While I understand that many of you are older and don’t have children at home anymore or even had children to begin with. But since I did, and even after 20 some years of not having hungry children waiting for me when I arrive home from work, I still remember what it was like. So if it seems like many of my recipes are aimed at folks with little time to spare in the kitchen, it is because some of my best recipes were developed during my years of being a working parent. And you know, I still make many of those same recipes today even though Mr. C. and I are happily retired and presumably I have all the time in the world to spend in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I love to while away the hours preparing new dishes. But some evenings, it’s just delightful to serve a favorite old standby that I know we are both going to enjoy. So when I find myself with a bit of leftover meat in the fridge, I often make a curry. I almost always have the other necessary ingredients in my fridge or pantry, so to build a curry sauce is a snap. But before I go any further, a word about curry powder. The curry powder I use in this recipe is based on the spices used in Indian cooking. But In India, there is no such thing as curry powder. Every Indian dish that requires powdered spices combines a number of individual spices unique to that particular dish. So there is no “one combination curry powder fits all” in an Indian kitchen. An Indian cook will roast and pulverize whole spices or they might use a combination of already ground spices. Much the same way in which we would decide the variety and amount of spice to use while preparing an apple pie. One baker might use only cinnamon and allspice, whereas the next pie maker might swear by a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. So how did curry powder, which is a combination of spices including coriander, cumin, fenugreek, cayenne, turmeric, allspice, cardamom, cloves, fennel, ginger, mace, mustard, and black or white pepper, come about? The British, of course! From the early 1600s when Britain had just a scattering of trading posts on the Indian coast until 1947 when India gained its independence from Britain, British citizens living in India were exposed to Indian cuisine. And of course, as British soldiers and other government officials returned home from their stay in India, they wanted a way in which to bring those wonderful flavors home with them. Their solution was curry powder. And why not, it’s easy! And many of the blends readily available to us today are really good. Instead of having to add multiple spices to an Indian dish that is otherwise quick and easy to prepare, curry powder is usually the only “spice” required. Such a deal! And all you parents out there, don’t be afraid to introduce your kidlets to curry at an early age. Curry was one of dishes all my children loved. They were eating it before they realized they really shouldn’t like it. Being children after all comes with certain responsibilities, like being fussy about what food you will and will not tolerate. Get your little darlings hooked young enough and they won’t know enough to object! And even if you aren’t lucky enough to still have children at home (I can say “lucky” and truly mean it now that my children are all grown) as an excuse to prepare a curry, be brave and give it a try anyway. Remember, you’re never too old for the “three bite” rule!
- 3 T. butter
- 1/3 c. julienne cut carrots
- ½ c. thinly sliced mushrooms, opt.
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 T. vermouth, opt.
- 1 T. minced fresh or dried parsley
- 2 T. flour
- 3-4 tsp. curry powder, or more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- ½ c. milk
- 1 ½ c. sour cream
- 1 c. cooked chicken (cubed), shrimp, beef (cubed), or lamb (cubed)
- chopped cashew nuts (opt.)
- finely chopped green onions (opt.)
- chutney (opt.)
Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until garlic is just starting to brown. Deglaze the pan with vermouth. Whisk in the parsley, flour, curry powder, black pepper, cream of mushroom soup, and milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Carefully whisk in the sour cream and add your cooked meat of choice. Adjust seasoning. Serve over steamed rice garnished with cashews, green onions, and chutney, or any combination thereof.