This curry was awfully close to being a flop. It started out well, simmering away on the stove this past cold (I’m not exaggerating) Sunday afternoon. We rugged up inside after a morning of walking the snow trails, put on a movie and relaxed into a afternoon of leisure while the house filled aromatically.
At one point I notice the dog (we are pet-sitting) getting agitated, hopping frantically between the kitchen and the living room. Then I notice the smell – intense curry. Not so much delicious aromatic curry, but burning to the bottom of the pot curry. The liquid had evaporated and the meat had latched itself to the sides and base of the pot.
Dismay quickly became delight when we realized the juices had, rather than burnt, reduced to a gorgeous thick curry sauce and the cubes of meat had gained a crispness, just shy of burning. It was perfect. A quick transfer into a fresh pot, the addition of some more liquid, a huge reduction in heat (yes, I had impatiently cranked the heat to bring it to a simmer quickly that first time round), and a little longer over low heat… and we had one darn good curry on our hands. In our mouths. Filling our bowls. Coating our torn chunks of thick, steamy Naan bread.
I have been working my way through Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Wonderful book, wonderful concept (mix up a wet, no-knead dough, store it in the fridge, and tear off a chunk to cook when needed). We decided to use the refrigerated dough, which is normally formed into a round and baked into a ciabatta-style boule on a piping hot pizza stone, and instead we pressed it into flat rounds and threw it on a hot cast iron pan (with plenty of ghee) until it puffed and charred in spots – Indian Flatbreads, naan! A wee trick, if you aren’t keen on loading the butter on these, is to sprinkle with salt before flipping. Adds the flavor without the fat. In saying that they’re down-right better with plenty of butter.
Every Spice Coconut Caribou Curry
I call it every spice because that was my inspiration – to use every spice I could find in the house. Some good friends of ours back in NZ treated us one evening to a 15 spice lamb curry. Fifteen spices! It was out of this world and we spent most of the meal deciphering all 15 spices. But the thing is, you can’t. They all fuse together in the coconut and tomatoes to create, well, curry; a sauce of spices.
3 tbsp oil
500g (or 1lb) fresh caribou, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 bulb of garlic, chopped
pinch of each: coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, chili flakes, crushed bay leaves, cumin, peppercorns, turmeric, garama masala (you get the idea; use any spice of choice, as many or as few as you like)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk or cream (I recommend cream – that way you can water it down yourself and not pay for a can half filled with water)
1/2 can crushed (or diced) tomatoes
2 small potatoes, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
salt & pepper
1 tsp sugar
In a deep casserole dish (or large saucepan), heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderate-high heat. Throw in the caribou (or meat of choice) and stir fry until browned on the outside. It might bleed. That is not a bad thing.
Once meat is well browned remove from pan and heat remaining oil. Add onions, garlic, and spices (including curry powder) and stir-fry until fragrant. Add coconut milk/cream, tomatoes and return meat to pan once it has started simmering. Let simmer for an hour or so (or three), stirring every so often. Add more liquid (some more of the canned tomatoes or water) as necessary.
Add vegetables and simmer for another 45 minutes until potatoes are tender. Season with salt & pepper and top with raita, or a dollop of yogurt for a coolant. Serve on basmati rice or with warm naan.