Adventure in Spiceland

One of my 'New Year To-Dos' last year was to make three different meals that I've never made before from different cultures around the world. Since it didn't happen last year, I've been attempting to actually succeed this year. It's been going well this year already: Korean Spicy Bulgogi, and Mexican Chiles en Nogada. But what I really want to learn is how to make Indian curry

The Fiancé and I hit up a local Chapters for a 'cookbook'. I'm picky about my cookbooks though.... I really could care less how many recipes a cookbook has. What I look for in a cookbook is an explanation of the basic cooking methods, flavours or ingredients and some history of the type of cuisine the book is about. Essentially, I want to learn how to make the food; I already know how to follow a recipe. I found one book called '50 Great Curries of India' by Camellia Panjabi which fit the bill. (And I get the hilariousness of 'not caring how many recipes a cookbook has' XD). The book started with a lovely intro from the Indian hospitality mogul who 'collected' the recipes. (Fun fact about these anthologies is that typically they are compilations of recipes from many different people, not just one.) Anyway, regardless of whether the name on the cover actually wrote a word of the cookbook, I want the information and I want it to be accurate. In this cookbook there's about 50 pages of well written background of Indian curries and spices and acidifiers. Also how and why they are used. Yay! Learning!

Below is a recipe I made from that new cookbook, but edited so it's easier to follow. NOTE: First time making it, It Will at least 2 hours to make this curry properly so heads up that it's not a lazy late dinner type meal. (Which I learned the hard/h-angry way. Haha.)

Cauliflower Gashi (or Aloo Gobi - Cauliflower Potato Curry)

This curry really comes in three parts. First is to make your coconut milk (or if you super don't want to you can just buy a can. You'll need at least 2 cups). Second is to make the spice paste. And third is to make the actual curry itself.

Coconut milk:

1/2 cup fresh chopped coconut**
2 cups warm water

  1. Combine fresh coconut and warm water.
  2. Let soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Blend together well and strain out coconut with a fine mesh sieve. Set aside milk. (If you make this way ahead you can store it in the fridge. It may separate but don't fret! A good stir and some heat will bring it back together. Also, you won't be using the left over coconut mulch. But I'm looking into what can be done with it!)

** I found fresh coconut in the 'fruit salad section' at a reasonably fancy grocery store. It was even cut up already. I think some other grocery stores sell it whole. If you hit up a Indian or Asian market though, it's relatively common.


Spice Paste:

3 TBSP oil, separated
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup fresh chopped coconut
5 whole dried red chiles
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
2 cloves
4 black peppercorns
2 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika

  1. Heat 2 TBSP oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Cook onion and coconut together, stirring frequently, until they start to brown. Remove from heat.
  3. While the onion and coconut cool, combine chiles, coriander, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns into a bowl. Heat 1 TBSP oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add spices and cook for 1 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. In a food processor or blender, combine cooked onion, coconut, and spices. Add tamarind, turmeric, paprika and 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth and paste-like. Makes about 11/4 cups.

**I got ALL these spices from Bulk Farm. That's right, the knock off Bulk Barn. Haha. And it was way less expensive than buying them from the grocery store too. You can buy as much or little as you want. To store them, I use IKEA spice jars. They're relatively cheap but still look nice and seal well.



1 1/2 TBSP minced ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tsp minced garlic (or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped)
Spice Paste (~1 1/4 cups)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Half a head of cauliflower, cut into florets

Coconut Milk (~2 cups)

  1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Cook ginger for 2 minutes. Add onions and cook until clear, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the spice paste and stir everything together well. Cook for 2 minutes and then add 1/2 cup water. Stir together.
  5. Add potatoes and salt, stir to cover potatoes in curry sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup water, stir to combine, and cover frying pan with a lid. Cook for 8-10 minutes, lid on.
  6. Add cauliflower florets and coconut milk. Stir together. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature (low-med) and simmer curry until potatoes are cooked and cauliflower is tender, at least 30 minutes. Serve over white rice.

Super yum. Also, you can always use fresh ginger and garlic too. I buy pre-minced stuff all the time so I just use that instead. Time saver and hands-constantly-smelling-of-garlic saver.

The recipe did take a lot longer than I initially had thought (like almost 3 hours) but the next day when the Fiancé took the leftovers to work, his coworkers lucky enough to get curries for dinner all the time were surprised that we spent so little time cooking! Haha. Lesson learned! Good curry takes a good chunk of time! I look forward to making many more recipes from this book. (And hopefully I'll get the hang of it and be able to make my own!)



The Half-Assed Hobbyist