18 November 2013

Fusion Curry a la Bittman

I've been neglecting you, dear readers. I apologize. As is generally the case, life got a bit busier than I anticipated, largely due to some really awesome (but short) weekend trips Shana and I have taken in the past two months. Since the beginning of October, Shana and I have been away more weekends than we've been home and have had things planned for weekends when we are home. This travel schedule has been wonderfully fun (I was in Minnesota, we saw many good friends in Boston, saw family and did halloween in Philly, and barely explored Fort Wayne), but fast - most trips were 36 hours, seriously, and has definitely impeded my cooking.

This week when we were making our meal plan, I decided we needed to try all sorts of new things. I'd gotten tired of eating the same easy meals the last few weeks and I have all these new recipes and cookbooks laying around my house. Most importantly, this week is just a normal week for us. Feels lovely. I presented a number of options to Shana and she picked this curry recipe (which made me worry that she was an impostor). But since I love curry, I was happy to oblige!

Tonight's dinner was a recipe my Aunt gave to me at some point or another, but we'd never gotten around to trying it. I wish we'd made it sooner. It's so good that it's here on the blog after just one attempt at the recipe. (I generally make something at least twice before it appears here, but given that this is a Mark Bittman recipe at the base, it's got to be good.) Although it's not a traditional curry recipe, as it has ingredients generally not found in the same recipe AND it's got a slight Asian influence, it's still a winner! This recipe has everything going for it: it is simple, speedy, delicious, uses ingredients you can find at any reasonable grocery store, and is fancy enough that you could make it for a dinner party.



Fusion Curry a la Bittman
This recipe is based heavily on a recipe by Mark Bittman published in his "The Minimalist" column in the New York Times from May 3, 2000.

Ingredients
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small head broccoli, in florets
1 T. curry powder
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)
1, 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 block extra firm tofu, cut in small cubes
2 T. soy sauce
salt to taste
1 1/4 c. uncooked basmati rice

Directions
1. Prepare the basmati rice as per package directions.
2. In a large skillet, saute the onion over medium to medium-high heat in the oil for about 10 minutes. You want them to get nice and soft and brown on the edges, but not burn.
3. Add the bell pepper and broccoli, continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the curry powder and walnuts, cook for about a minute.
5. Add coconut milk, bring just to a boil (put your heat at medium if it wasn't there already).
6. Add the tofu and stir gently to combine. Cook until tofu is heated through.
7. Add the soy sauce, stirring to combine, add salt as needed, then serve over rice.

Helpful Hints
  • You do NOT want to skimp on the curry powder here. Buy some good quality curry powder and you will be duly rewarded with amazing flavor. I used Penzeys Sweet Curry Powder.
  • The tofu beautifully soaks up the flavors in this dish and provides a great mouth-feel for contrast with the crunch of the veggies and nuts and the chew of the rice. 
  • Speaking of the rice, I rinsed my basmati rice before I cooked it today. I think it removed some of the "dusty" flavor that I typically taste in basmati rice. I'm not sure that's a normal thing or not, but it was great and I'm totally going to do it again every time I cook basmati rice. 
  • My guess is that you could use low-fat coconut milk in the recipe, but it would make the sauce thinner. To give it the same thickness, you would want to boil it a bit longer. 
  • Shana didn't love the walnuts, but I loved the occasional crunch of them. You can certainly leave them out.
  • If you use wheat-free soy sauce, this recipe is gluten-free! 

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