GUEST BLOG – Asian Curry

Here it is folks! Our very first guest post — different than anything Taylor or I have posted so it’s very exciting. Sarah is a second year law student in Boston who enjoys farmers’ markets, fish, and being fancy-free. She loves to cook whenever she finds the time.
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There is an amazing Asian market by my apartment that always has a great selection of produce. It’s very affordable and gives me an opportunity to experiment with different cuisines. This is a delicious curry dish I first encountered a couple years ago on a youtube cooking channel (http://youtu.be/6-kef_P7E54). I’ve made it several times since then, without going back to the original recipe, so it’s somewhat evolved from its original form.

Turai (sometimes called Ridge Gourd, sometimes called Chinese Okra) are big, green, tough looking vegetables. The toughest part of this meal is preparing the turai, but it’s well worth it: just have at it with a good peeler!

Once the turai are peeled, they tend to resemble gigantic cucumbers. However, I found out that they don’t taste anything like cucumbers; they’re actually pretty similar to eggplants when cooked though. Feel free to substitute eggplant, if you can’t find a turai or two. Another important thing about turai is to get rid of the seeds, if there are any. They are super bitter, so scoop them out with a spoon and get rid of them.

Once I peeled and seeded the turai I was left with considerably less vegetable volume for my curry, so I supplemented the recipe with some potatoes. Also, the youtube video heats a bunch of spices in oil at the start of the recipe. I followed this fundamental concept, but made up my own combination based on what I had in my kitchen. The important flavors are the the mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, chili peppers, and turmeric. Enjoy!

Ingredients
Tablespoon of oil (canola or ghee [clarified butter, used in Indian cooking], anything but olive oil basically). I used a tablespoon to start, but added a little more throughout as things began to stick to the pan.
Teaspoon mustard seeds
Teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
Teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander*
*I got the notion of using this 1:2 ration for cumin and coriander from a curry cookbook years ago and have never looked back!
Teaspoon grated galangal*
*Galangal is kindof like ginger, except drier, harder, and spicier (a much stronger taste). It was difficult to cut, but somewhat easier to grate. I’d always substituted ginger because I could never find galangal, so I was so happy to come across it! Plus, it reminds me of this song (http://youtu.be/DCL1RpgYxRM)
3-5 Thai chili peppers, chopped
One large yellow onion, roughly chopped
Teaspoon turmeric
Three medium potatoes, cubed
One can (mine was 13.5 oz) of coconut milk
Two large turai, roughly chopped
Coconut water to thin out curry
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Parsley/Cilantro

Heat the mustard seeds in oil in a big frying pan until they begin to crackle. Add the fenugreek, cumin, coriander, galangal, and Thai chilies. Cook for a minute, until the spices release their fragrances. Turn on the fan (it’s a strong fragrance!)
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Add the onions, cook for a couple minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the turmeric, stir it in. Add the potatoes, coating them in the spices. Cook for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. If you use a cover, your potatoes will cook faster and you probably won’t need to add more oil, but I didn’t use a cover and it turned out fine. Once the potatoes begin to soften, add the coconut milk and turai. Give it a couple good stirs. You may want to add some water or coconut water to thin out the curry, especially if you don’t have a lid for your pan to keep in the moisture. Cook for another 20 or so minutes, more or less depending on how big your potato cubes are. I waited until they were pretty much ready-for-mashing consistency.  I also added some red pepper flakes to turn up the curry’s heat. Make sure you taste the broth before you do this! It’s easier to make a dish more spicy, but tricky to make it less so. Serve over rice with parsley/cilantro.
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