Curry Powder - A Curry in Time
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
The word curry either invokes great enthusiasm or horror. In Eastern cultures curry is a staple; a flavorful and memory riddled dish. In the West curry seems to have inherited a reputation for being hot, spicy with pungent aromas that linger for days. But before we embrace or condemn it we need to know what curry is! Curry is misunderstood in name, flavors and origins. Curry though a simple 5 letter word, is a word rich in history. It is a word that not only represents delicious sauce dishes but also represents a history of invasion, colonization, and the spice trade.
Curry is a dish consisting of vegetables, meats or lentils in a sauce and spices typically served with rice. It is the stew/ragout of the East. While curry is synonymous with India, most of Asia and Africa has its own curry. Thai green curry from Thailand, kare raisu in Japan, maafe in Nigeria, rendang from Indonesia and so many others that don't necessarily have the word "curry" in them but would be classified as one.
The word curry did however originate from India but due to a misunderstanding more than design. The suggested story is when the Portuguese landed in Goa, India in the 1500's, they asked what the locals were eating and they said Khari (sauce in Tamil) or Caril referring to the dish and spices used. That is when the word curry was born and is used till today. During the 18th century, Indian merchants created a blend in order to allow for easy export of the spices to Europe. This is what we now know as curry powder.
Curry powder is not readily used in India. It is a blend heavily used in Britain and former British colonies. Each colony modified their curry powders to suit their palate but the base ingredients are identical. These blends can be found from mild to hot to suit any taste. It is such a simple blend consisting of few spices and yet pack a punch into dishes. Curry powder can be used as a rub, into savory pie doughs, aioli or ketchup. The possibilities are endless...
In our home, we never used curry powder. Like I've mentioned before it isn't one widely used in India and not a blend I personally cared for. Although in Kenya, my neighbors (Ugandan-Kenyans) would use it liberally in their meals. I remember as a little child watching them sitting over pots stirring away these rich looking dishes that smelt heavenly. But even that wasn't enough to invoke any strong feelings towards curry powder.
Years later, on a visit to Japan, I got to learn of and try the Japanese Kare Raisu (curry rice). This is a dish that mixes Indian flavors with French flavors and techniques. Further I sampled the Kare Pan (curry bread- curry flavored meat or vegetables in a sauce, filled into a panko crusted doughnut). May I confess my life has not been the same ever since. Foods with curry powder never quite appealed to me before but somehow this "pan" had me searching for recipes to replicate them at home. I was obsessed with curry powder, my pantry stocked with many store bought blends but it was never the same. That is when One Good Knife Curry powder was created. I want to change minds about curry as have I. Curry powder doesn't have to be molten lava hot in your mouth or the extreme pungent mix that sets into the couch. Curry powder can be sophisticated yet simple, savory yet sweet and elegant yet powerful.
Butternut Squash-Chickpea Curry
Time: 1 hr 30 mins
1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight or 1 can chickpeas (liquid drained)
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons coconut oil (or any neutral oil)
1 medium red onion, cubed
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1" ginger piece, minced
3 teaspoons One Good Knife Curry Powder
1 can coconut milk
1 cup kale or spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 lemon's juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cilantro for garnish
Skip this step if you're using canned chickpeas. In an instapot cook the chickpeas with the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt for 20 mins on multigrain setting, normal heat with the vent closed. On the stove top cook in a tight lidded pot for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside with water.
In a pot on medium heat warm the oil. Saute the squash till caramelized.
Add in the onions and sauté till translucent.
Add in the garlic, ginger, 1/4 teaspoon salt and One Good Knife Curry Powder. Saute for 30 seconds.
Pour in the coconut milk and stir.
Simmer for 6-8 mins or till squash is soft. (you'll need a splash guard as it tends to bubble and splatter)
Puree the squash mixture then return back into the pot.
Add in the chickpeas and bring to a simmer (use splash guard). Simmer for 5 mins to thicken.
Stir in the kale or spinach and the lemon juice. Turn of the heat, cover and let the residual heat cook the greens*. Leave for about 5 mins
Garnish with cilantro
*We like our greens with bite but feel free to simmer little longer if you prefer them softer.