Confession: my idea of a relaxing Sunday afternoon involves chopping, grating, and mixing. When I making curry pastes, there is plenty of all those activities going on. Plus it’s an oddly fast activity, but that’s probably because I don’t hand-grind my spices in a molcajete, or large, rough-surfaced mortar and pestle.
(Of course, even as I type those words, I’m looking on Amazon for the perfect molcajete, because, well, every kitchen needs one!)
Curries are great for weeknight meals because, once you have the paste on hand, it’s a matter of simmering meats and vegetables in sauce and steaming some rice to sop up the delicious curry. My favorite curries have their roots in Indian and Thai cooking, meaning they have lots of flavor. Curries can be mixed with coconut milk, broths, or even water, making them that much more flexible.
Most curries are also gluten free, though, of course, you always need to check ingredients for the exception thickened with wheat flour (why, I cannot say). When dining out, watch out for curries flavored with oyster sauce, as most commercial brands are not gluten free.
Curry pastes can range from screaming hot to deliciously mild. For the former, I love a green curry, made with fresh green Thai chilies. For the latter, a play on a massaman curry is just the ticket. Another fun option is to make the curry paste using cashews or other nuts as a base; trust me: these curries are extremely addictive! Curries such as vindaloo can be tangy, thanks to the addition of vinegar (the vin in vindaloo, so to speak; this dish has its origins in Portugal).
I will note that you can, of course, buy pre-made curry pastes. Taste of Thai (website here) offers a selection of great gluten-free curry pastes to help jump-start your weeknight curry. I keep these in my cupboard for those times when life doesn’t leave me enough time or energy to drag out my blender or food processor and make y own.
Tip of the Week
Whenever possible, use fresh, whole spices instead of ground spices. Ground spices lose their flavor over time. Toasting your whole spices before grinding them deepens the flavor of the spices. Heat gently and stir the spices frequently so they don’t burn.
Recipe of the Week
My husband rates the quality of Indian restaurants based on their vindaloos. For him, it must be spicy, a bit tangy, and never sweetened with ketchup. Made with lamb, pork, or chicken, a good vindaloo also features chunks of potatoes cooked alongside the meat in the curry.
- Chicken Vindaloo
- Steamed Rice
- Sauteed Greens with Ginger