Saturday, February 10, 2007

More Curry

I am beginning to rely more and more on Indian and Thai-inspired flavors for quick, easy and nutritious meals that come out anything but boring and routine. A little heat, a little curry (or cumin, etc.), a bit of ginger and you have the makings for great meals with endless variations and options.

Sometimes I follow a given recipe, sometimes I just start throwing things in and see how it all comes out. This time, I decided to follow a Cooking Light recipe that looked very simple. This vegetarian recipe was an especially welcome contrast to our meals that have seemed a little heavy on the ground beef lately, even if it is 90% lean (I'm working on a new recipe that uses ground beef and we had quite a bit in the freezer.....).

As other reviewers of this recipe said, it's a dish packed with flavor for very little effort. Once the onion is chopped, the rest of the dish goes together very easily. I chose to chop the onion rather than use the food processor - I'd prefer to spend a little extra time chopping before the meal rather than extra time cleaning up after the meal.

This recipe called for something I had not used before - red curry powder. Generally I use Penzeys Sweet Curry Powder, adding my own heat as desired. Red curry powder, at least this particular blend by McCormick, is entirely different. For one thing, this blend includes chili pepper, so it comes with its own kick (use sparingly until you figure out how much heat you want). And whereas I find sweet curry powder to be earthy and mellow (probably and influence from the three main ingredients of cumin, coriander and turmeric), the red curry powder seems to get more of its punch from cardamom, a spice that I find strong, sharp, more pungent. Interestingly enough, it appears that the curry powder we find here is actually a British invention and may bear little resemblance to the freshly ground, traditional versions of India. Like Chicken Tikka Masala, whatever its origin, I love it.

Anyway, as promised this dish does deliver a lot of flavor for very little effort. The chickpeas' firm, meaty texture provide welcome contrast and relief to the heat of the curry while spinach and tomatoes add both flavor and color. Bravo - yet another tasty, nutritious dish that comes together in a hurry, making healthful weeknight meals a cinch.

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