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Curry for Cold Nights

Icy winter nights, the kind you get when the day’s temperature barely goes above 19F (-7C) – if that, and never mind the wind chill – and you’ve spent hours shoveling snow or navigating ice-slick streets, well, those kind of cold nights call for something to warm you up from the inside out. And no, bourbon isn’t always the answer. Try a curry instead. It’s flexible comfort and warmth in a pan.

You can really pull a curry together from almost any vegetables and proteins you have in your kitchen, and with just a few basic spices on hand, you control the level of heat too. Add more jalapeno if you like things spicier, or overindulge on the garam masala if you love the slow build of heat in the back of your throat (that’s how it gets me, anyway). Along with some curry paste or powder, keep a can of coconut milk in your cupboard to help make a rich, complex dish that can nourish the winter-weary body and soul.

Anyway, here’s my most recent curry variation: 

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil and 1 Tbsp ghee (or 2 Tbsps canola oil if you don’t have ghee)
  • one small onion, diced,
  • half inch ginger, diced,
  • about 4-5 small red potatoes (or 2-3 larger ones) – roughly cubed ,
  • 3 carrots – cut into bite-sized pieces,
  • 1 15oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with jalapeno,
  • 1 can coconut milk,
  • Spices: 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp coriander (ground), and about 1 tsp curry powder (optional)

Start a large pan (I like to use my trusty old Le Creuset braiser, but any large saute pan will do) over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the pan is properly hot, add the diced onions and the ginger. Give the onions about three to four minutes to start softening. It’s ok if they brown a bit but don’t let them stick to the pan too much.

Add the potatoes and carrots and let them get a bit of color. After four to five minutes, add the spices and stir thoroughly so that all the vegetables are well coated. Let the spices heat a bit. You may notice things starting to stick to the bottom of the pan – that’s ok but if you start smelling a strong burnt smell, it’s high time to add the liquids. And you may want to turn down the heat a bit (using your nose to let you know where you are with your dish is a key part of cooking). Keep stirring too.

Add the tomatoes and coconut milk, stir everything together, and let things come to boil. Once you see the first bubbles break on the surface, turn the heat down to low, and cover the pan. Let the curry simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes. Check on it periodically, and stir if it looks like things are sticking to the pan. If the whole thing is too liquid, leave the lid off for part of the cooking time so it can reduce a bit. After about 20 minutes or so, start checking the potatoes and carrots for edibleness, and turn off the heat once they are as done as you like them. I don’t like my potatoes to be falling apart, but go with what you like. With the heat low, and the occasional stir to prevent burning, you can deepen the flavor by keeping the curry on the stove longer. I’d probably draw the line at 40 minutes so things don’t get too dry, but you should experiment.

Serve in a deep plate or bowl over brown rice (I like to make it in the oven a la Alton Brown) or with a pan-crisped tortilla, or naan or other bread for sopping up the sauce. I find that a beer goes very well with this curry, but some green tea might be nice as well.

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2 Responses

  1. Sounds so nice and simple – comfort food! I will try this.

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