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Friday, February 14, 2020

Falling in Love with Curry


                                           Red prawn curry had me at "hello"

Curry has cast a spell on me.  Even the word curry gives me goosebumps and makes my heart skip a beat.  Regardless of if it’s Malaysian, Thai, or Indian, curry has me head over heels.   A few years ago I even flew to Malaysia just to take a curry cooking class from one of the country’s most famous cooking teachers.   I am currently in Vietnam where some type of curry is on every menu.  I'm almost giddy. 

While I’ve  always known that curry was a blend of seductive spices and herbs, I didn’t know until my class in Malaysia that an authentic curry is made lovingly from all fresh ingredients (no powders of any kind).   Prior to the class the teacher took us to the local market where we procured a bounty of all the ingredients for several different types of curry.  The smells alone of the raw ingredients were intoxicating.

                                Green veggie curry made the strings of my heart sing

Some of the components I knew (such as fresh ginger, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, chiles, tamarind, palm sugar, shrimp paste, cilantro, fish sauce, cinnamon bark, whole nutmeg, and fresh bay leaves).  Others I had heard of but never used (fresh kaffir lime leaves, fresh turmeric and its leaves, coriander root, fresh fenugreek, as well as fresh coconut milk).  Then, there were components I had never seen or heard of such as aromatic galangal (a member of the ginger family).    

We made many different types of curry from the above ingredients.  One was Panang curry (named after the city in which the cooking class was taught, this is a red curry similar to a red Thai curry).  Another was a milder green curry (flavored with lots of cumin and turmeric, with additions of cinnamon and nutmeg).   Meat was used in a few, poultry in another, and vegetables in yet another.   All were labor intensive labors-of-love…all were cooked on outside stoves in 90+ degrees with 90+ humidity.  In spite of the difficult conditions, I haven't been able to stop thinking of the seductive flavors of these curries.

My love for curry is unconditional and eternal.   Happy Valentine’s Day!



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