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Southeastern Asian cultures have always mixed a number of spices to flavour their dishes. In India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, housewives, according to recipes handed down from generation to generation, often blend curries.
Contrary to common western belief, curries are not always “hot”; they be mild, medium and hot. To make a “hot” curry mild, all one must do is add coconut milk.
Essentially, the term curry was invented by the English administrators of the East Indian Trading Co. and later continued by British government employees. In India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Maldives, practically all curries (here called garam masala) and mixed just before use.
Some of the spices are dry roasted, blended and ground, or pounded in a mortar with a pestle.
In Western Europe and the U K, curry powders available contain more turmeric than anything else, and tend to be toned down to palates used to bland food.
Here is a curry recipe you might want to try:
In a small skillet, toast spices separately as follows over medium-low heat, shaking pan, until slightly darkened and fragrant: coriander seeds, 5 – 6 minutes; white cassia barks, cloves, nutmeg 2 – 3 minutes; fennel-, cumin and aniseeds 1 –2 minutes; fenugreek seeds, 30 seconds; turmeric and cayenne, just until a shade darker, 10 seconds.
In clean coffee grinder, grind toasted spices (except turmeric and cayenne) and black and green cardamom to fine powder. Strain through fine sieve into a bowl. Return and coarse bits to grinder and grind until fine; add to bowl. Mix in turmeric and cayenne. Let cool completely.
Make ahead and keep in an airtight container in cool, dark, dry place for up to a month) Makes ½ cup.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu
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