I moved to London last year and I was lucky to meet Gin, a half British half Indian, about the same age as me, that had a very special talent – among others – that was to make an unforgettable curry.
Coming from South America, I was quite acquainted with curry powder. I grew up in Brasília in a family of great cooks who explored dishes and flavours from the various parts of the country, as well as from all around the world.
In the 80s, curry was something you would do for a special occasion. A big dish full of aromas coming from this powder mix of spices. Later in my life, I moved to Sao Paulo and had access to curry pastes by exploring oriental tastes in the Japanese part of town. Quickly, I became a fan.
FINDING YOUR OWN CURRY BLEND CAN BE FUN
With Gin, I learned that curry was not a specific blend of spices, as I imagined before. I always thought all curry powders would be very similar, except for the amount of heat. Not quite, my dear.
I like this simple feature on Bon Appetit that provides a guide on the differences between curry paste, curry powder and curry leaves, which I tried to use but was not successful. We had a beautiful curry plant that would give a beautiful scent to the garden, but once in the pan, it just lost all properties. If you have a good tip, let me know!
Fun Fact: You’ve probably seen the word, “curry,” a lot on menus, within recipes, in your grocery aisle. Here’s the thing: “curry” is, in many ways, a meaningless term. It doesn’t refer to a stew, or a sauce, contrary to popular opinion. In fact, in so many countries, it was a word popularised by colonisers to simplify what they saw as foreign cuisines.
Gin, my ex-flatmate, taught me how to make what she said (if I can recall properly) was the only curry her mother knew. It’s a base for egg curry, that can be adapted with any type of meat.
I never forgot the smell, the taste, the aroma. It just changed my whole concept of curry. I am very into meat, so I’ve done this recipe with lamb, chicken, etc. I remember I wrote the recipe on a post-it that stayed in my desk tempting me for months.
The thing for me is that you can identify each spice during the process, slowly giving in to a balanced and rich single perfect taste.
The recipe below is what I can remember from it. Sometimes I add different spices, like coriander seeds, cumin, and to make it hot add some chilis. This is the one I made this week, a mild version, but feel free to add to it whatever you taste buds are craving.
All the flavourful spices mixed into one beautiful curry!
Beef curry with spinach
- 500g beef
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 5 gloves garlic chopped fine
- 1 spoon of Garam Masala
- 1 spoon of Tumeric Powder
- (I added 1 spoon of cumin)
- 1 can of tomatoes
- Half bunch of spinach
- Olive oil, salt and Pepper
- Fresh coriander
1.I like loads of garlic. You can adjust to your taste. First, I let the beef sit in salt, 3/4 of the garlic and pepper.
2. On a deep pot, drizzle olive oil, the rest of the garlic and onion. Add the Masala and Tumeric powder and let it fry slowly.
3. Add the cumin. When it’s dry, add a bit of water to get the juices out of the pan and the mixture becomes almost a paste.
4. Toss in meat and let it seal. Reduce the heat. Add the tomatoes and water (if needed).
5. Reduce the heat and let it cook for about 30 min, checking the taste.
6. Throw in the spinach. Let it cook for more 5-10 minutes.
7. Turn off the heat and add chopped coriander. Serve it with rice, potatoes or couscous.
The Final Product!