curry cook-off

Our 3rd Annual Curry Cook-off

If you’ve been a regular reader on my blog, Safari of the Mind, you’ll know that Bert and I host an annual curry cook-off.  I’ve blogged about the previous ones in the past.  What started out as a one time event about 3 years ago, has now become a repeated and anticipated get-together during the winter doldrums.  Our friends host a chili cook-off in the late Fall, so that concept perpetuated and the curry cook off idea was born.

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A family affair – A guest post by my Husband

This is a fun post.  Some of you who are my regular readers, may remember that we started a tradition last year by introducing a curry cook-off as a way of getting friends together in the depths of winter.  Well, we hosted it again this year and my husband Bert, agreed to do a guest post for my blog.   Here’s the post in his words.

Last week we held our annual curry cook-off, the second annual anyway, so I guess it’s a tradition. As a sequel, Loretta asked me to write something about my background. Organized as a winter counterbalance to our friends Owen and Angela’s (annual) chili cook-off, it brings out the competitive streak in our male friends. They are extremely creative with their curries. Me, I’m no cook and lucky to have Loretta.

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Curry Cook-Off!

Chilli cook-off gatherings are pretty popular here in the Fall, in the USA.  I blogged on one here that we attended in October.  January is a pretty desolate month, the temperatures plummet, the holidays are done and dusted, the parties and events come to a standstill and the winter months drag on.  I thought I’d change that around and organize an event.  The Curry Cook-off idea was born!  A curry cook-off you ask?  You bet, there’s nothing like inventing a new ritual is there?  Based on the same guidelines, we came up with a venue and before you knew it, emails were being exchanged, recipes swapped, friends were handing in their submissions, others asking for particular spices, yet others creating trial runs.   A few weeks of prep work and liaising with one another finally evolved into the most wonderful contribution of curries on a cold winter’s day.

Most of the chefs were male, the curried dishes hailed from Jamaica, India and Malaysia. The energy and enthusiasm before the big day was infectious.  Fueled by beer and wine, this was sure to be an annual bash from now on. Here is my husband’s idea of a joke, he designed these evites before the event 🙂

Curry Cook-off

The winning dish was the Malaysian Yellow Chicken curry.  You could taste the lemon grass and coconut in this subtly pungent curry.  All the entries were fabulous, it was pretty hard to choose a winner.  Each guest had to vote,  we tallied up the most number of votes for the brass lantern prize.  Here are a few pictures of the event.  The picture below shows a friend flipping rotis that will accompany his Jamaican Goat curry.

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The paneer was made from scratch, considering most of the chefs had never cooked curries before, they sure researched it all and did an outstanding job!  Of course it helped that all the guests loved curries even though some of them had never attempted to cook it before.  Now I’m sure they will. 🙂

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IMG_2614and the winner is……The Malaysian Yellow Chicken curry.  The recipe to follow.

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Here’s the recipe in Rob’s words:

The paste is:
4 jalapeño peppers* (sliced, seeds removed)
2 stalks lemon grass (washed, trimmed, chopped)
2 small shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 big cube of peeled ginger root
2-3 tablespoons of ground tumeric
Big pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons of peanut oil

Put all this in the food processor & blend till relatively smooth. (*You can add heat by chopping a pepper with its seeds, or swapping in 1 or 2 hotter peppers for 1-2 jalapeños.)

Put paste in a pan on medium heat with another few tablespoons of peanut oil. Sauté the paste in the oil for a few minutes…

Keep heat on medium and add 2 small white onions chopped… sweat those down a few minutes.
Add chicken… (note on chicken, best option is dark meat on the bone with the skin removed, thighs & legs, hit it hard with some nice salt before it’s in the pan.) Cook all that down on medium heat for another few minutes.

Now add…

16 ounces of coconut milk
4-6 ounces of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 kaffir lime leaves
1-2 tablespoon of ground coriander

Let that go about 5-10 minutes… Now add whatever vegetable you like. I used…

2-3 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed.
3 large carrots, peeled & cubed.
1/2 lb of green beans, trimmed
(Keep the pieces relatively large to prevent over cooking. Smaller veg like the haricot vert can be added late since those take a shorter cook time.)

Turn down heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour. Adjust seasoning as needed. You could splash is some broth and reduce if needed just watch not to over cook the veg. You could cut the heat with another tablespoon of soy (savory) and/or brown sugar (sweet).

I’m bringing this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday gathering as well.  I had posted this last week, and I wanted to share a wonderful recipe that won the prize for the curry cook-off that I had organized.