Curry

Karē Sōsu カレーソース (Japanese Curry Sauce)

Karē (Japanese Curry Sauce)Reminiscent of those dreadful British school-dinner curries of the 80s and akin to the sort of curry sauce that is poured over chips in the UK or currywurst in Germany, at first glance Japanese curry is mild, bland and, to some at least, inoffensive to the point of being offensive. That may all seem a tad harsh, but the comparison is far from unjustified, especially when you consider that curry was first introduced to Japan by the British (of all people) in the early 1900s! With that in mind however, it is all too easy to be unduly disparaging about Japanese curry and you shouldn’t, as it is actually quite delicious.

Generally speaking, in Japan karē is served as a sauce (sōsu) rather than a curry made with meat, so you are unlikely to find a chicken or beef curry per se. You are of course welcome to add some meat to the curry sauce as it cooks, but I prefer to pour it over a crisp crumbed cutlet (tonkatsu/chikenkatsu) or add it to a pile of gyūdon. Typically eaten with rice or udon noodles, karē is so popular it is considered one of Japan’s national dishes and is readily available throughout the country, both at specialist restaurants or as an option on menus at most gyūdon or noodle joints.

What sets karē apart from other curries is the fact that it is made with a roux, which enriches and thickens sauce. There are a wide range of Japanese curry/roux cubes available at most Asian supermarkets and these are well worth the expense as they are really the only specialist ingredient in the karē sōsu. Alternatively, you can use Japanese curry powder instead. If, however, neither of these are available you can just use a mild curry powder, but the flavour won’t be as authentic.

For more Japanese recipes, please click HERE or to find out more about how to stock a Japanese Pantry, please click HERE

Click here for the recipe

Rendang Daging (Beef Rendang)

Beef RendangSome mornings I wake up with one word in mind: “rendang!”. I think it’s probably just a Malaysian thing, but this is a dish I literally dream about.

Beef Rendang is perhaps the most beloved Malay meal and is often the go-to main dish for many a family feast or special occasion. With its origins rooted in Indonesia, rendang is popluar throughout South East Asia, especially amongst the Malays in Malaysia and Singapore. Although not widely known outside the region, a 2011 online poll by CNN International chose rendang as the number one dish of their ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods’. Yes, rendang really is that good!

Rendang, however, seems to appeal the most to expat Malaysians. In spite of its long cooking time, rendang is relatively easy to make and can withstand a certain degree of adaptation – something that is vital given the inherent difficulties in stocking a Malay pantry abroad. On a deeper level, though, cooking up a batch of rendang can sometimes feel like an affirmation of our shared cultural identity; a reconnection to our collective culinary memories, through taste. This is the real reason for rendang’s enduring popularity; for many of us it, quite simply, tastes of home.

Ostensibly a curry, rendang is in fact what is known as a dry-curry. Cooked over an extended period, the aromatic coconut sauce is reduced to the point until it clings to the tender beef. This prolonged reduction creates an intensity of flavour that can only be described as explosive. As with all curries, a rendang benefits immensely from being made the day before serving; a night in the fridge gives the flavours time to develop and mellow. Your rendang will be all the better for your patience.

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

Click here for the recipe

Kari Kapitan (Nyonya Chicken Curry Kapitan)

Kari Kapitan (Nyonya Chicken Curry)This Malaysian Classic was my late father’s favourite curry and with good reason, it is simply delectable!

The überkind of Nyonya cuisine, Kari Kapitan is the prefect confluence of traditional Malay and Chinese flavours. My version of this curry is a loose adaptation of that of the reigning queen of Nyonya food, Pearly Kee. Nyonya cuisine is the epitome of what makes Malaysian food great; inclusivity, and Pearly is a true vanguard of this culinary heritage. The result of a marriage of Malay and Chinese ingredients and flavours, Nyonya style cooking is unique to Malaysia and is, perhaps, one of the most underrated cuisines in the World.

A Malaysian take on a traditional Indian Chicken Curry, Kari Kapitan is the result of a thorough Nyonya makeover. Along with the classic additions of lemongrass, lime and galangal, the chief Nyonya element is belachan. Ubiquitous to Malaysian cuisine, belachan is a fermented shrimp paste and is one of the hallmarks of Nyonya cooking. Whilst best described as ‘pungent’, belachan mellows when added to a curry, imparting a depth of flavour to the finished dish like no other.

One of my happiest childhood memories is going on a family outing to the local waterfalls; virtually the entire Clan was there – grandparents, aunts, uncles and a full gaggle of cousins. After hours of slip-sliding through the falls, it was finally lunchtime! As we gathered for our picnic, my grandmother presented us with a massive white Tupperware, filled to the brim with leftover Kari Kapitan. Armed with anticipation and slices of fresh white bread, we all tucked in; what bliss! Perched on those boulders, surrounded by my army of screaming cousins, with the cool waters rushing between my toes and my fingers stained yellow from the Kari Kapitan; it was the perfect childhood memory, matched with the perfect meal.

Universally, all curries benefit from a day of rest before being served, but this is especially true of Kari Kapitan. Whilst still delicious when eaten on the day of cooking, a bit of patience reaps its own reward. Such is its plethora of flavours, Kari Kapitan needs time to find its balance, to develop and mature. As a result, Kari Kapitan makes for amazing leftovers…and memories.

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

Click here for the recipe

Kadhai Murgh (Chicken Kadhai)

One of my staple Indian curries, Chicken Kadhai regularly features in almost all Indian meals I make; big or small.

Kadhai ChickenThe key ingredient in this curry is the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) as it adds a distinct flavour that is both delicious and alluring. Although widely available from spice markets, kasoori methi isn’t a flavour many are accustomed to and makes a nice change from the typical curry flavours most people normally encounter.

A personal favourite, to my mind this curry tastes and smells of India herself; a heady blend of fragrant spices, the earthy tones of the kasoori methi – all marry into a potent assault on the senses. Just like India this curry will charm you, its flavours will linger and it will invariably leave you wanting more.

For more of my top picks for an Indian feast, please click here

Click here for the recipe

Rogan Josh

Rogan JoshArguably the King of Indian Curries, Rogan Josh is one of the most recognised Indian curries outside of India. Sadly, its ubiquitous stature has done it no favours beyond the borders of the sub-continent. Like many noble dishes before it, Rogan Josh has suffered from the inevitable gentrification that comes with Western popularity. Along with its equally maligned cousin Butter Chicken, Rogan Josh has been largely reduced to a synonym for a generic lamb curry. This is an absolute tragedy because Rogan Josh deserves its enduring popularity, it just shouldn’t have to suffer because of it.

In its true form, it is an amazing curry; incredibly tasty and surprisingly easy to make – it is my top pick for any Indian feast!

For more of my top picks for an Indian feast, please click here

Click here for the recipe

Thai Mussaman Beef Curry

Thai Mussaman Beef CurryMussaman Beef Curry is my personal favourite of all the conventional Thai curries that we know and love; I find it has a depth of flavour that is sometimes absent in other Thai curries. In particular, the aromatics in this recipe give a smoky edge to the sauce that takes the curry to a whole new level.

The irony about this particular mussaman curry recipe is that it’s actually adapted from one by a television chef who thoroughly irked me for turning his nose up at ready-made pastes, but I must confess that I found his technique for making of this curry surprisingly authentic. Nevertheless, I still felt the need to tweak it here and there. Of course his version requires the “essential” homemade paste made out of 14 additional ingredients, my does not. Both versions taste wonderful, but only one takes half the effort and expense. I’m Asian and I know which one I’m calling my own.

For more delicious Thai recipes please click here, or if you need tips on stocking your Thai Pantry please click here.

Click here for the recipe