By Majid Gafoor
There will come a time in each person’s life when he will be called upon to do something that he is either not good at or has not done before. For most men, this is a venture into the kitchen to create a dish for all to enjoy.
These circumstances could happen when you are invited to a potluck event, is asked to “bring something” for dinner or just for the fun of it, you want to surprise the gathering with your unique contribution.
Now, you can take the easy way out and just buy something, but what is unique about that? The best way is to cook your “signature” dish which will win you many new admirers.
For food, there is a Chinese saying that it must meet the three essential criteria of “colour, aroma and taste”. Luckily, a good curry answers all these essentials.
However, a curry dish is a creation infused with patience, effort and love. Nothing less will do. What makes a good curry? Ahhh the critical question. Here is the secret – the sauce.
In the good old days, you needed a mortar and pestle to make a good sauce by pounding up spices and ingredients such as coriander, onions, garlic, chillies, black pepper, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, garlic, turmeric, gram farina and other spices. At this point you want to throw up your hands in surrender, but not to worry, help is at hand.
Nowadays you can buy curry powder that already has all these ingredients ground up and dried in powder form.
So on to the cooking.
The secret to making a good sauce is patience. Cut up onions and fry them in oil with a slow fire. Stir frequently to make sure the onions are not burnt. When they are translucent and semi-dissolved in the oil, it is time to add the critical element – the spices, or in this case, the curry powder.
At this stage you need both patience and love. Slow cooking curry powder will gently release all the hidden ingredients in it and the aroma will diffuse throughout the kitchen. Your neighbours will be ringing your doorbell – “What’s cooking? Smells heavenly.”
This is a video of this writer’s cooking a chicken curry. Photo: Majid Gafoor
Don’t celebrate just yet. Fail to keep stirring under a low fire will end in disaster – burnt curry sauce – which is only good for the garbage can. Therefore cook and stir with loving care and taste the sauce frequently to ensure the powder is well diffused. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sauce ready? Your curry dish is ready for the final touch by adding meat, chicken, lamb, vegetables, lentils, potatoes or anything else in your culinary plan. Cover, add one bowl of water and cook until the meat etc is tender.
For colour you can add corn, peas or sliced tomatoes just before serving.
You are now a new hero.
Majid Gafoor is a former journalist from Hong Kong. He now lives in Canada.