Curry In A Hurry

19 Sep

My first “apartment” in New York was near Gramercy Park.

Sadly, it wasn’t near enough in physical or mental location for me to have been granted a key to this urban oasis.  From our perch in Philadelphia, the apartment was marketed to my roommate and I as a dorm room for SVA.  What it actually was was a room in an SRO.

It wasn’t bad, the room was clean and in a good location, but the other residents were, uhm, a little sketchy.  And, as you may guess, it was inevitable really, that the union of wide-eyed newcomers and crusty, down-at-the-heel hardened New Yorkers led to someone getting robbed.

I will forever treasure the look on the one policeman’s face as he digested my reply to his question; “Were there any identifying characteristics to your laptop?” “Oh yeah! It was covered in glow-in-the-dark stars and fuzzy duckie stickers!”  Ah, youth!

So, there I was, even broker than I had started out, with 2-day-a-week internship and a 5-day-a-week $10-an-hour retail job.  But! At least I was in New York.  And, best of all, I was near the beating heart of cheap food in Manhattan, Curry Hill.

I have always loved curry, even the sort that comes out of a packet, but my tastebuds had become more sophisticated during a stint of sharing cooking duties in a co-op dorm with an honest to goodness girl from northern India.  She taught me so much.  And so when I ate curry in New York, I always aimed for the most sophisticated and authentic place I could afford.

Sadly, this was nearly always Curry In A Hurry.  Aside from the cute name, and truth in advertising (the food really does come out quickly), there’s not that much to recommend the place other than its extreme cheapness.  But, it kept me fed, and that’s what really counts.

Happily, I’ve come a long way since those days, and I now prefer to make my own curry whenever possible.  One of the things Isaac and I miss the most about our weekends in the City is the diversity of food available to us at all times.  So this past weekend, when we were both craving something a little adventurous, we settled on making a gorgeous, soothing, balanced squash curry.

This might be the healthiest thing I’ve ever cooked what with the fake meat, kefir (my new addiction), nuts, turmeric and spices, and it might also be the tastiest.  This is a home run recipe; it’s balanced, soothing, invigorating, comforting and best of all gosh darn tasty.

So, if you know someone that, like me, works in financial news, or at a bank, or for the government, or in any aspect of the world that touches the global financial system, they probably need a hug and a bowl of something warm and steamy after this past week.

So do him or her a favor and make them some curry.  And then let them sit on the couch and stare blankly at the wall.  It’s been a rough week!

Head below the jump for Ann’s Sweet & Spicy Squash Curry.

Sweet & Spicy Squash Curry

prep time: 40 minutes ~ cooking time: 45 minutes or so

Cook’s note: This recipe made enough curry for dinner for two plus two nights of leftovers, so it will comfortably serve six.

  • about 1/2 cup Textured Vegetable Protein
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 small Onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 hottish Peppers, sliced
  • 3 sweet Peppers, sliced
  • Garama Masala (I found this blend from Tanna’s to be amazingly delicious)
  • Turmeric
  • Chile Flake or Cayenne
  • 1 small Kabocha Squash (a little bigger than your fist) peeled and chopped
  • 1 small Acorn Squash (a little bigger than your fist) peeled and chopped
  • Water
  • Salt
  • 1 knob of Ginger (about an inch long, or to taste) peeled with a teaspoon and minced finely
  • a handful of roasted, chopped Cashews
  • Kefir
  • fresh Coriander, washed and picked, to taste

Place the Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) in a small bowl and cover with water.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large non-stick soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions.  Allow to soften then add the garlic and peppers.  Cook until the peppers soften.  Add the garam masala to taste (I used probably a tablespoon) and about half as much turmeric.  Add the chile flake or cayenne to taste.  Be a bit aggressive, the squash can take it.  Cook until fragrant, a few seconds.

Add the squash and turn to coat with the onions and peppers and spices, then add enough water to come about half-way up the squash.  Season with salt, add the minced ginger and TVP.

Bring the water to a boil and then turn heat down to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer until the squash is soft and beginning to break down. Uncover the pot and turn the heat down to low to keep the curry warm and to allow the flavors to concentrate and extra water to evaporate.  This is a good time to make some basmati rice.  The curry can hold at this stage for hours.

When the rice is done, add the cashews, another dash of turmeric and garam masala plus a glug of kefir to the curry.  Stir and allow the kefir to heat through.  Just before serving toss in the coriander.  Enjoy!

P.S. If your squash aren’t that sweet, add a teaspoon or so of honey to balance against the heat.


10 Responses to “Curry In A Hurry”

  1. danamccauley September 19, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    These are uncertain and stressful times. Curry is a good start but then I think if spirits are still low people should move right on to the hard stuff: Macaroni and Cheese followed by butterscotch pudding.

  2. maggie September 19, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    What a classic big-city story. Now that there’s a chill in the air, curry might be just the thing!

  3. Julie September 19, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    I’ll bet it has been a tough, wild week for you and I’m sure you’re more than looking forward to the weekend. Hope you’re actually getting one. A hug plus a nice hot bowl of something tasty and nourishing sounds like a good prescription. (It also sounds like an awful lot of people could use that prescription this week.)

    As always, I’m enjoying your pictures.

  4. Mary Coleman September 19, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    Chick..I hear ya! It’s been a helluva week in the financial world!
    It’s funny … I’ve had both shrimp and chicken curry in the past 10 days.
    Now I know why.
    I needed the hug.
    Take care!

  5. WillB September 19, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn. And fresh homemade bread. Need I say more?

  6. Lucy September 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    Very well put. Your curry recipe reads divinely. Hats off, and over my heart.

  7. Patricia September 22, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    How about chicken and dumpllings all ingredients from the local farmers market, free range chicken, fresh from the ground orange and yellow carrots, real celery and tiny onions – with fresh apple cider and homemade last of the season strawberry shortcake (with left over dumpling mix made into loose drop biscuits… makes my mouth water, had it last night and brought it 120 miles south on my trek to work in New York City, for lunch… then home to homemade pizza – with fresh farmers market mushrooms, assorted peppers, smoked chicken sausage and the last of the plum tomatoes crushed and boiled down for the sauce and topped with fresh cheese… eating from the market is my way of offsetting my trek back and forth daily … I sit on AMTRAK and plan wonderous dishes from the ingredients picked up on Suday mornings… Wednesday is fresh corn chowder with grilled cheddar cheese and fresh smoked bacon sandwiches!!! Viva Wednesday :-)

  8. Marie September 22, 2008 at 10:44 am #

    It’s funny how curry really does seem to work in times of emotional crisis. Like a sort of gastro epiphany it does something to the insides – de-knots, loosens, ah…I’d better stop there.

  9. kimberly September 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to let you know how much I love it. Your photos are amazing and the food looks delightful! Thanks for sharing with the rest of the world.

  10. ann September 24, 2008 at 11:10 am #

    Dana — I *heart* butterscotch pudding!! Great, thanks, now I’m obsessed ;-)

    Maggie — Let me tell you, it was quite the welcome!

    Julie — I’ve gotten lots of hugs, both real and virtual. Thank god things seem to be quieting down a bit!

    Mary — HA! curry cures all ills apparently!

    Will — I haven’t had meatloaf in ages. I guess I should fix that :-)

    Lucy — Thanks that’s sweet.

    Patricia — If you get to ride the Hudson line on Amtrak everyday I’m completely jealous. I love that train ride with all my heart. Almost more than homemade pizza… Almost…

    Marie — LOL. You’re funny :-)

    Kimberly — Thanks! What a nice compliment.

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