Experience New Flavors By Cooking at Home

Just the other night, I was reminded of how cooking a dish from scratch really boosts its flavor. Rather than using a store-bought curry paste, I made a curry sauce from scratch. An incredible bouillabaisse of flavors was the result! And though the dish took a tad longer to prepare than throwing in a dollop or two of paste, it wasn’t that much more time-consuming. And the extra effort was very much worthwhile.

New Flavors

One of my cooking goals is to experience new flavors of the world – specifically Indian and Thai food. I didn’t grow up eating many (or any!) of these ethnic foods in Tennessee, but my days in Boston and Seattle helped change that. I’m looking forward to preparing such dishes at home, so I can learn more about what herbs and spices impart what type of flavor. And who knows, over time, I might get creative enough to make up a few dishes of my own.

Two for the ‘Net

I tried this recipe for Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew, found on Eat, Live and Run, a few weeks ago and thought it was delicious. Garam Masala gave this stew a new and interesting twist on the usual American meat step. I’m also excited to try this slow cooker dish from Kaylyn’s Kitchen for Vegan Black Garbanzo Bean Curry.  I have never eaten black garbanzo beans and look forward to trying them.

Curry Sauce

But back to the curry dish. I had made a wonderful one over ten years ago – yet another Jamie Oliver original – but knew the chances of finding the recipe were slim. (Sadly, many of his original recipes are harder and harder to find online, and a lot of the re-prints are altered). After searching for longer than I’d like to admit, I found it!

Below is the recipe, along with my alterations in italics.

Jamie Oliver’s Curry Sauce

Recipe is also found in Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef.

  • 5 TBSP vegetable oil (I probably used one)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 fresh green chilis (I used one but next time I will use two)
  • A handful of curry leaves, ripped into small pieces (I couldn’t find any so omitted)
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger (I chopped more because I love ginger)
  • 3 onions, peeled and chopped (I used two small ones and thought that was plenty)
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped (I chopped about 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 or 2 wineglasses of water (I used about 1 cup of chicken broth)
  • 12 ounce can of coconut milk
  • Salt

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Wait for them to pop then add the fenugreek, green chili, curry leaves and ginger. Stir and fry for a few minutes.

Chop the onions and add to the pan. When brown and soft, add the chili powder and turmeric.

Blend the tomatoes in a food processor and add to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add water and coconut milk simmer for about 5 minutes.

At this point, you can actually add chicken, fish or vegetables. I added a white fish to mine, skinned and de-boned, along with 2 teaspoons of tamarind paste and a bunch of spinach.

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Melinda Hinson