Okay...so I'm a little early with this month's Milk Calendar Monday adventure. I suppose I could have waited until next week, or the week after. But while sometimes these recipes are the gustatory equivalent of forcing yourself to clean out a meat-filled freezer that's been accidentally unplugged during the hottest weekend of the year, the subsequent post can be like cup of sweet, steaming hot mint tea that not only masks the taste of the sorry excuse for "adventurous" but it makes your tummy feel good.
And this blog is pretty much about feel-good tummies.
As Elizabeth noted during May's post, June's offering is the Super-fast chicken and vegetable curry. She wasn't the only one afraid to look at the recipe.
I really tried to go into this month's recipe with an open mind and receptive tastebuds. But the truth is My Dear Little Mummy is the best-ever South Indian cook. Period. She makes the very yummiest curries--hot, mild, swathed in gravy, thickened juiced clinging to each and every piece of meat--she has never, ever, ever made a bad curry (spaghetti, muffins, and the occasional soup can be different stories). Yes, I do make my own curries--while not quite as good a Mummy's, my offerings do have their fans.
As expected, the dairy people provided a very, very, simple "curry." You aren't making your own masala, nor are you really layering any flavours. Such exercises take time, and I suppose if one of your objectives is to quickly pull together a meal (and when I say quickly, I do mean a combined prep and cooking time of less than 30 minutes), such tasty things are sacrificed. Also, Indian food carries the unfortunate stigma of being complicated with long ingredients lists. For the novice, uncertain, or lazy amongst us, spying half a dozen spices could be off-putting.
For me, the off-putting parts were *surprise* the half-litre of milk and the cornstarch. I know why the milk is there (the half-cup of yoghurt probably wouldn't be enough to warrant its calendar placement), but, again, I think it's a waste of good milk. I know the cornstarch is there to mimic the effects of long-cooking--to produce a clingy gravy--but the starch combined with the milk made is seem rather nursery-food like to me.
And yes, I went the "adventurous" route (sans coriander leaf--totally forgot to pick some up, and as it wasn't in the main recipe, I didn't feel like nipping out to the shop) and used fresh ginger and chillies. The other changes I made were using hot curry powder, instead of mild (I don't have any mild right now and didn't feel like making some) and toasted almonds instead of peanuts..and I used more nuts than called for.
I served it to a friend (one who is not Indian). He thought it acceptable in a non-curry-like way. To him it was perhaps a soup; it could be a stew. He admitted that if he went to a restaurant and ordered a curry and received what this recipe produced, he'd probably feel misled.
Me...I thought it had as much bearing to curry as Chef Alphadoodlio's canned kiddie-friendly pasgetti does to anything Mama Cream Puff makes for our favourite Cream Puff.
And again, I have no idea what I did wrong, but this recipe made so much I could have easily filled my sink basin with the "curry." In fact, I swear it kept reproducing in my wok...regardless of how much of the stuff I dished out, the quantity never seemed to change. I even checked underneath the wok to see if there was some sort of tube system hooked up to it to automatically refill my vessel with the stuff. Nope...no tube system...just a lot of "curry."
We both agreed that something was missing--it was definitely lacking in something. I began listing the ways I would fix this recipe, and try and keep it within the easy, commonly pantrifed and thoroughly dairied mandate the recipes seem to follow. Get rid of the half-litre of milk and the corn starch (but keep the yoghurt). Tweak the spicing with some black mustard and fenugreek...maybe some others. Add fried onions along with an acid--lemon or lime juice.
But then I realised my version might actually take some effort...which would make it palatable...and perhaps people would like it...which doesn't seem in keeping with several of the recipes I've tried thus far...