Creative curry combos
There really isn’t an easy way to define ‘curry’. Any dish with a mixture of three or more spices such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli and not forgetting cinnamon, cardamom, garlic, fenugreek, kari leaf and tamarind would be considered — by most criteria — a curry.
India is the birthplace of the curry spice blend and each region has at least one unique formula. Curry recipes have travelled throughout Asia and other parts of world such as Africa and the Caribbean where at each location the combo has undergone a slight metamorphosis.
Indonesian curries known as ‘kari’ or ‘gulai’, also differ from region to region. Besides the common curry spices, more unusual ones include anise, bay and curry leaves, cardamom, fennel seeds, fenugreek and saffron.
Thailand’s curries are often characterised by colour. Red curries obtain their colour from red chillies and peppers; green curries from green chillies and herbs such as basil, coriander and mint; and yellow curries from turmeric. Palm sugar is added for sweetness, fresh lime juice for tang and fish sauce for balance.
Vietnamese curries are characterized by fresh aromatic herbs including Vietnamese mint or laksa leaf, basil, mint and coriander plus kaffir lime leaves and fresh chillies.
Malaysian curries typically use curry mixtures rich in turmeric, ginger, shallots, coconut milk, belacan (shrimp paste), chilli peppers and garlic. Tamarind is also popular.
Paneer is an important food in south Asian countries. It is a fresh, non-melting, vegetarian curd cheese made by clotting heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar or any other food acids. I used a New Zealand made paneer with chilli added. You could also add a little chilli to the spinach mixture, if preferred. Get the recipe.
A deliciously simple green curry and not as rich as you might imagine. If using fresh beans, blanch before adding. Get the recipe
Slow-cooked whole curried chicken
I used an Asian Home Gourmet spice paste for this easy Vietnamese-style curry. Get the recipe
Indonesian lamb burger with peanut sauce
Minced goat could also be used in this recipe. Serves 4.
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each: grated root ginger, lime rind
¼ - ½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
one third of a cup water
3-5 tablespoons lime juice
400g lean minced lamb
good pinch each: ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, fennel seeds
1-2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 bread or brioche buns, halved & lightly toasted
3 cups mixed baby salad greens
- To make the sauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan on medium heat. Pan-fry the onion until softened. Add the garlic, ginger and lime rind and heat for 30 seconds. Stir in the chilli powder, peanut butter and water. Heat, stirring, until smooth and warm. Add enough lime juice to produce a pouring consistency.
- To make the burgers, combine the lamb with the seasonings. Mix well. Form into 4 balls. Roll between your hands until the meat clings together. Pat into rounds about the same diameter as the buns.
- Heat the oil on a ridged barbecue plate or frying pan. Cook the burgers for about 5 minutes each side.
- Top the bun bases with salad greens, the burgers then some warm peanut sauce. Add the bun tops.