Sunday, September 28, 2008
I love curry—I love it in practically all forms. Of course, as Eberle points out (as was pointed out to her once by a pal of hers), curry isn’t a specific blend of spices, but rather a way of cooking.
Yes, this is true, but I’m not enough of an expert to try to tackle such a subject in any intelligent way. I do know what I like, & what I can make, however, & thought some of you folks out there might like this particular dish, too. In fact, at least a few folks who read this blog regularly have been served this, & seemed to like it quite well.
I can’t claim that this is really an original recipe, though it is a fair departure from its ultimate source. It’s based on a recipe in my all-time favorite cookbook: The Africa News Cookbook by Tami Hultman. Sadly, this book has been out-of-print for some time, though you can still pick it up used on the web. My fruit curry recipe—which is mostly vegetarian at any rate, & can be completely vegetarian or vegan quite easily (see ingredient list & explanations)—is based on the “Quick Fruit Curry” recipe in that book; however, the cookbook recipe uses both chicken & peanuts, & doesn’t use garbanzos, bell peppers, or broth.
1 cup of dried garbanzos
4 tablespoons of your preferred cooking oil (olive is nice) or 2 tablespoons of cooking oil & 1-2 tablespoons of butter—this makes very yummy curry!
1 yellow onion, chopped (I chop it a bit on the fine side)
5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced (you can moderate this if you’re not garlic fiends like Eberle & I—but it’s very good for you & it wards off vampires)
1 heaping tablespoon of curry powder (or garam masala, or half & half curry & garam masala)
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cardamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne or 1 or 3 hot peppers (you need some heat to match the fruit’s sweetness—I like food quite hot, so moderate to taste)
1 bell pepper, chopped (when I say “one” I mean the general size of the standard issue supermarket bell pepper; when I use Eberle’s tasty homegrown ones—better by far, but significantly smaller—I use two or three)
1 apple, peeled, cored & chopped (the variety doesn’t matter too much, but I’d stay away from really tart varieties like Granny Smith or Delicious)
½ cup (or more) dried apricots
½ cup of raisins (one of the few organic foods you can buy in Council, ID! Golden raisins are good, too, & look very nice when cooked)
Juice of 1 lime (or lemon, if you swing that way)
1 cup of broth (now here’s where the rubber meets the road vegetarian-wise; I’ll admit that I usually make this with chicken broth; but I’ve made this for a few vegetarian friends—& Robert Frost’s Banjo readers!—& on those occasions have used the broth from cooking the garbanzos; it works very well! If you’re doing something heinous like using canned garbanzos—yeah, I’ve done that in an emergency, too—then you could of course use a cup of organic vegetable broth)
Optional: feta or other goat cheese, crumbled, to sprinkle on top. Sometimes we do this, sometimes we don’t. I think Eberle likes it a bit better with cheese (she also likes it quite well without), while I might like it a bit better with no cheese (but also like it with—amazing—something I’d actually prefer without cheese!) Obviously, the cheese makes a more complete protein—good for you vegetarians, bad for you vegans, a matter of taste for everyone else.
Also—those three fruits work well, but you could experiment with others.
So—cook the garbanzos until they’re tender (done, but remember, they will be cooked on low heat with the other ingredients later on; & I’m assuming everyone out there knows the quirks of soaking/cooking beans at their particular elevation etc.). Then in a separate heavy pot (I like using a 5.5 quart Creuset round oven as per the pic, but you can make do with something a bit smaller), saute the onions in the oil (or oil & butter) until they’re golden, & add the spices & garlic. Then several minutes down the line, add the green peppers, then the fruit, then the broth, then the lime. Let all this simmer away on some pretty low heat—remember, there’s a lot of natural sugar in there with the fruit, so this will burn if you have the heat up; & obviously, you should be keeping this moving with a spoon from time to time; I don’t typically time this, but I’d say 15-20 minutes from when the last of these ingredients are added until you add the beans—a bit longer is always better, assuming you keep the heat low. Once the garbanzos are tender, add them to the pot, & stir them in. I like the garbanzos to be in with the other ingredients a good 15-20 minutes on low heat—but again, within reason longer is better, as it gives everything a chance to meld nicely.
Traditionally, foods such as this are served over a starch called fufu. Back in my Bay Area days, I had occasion to try fufu at a couple of African restaurants. I’ll just say it seems to be an acquired taste. If you’re adventurous, you can find some recipes for fufu here. Otherwise, serve the curry over rice, & decide: cheese or no cheese? Then, enjoy!