My fiancé is Filipino and loves bold flavors, especially curry. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania and being from an Italian family, my experience with curry or any Indian or Asian cuisine was pretty minor. I always thought that curries were like stews cooked for hours to develop these deep flavors. But once I started looking up recipes and cooking curries in my kitchen, I realized curries are relatively quick to prepare for a weeknight dinner not to mention super versatile and healthy.
Loaded with turmeric, curries have amazing anti-inflammatory powers. So I’m pretty thrilled that my guy likes them.
For the first time ever I saw fresh turmeric in the grocery store. These beautiful roots inspired me to make a fish curry with some wild caught Mahi Mahi, a mild white fish that stands up well in this type of preparation.
Fresh turmeric is a root that looks a lot like an orange colored ginger, which would make sense since the two are related. The oil in turmeric, called curcumin, is what gives it it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have linked curcumin with everything from lowering cholesterol to protecting against Alzheimer’s. This is one powerful spice. (Use caution when using fresh turmeric as the curcumin oil can stain your fingers as well as your cutting board.)
To make curries even easier, you can buy a prepackaged curry powder in the spice isle. But to get the most curcumin it is usually best to blend your own. Use powdered turmeric or use fresh tumeric in combination with other spices. Standard spices in curry powder are: coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne. So remember your C spices when making curry!
Ginger or ginger juice is also often added to curries. Ginger along with the cayenne powder or fresh hot peppers will kick up the heat factor in your dish so more of either or both will make a spicier dish.
So how fast can you prepare a curry? It takes me about 30 minutes including prep – if I’m using powered spices. The fresh turmeric slowed me down a bit because I had to grate it. (And yes my fingers are yellow, but my cutting board is not because I grated it on a piece of wax paper.)
As I said earlier, curries are pretty versatile, too. I didn’t have any fish stock so I just used the chicken stock I had on hand. And because I didn’t have any coconut milk I just used almond milk and some yogurt (not pictured) to create a fatty creamy sauce that cuts the heat and protects your stomache. I also used a bit of tomato paste which will usually make more red curry but this tumeric’s vibrant yellow hue even overpowered the tomato. And you can use any type of fish, meat, tofu or chunks of vegetables that you like.
Here’s what I used for this one in the order in which everything went into my skillet:
- 3 tbs Olive oil
- 1lb Mahi Mahi cubed 1”
- 1 onion diced
- 1 cup Shishito peppers sliced
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- ¼ cup fresh grated turmeric (or use 1 TBS dry)
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick ( or ¼ tsp cinnamon added with ground spices)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup almond milk
- 2 tbs yogurt
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 lime juice only
- 6 basil leaves (or any fresh herb like cilantro)
So how do you make a curry? Here’s a basic method:
- Gather your ingredients and cut your protein (if using one) into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat a good fat oil (olive, coconut or avocado) in a large skillet.
- Sear your protein (if using one) Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add a little bit more oil to the pan.
- Add a diced onion and other veggies you want to put in the dish. (I used Shishito peppers in this version) sauté a few minutes.
- Add your dried spices to the veggies and oil to activate their oils.
- Once you smell the spices, add a cup or so of stock, any fresh spices, and tomato paste, if using.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Simmer for 10 minutes or so until the sauce thickens.
- Add any nut milks or dairy. Return the protein to the pan.
- Simmer until your meat is cooked through (don’t over cook)
- Remove from heat. Add some lemon or lime juice and any fresh herbs.
Enjoy over brown rice!
The George Mateljan Foundation, Worlds’s Healthiest Foods: Tumeric. Retrived from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78
Fallon, S. “Nourishing Traditions.” Revised Second Edition. Pgs 266 -267. New Trends, Publishing, Brandywine, MD., 2001.
Murray, M et al. “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods” Pgs 521- 526. Atria Books, New York, NY, 2005.
The Culinary Institute of America, “The Professional Chef,” ninth addition. Pg. 225. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2011.