Thursday, May 27, 2010

The week of living meatlessly day 5.

When I was in India last month, I ate potato curry every morning for breakfast, either in the form of puri bhaji, which was fried dough puffs served with potato curry, or pao bhaji, which was a brioche-like bread, fried in butter or ghee, and served with a similar potato curry (it contained peas whereas the other one did not, and I think the combination of spices was a little different). I was addicted. Still, some twenty straight meals of Indian food, with all its unfamiliar array of spices and flavors, took its toll on my gastrointestinal system and it was a while before I could entertain the thought of Indian food again.

Then I started thinking longingly of that potato curry, fragrant with cardamom and coriander and cumin, bright with turmeric and pepper. I bought the spices at PFI and a few potatoes and an onion, a bag of frozen peas, and set to work. Ground the spices by hand, with a mortar and pestle (actually, a stainless-steel espresso tamper and a small bowl), heated them in a pan until the air was scented with spices. Heated some oil, and added the onions. I cooked the onions slowly, until they were translucent and browning around the edges, then added the diced potatoes. Poured in some water, covered and let it all simmer.

It took longer than I thought; the potatoes had to cook through, then continue cooking until they started to melt a little around the edges. The wait was hard, but at last the curry was almost ready. I threw a handful - maybe two - of frozen peas, and stirred it all together until the peas were done. I scooped some rice into a bowl, added the curry. It smelled like India. It was cold and gray outside instead of sunny and burning hot, but I felt some of the warmth in my kitchen, standing at the stove over a pan of curry. Next time I'll grind the spices more finely, use more seasoning, but as an experiment it turned out very well.

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