Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CSA - Garlicky tomato curry

I've still got plenty of curry leaves left and since they don't dry terribly well I've got to keep using them up. Today's recipe is a garlicky tomato curry, South Indian style I think, that I found here.

It's pretty straightforward and the author, Amma, calls it a basic recipe you can use to experiment with, adjusting spices and herbs to get different flavors. That makes sense to me, but until I make a trip out to an Indian grocery (probably Indo American on south 84th) I'm can't stray too far. So I'm going to post the original recipe with some annotations for what I did differently.

Garlicky Tomato Curry Recipe

Source: Amma
Prep & Cooking: 25 mts
Serves: 4-5
Cuisine: Andhra (southeast Indian)


1/2 kg fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
2 large onions, finely chopped (I neglected to restock during my last shopping trip and only had one large onion and some scraps. Still it seemed like plenty.)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
10-12 fresh curry leaves (plus some extra for the garnish. For those I picked the softer, smaller leaves from the tips of the stems.
10-12 garlic cloves, slightly crushed (you read that right)
pinch of turmeric pwd
1 tsp red chilli pwd (I used extra as my cayenne is old and weak)
1/2 tsp coriander pwd
salt to taste (a couple teaspoons of kosher salt worked well for me)
1 tbsp grated jaggery (jaggery is a big block of unrefined cane sugar. Turbinado is a fine substitution.)
2 tbsp coriander leaves (that's cilantro, of course. I used a bit more to boost the herbal flavors.)
1 tbsp oil

1 Heat oil in a vessel. (A medium pot will hold everything, but the onions will fry up better with the larger surface area of a dutch oven.) Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Add the crushed garlic and curry leaves and toss them for 8-10 seconds.
2 Add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the chilli pwd, turmeric pwd, coriander pwd and salt. Combine well.
3 Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on medium heat uncovered for 4-5 mts. Reduce heat and cook covered for another 5 mts.
4 Add a glass of water (a cup?), jaggery, adjust salt and cook covered till you get the desired gravy consistency. (I did five minutes covered and then another five minutes uncovered.)
5 Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with hot chapatis, rice, pongal, khichidi or dosas.

Note: Boil eggs, make slits and add to the cooked tomato-onion mixture before adding the water. (This is a great way to overcook some eggs so instead I poached eggs in the sauce for the last five minutes of cooking. That's a little longer than you usually want to poach an egg, but I didn't want a loose yolk running all over the place. I got an equivalent of a mollet boiled egg which is just about right.) You can even add drumsticks for added flavor. (I thought drumsticks were vegetables, but upon researching I've found that they're fruit. There's a good picture and some information here.)

I stopped cooking after the tomatoes fell apart but the onions were still firm. I tried some and while the flavor was great--tomato and warm spices up front followed by a big hit of garlic and herbs--the chunky texture really didn't seem right. I could have kept cooking until the onions collapsed, but you'd think the author would mention if you were supposed to do that. Instead I removed the eggs and tossed it into the blender. The results are a smooth sauce that you'd swear has a cream enrichment and I think it improved the flavors too by distributing the garlic and herbs so it all melds together. I returned the eggs, a good many vegetable bits that stuck to the eggs while they poached and a bit more garnish and I had a pretty presentable, hearty and very tasty dish. Really easy and pretty quick, too.

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