Yeah, I know all curry is Indian except when it’s American or Caribbean and the difference is the richness of the spice blends. The Europeans knew what they were doing when the set out to discover a shorter route to India to get spices. I am just surprised that as bad as English and German food is they didn’t get there first.
The biggest difference is that so called Curry powder from the Western Hemisphere has coriander and cumin as the principle ingredients with lesser amounts of garlic and turmeric in the blend whereas the Indian blend of garam masala is built around cumin, black pepper, and coriander and you are expected to add your own garlic and turmeric. In the Caribbean or American version you are expected to add either hot pepper or black pepper respectively.
Now many people would think I am nuts to make a spicy Indian Curry for my Granddaughters, but I was just dying to try Indian Recipes with all the spices I found in the DC area so I could see the real difference between eastern and western curry. I chose three curry recipes from Monica at spicediary.com, curried pinto beans, curried garbanzos and curried king prawn. Then I let my older granddaughter choose the one she wanted to eat. And she chose curried shrimp which is more readily available and cheaper than King Prawns. I also made a back-up dinner in my coffeepot of Chicken and red beans to be served over white rice which is the way I also chose to serve the curried shrimp.
Staging The Spices
I read the recipe carefully and recognized that this was a fast moving recipe using spices I simply wasn’t familiar with so I staged the spices in bowls and scaled it down at the same time. This way I would be sure I wouldn’t make any mistakes while exploring food in unfamiliar territory. I was so excited after making and sampling my first masala (spice blend) that I had a mental meltdown and stopped taking pictures.
The meal came out fantastic. My oldest granddaughter loved it and ate up plenty of shrimp while saving room for some chicken. The youngest ate a couple but as expected preferred the chicken and I ate only the curried shrimp.
Unless you make it yourself from fresh spices, it’s difficult to describe how delicious this meal is and how different it is from what the Western world refers to as curry. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t take pictures of this meal you can go to Monica’s site and check out her original recipe as I altered a couple of ingredient and also scaled it down to being a little more than enough for one big eater.
Curried Shrimp Ingredients
First spice blend
1 small Onion
5 small garlic cloves
2 inches of ginger root peeled
bunch fresh chopped coriander (cilantro) (2 Tablespoons)
Blend all together in food processor or blender, you may have to add a little olive oil.
In my fondue pot at medium heat, add;
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 dried black cardamom crushed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 stalk lemon grass cut in 2 inch pieces.
Once the pot starts to sizzle, add the First spice blend which is a paste. After everything was uniform, I added the bowl that had
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Tumeric powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garam masala
I stirred on high for 10 minutes and added a can of diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
After 5 minute,I added
½ pound shrimp
After cooking for 10 minutes
2 ounces of water was added and the heat tuned to low and
I tablespoon of sour cream added.
The heat was turned of and the food let sit in a covered pot, while I put out the white rice and chicken on the table and everything was served together.
This sounds like a lot of work but everything moves extremely quickly which is why I pre-measured the spices and put the spice portions in their separate bowls.
I think this was definitely worth the effort and will probably cook this with my daughter when she comes down next week.
A note on the spices:
There is absolutely no substitute for black cardamon, fresh ginger or fresh coriander (cilantro). You could make a simple garam masala or simply use West Indian Curry with a substantial portion of black pepper. You could probably get away with lemon zest instead of lemon grass. However, if the goal is to taste the difference between east and west , than take the time to find the real ingredients. For me Lemon Grass was the easiest as I had just replanted my lemon grass bed in order to rejuvenate it so I had some fresh young sprouts.