Rice and Curry

There aren’t many foods I don’t like. Buffalo chicken wings are the only thing that really comes to mind, right now. But that’s another blog entry.

A few years ago, I had a long-standing and unwavering dislike (or so I thought) of curry. I didn’t want anything to do with any kind of curry. In any form. Gross.

I chalk it up to a bad experience at a local Middle Eastern restaurant when I was a freshman in college. It’s a shame, too. When you’re a college freshman, you don’t really have the funds to go to a place to sit down and eat, unless you count fast food when you eat inside the restaurant. So, when you splurge on a $12 lunch at a Middle Eastern joint downtown, where you sit down and eat, and a waiter actually refills your drinks, it shouldn’t be nasty. But it was.

I digress.

But in the past few years, I’ve warmed back up to curries. And now I make them at home.

 

I’ll admit, I’m not the most well-versed person on ethnic food. But I like to challenge myself in the kitchen, so I’m trying to branch out of my comfort zone. I downloaded a Sri Lankan cookbook onto my Kindle. Probably because it was deeply discounted. Those are the only books I download. But this cookbook, called simply Rice and Curry, is awesome. There’s a nice introduction about Sri Lanka with a brief history, geography and cultural tidbits. Since I know nothing about Sri Lanka, I was happy to have a little bit of a primer on this exotic country.

The cookbook has about half a dozen different curry recipes. There are recipes for making your own curry powder, which is actually a lot of fun. The cookbook says to grind the toasted spices in a spice grinder, which I don’t have.

So I go old school with a mortar and pestle. And you don’t need to go to the gym to do an upperbody workout after you make this.

I decided on lamb curry because it was something different. I got the lamb steak from the Monroe Farm Market. I served this lamb curry over basmati rice. Basmati rice is often found in Indian and Pakistani dishes, but Sri Lankan cuisine is closely related to those. Sri Lanka is an island just off the southern tip of India, afterall, so the influence is naturally there. However, there are subtle differences. India food usually includes dairy like yogurt, where as Sri Lankan does not. And Sri Lankans tends to use coconut oil for cooking, where as Indian cooks use ghee (clarified butter).

Either way, it’s delicious.

I also made chapati, an Indian flatbread similar to naan or roti (in Caribbean cuisine).

The recipes in this cookbook seem hopelessly complicated and overwhelming when I first got it, but they’re surprisingly not once you dive in. I’ve also tried the shrimp and beef curry recipes.

It’s nice to expand your horizons in the kitchen and challenge yourself a little bit. Especially when the results are this delicious. These recipes are ones that I’ll definitely keep in my regular rotation.

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