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Friday, February 27, 2009

Does it have to be HOT???

When one hears the word curry, one would associate the words hot, spicy, burning, mouth searing, scorching, heart burning pain. Well, most of us anyway. Even those of us that do like a little spice in our lives find many of the curries in the world leave our mouths hot and bothered.

It’s a widespread misconception that all curries are hot…spicy hot. Perhaps it’s the color of curry—generally flame red, mustard yellow, vibrant orange, or muted green. Perhaps it’s the overpowering aroma that tickles our noses. Perhaps it’s because each of us surely has had an awful past experience with some kind of dish called curry.

Regardless of where this idea comes from, today in my kitchen, I am going to prove the curry skeptics wrong. You CAN enjoy a curry without setting your mouth on fire and without paying a visit to our friend, the porcelain pony. So curry.... here we come!

First, what is curry? We think of it as a spicy, saucy dish, usually served with rice or noodles to mop it up. Many origins of curry come to mind… Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, and the lesser known Jamaican and Carribean curries. But the common factor which comes to the forefront is SPICY. I am not here to deny curry’s spiciness, but spice and hot do not necessarily go hand in hand.

There are many flavourful spices included in curries around the world which do not increase the mouth burning intensity of the dish. In fact, a majority of the spices included in a curry recipe do not impact the dish’s hotness factor and you can make a milder version of any curry by reducing (but not altogether eliminating) the chilies and pepper. This misconception that all curries are hot is the main reason why it took me so long to make curry in my kitchen. But, after a little bit of travel, talk with friends, and tasting mishaps and epiphanies, I came to discover this heart warming meld of flavors and spices that is curry.

The talk of spices leads to the second reason why it took me so long to make a curry at my house... the sheer number of spices and ingredients in a curry recipe! It's a long and hard to decipher list in some cases (especially Indian curries), and leads one to believe that the assembly of the dish would be just as long and difficult. But, go ahead! Buy the spices and try one curry, and I am sure that you will be as amazed as I was to find that the ensuing recipe is easy and the end result divine!

Now enough talking. I am dying for something tasty and comforting. A dish that will excite my tastebuds without sacrificing my mouth or the lining of my stomach….Let’s go to the kitchen.

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