Curry in Georgia

I really thought I’d get around to posting this eventually… but apparently I didn’t. Today one of my previous dinner guests requested the recipe so I sent this to her, and I figured that while I had it on the clipboard I might as well throw it up here too.

This is a variation of my old Rogan Josh recipe. Rogan Josh calls for lamb, and a specific assortment of spices, which I vary from very little. However, it’s almost impossible to make it here the way I did in New York (for instance, lamb hasn’t really been in season at all since I’ve been here – but in spring, I’ll be attempting an actual Rogan Josh) and so I’ve taken to sort of improvising little changes here and there for the sake of variety. In other words, your mileage may vary.

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2 onions, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 peppers, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
1 finger-length piece of ginger root, diced
1/2 kilo to 1 kilo potatoes, peeled and chopped (or, use meat!)
Vegetable Oil (sunflower works fine)
2 scoops of Matsoni (any yoghurt or ghee will do)
Herbs*
Spices*

Spices:
These are highly variable. In Georgia, I use a combination of ground red pepper, dzira, hops spice, coriander, caraway, curry powder, saffron, salt, black pepper, paprika, and maybe some other stuff (turmeric and cumin are nice if you can get them). Use one or two tablespoons of each spice depending on how much you like them, they’re all basically going to be background against the overall flavor which should be highly dominated by hot peppers and ginger. Go easy on the Dzira/caraway because they’re basically the same thing. If you have hot peppers, chop a few up and add them in, or throw them in whole if they’re small. Otherwise substitute a bunch of extra ground red pepper.

For herbs, I like to use fresh cilantro if you can get it, but basil and parsley are also both good additions, or you can get creative.

You only need one pot for this, but it should be pretty big. You start by dicing the onions, then coat the bottom of the pot with oil and start to heat the onions. You’re supposed to wait until they start to get glassy but it’s not really necessary, just get them nice and soft. Add in the garlic and ginger (also peeled and diced) and stir them around, try not to let anything burn or get dried out, but get it nice and hot and get the flavors to start to combine.

Next you’ll add chopped tomatoes and peppers – these can be fairly chunky as they’ll add texture to the dish. Then you’ll add the spices and the matsoni. Stir this around and you should have a decent amount of liquidy stuff. If it’s ever too dry, add more oil. The mixture should be simmering but never boiling.

Then you add the basic substance of the dish. Because of my numerous vegetarian friends, my standard now is potatoes – chopped so that each piece is a nice size but not more than a mouthful – but in the past I’ve used lamb, beef, or chicken, cubed to the same general specifications. If you’re using potatoes or chicken you’ll want to go easy on the bitterish spices like caraway and coriander because they can be overwhelming. If you’re using beef or lamb I recommend hitting the spicier spices extra hard. Also beef and lamb tend to be fatty enough to produce a good textured curry but chicken and potatoes need more liquid, so you may need to use some extra matsoni or oil, or even add a dash of tomato paste or sauce.

Anyway, stir this all up and try to get all the potatoes/meat submerged in the liquid. Last thing in should be the fresh herbs. Then you’ll want to slowly cook this stuff for anywhere between an hour and two hours – it’s easy for potatoes because you just wait for them to get really soft. For meats, it’s best to slow cook them for two hours, remembering not to let it boil too much, but just simmer. At this point don’t add any more oil – if you need more liquid in the mixture you can add a small amount of water. If the curry is a little dry, cover it and let it simmer, it will recycle its own moisture. If it ends up being too thin you can uncover it and it will reduce a little. Stir it at least once every ten minutes to keep the stuff on the bottom from burning.

After about an hour you should taste the curry and see if it’s delicious. If it’s not perfect, you have an opportunity to add some stuff to make it better – sometimes I find myself adding some more salt at this stage.

I know this seems like a lot of guesswork and improvisation – I had a more precise recipe in New York, but then in NY I actually had the capacity to buy exact spices and measure exact quantities and stuff,
so it was more of a science. Still, the dish is hard to screw up – the worst thing I did to one of these was add too much salt, which is why I now go easy on the salt to start and add more later if it needs it.

One final note – the fresher the ingredients, the better. I’ve done this with canned tomatoes and it’s not bad, but doing it with farm-fresh, in season tomatoes makes it amazing. Also, feel free to experiment with additional vegetables – I’ve been considering adding carrots to a curry one of these days, for example, and I’m sure there are tons of other veggies that would really complement the dish well.

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Side note: My new host family made Mingrelian soup with meatwads (I’ll get the Georgian name eventually) and it was spicy and delicious. I’m going to learn the recipe and play around with some Indian-Mingrelian fusion, which may not be as unlikely a combination as it sounds. I bet I could make a really kick-ass Mingrelian curry by just reducing the liquid content of the sauce and maybe boiling it down a bit.

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Random, but I really love this song:


[Video: Sara Bareilles, Any Way The Wind Blows]

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5 Responses to Curry in Georgia

  1. Andrew says:

    I’ve used carrots in a curry before and the world didn’t end, I wouldn’t say it made a huge difference. It may have made it a bit sweeter.

  2. Andrew says:

    Also, I can’t wait till the spring and people start cooking with fresh herbs. Most of the Georgian recipes I have seen seem to rely almost entirely on the fresh produce of the Spring and Summer. I am still skeptical of this one sauce that seems to take an entire herb garden and put it in a blender.

  3. Pingback: Outrage Porn | Georgia On My Mind

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