Thursday, March 4, 2010

Curry and Spice and Everything Nice

Before I start in about how wonderful curry is, and it is wonderful, I would like to apologize for my current and up coming infrequency in my blogging. I usually try to make at least one post per week ... being new at this I fear I will run out of material if I post more than that. However, the month of March and maybe a little bit of April will be incredibly hectic for me and as such I won't be able to be as dedicated to my blog. Oh I will make an effort to keep it up, but sometimes life gets in the way and this time I'm sure there will be at least one week where my belongings are packed away that I won't be able to access my blog, because, you see, I'm moving.

I was given a promotional job offer for another town and accepted. So my partner and I are packing up our things and moving up island, away from the busy bustle of the city (if you can call Victoria busy) up to the lovely quite town of Parksville. Hopefully it's a good move and we won't have any regrets, but never say never. In the meantime, I am looking forward to our new home as it is bigger and brighter than what we currently rent. Bigger and brighter means better food photography ... at least I hope so! Deep dark dungeons, sometimes known as basement suites, just don't cut it when you are trying to make food look good.

One food that always looks and smells exotic and enticing is curry. I LOVE curry and I think that I could eat it every day. I add curry spice into my tuna melts and hash browns and so many other things. I'm sure all curry related things will be posted on here eventually, as I have an almost endless supply. Okay, I may be exaggerating there, but I definitely love to cook with curry. It stems from my childhood and mostly my grandmother who I called Nana ... and sometimes Nana B to differentiate between the sides of the family, as I called both my grandmothers Nana.

Nana B met Grandpa B in Burma. He was a British firefighter and she was an orphan. She had Burmese blood in her and my grandpa was pretty much of English or European blood. She and her sister would go for walks outside the orphanage and these walks would take her down the street and passed by the fire hall where my Grandpa worked. This is how they met, fell in love and married. I heard many grand stories of their travels while growing up. When war got to rough and they had to abandon Burma, they fled to India with young children in tow (my Dad was one of them). Along the way my Grandpa injured his leg and it became gangrenous. My Nana, now a nurse, refused to let the doctors amputate and treated his wounds with traditional Indian medicine and it healed. I have heard stories of my dad running into a cobra in the barn when he was just a little boy and then of their many travels to Scotland, Quebec, and much more before they ended up settling in Victoria. Of all their worldly travels, the one thing that they brought with them everywhere was the knowledge of how to cook curry.

My Nana is not the one pictured here, but it is a relation. Growing up in Burma (now called Myanmar), my Nana learned how to cook all types of curry and as wonderful parents do, they pass their knowledge on to next generations. So she taught my Mom and so my Mom taught me. Every special event that wasn't Christmas or Thanksgiving (aka birthdays and celebrations of important times in our lives (graduation, etc)) was marked by curry dinners. They were huge fantastic events. Curry chicken, curried beef, sometimes curried prawns, dhaal, poppadoms, raita and samosas. When we had curry we went all out.

Since I moved away from home I started making curry a more regular habit. It became a regular meal without all the fanfare. I sometimes like to make big curry feasts for friends who don't eat it as often as I do, but it is no less yummy when it's just a quick meal at home. Now after all that build up I should probably post a home made recipe for curry, and like I mentioned before, I probably will eventually.

However, lately I've been having a lot of issues with my spices. Spices that seem harmless (especially chili powder, paprika, and cinnamon) have been causing me to have gluten reactions. I have learned that even though a spice packet doesn't say it's cut with something, it may in fact be. Paprika used to be a big problem as it is an expensive spice, and if you cut it with wheat it's a lot cheaper to make. Any way, that's a whole other story, but because I'm not so trusting of my spices (I am slowing switching over to McCormick as I've heard they are safe) I really fell in love with Daksha's Gourmet Spices. They have a big selection of gluten free curry spice packages. Each package comes with enough spice to make 2 to 3 large meals and it's just the spice, so everything else is from scratch. Each package also tells you how to make the curry ... add yogurt or marinate for several hours, that type of thing. My favorite by far is their Butter Chicken, but I like to play with different flavours and made their Chicken Vindaloo the other day. Vindaloo is naturally a very spicy curry so my mouth burned and my face broke out in sweat, but man was it worth it! I added some sweet potatoes to the mix, just to add a vegetable and change it up a bit and then topped my curry with some plain yogurt to help tame the spice. My boyfriend mocked me for wimping out and using the yogurt, but once I made him try some he added it to his curry as well. As mentioned before Vindaloo is naturally very spicy and hot, but the other curries, such as Butter Chicken are much milder and don't require tricks to consume them. If you are worried about your spices or haven't really made curry before, this is the best way to go for sure.

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