Friday, June 21, 2013

Bento whale in a pool of curry

In my previous post I mentioned making a bento whale for my grandson.  Well, now I’ve had several requests for the curry recipe, so I’ll tell you what I know!

I make curry 2 ways, either in a base of tomato sauce or a base of coconut milk.  If I’m understanding the Food Network channel correctly, the coconut milk one is Thai, and the tomato based one is Indian.  This may be entirely too simplistic but they both taste good, no matter the origins.  Both begin the same way.  I put some rice on to cook and start dicing vegetables.  Pretty much anything works for this, but I always seem to have carrots, peas and onion on hand so that’s my base.  Beyond that I’ve been known to throw in some broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, white potato, fresh green beans, cabbage, whatever is fresh and handy.  The more variety I have, the smaller amount of each kind goes in.  In a little oil I sauté anything that needs it, which I everything except the peas.  I buy those frozen.  Once they’re soft I put in my seasonings.  For a tomato base I sprinkle some curry powder into the oil and let it cook a minute so the flavors will bloom.  Stir it while this is happening, it might burn!  Let it coat the veggies.  I don’t like the curry powder you buy in the little red and white can at the grocery store, but at Fresh market in Destin, they sell a Madras curry powder in bulk that smells good enough to eat like a Lik-M-Stick.  Not that I’ve tried that.  Yet.  But I digress.  After the spices are heated up and smelling fabulous, I add the tomato sauce and whatever protein I‘m using, usually cooked lentils, occasionally chick peas, even more rarely I’ll add leftover meat.  I also add the peas and a little garlic at this point.  At this point all that‘s left is to let it simmer for 10-15 minutes and serve it over rice.  I add salt to mine but some people seem to think that’s all wrong.  To each her own.

As for the coconut curry, it’s the same until I get to the seasonings.  For this I go to one of the local Asian markets and buy a can of massaman curry paste, it’s less than $1 and it comes in a yellow can.  You can go to this link to see what the little yellow can looks like, so if you want to try this, you'll know what to look for. 
There are plenty of other curry pastes available but this is the one I like.  Not too hot and spicy, but very tasty.  At the point where you’d sprinkle in the dry curry powder for the tomato curry, here you will spoon out some paste and stirfry it in the oil and let it coat the veggies.  For the size meal I make for my family, I use about half the can.  This is totally dependent on taste, I’d say start with a small amount and if it’s not to your liking, stir some more in later.  Then dump in some canned coconut milk.  For my family I use 2 cans, a small family or single person wouldn’t need to use that much.  Salt (again) seems to be optional but I like it in mine.  Add the peas, protein and garlic and simmer, stirring often for 10-15 minutes.  Serve over rice.  Preferably with a bento sea creature swimming in it.   

Since this is more a technique than a recipe, feel free to ask for clarification if there’s anything I didn’t make clear.  I hope you’ll try it, this is such a simple, fast and inexpensive meal.  It’s a vegetarian meal I know my family won’t complain about, those rotten die-hard meat eaters are such whiners sometimes but not when I serve this!    

I'll be linking this post to the Blissful and Domestic linky party, stop in over there and see what everyone else has been up to!

Blissful and Domestic

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