I like Indian food although I am somewhat new to the world of it. We have gone out for it on occasion, especially when we lived in New Hampshire. There was an Indian restaurant there that had really good tea that Lola loved, so even though the food was good, it would be the tea that she would crave. I don’t think we have had it down here in Rhode Island yet, and I am not even sure where the best Indian restaurant is (suggestions welcome). I find Indian food a good alternative when you are having that conversation of what to eat and coming up uninspired.
“Not feeling it.”
“How about Indian?”
“Indian? We haven’t had that in a while. Yeah, that sounds different.”
It’s hope. Something different. A new alternative. When we go, I still have trouble concentrating on the menu in an Indian restaurant because there are so many options and I am not confident in what I am ordering. But usually I am happy with a chicken dish that I can dip some good naan into and sop up all the goodness. The sauces are always tasty and a lot of that comes down to the curry.
The idea of curry began in India naturally, but the word curry was invented by British colonialists in the 18th century. Most likely a bastardization of the Indian word kari (meaning sauce), it refers to a number of saucy dishes flavored with curry powder or curry paste. By the beginning of the 18th century, the Dutch and the British were selling standardized curry powders. At the Universal Paris Exhibition of 1889, a curry decree set the composition of curry as having prescribed amounts of tamarind, onion, coriander, chilli pepper, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, pepper, and mustard. While there is no rigid definition of “a curry,” many restaurants use it as a generic term for sauce-based dishes that can vary in spice content and heat, and can contain meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, coconut milk, onions, fresh ginger, kaffir lime leaves and other ingredients.* To me, I associate curry with the smell. It’s very aromatic and lingers. In fact, that’s one of my complaints about going out for Indian: your clothes end up smelling like curry. That’s something I would list in the con column. I never like it when people know what I have been eating by getting a whiff of my clothes.
I looked to the internet for my inspiration today and I found a recipe on Food Network.com for Curried Chicken Thighs. I had pretty much all the ingredients except for the chicken thighs and curry powder, so I picked that up at the store along with some basmati rice to make it authentic. It was actually pretty easy to make. I did start out on the wrong foot by using a too small pan, but after switching it over, I was back on track. You start by frying the chicken thighs so the skin gets crispy. Then you remove the chicken and cook some onions. Then the spices go in. Curry powder is naturally in there, but also cumin, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. You cook that for a bit, then add in some chicken broth, put the chicken back in along with some veggies and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then mix in some cream. It really was easy.
I served it on a plate of the basmati rice. Lola had read what I was making earlier and she could certainly smell it. I thought she’d be more excited for it because she is usually a fan of spicy food and sauces, but she was only mildly interested. In her defense, she was probably a bit overwhelmed by the smells plus she had eaten a late lunch, so she wasn’t all that hungry. The chicken came out nice and moist. I wish the skin had gotten more crispy but I kind of messed that up by having to switch pans in the middle of cooking. The sauce was good too. It had the flavor of all the spices, but wasn’t as overpowering as I thought it would be. I was surprised to notice the subtle hint of the cinnamon in the bites. The broccoli was good too as it soaked up the flavor of the sauce. The basmati rice balanced it all out. All in all, I was pretty pleased. Lola liked it but, again, she didn’t have much of an appetite today. On another day, she would have really enjoyed it. My only error was that I forgot the naan!
Today was also Kiss a Ginger Day, so I did that too (after I brushed my teeth and removed the curry remnants of course). It’s nice to have a ginger in-house for just such occasions. Lola and I discussed this celebration too. We were trying to figure when gingers became their own culture. When did they break away from everyone else and start trumpeting their importance? Apparently gingers are a dying breed (although that story has been debunked), but is that why they seem to be cheering their own existence; because they are worried about their future? Maybe they are just proud people. Lola is the rarest of the rare having red hair and blue eyes – a combo that makes up less than 1% of the population (there are more albinos in the world than there are red-haired, blue-eyed people). I guess this is something to be proud of, so I won’t rain on this ginger parade. I’ll kiss one so I am blessed with luck (it’s worked so far), and I’ll honor their importance to a colorful world. I’ll even make one dinner. I hope Indian is ok.
Next Up: National Peach Melba Day