Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Adventures of Curry

For some unknown reason I got thinking about curry a couple months ago.
I’m not sure how it’s slipped by me over the years but I’d very rarely had curry… yet here I was thinking about it.
We visited Mitsuwa Marketplace in Costa Mesa and had lunch in their food court where I had curried pork cutlets over rice and really enjoyed it. But it didn’t satisfy my craving for more.
Then, when we went to Super King Market recently for the pickle ingredients I found a great selection of curry mixes. One of the packages was labeled ‘mild,’ was less than a pound, and had a recipe on the back. Into the shopping cart it went.

Now, I figured that following the recipe on the back of the curry package would work good and we’d have a great dinner. I mean, if the company that makes it doesn’t know how to make a good meal with it, who does? Well, all I can say is that perhaps something was lost in the English translation. For starters, the recipe had me putting eight tablespoons of curry into the pan. That seemed a little excessive even to my un-curried eye. Then there were no liquids added to the dish. At this point I had a pan of rapidly browning onions, garlic, and chili that were all coated with a thick curry paste – and I was supposed to let it sauté for another ten minutes before I added the browned chicken back in and let cook until tender. This wasn’t going to work at all. I added some water and made the best out of the dish as I could but this was far and away not the best dinner I’ve ever made.

I turned to my reliable Google and found this recipe for Pakistan Punjabi Chicken Curry that sounded good. A package of chicken thighs that were on sale and we’re ready to do battle.

Let me interject here, if you don’t know how to bone chicken you’re really shorting yourself on the kitchen experience. I usually use whole chicken thighs because they are more flavorful and don't dry out like chicken breasts can, and they are a whole lot less expensive. Upon occasion, like this one, I want boned chicken meat. A couple swipes with a sharp knife and chicken thighs are boned and ready to go. If you've never boned chicken thighs you owe it to yourself to at least look at a site like this one from and give it a try. It really is easy. Almost as easy as cutting up a whole chicken, another valuable skill.

If I was truly thrifty I'd save the bones and skin to make a nice chicken stock. But to tell the truth, I pitch them in the bin. I buy chicken stock by the case at either Costco or Sam's Club. I just don't have the room to store home made stock until I need it.

This meal turned out pretty good. This was a two-glasses-of-milk dish for Fayme so it wasn’t too terribly spicy, and the curry flavor itself was not overwhelming. However, it left me somehow unsatisfied. It didn’t really reach out and grab me by the scruff of the neck. I think next time I’ll try this with some chopped cilantro sprinkled over the top and also use some Mahatma Saffron Rice instead of plain white rice. Just those two items alone may brighten this dish into something more special. If they don’t, I’ll think of something else to try.

Happy cooking!