This weekend, I needed a taste of India.
Fresh curry leaves have been located somewhere in Lyon, but I don't know exactly where... all I know is they made their way into my hands.
For as long as I have been cooking Indian food (which means a reasonable number of years) I've been longing for curry leaves. When I first went to India I tried to source some but I didn't know what to call them in Hindi. Now I know, it's Kadi Patta. But over there, they sold me Tej Petta which I later figured out are bay leaves. I thought all was lost when I finally discovered the Indian supermarket in Lyon where they (sometimes) carry dried curry leaves in little baggies. After cooking with them for the first time, I became enamored. They add such a distinct flavor to daals and vegetable stir fries, they're almost like a secret ingredient, unable to be replaced or substituted. They were my little best kept secret... until I was told that they were seen fresh in town.
Fresh curry leaves? But they grow only in hot climates and only stay fresh for a few days! How can this happen in Lyon? Everyone I know that cooks with fresh curry leaves doesn't buy them.. they grow them.. in India, California, and Malaysia.. never in France.
So when they were gently handed to me as proof that when you really long for something, it becomes reality, I may have concealed my happiness in order not to make a scene in public.
This offering surpasses all others.
This offering is more than just a thing, this is the deepest understanding of my desires.
Inspired by VegRecipesofIndia
Serves 6-7 as a side
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 green cardamom
1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
2-3 dried red chiles, deseeded
1 tsp poppy seeds
6 Tbsp grated coconut
1/2 Tbsp chickpea flour
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 inch piece ginger, grated
1/2 cup water for grinding
3 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp freshly grated turmeric
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large tomato, diced
2 large handful fresh green beans (about 1 cup), tailed and cut in half crosswise
1 handful snap peas
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup water
2 Tbsp yogurt (optional)
salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish
1. Make the spice paste. Dry roast the cinnamon, cloves, fennel, cardamom, coriander seeds, chiles, poppy seeds, and cashews until fragrant, then add the coconut, and chickpea flour and dry roast a few more seconds. Transfer to a blender with the rest of the spice paste ingredients and grind into a thick paste. Set aside.
2. Prepare the Korma. Heat the oil in a wok or heavy based pan, then add the onions, turmeric, and curry leaves. Cook until onions are translucent.
3. Add the spice paste and fry while stirring, making sure it doesn't burn.
4. When the oil starts to separate, add the carrots, tomatoes, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Add the rest of the vegetables along with a few pinches of salt. Cook on medium heat, stirring for another 15 minutes. Add water as needed.
6. Before serving, stir in 2 Tbsp plain full fat yogurt. This step is completely optional and only adds decadence to the dish. It is perfectly delicious without the yogurt. Heat through, then remove from heat.
Serve hot or warm topped with chopped cilantro.
I served mine in a thali along with some saffron basmati rice, toor daal, rotis, and some whole roasted tandoori chicken.
Now I just need to get the intel on where exactly to find these next time... for everyone has their secrets and this one was not shared with me...