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A stape to have on hand - Indian curry base

Hi all,

I like this thread - what to cook and keep on hand for ease of cooking.

I make huge batches of Indian curry base, then add various things to it
during to week to have wonderful variety in the food we eat.

2 strips cinnamon bark
1 tsp cloves
6 cardamom pods
6 black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 Bay leaves

4 large onions - red are better
10 med tomatoes - or 2 16 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro
10 cloves garlic - or as many as you like.
2 jalapeno peppers

Dry roast the first 6 ingredients in a large pot sprayed with cooking spray.
I'm sure you could saute these in some water or stock, but I haven't tried
that. I allow some fat in my diet, so I saute this in about 1 tsp of o*l, don't need much.

Blend the remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add to the pot and
simmer over med-high heat. The tomatoes will make the mixture splutter, so keep
a lid handy.

Let this cook until almost dry - it will form a thick paste, and gather in
a ball around the spatula when you stir it - about 50 to 75 mins. You may 
need to watch this towards the end to make sure this doesn't stick to the 
bottom of the pot.

Remove the cinnamon and bay leaves. Other whole spices soften up greatly
and almost get incorporated into the curry base.

Other condiments to have on hand:

Chilli Powder
Cumin Powder
Corriander Powder
Garam Masala

All of the above are easily available from any Indian grocery store - I 
think even regular grocery stores carry these.

To use:

Heat about 1 cup full of the above in a deep saute pan over med high heat. 
When sizzling, add salt and chilli powder to taste. The others, added in
varying quantities will impart different flavours. Start with 1 tsp of 
each, and adjust as you go.

You can add anything to the above:

I use:

1. Cauliflower flowerttes / Brocolli flowerettes / Cubed potatoes 
/ Cubed turnips: Add about 4 cups of flowerettes, and 1 cup of
frozen peas, stir well, lower the heat, partially cover and cook until
the vegetable is tender. With starchy vegies like potatoes, turnips, it's
better to steam them before use.

2. Garbanzo / Kidney Beans / Any other beans curry: Use canned beans for
ease of use. Add the beans, stir the whole thing up well so that the beans
are coated well with the paste, add enough water to cover the beans, and
then simmer for half an hour or so, until the rice is done. Well, this is
served over rice, so you will cook the rice too, right? :-). Each bean 
you use gives the curry a different flavour. 

If the gravy is too watery, add some more of the paste and heat through.

3. Boil split peas / lentils on the stove top until soft. Do not drain, 
add some of the past (about 1/2 cup for 2 1/2 cups of peas), stir, simmer
for 15 mins, add salt to taste. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro before
serving over rice.

4. Just add salt and chilli powder to the paste to taste, use as a spread
on pita bread - yummy.

5. How about adding some mushrooms to the paste, stir it all up, add 
salt, black pepper to taste, add some stock to make a thick gravy, and
serve over pasta.

Well the variations are endless - the paste acts as a wonderful flavouring
base for any vegies, beans, or even plain rice, and this has saved my b*tt 
many a times on tired evenings.

Sorry I'm not to heavy on details, but feel free to email me privately
to ask for clarifications,