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Who Put Buttermilk In My Curry?

23 May

When I first saw this post from Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks, I knew a few things immediately.

1. I wanted it right now.

2. That when I emailed it to the boy, he’d want it right now as well.

3. That I had to come up with an excuse to make it as soon as humanly possible.

and 4. That it would taste a helluva lot better with some chicken and a lot more heat.

Well, I didn’t have to wait very long. Saturday was beautiful, bright, sunny, and the boy was sick. Like, pitiful sick. Like, not moving from the couch sick. It was kinda heartbreaking. So, not to sound like June Cleaver or anything, but, when the boy gets sick, my immediate urge is to cook him something. And what better to try and scare away some nasty upper respiratory monsters than a wicked spicy curry?

I had my excuse!

Off I tromped to Dowel Quality Products to pick up some spices and other assorted oddities. If you live in NYC and have never been here, shame on you. If you’re visiting NYC and have some room in your suitcase (and you aren’t afraid of your clothes smelling like curry) stop by to pick up some wonderful spices, snacks and food and beauty products.

For this dish I only needed black mustard seeds but I was seduced by the green cardamom, kalonji (black onion seed, aka Nigella sativa), curry leaves and frozen paneer. I figured I could come up with some way to use them in the lentils I was planning to make to accompany the curry.

Alas, when I got home and was excitedly sniffing all my spices I realized something was amiss. I’ve never bought curry leaves before but I have a pretty solid suspicion that they shouldn’t smell like ammonia. Oh well, at least they were cheap!

I had to move into multi-culti mode then, because I just didn’t think that cardamom scented black lentils would be a strong enough flavor to cut through the boy’s head cold. I settled upon using some Pimenton de la Vera to add some serious heat and a lovely hint of smokiness that would be redolent of my favorite meat, bacon!

Just as Heidi said it would, the curry came together in a snap! The lentils, on the other hand, were as stubborn as cloned mules. They just would not cook. I didn’t add salt, I did nothing different from the last time I cooked them. I was expecting everything to be done in about 15 minutes, but those stupid little legumes just refused, taking well over 45 minutes to bend to my will. But, in the end, I got them. Not only were they cooked, they were damn tasty too… Bwaaahahahah… Oops, sorry, back to our regularly scheduled cooking show…

And just to keep with my Croatia obsession, we drank a wonderful white from the Island of Krk topped off with a little mineral water (aka bevanda style). The light acidity and fresh fruit sweetness of the wine really cut through the heat and flavors, and the lovely bubbliness from the water kept the whole meal feeling very fresh and healthy.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering about the rice, no, I did not suddenly become capable of cooking delicious, perfect rice. But I did buy it from someone who could.

Head below the break for my version of Heidi’s curry and a recipe for some multi-culti lentils.

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