways to cook vegetables (preferably using veggies which are cohesive with more traditional Indian food)
-How to make curry
-That potato dish (I WILL learn it. I will)
-A rockin' recipe for vegetable samosas (the ones that were really yummy included mainly potatoes and peas, if I remember correctly)
A big obstacle to my search so far has been my severe tree nut allergy, which prevents me from purchasing most of the pre-packaged 'recipe' spices that are available. I'm also allergic to coconut, which
doesn't make things much easier.
What I have managed to acquire, I've put below- along with the ingredients listed, in order on the package.
-Muchi Curry spice -
turmeric, cumin, black pepper, ginger, coriander, fenugreek, garlic, celery seed, cloves, cayenne pepper, caraway seed, white pepper, and mace
-Garam Masala spice-
black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and coriander
-Bombay Curry simmer sauce -
lists tomato paste, but doesn't describe the spices further than saying - er- 'Spices'
-Biryani concentrated curry paste-
described as a 'spicy coriander and cumin based sauce'
And so, the adventure continues... Although, it's less of an adventure than it is a frustrating, fruitless search so far.
Maybe, someday, I'll get a break that doesn't include horrendous recipes which actually call for red food dye or- erp- ketchup.
Until next time, fellow chef-like-persons!