*Naijanomads Note: Hi guys! We are introducing a new segment to the blog and our readers who take foodcations will be really excited about this. On Nomad EATS, we will be getting a bit of a history lesson from a foodie/chef as well as how to prepare simple variations of dishes from across the globe. Great way to experience cultures without leaving the confines of your home!
Lerato Umah – AKA Tomato Lagos is a television broadcaster, TV chef and food writer ( www.leratolovesfood.com). Our foodcentric nomad eats her way around the world and recreates her foodie experiences using easy and quick recipes.You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – @lerato_tomato
It is often perplexing to people to hear that I hadn’t eaten my first ‘authentic’ curry until my late teens, even after being born and part bred in the United Kingdom. I had Indian neighbors and best friends, and although I have never been to India, just like you, I always thought curry was ‘Indian’. Google, age and experience as a food writer, TV chef and restaurateur has taught me that curry is as Indian as jollof rice is Nigerian.
Historians have traced the word ‘curry’ to a book written by over 180 cooks and philosophers and commissioned in the 1300’s by King Richard II. The book, ‘The Forme of Cury’, was published in 1390 with 196 recipes that had no semblance to the Indian curry. Instead ‘curry’ was used to make reference to the French cooking style, ‘cuire’ – which means to boil, grill or cook.
Other “foodlosophers” claim it is derived from the word ‘kari’, which is a dish of the Tamil people who make up the largest and oldest ethno-linguistic group of people in the world; spread across Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Mauritius. The kari is made with an assortment of vegetables and meats cooked in spices.
What we know now as curry is a watered down version of several different kinds of spices and flavours cooked in different ways by the different regions in South and South-East Asia. Curries usually include vegetables, meats, lentils, nuts, spices and can either be dry or with a gravy. Masala based curries are definitely the most popular and in a typical Pakistani or Hindi household it is called, ‘masalaydar’. It usually consists of fried onions, tomatoes, and spices such as paprika, black pepper, salt, turmeric and garam masala. Garam masala is another North Indian or South Asian set of crushed spices made up of black pepper, nutmeg, bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon caraway and cloves. There is also popular mouth watering Thai curry is known as “kaeng”. Kaeng is usually of a liquid consistency made up of coconut milk, chillies, lemon grass, coriander, shrimp paste, onions and galangal (ginger root used in south east Asian curry pastes).
From all this history, curries are selections of stews, so I will like to add that the Nigerian typical stew can also be called a curry, if you so desire. So the next time you order a ‘Tikka Masala’ or a ‘Vindaloo’, ask yourself, “Did a British imperialist make this up while he was begging for water to quench the fire of his ‘curry’?
This is one I whipped up in a hurry… a Curry in a Hurry.
WHAT YOU NEED for 4 hungry tummies:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chilli
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 500 kilograms meat, cut into small chunks
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 a cup of water
- A few sprigs of coriander
GO ON, COOK UP A STORM!:
Step one: Heat a non stick pan or skillet and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to it. Cook the onions and garlic in the heated oil for 1 minute, stirring to avoid burning.
Step two: Add all the spices to the cooked garlic, onions and stir. I fry my spices to intensify the flavors. Stir and carefully monitor the heat to avoid burning the spices.
Step three: After cleaning and cutting the beef (against the grain remember!), add it to the spice mix and stir to coat the chunks with all the ingredients. Cook the beef for 6 minutes while stirring, as the small chunks will cook quickly.
Step four: Because this is a curry in a hurry, there is no time to cook the traditional tomato base. Pour some water onto the beef, just enough to make a sauce. I used very little water because I wanted a drier curry. I found a small red bell pepper in the fridge and I thought it would be a great addition to the dish. It is one of my must have vegetables and it does add texture, colour and the essential vitamins and minerals to the curry. Finally, cut the red pepper into small pieces and add to the meat. Add a splash of water to create a bit more sauce and simmer for 3 minutes.
Serve with potatoes, or like I did, basmati rice, broccoli and red kidney beans that was cooked earlier. This is a real mish-mash of a curry, even the strictest curry police will not want to miss.