Try crab curry from Sri Lanka that’s ex­plod­ing with fla­vors

Kuwait Times - - WHAT’S ON -

As any fan of celebrity chef An­thony Bour­dain knows, food is more than raw in­gre­di­ents. To un­der­stand a bowl of noo­dles or a per­fectly formed dumpling, a foodie must un­der­stand the peo­ple who make it, the place where it is made, and the deeply rooted his­tory of both.

Half­way across the world, in the small-yet-mighty city-state of Sin­ga­pore, stu­dents are em­bark­ing on the jour­ney of a life­time at The Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Amer­ica’s first in­ter­na­tional lo­ca­tion. Bach­e­lor’s de­gree can­di­dates study­ing to­ward an Asian Cuisines con­cen­tra­tion spend a se­mes­ter at the CIA’s Sin­ga­pore lo­ca­tion learn­ing from world-renowned chefs, a vi­brant culi­nary scene, and trav­els through neigh­bor­ing coun­tries like Malaysia and In­done­sia.

On a re­cent visit to Sri Lanka, stu­dents ex­plored the lo­cal fla­vors of tra­di­tional cur­ries. The coun­try has a wealth of in­gre­di­ents that were his­tor­i­cally in­ac­ces­si­ble in other parts of the world, re­sult­ing in fla­vor­ful com­bi­na­tions of spices, pro­duce, and pro­teins that are uniquely Sri Lankan. In­spired by the jour­ney, the class pre­pared this recipe for Sri Lankan Crab Curry, a spiced (and a lit­tle spicy) mix­ture that is ex­plod­ing with fla­vors and in­gre­di­ents that you may not use ev­ery day. Along­side the fa­mil­iar co­conut milk, gar­lic, and lime juice, you’ll find sour tamarind paste, earthy pan­dan leaves, and nutty fenu­greek seeds.

While you may not find some of th­ese in­gre­di­ents in your ev­ery­day gro­cery store, they should be eas­ily found at a well-stocked Asian mar­ket or through on­line re­tail­ers. If not, ask around the mar­ket for sug­ges­tions to re­place the hard-to-find in­gre­di­ents. The beauty of a curry is that, while ev­ery in­gre­di­ent plays a role, there is enough fla­vor to go around so mi­nor omis­sions or sub­sti­tu­tions won’t ruin the recipe.

We’re in­clud­ing a recipe for curry pow­der, and while you can pur­chase a pre-made blend, mak­ing your own gives you the free­dom to ad­just the mix­ture to your pref­er­ences. If you just can’t stand the fla­vor of fen­nel, then use a lit­tle bit less, be­cause it’s your curry. Use any leftovers to coat roasted veg­eta­bles, to punch up a chicken soup, or to stir into hum­mus for a fla­vor­ful sand­wich spread. How­ever you use th­ese in­gre­di­ents, and no mat­ter where you pur­chase them, al­low this recipe to trans­port you some­where new, and maybe you’ll be in­spired to go off and taste the world your­self.

SRI LANKAN CRAB CURRY IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

Serv­ings: 8 serv­ings Start to fin­ish: 1 hour (Ac­tive time: 15 min­utes) 3 ta­ble­spoons Curry Pow­der Two 2-pound crabs, top shell, gills, and guts re­moved 1/2 tea­spoon turmeric pow­der 3 ta­ble­spoons In­dian chili pow­der 1/4 tea­spoon kosher salt, plus more as needed 1/2 cup co­conut oil 1 cup sliced shal­lots 1/4 cup sliced gar­lic 2 sprigs curry leaves (about 15 fresh leaves) 1 long green chili, sliced 2 cups co­conut milk 1/2 cup tamarind paste, soaked then strained 4 fresh pan­dan leaves 1 cup co­conut cream 2 ta­ble­spoons lime juice, plus more as needed

CURRY POW­DER

6 car­damom pods 1 cin­na­mon stick 2 tea­spoons co­rian­der seed 1 ta­ble­spoon cumin seed 1 ta­ble­spoon fen­nel seed 6 whole cloves 1 tea­spoon fenu­greek seed 1 tea­spoon In­dian chili pow­der 6 dried curry leaves

PREPA­RA­TION

To pre­pare the curry pow­der, heat a small skil­let over medium heat. Add the car­damom pods and toast, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til the pods have dark­ened slightly and are fra­grant, about 1 minute. Trans­fer to a bowl. Add the cin­na­mon stick and toast un­til it is also slightly dark­ened and fra­grant. Trans­fer to a bowl, and then re­peat with the co­rian­der, cumin, fen­nel, cloves, and fenu­greek un­til all are toasted. Add the chili pow­der and curry leaves to the mix­ture and grind in a mor­tar and pes­tle or elec­tric spice grinder. Set aside.

Cut each crab into quar­ters. Crack the claws, but leave them at­tached. In a shal­low dish, com­bine the crab, curry pow­der, turmeric, chili pow­der, and salt, and toss to coat. Cover and re­frig­er­ate for 30 min­utes. Heat the co­conut oil in a large, heavy-bot­tomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the shal­lots, gar­lic, and curry leaves and cook un­til softened, about 1 minute. Add the green chili and crab and cook un­til aro­matic, about 3 min­utes.

Add the co­conut milk, tamarind paste, and pan­dan leaves and stir to com­bine. Re­duce to a sim­mer and cook un­til the crab is fully cooked, about 12 min­utes. If the mix­ture seems too dry, add ad­di­tional co­conut milk or wa­ter 1/4 cup at a time. Re­move from the heat and add co­conut cream and lime juice, and sea­son with salt, to taste, be­fore serv­ing. —AP

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