The 7th of this month brings International Curry Week. A week dedicated to celebrating all the wonderful flavours and dishes that come from the spice motherland of the world – India. This curry mecca has an absolute wealth of varieties from fish, to chicken, to goat, to meat, and a myriad of vegetable ones. It’s safe to say throughout my travels, both around this wonderful continent and in my own kitchen, i’ve tried and tested many a curry and tantalising side dish and many i’ve shared with all of you. One standout curry-eating experience for me though, was when I was travelling through the North and each lunch we would sit down to a Thali – a selection of different main and side dishes served on a platter. A Thali can be made with all sort of dishes, but in the North, we predominantly ate vegetarian. A collection of wonderfully aromatic veg curries were served up alongside fluffy saffron rice, fresh cucumber salads and large folds of naan to mop it all up.
Often in Australia, we adapt these traditional dishes for convenience – so was born the one-pot-wonder. We tend to throw as many ingredients into one curry or one-pot dish as we can and this I totally understand; we’re all pressed for time and often it’s a matter of trying to get as many servings of veg and protein in one hit as we can. But traditionally, Indian curries are best served with one-two star ingredients and are served altogether on a platter like a Thali. It may seem like a daunting task making multiple curries for one sitting, but it’s a lot simpler than you think and the result is amazing – each dish mingling with the other to work in perfect flavour harmony.
We have a selection of wonderful blends for vegetable-based curries and as well as that, all of our meat-based blends can be just as easily made using veg in place of meat. Ie: When making our Butter Chicken, replace the chicken with something like chickpeas – a hearty, buttery legume that can carry the richness of this decadent sauce. When making a korma, replace the lamb or chicken with cubes of eggplant to soften and soak up all of the wonderful korma gravy. Or when making a tandoori grill-up, use whole florets of cauliflower that go nice and soft inside with a charred spicy crust on the outside but still hold their shape very well. And of course, when in doubt, turn to everyone’s favourite vegan/vegetarian staple – tofu.
Translated, Makhani means ‘buttery’, and with its silky, creamy sauce you can definitely see why. This version of dal is a very popular one among North Indians and also has to be one of my favourites – I’ve posted a traditional recipe previously which you can see by Clicking Here. This time around, I decided to try something a little different and created my Sweet Potato Makhani.
Traditionally, the curries of the North are tomato-onion-based and coconut milk is used mostly in West, however, with this slightly different version of a traditional Makhani, I decided to incorporate coconut milk along with the tomato and onion to add a little creamy sweetness that works very well with the sweet potato. Fragrant, creamy, spicy, sweet – this perfectly balanced curry is super-delicious!
Sambar is a vegetable soup-style curry that’s served through the South of India and uses an array of super-fragrant spices to make a punchy, warming broth. To view my take on a traditional Sambar using yellow split peas, Click Here. This time around, I decided to take a classic vegetarian Indian dish and incorporate this wonderful blend – my South Indian-Style Malai Kofta.
Malai Kofta has to be one of the most decadent dishes in Indian cuisine and it’s certainly one of my favourites. The amazing kofta potato dumplings are crisp and golden on the outside and super soft and fluffy inside and are accompanied by the most wonderful silky, creamy, buttery sauce that’s perfumed with fragrant Indian spices. The South Indian Sambar spice mix that works perfectly with the rich, creamy sauce and sweet tomatoes and onions.
This one takes a little extra effort by making the kofta balls as well as the curry sauce, but I can tell you, it’s well worth it!
No Thali is complete, in my eyes, without a delicious, fragrant Dahl. This authentic, historic dish always includes (sometimes solely) lentils. A tried and tested favourite of mine is my classic Indian Dahl recipe using our best-selling Curry Lentil Dahl spice mix, which is an aromatic, mild blend that echoes the traditional flavours of this staple Indian dish.
This time, I decided to try something a little different by incorporating some baby spinach leaves, for a little added green, and crispy, golden nuggets of paneer cheese. Paneer is a firm, non-melting, un-aged cheese that’s used widely throughout India in dishes such as Palak Paneer and Paneer Masala. I think of it as India’s version of a haloumi and it makes the most wonderful addition to curries and carries the flavours of spices so well.
Serve as a main meal with rice and naan or as a fitting addition to your Indian Thali.
There you have it, a few dishes to get your Thali started. Serve these curries alongside rice, fluffy naan, and a tangy raita or sweet chutney. Along with these few gems, we have a tonne more amazing curry recipes and the perfect bundle to get you started with them – Indian Bombay Madras, North Indian Korma, Indian Tandoori, Indian Rogan Josh, Curry Lentil Dahl, Indian lamb masala curry, Dal Makhani, South indian Sambar Masala, Curry leaves and Indian Butter chicken.
Hopefully this collection of recipes can inspire you to try something a little different next time you’re hankering for a curry and try your hand at making a few types for a bit of variety. Happy International Curry Week!