I love a good curry, but I can't cook one to save myself. I'm not talking about whipping up a bit of beef with curry powder and tomato soup and raisins, either; I mean something that might be thought to resemble a genuine dish of Subcontinental persuasion.
Of course, we run into a problem. Just like Chinese food, which any self-respecting Chinese person will tell you cannot be bought at any New Zealand fast food outlet that claims to be selling Chinese meals, the Indian food we can buy here sits somewhere between the genuine article and the sweetened, watered down versions dished up by such institutions as the Tulsi chain of restaurants.
And here I must make a confession. I think that I prefer the Kiwi imitations of Indian cuisine. Tulsi actually make a pretty nice curry, as far as I'm concerned. Supermarkets sell various brands of pre-prepared curry dishes, whose genuineness-to-flavour ratios are also suitably skewed, but you know how I feel about pre-packaged sauces. Some of the poorest people in the world can whip up delicious curry meals out of hardly anything, so why should we have to pay exorbitant prices for the branded stuff? Cooking from scratch, that's the thing.
I'll mention here, of course, that I'm sure those poor folk don't have access to as much meat, or as much dairy, or even the yoghurt and tomato paste and coconut cream that we have the luxury of picking up at the store, and for that I am a) greatly appreciative, and b) even more admiring of how fantastically they must be able to cook.
Please, noone raise the fact that Indians by and large eat very little meat, and that in comparison, the menu items offered in your average New Zealand Indian restaurant do not by any means reflect this. That's a whole can of worms I'd rather not open.
So we've established that what we call Indian food here is not what an Indian family would call dinner; in fact it might be what they would call junk food, and laugh at us, in the same way that we would laugh at someone who deepfried a kumera and called it a hangi. Nonetheless, it's a curry of this calibre that I would like to be able to cook up at home: something fragrant and sweet but not too spicy, because some of us here (though not I) have delicate palates. And besides, I like to taste the complexity of a dish as full of different tastes and textures as a curry, and too much heat can actually be counter-productive to the enjoyment of the meal. IMHO.
I'm currently looking at trying this one by Mallika (Image Copyright Quick Indian Cooking 2007), which strikes me as awfully authentic and might be a whole lot more curry than we're hoping for;
And this one, which is at the other end of the scale, coming from a TVNZ breakfast show, and is probably as tame as a tortoise in a torpor;
And finally this one, for the slow cooker, by the crazy woman who used her crockpot every single day of last year. (Image Copyright A Year Of Crockpotting 2008)
Can anyone recommend any more good curry recipes, be they Butter Chicken (our favourite), Tikka Masala, Korma, Rogan Josh, etc? Since I've just very recently discovered Jasmine rice, which goes beautifully with curry, I intend to make more curries this year, particularly when the days get shorter and the nights colder.
So please post your favourite curry recipes in the comments, either as a comment or as a link, and I'll get back to you when I've tried it out.