It’s like watching a skilled percussionist when Graham, my husband, takes over the kitchen. He finds great therapy in cooking, usually at the weekend when time permits. He loves chopping and blending flavors, especially those for Indian or Thai curries.
He goes by instinct to create mouthwatering dishes for curry banquets, because a curry in our house is never just one dish. It will include homemade breads, rice, bhaji’s, dhal and chutneys to accompany meat or fish. I listen to him tinkering away grinding spices in a pestle and mortar, and watch the pots and pans bubble away on the the stovetop.
I was brought up in close proximity to a large population of both Indian and Pakistani immigrants, where good, authentic dishes were inexpensive and easy to find. This recent research featured in the Washington Post offers an additional explanation for love of Indian food –
“Researchers at the Indian Institute for Technology in Jodhpur crunched data on several thousand recipes from a popular online recipe site called TarlaDalal.com. They broke each dish down to its ingredients, and then compared how often and heavily ingredients share flavor compounds. The answer? Not too often.”
“Combining ingredients with like flavors is a useful (and often delicious) strategy, but it might be a somewhat misleading rule of thumb. Indian cuisine, after all, is cherished globally, and yet hinges on a decidedly different ingredient pairing logic.”
For our Zen Blend giveaway and my #slowdownsunday recipe this week I took the tinkering out of the kitchen and adapted Goan fish curry for my slow cooker so I could spend the the afternoon teaching my youngest to ride her bike.
Goan fish curry is a medium hot, medium thick curry which gets its spice and tang from the tamarind and red and green chilis. You can use any firm fleshed fish, however I recommend salmon as it holds up well in the slow cooker. Although fresh coconut is authentic for this recipe, I have trouble finding it and use unsweetened, shredded coconut instead. Bob’s Red Mill is widely available. Tamarind concentrate is available at Wholefoods and Asian stores.
This recipe is Paleo friendly, in keeping with our other recipes this month.
Cooking Time: 3 hours on LOW
1lb thick cut salmon pieces
8 long thin red chillis
4oz unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 tsp coriander seeds
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
2 small onions, 1 small dice and 1 sliced into rings
2 tsp garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp light olive oil or grapeseed oil
2 tsp tamarind
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 thin green chilis, split lengthways
1 tsp coconut or light brown sugar
1 x 400ml can light coconut milk (if you prefer a thinner, lighter sauce, replace the coconut milk with 1 cup of water)
* optional addition – whole fried curry leaves to garnish
Lay the salmon pieces in the bottom of your slow cooker.
In a small bowl, soak the chilis in warm water for 5 minutes and drain.
To make the masala (spice paste) take a small food processor and add the drained, soaked red chilis, the coconut, turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, 1 diced onion, garlic and salt. Blend these ingredients until you have a course paste. Add a little water to loosen the mixture if it doesn’t grind.
In a skillet, heat the oil on a medium heat and add the sliced onion. Sauté lightly for a minute.
Add the masala to the sliced onion in the skillet and sauté for a further 2 minutes.
Stir the tamarind, tomato paste, green chilis and coconut milk into the masala and onion mixture. Pour the mixture over the salmon pieces in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
When the salmon is cooked, remove the whole green chilis and serve with naan bread or rice and vegetables.
*recipe adapted from The Guardian, an article by Felicity Cloake.
Canadian food writer and culinary anthropologist Naomi Duguid says that in her travels around the world she has noticed a universal pattern: “When there’s war or strife or dislocation, people use their daily patterns of necessity – most often cooking – to make things normal again.”