I have a very scientific way of deciding what to make for dinner. I look and see what I’ve got on hand and I give the kids two or three choices and let them pick. I do generally plan my menu for the week, make a shopping list and buy most of the stuff to make those things, so there are usually at least a couple of options to choose from at any given time. Since I haven’t had time to go to the store this week, we were down to the options that use mostly pantry items. Last night I told the kids we had ingredients to make spaghetti or corn curry, something we hadn’t tried yet. I left them to mull it over, went to do a few things and then walked into the kitchen. Sitting on the counter were a package of frozen corn and a box of frozen samosas (impulse buy when we were out the other day). I couldn’t help but laugh. Luke had spoken, without ever saying a word.
I’m not sure why this is called a curry. My cookbook said it’s inspired by Gujarati-style curries in Bombay. There is no curry paste or powder in it. However, when I did some research on curry not long ago (because I was curious about where curry leaves came from), I found that curry is just a combination of different spices. Depending on the type it could be 5 spices, or it could be 20. Curry leaves are not in curry powder or paste. They come from a curry tree and can be used in recipes, although I have yet to find them in a store. (Note to self: look for curry leaves at the Asian market). Curry trees also have berries, but they are poisonous. My point is, this recipe was delicious, but didn’t taste like any curry I’ve had in the past. It was quite spicy, in a really good way, with a wonderful creamy base. What sounded at first like a somewhat simple – maybe even boring – recipe actually turned out to be nicely complex in flavor and texture, with a lovely sauce that soaked into the rice beneath. We loved it. Because it’s the middle of winter, we used frozen sweet corn, but I can’t wait to try this one again in the summer, with freshly picked corn from the farmer’s market.
I don’t normally use a lot of packaged foods, but we had a box of veggie samosas (vegetable filled pastry things) in our freezer, and they were a perfect accompaniment for this dish, along with rice. Some day I will have to make my own samosas, but that is a project for another day.
Corn curry and samosas.
Corn Curry (Makayee Noo Curry)
(from Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness)
Green Paste Ingredients:
1 fresh hot green chile, stemmed & cut in half
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks (or you could use ginger paste, which I usually keep in my fridge for ginger emergencies)
12 fresh or 16 frozen curry leaves (optional – I didn’t use these)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. water
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. black mustard seeds (optional – I used these)
3 whole dried red chiles
1/4 tsp. turmeric
6 fresh or 10 frozen curry leaves (optional – I didn’t use these)
1/8 tsp. asafetida (optional – I used this)
1 tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears) or frozen corn
This lovely sauce soaks right into the rice. Yum.
For the green paste, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process to a paste. Set aside. Combine the milk and half & half in a bowl or measuring cup. In a large sauce pan, combine the oil, cumin and mustard seeds over medium high heat. Cover if using mustard seeds, they tend to pop around. Cook until the cumin turns golden brown and you hear the mustard seeds crackle, 1-2 minutes. Add the chiles, turmeric and curry leaves and asafetida and stir. Immediately add the green paste and turn the heat down to low. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 more minute, scraping the bottom of the pan to keep the flour from sticking. Gradually add the milk mixture, a little at a time, to make a smooth paste. Stir in the salt and the corn, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the corn is tender, about 4 minutes. Serve hot over rice.