Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Our Paleo/Primal Curry: More of a Guide than a Recipe

Venison liver with cashew nuts & coconut cream
I don't normally blog recipes, mainly because I am a culinary heathen. But a friend on Twitter spotted that we regularly have homemade curries and asked me for our recipe. I figured if I am going to write it down for him then I may as well share it with you as well.

Anyone else who follows me on Twitter or reads the 'What I am Eating' widget in the sidebar will know that plates of meat and veg are pretty much all I eat. The closest I get to 'cooking' is stir frying the meat in coconut oil and throwing in some wine, coconut cream, tomato puree and garlic. That's my culinary shtick.

Mrs M, Paleo queen that she has become, is happy to go along with this, since it means she usually gets her food prepared for her; but left to her own devices she would certainly get more inventive. Trouble is, she can make chopping an onion last 15 minutes - a luxury the weekday schedule cannot accommodate.

So our forays into real cooking take place on a Sunday night, when we do 'our curry'. There are two unique aspects to our curry recipe:

Chicken with cashew nuts & coconut cream
1. It has no recipe. It's improvised. No two curries are ever the same. Jazz curry, if you like.

2. It's divorce ready. I have no idea what Mrs M does with the spices. And as I mentioned, she's not great with the chopping. If you asked me to do the curry myself, it would taste abominable. Ask Mrs M and it would arrive so late you'd be dead from starvation.

So the best we can do is a guide, not a recipe. Is this more in tune with our ancestors? I imagine they would rarely have had exactly the same set of ingredients available twice. Either way, we are going to make a virtue out of our kitchen chaos and claim that as the reason!

Here are the steps:

Get the initial stuff frying

  • Take a knob of coconut oil and set it heating in a non-stick frying pan or wok.
  • Chop some starter vegetables and start them frying - this can be any or all of onions, mushrooms, and peppers of any colour. Amounts are up to you.
  • Chop some fresh garlic as finely as you can be bothered; same with some fresh ginger and fresh chili. Amounts to taste. We like lots of all of them. Throw these in the pan, which you must now stir/toss regularly.
  • If you are going to steam a sweet vegetable like parsnip (see later) then start this now.
By the time you have done all that, it's time to...

...do the meat
  • If you are including meat, chop this into chunks and add it to the pan - chicken or lamb, for example. If you want to have something else like curried salmon, it's better to cook it separately first or it will break up. Then add it later.
Do the Spices
  • At around this point, Mrs M starts preparing the spices. She throws them into a glass bowl and adds a small amount of boiling water to create a liquid for adding later. She chooses some or all of the following (amounts based on meal for two):
  • Cardamom - two pods
  • Garamasala - 2 tablespoons
  • Paprika - pinch
  • Cayenne pepper - pinch
  • Hot chili powder - quarter teaspoon
  • Black onion seeds - half teaspoon
  • Fennel - half teaspoon
  • Coriander - half teaspoon
  • A star anise
  • 2 curry leaves
When the meat has had a chance to cook on the outside...

...add everything else
  • Chuck in some chopped tomatoes (vine-ripened is better for flavour)
  • If you prefer your curries sweet add something sweet like half a mashed banana or some steamed, mashed parsnip - we sometimes do.
  • Start adding the liquids and pastes:
  • Tomato puree - we almost always add quite a lot
  • Wine (we prefer red)
  • Coconut milk (if you want a creamy curry, which we usually do) - you may also grate some creamed coconut for extra creaminess!
  • Fruit juice (as an alternative to adding fruit for sweetness)
  • Water, if needed
  • The spices mix
Let it cook
  • Let it simmer, occasionally stirring, to allow the flavours to develop, the sauce to reduce to an acceptable thickness and the meat to cook through. You may need to add liquid during this process to keep it moist. We leave it for between 10 minutes and 30, depending on our schedule and the need to reduce the liquid.
  • At some point during this time, if you were cooking meat separately, as mentioned above, you can add it to the mixture.
When you feel it's nearly ready...

....add the final bits
  • Roast or grill some nuts. Cashews or almonds are our favourites. When browned, toss these in and stir.
  • Add fresh coriander to taste.
  • We usually take the biggest chunk of meat in the pan and cut it in half to see it's cooked.
  • Then we serve and enjoy with steamed veg, usually broccoli.
  • ...but we have been experimenting with a great, cauliflower-based rice substitute, discovered in this curry recipe on Free the Animal.
When we sit down with our curry, the first thing one of us usually says is "good brew" - because it usually is. Variety alone scores points.

What, no Salt?

You may have noticed we don't add salt. We don't feel the need. But then we don't add salt to any of our food. Maybe our palates are sensitive because of this - or maybe this combination makes it unnecessary. The tomato puree may provide all the saltiness we need, even in its 'no added salt' form, which is how we buy it.

If anyone tries this, we'd love to hear what kind of brew you come up with!

Other Recipe Posts:
My Mum's and my apple crumble
Paleo Chocolate Mousse - The Recipe Challenge


thania said...

Thanks I will try this, here in Spain , the indian food is not as popular as in UK. But there are few etnic shops.

I usually do the curry , just adding the ready paste or spice masala curry , and that is it!!

OK , I try it , and let you know.
I make a lot of tandoori with mackerel, which together with resh anchovies is the only blue fish I eat. It is great.

Now that I am starting to eat this paleo diet , find it real hard not to add salt, I guess is matter of getting used to.If I become clever enough like Mrs M with spices, then I will not miss salt any more.

Thanks for sharing.

Kaveman said...

looks great - I need to round up the proper spices but then I'll be trying it for sure!

Methuselah said...

Thania - tandoori mackerel sounds great! I have never tried it but would like to.

Gijs Nijholt said...

Excellent! I'm going to try this very soon.
thanks for sharing

Shelley said...

great looking curry........

off topic....saw your post on twitter I think it was about primal chocolate? here in canada we can buy creamed coconut, which is solid, just like a white chocolate bar. I have also seen raw vegan online shops that sell cocoa butter, but not sure if that tows the party line?

last night a friend of mine ordered snails in garlic and butter at a restaurant and I got to thinking about those old gallic standards of snails and frogs legs and, how primal they must be.

and yet on another thread, have you watched the series 'supersizers go'? I am a bit behind the times as I dont have a tv, but am downloading this series to watch.

bon apetit

Methuselah said...

Hey Shelley,

Creamed coconut is great - in fact that's what I am proposing as one of the ingredients of my chocolate. I am thinking that since creamed coconut is already like white chocolate, and becomes liquid when heated, perhaps it could be mixed with cocoa powder then reset in the fridge to create darker chocolate.

The trouble is, I can imagine it would be impossibly more-ish and am scared to make anything except a small batch in case I consume the lot in one sitting! Eating too much of that creamed coconut has undesirable effects on the digestion...

I haven't heard of 'supersizers go' - is that a US series? I am based in the UK...

Shelley said...

Methuselah, youre right I imagine it would be ridiculously moorish, I have a hard time with just having a block of creamed coconut in the cupboard!

The Supersizers series is indeed a bbc production, embarrassed to say I saw it here.....

it looks like an interesting journey through different diets through history, eg tudor and post WW11 Britain. they made mention of the tudor diet being very 'atkins'. I really want to check it out.

Methuselah said...

Ah, yes - I knew the series, just not the name! I saw the first one where they were eating a wartime carb-tastic diet. I will look out for the current series now that I know what it's called. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

I'm off to Walmart to see if they sell all this. I'll report back....

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