Apex point - © Robert Sommers 2024

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Curry Time

It is two o'clock in the morning but my sleep cycle is out of whack so I think I will try to stay up and write for a while, can always finish in the real morning, that time of day when the sun is up and not just a slivered moon.

It has been a hell of a week. Amazing what you can pack in when you don't really have another choice. I drove back from San Francisco on Monday, unpacked the van and put some money in the very depleted bank account on Tuesday, had surgery Wednesday, tried to chill out Thursday and then went back to see another specialist down in Hillcrest yesterday.

Sort of a whirlwind.

This procedure was easier to take than the one two weeks ago, less bleeding and no complications so far. I did wonder if I had developed a hernia, had a lot of pain in my right groin and abdomen. But I ran into my cancer doctor at the elevator yesterday and she told me that the tumor was in a really difficult position, high up in the bladder and an immediate right turn. 

She told me that she really had to press and bang around hard down there in order to do whatever she did and wondered if I was hurting? So now I know why I hurt, would not have had a clue. By the way, I am really lucky and fortunate to have this doctor, she has bought me at least two years and saved my bladder and prostate, while everyone else had counted me out. Found me the BCG too, which is very hard to get.

Many people in San Diego owe a lot to Carol Salem and I am in awe of this hard working doctor. I am not out of the woods but she has given me a chance and I appreciate it very greatly.


After a lunch with Ron and Lena, post doctor visit today I went home and embarked on one of my more complicated culinary explorations.

I have been doing a lot of roasts, chops, shanks and the like and my wife told me she was ready for a bit more ethnic cooking. She loves Indian food and asked me to make her an Indian curry. I based my recipe on this one I found on YouTube with some minor tweaks. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this took over six or seven hours to prepare.

I tell people that I have never been a cook in our over thirty year marriage and there is a story there. Over thirty years ago I attempted to make a very complicated Chinese velvet chicken dish from Claiborne or the Joy of Cooking.

It was a disaster. The dish didn't turn out and there was oil literally splattered on the ceiling of the kitchen. And everywhere else. It all got away from me and I was effectively banished from the kitchen forever and rightly so. Total implosion.

As you know, for the last three or four months I have been slowly cooking my way back in, developing chops and confidence, not to mention better basic kitchen skills and habits, like clean as you go.

So back to my curry. I have never been a huge fan of Indian cuisine because so much of the food you find here is poorly made and I have had bad reactions to too much garam masala, the spice composite that is featured in so much of the fare. Fine, I would make it myself.

I bought organic thighs and drumsticks, washed them and patted them dry. I pulled out the ancient cuisinart and added half an onion, six cloves of garlic and ginger. I microplaned fresh turmeric root and added it to the mix and finally added a cup of whole plain yogurt. I boiled some raw cashews and added them to my processor.

I pureed it as fine as I could and made a paste.

I pulled out my stainless marinade bowl and poured the paste over the chicken. I then added the kasmiri chili powder, garam masala, curry powder and smoky turmeric. 

Added oil, salt, pepper and some sugar to balance the heat. 

Took my rings off, washed my hands and mixed it all together by hand.

Beautiful colors in this dish, satisfies my inner artist.

I added a serrano chile which I de-seeded, two bay leaves, cardamom, coriander, tomato paste and I forget what else and put it all in a bag to marinade in the fridge for two hours or so.

I pulled the ziplock out at the appointed time and placed the contents in my dutch oven on the stovetop, let it sit for about an hour at room temp.

I peeled potatoes and purple carrots to the pot and pre heated the oven.

I never exactly found a dutch oven curry recipe that went into the oven so I sort of improvised. 

Stuck it in a 400 degree oven for fifty minutes covered and then another fifty with the top off, ladling over the spicy concoction every fifteen minutes or so.

Leslie came home with naan and made a beautiful raita dish with fresh cucumber, yogurt and serrano chile.

Chopped up some cilantro and sprinkled it on top.

We had a very nice dinner, she gave it top mark. I could have cut the potatoes smaller and omitted the carrots altogether. Agreed.

Next time I will try a 24 hour marinade but the chicken was absolutely delicious and not overpowering in any sense.

I am proud of my meal.

Piquant and flavorful but easy on the sore tummy. Curried potatoes were delightful.

She said that she has cooked for thirty two years and that now it is my turn.

Cool thing is that now that the tables are turned, she gets to do the dishes!

My next curry will be a Thai or Malaysian curry with coconut milk I think. 

I have about ten meals planned ahead in my mind.  

A beautiful pork fennel lemon ragu I found comes immediately to the fore. Have another moose roast to cook as well. Need to keep the bread going and the sourdough pizza dough.

Yesterday I bought aji amillo paste at Northgate. Hard to find. Soon I will attempt my favorite Peruvian dish, aji de gallina.

Bon appetito!

1 comment:

Lena said...

What a “labor of love”. Looks delicious. I honor your total nose dive into cooking curry.