Monday, August 12, 2013

Garlic Curry

When I first read about this particular garlic curry, I found it pretty strange. Garlic as a vegetable and as the star ingredient in a dish didn't sound all that appealing to me. But that was more than thirty years ago. In 1980 I had ordered a book by Charmaine Solomon on Indian cooking and was very happy with it when it arrived after some ten days or so. I found this book recently as I was cleaning an old bookshelf. It was indeed a pleasure going through it and remembering the hiccups I had as I struggled with basic cooking back then. There are plenty of recipes I'll be trying out...again, but I had to start with this curry.
Sometimes finding the main ingredients in the kitchen leads to a dish that you hadn't really planned to cook. There was too much garlic in my kitchen basket and the coconuts from my mother's garden have been used again and again for more hand pies and curries. Today's freshly made coconut milk entirely went into this curry. The author says that if the amount of garlic sounds terrifying, you can tone down the content by substituting small new potatoes, halved or quartered, for some of the garlic.

Adapted from Indian Cooking For Pleasure by Charmaine Solomon
250 grams garlic
8-10 small onions
8 large fresh mild chillies
2 tablespoons coconut oil or other vegetable oil (I used the latter)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
11/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp 
1/4 cup hot water

  • Peel the garlic and leave them whole. The garlic used for this curry has large individual cloves. Peel the onions and remove the stalks from the chillies but leave them whole.
  • Heat oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the garlic, onions, and chillies over gentle heat. They shouldn't turn too brown. Remove from pan.
  • In the same oil add the fenugreek seeds and stir over low heat till they are golden. Add the chilli powder and turmeric, fry for a few seconds, then add the coconut milk, salt, and stir while bringing slowly to simmering point.
  • Return the garlic, onions, and chillies, and allow to simmer, uncovered until garlic cloves are soft.
  • Dissolve tamarind in hot water, strain into curry for last ten minutes of cooking.
  • Serve with hot rice.
It was well worth the effort of peeling the garlic and making this curry. More so as the name of the dish had remained at the back of my mind all these years. It helped that all the other ingredients were in my kitchen today. As for the taste, it wasn't all that intimidating. I had also added one boiled potato, all diced up. Very good with rice and tomorrow we'll be having the same with parathas.

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