I love curry. We have a number of different cultures represented at work and oh gosh, when some of my coworkers bring curries or other highly seasoned “leftovers” for lunch and warm them up in the microwave, I go nuts. The amazing aromas that fill the break room and sometimes spill out into the hallway leave me considering out right food theft.
Being brought up a white girl in the southern United States, salt and pepper were the mainstays for seasonings in my mother’s kitchen. After I got married and started cooking for my husband and me, my spice cabinet consisted mainly of iodized salt, ground black pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, poultry seasoning, parsley flakes, thyme (but only because of a baked chicken recipe given to me by my mother in-law) cinnamon, onion powder, and garlic powder. Now however, there are considerably more spices and herbs in my cabinets and I continue to learn about more and more wondrous seasonings as the world’s flavor borders blur.
I’d be lying if I tried to present myself as a curry expert. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about curries and have been surprised to learn that there are many different curry blends. A number of the spice ingredients for curries are quite common and easily available: cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves.
Of course there are also some more exotic spices which are not readily available in the average American supermarket. For instance, green cardamom pods have proven to be particularly elusive. Even a large Asian store in my area has stopped carrying them. Forget about finding them in the local supermarkets, even a particular store that is known for its wide variety of unusual food items from around the world. Oddly enough, I did finally find green cardamom pods in a small neighborhood grocery store near my daughter’s house. “The Store“, as it is called, caters to an eclectic group of shoppers and has completely won me over by the simple fact that in their tiny spice section they have left room for green cardamom pods.
Putting all of this aside, I want to tell you about this curry. It is wonderful and totally satisfied my recent curry cravings. I may have broken some rules while making this, but I kept telling myself that everything I had read about curry said that curry flavors change from household to household. But isn’t that true of pretty much every home recipe?
I used a variety of ingredients in this chicken curry and everything seemed to work together. In the recipe I give variable amounts of some ingredients, trying to account for variations in flavor preferences. At the last minute I decided to use a ready-made garam masala rather than make my own. I’ll save that one for another time.
Disclaimer: I did a lot of tasting during the preparation of this curry, making adjustments here and there. I’d advise you to do the same. Start with the smaller amounts listed in the recipe and work your way up. A lot of the flavor depends on the freshness of the spices being used. Older spices = less flavor. And garam masala? Its flavor is quite different from brand to brand. Taste as you go.