Curry in a Hurry!

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For the most part, I love cooking. But there are some days when I just want to kick my feet up, sip on a hearty glass of wine, and enjoy the moment. Today was one of those days. But just because I was not in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen did not mean that I did not want a robust dinner to match that full-flavored glass of vino. More…

For the most part, I love cooking. But there are some days when I just want to kick my feet up, sip on a hearty glass of zinfandel, and enjoy the moment; maybe even watch the sky fill with twinkling lights as the day turns into night. Today was one of those days. But just because I was not in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen did not mean that I did not want a satisfying meal to match that full-flavored glass of vino.

One of my favorite no-fuss meals requires just a smidge of prep and then it is only a matter of sitting back patiently to reap the flavorful results. The funny thing about this recipe though it that it was the result of a fluke mishap in grocery shopping, or lack there of. I had forgotten to get some chicken to add to a basic Japanese curry and had no desire to venture out to get the missing ingredient as night was falling. My lovely daughter had told me at some point previously that she had started putting chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in her curry instead of potatoes and I always have a can or two on hand so I thought that might be a good protein replacement, but I still needed some bulk beyond the sweet carrots and tender onions. I took a look in the fridge to see what I might be able to steal from another planned meal later in the week (I am a fan of putting off today what I can do tomorrow; at least when it comes to grocery shopping). The cauliflower was yearning to be used and, if I am not mistaken, winked at me. And with that, a star was born–or at least a stellar meal!

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Cauliflower Curry in a Hurry

INGREDIENTS

FOR RICE

  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

FOR SAUCE

  • 1 large organic sweet onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 29oz-can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled & cut in 1″ pieces
  • 1 3.5oz-packet of golden curry sauce mix, broken in pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • fresh herbs, if desired
  • crispy onions, if desired

MISE EN PLACE

  1. Measure out rice, salt, ghee, and water for rice.
  2. Mince onion, drain chickpeas, cut cauliflower, peel and cut carrots, and mince herbs (if using)
  3. Break up curry block and measure out water for curry.
  4. Make sure ghee, salt, and pepper are within reach.

STEP ONE
To make this foolproof rice and quick and easy curry that is protein packed and loaded with fresh veggies, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Once preheated, bring water for rice to a boil in a medium ovenproof sauce pan. Stir in rice, butter, salt and water. Cover and return to a boil. Put rice in oven and set timer for 15 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (until sauce is done). Fluff.

STEP TWO
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt ghee. Add minced onion, cooking until tender and slightly golden(approx. 5 mins). Add cauliflower florets and 1″ carrot pieces. Cook for 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Add golden curry pieces. Stir to dissolve. Add chickpeas and stir. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until veg is tender (approx. 10 mins), stirring occasionally. Ladle sauce over prepared rice, and some fresh herb and crispy onion, and serve!

Makes four generous servings.

As you can see from the lack of steps, this curry in a hurry is not only quick, it is easy! But don’t let that make you think it might be lackluster. By using the golden curry sauce mix, the flavor is anything but boring. Personally, I like the hot golden curry sauce mix, but there is also mild and medium hot, and extra hot available. You can normally find it at your local grocery store in the ethnic/international aisle, but if not, you can also purchase through Amazon.com via the links above. And yes, I get a few pennies for your purchase, but whether you buy at your store or online, the most important thing is that you try it. The combination of ingredients marries so well in the curry. Because the curry cooks so quickly, there are no muddled flavors or textures. The carrots are sweet and chunky, the onion slightly caramelized and soft, the chickpeas have a slight chew, and the cauliflower is toothsome yet mellowed from its raw state. And when you pour this spicy mixture over fluffy, tender rice, everything visually pops–all your senses are engaged. As I sit here sipping the last few drops of my wine, I can’t help but wonder when the stars will align, and we–the cauliflower curry and I, that is–will meet again.

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A single grain of rice can tip the scale.

riceSo you can only imagine what a whole unit on rice and grains can do! Unit 14 turned out to be another enlightening chapter in my culinary, dare I say, journey. I grew up on rice. I am not sure which came first, but the three things I can not remember not knowing how to make are pound cake, tea, and rice. And to this day, I love all three. But, and this is an enormous but, I now know a better way to cook rice. No more stove-top absorption method for me. Whether I am making simple rice or pilaf, it now gets popped in the oven to finish cooking. No more uneven cooking or burnt bottom. It just comes to down to simplicity for me. I can then focus on the other parts of the meal knowing that the rice will be perfect. More…
So you can only imagine what a whole unit on rice and grains can do! Unit 14 turned out to be another enlightening chapter in my culinary, dare I say, journey. I grew up on rice. I am not sure which came first, but the three things I can not remember not knowing how to make are pound cake, tea, and rice. And to this day, I love all three. But, and this is an enormous but, I now know a better way to cook rice. No more stove-top absorption method for me. Whether I am making simple rice or pilaf, it now gets popped in the oven to finish cooking. No more uneven cooking or burnt bottom. It just comes to down to simplicity for me. I can then focus on the other parts of the meal knowing that the rice will be perfect.

In addition to re-learning how to cook my rice to perfection, I also picked up some tips on cooking grains and polenta–both of which are new comers to my meals in comparison to rice. There was a graded assignment on risotto which always seems to get the best of chefs on TV, and it turns out, it also got the best of this would-be chef. But as per the course, my instructor’s comments were constructive and beneficial.

I chose to make the pancetta, leek, and asparagus risotto. I started by par-boiling my asparagus so that I could add it at the end. I also chose to cook the pancetta to a crisp and add at the same time as the veg for its textural interest. I started warming up the stock at this point as well. I sweated the leeks and thyme in olive oil, added a bit of hot stock to finish the softening process. I then added the risotto and cooked it at a higher heat to slightly toast the grain. I then added the garlic and deglazed the pan with the white wine until syrupy. At that point, it was time to start adding the stock; ladle by ladle. In the end, I added a little over 5 cups of stock so I was glad that I had heated up extra. The process is a bit time consuming, but well worth the results.

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I really like risotto, but I am not a bit fan of most cheese. In the past, many restaurants and recipes call for cheese. I am starting to think that they just trying to disguise the fact that they rushed the risotto. I was patient with it, adding one ladle at time, and the risotto came out creamy and rich with no additions of cheese or oil. The leeks added a subtle sweetness and the asparagus provided some color and texture along with the pancetta balancing out the dish with a with a slight saltiness.

While this dish was delicious, the risotto could have been looser which would have made it spread on the plate a bit more.

While this dish was delicious, the risotto could have been looser which would have made it spread on the plate a bit more.