Mild Indian Curry
My husband is Indian and before I met him, I had not eaten Indian food. His mother was kind enough to write down her recipe for me. It is wonderfully versatile and can be used with beef (South African Indians eat beef), chicken, lamb, even hamburger! And it is soooo delicious! Adjust the amount of chili powder to determine how spicy you make it.
2 lbs (1kg) meat, cut up (see special instructions for hamburger, below)
1 medium onion
2 to 2 ½ heaped tsp masala (available in Indian groceries…I like garam masala)
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tomatoes, cut into tiny pieces or lightly pureed*
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp crushed ginger
½ tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp chili powder (more for spicier)
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup water
½ cup frozen baby peas (optional)
Salt to taste
Put meat in bowl and add all ingredients above except tomato, water, peas and oil. Mix thoroughly and set aside to marinate for 30-45 minutes (can be left in the fridge overnight). Heat oil in pot and add meat mixture. Brown meat thoroughly, then add tomato.
Cook at a slow simmer for about 10 minutes, then add water. Cook slowly, covered (with lid cocked to allow steam to escape) for about 1 hour or until meat is tender. Cooking time will depend on the tenderness of the meat you chose. Add peas as you take the curry off the stove, stir them in and allow to set for 3 minutes to allow peas to heat up.
Serve over a bed of basmati rice with sambals** and raita**.
Special instructions for hamburger curry
Raw hamburger is called “mince” in South Africa, and this is called "mince curry. "
Omit the oil. Brown the hamburger, chopping with the side of a spatula or wooden spoon to break it up. Add the dry spices while browning the hamburger so they will roast while the meat is browning. When the meat is crumbly, add tomato. Finish per instructions above. Peas are not optional but a regular part of this dish.
*In our family, we buy fresh tomatoes when they are in season and cheap, and we freeze them. We do not blanch them or peel them, just toss them into the freezer. When making curry, remove two tomatoes from the freezer and, using a hand grater, grate the frozen tomatoes and add to the pot. This gives the best possible consistency to the curry gravy. We also freeze fresh jalapeno peppers or bullet chilis and grate them into dishes like sambals (below)
**See recipes below
Sambals is really the same as Mexican Salsa. Easy to make, but refrigerate a few hours before serving to allow the flavours to marry.
1 large ripe tomato
½ medium onion
1 bullet chili or ½ jalapeno pepper,
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves (coriander, dhania)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Mince the tomatoes and onion. Grate the chili/pepper (easiest if frozen).
Combine in non-metal bowl and add remaining ingredients. Toss well, store in fridge for at least 2 hours before serving
Raita (pronounced RYE-tuh), is an essential accompaniment to curry, especially if your mouth is sensitive to spicy hot foods. Eaten with hot foods, it cools the mouth immediately while imparting its own unique flavour.
1 cup plain yoghurt
½ cup finely chopped cucumber, skin on
¼ cup onion, minced fine (optional)
Combine ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.