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From: America's Test Kitchen Live!
by Cook's Illustrated

Gather and prepare all of your ingredients before you begin. You may substitute a scant 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for the jalapeno, adding it to the skillet with the other ground dried spices. If you don't have a minichopperfor pureeing the garlic and ginger, use a microplane grater. As for choosing combinations of meat or fish with vegetables, we like the following: top sirloin or lamb with potatoes, chicken with zucchini, and shrimp with peas, but feel free to create your own pairings. Serve this curry with basmati rice.
Serves 4 to 6

Whole spice blend (optional)
• 1½ cinnamon sticks
• 4 ground cloves
• 4 green cardamom pods
• 8 black peppercorns
• 1 bay leaf

• 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
• 1 recipe Whole Spice Blend
• 1 medium onion, sliced thin
• 4 large garlic cloves, pureed in a minichopper with 1 tablespoon water (about 2 tablespoons)

• 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, pureed in a minichopper with 1 to 2 teaspoons water

• 1½ pounds top sirloin
OR boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes, OR 6 chicken thighs, skinned, OR 1½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• Salt
• 3 canned plum tomatoes, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon juice  OR 2/3 cup crushed tomato  OR 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

• 2 bunches (1½ pounds) spinach, stemmed, washed, and chopped coarse (optional)

• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
• 2 cups water
• 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed and cut in half through the stem end

• 1/2 cup channa dal (Indian split peas)
OR 4 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes, OR 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, OR 1 cup green peas

• 2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (use the lesser amount if you've already added the optional cilantro)

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or soup kettle, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. If using the Whole Spice Blend, add it to the oil and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until the cinnamon stick unfurls and the cloves pop, about 5 seconds. Otherwise, simply add the onion to the skillet; saute until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, or browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic, ginger, selected meat (except shrimp), ground spices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the tomatoes or yogurt; cook, stirring almost constantly, until the liquid evaporates, the oil separates and turns orange, and the spices begin to fry, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the skillet or kettle size. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the spices smell cooked, about 30 seconds longer.

3. Stir in the optional spinach and/or cilantro. Add the water and the jalapeno and season to taste with salt; bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the meat is tender, 20 to 30 minutes for chicken, 30 to 40 minutes for beef or lamb.

4. Add the selected vegetable (except green peas); cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Add the shrimp and/or peas if using. Simmer 3 minutes longer and serve.

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