The heat is on

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 October, 2010, 12:00am

Curry has come a long way from its roots, with many cuisines adapting the complex blend of ground spices that Indians know as garam masala. Spice shelves across the world carry curry powder, which is used to flavour everything from soup to desserts. I've tasted curry ice cream, which was surprisingly good, and curry truffles, which were awful.

Tonkatsu with udon and home-made curry (pictured)

This recipe is by food stylist Vivian Herijanto. One day, when she was out of turmeric, she added commercial curry powder to her home-made spice blend and says she liked it so much she's continued to use it.

For the curry:

30ml cooking oil

1 onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp whole mustard seeds

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

1 tsp whole coriander seeds

1 tsp ground paprika

1 tbsp curry powder

30 grams plain (all-purpose) flour

500ml unsalted chicken stock, preferably home-made, heated

300-400 grams diced carrots

1 tsp vinegar

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the pork chop and udon:

4 boneless pork chops, about 250 grams each

Plain flour, for dredging

Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), for coating

2 eggs

1 tsp paprika

Cooking oil, for frying

200 grams udon noodles

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-high flame. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, stirring often. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, paprika and curry powder. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add the flour and stir constantly for a few minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Still stirring constantly, slowly add the stock. Add the carrot, bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer until the carrot is tender and the sauce has thickened. Add the vinegar, taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper and paprika if needed.

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs with the paprika in another bowl, and put some panko in a third bowl. Coat a pork chop thoroughly with flour and shake off the excess then dip it in the egg. Coat the pork with the panko, pressing on the breadcrumbs so they adhere. Place on a wire rack and repeat with the other pork chops, letting them rest while you heat the oil.

Pour cooking oil into a frying pan to a depth of about 2cm and heat until very hot (about 200 degrees Celsius). Put the pork chops in the oil and fry them in batches until they're golden brown, adjusting the temperature of the oil as necessary so the meat doesn't burn. The chops will take about three to five minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Drain on paper towels.

Cook the udon noodles in boiling water for just a few minutes then drain. Heat the curry sauce; if it's too thick, add some water or chicken broth. Slice the pork into thick pieces. Put the udon on plates, add the sliced pork and a ladleful of curry sauce and serve.

Curried Puy lentils with green peas, roasted garlic and yogurt

This is a version of a dish I tasted in Italy - which shows how far curry powder has migrated. You can make it with other types of lentils but be careful to not overcook them.

Aged balsamic vinegar is almost as thick as syrup. It's very expensive but has a rich, complex flavour.

10 large garlic cloves, unpeeled, divided

10ml olive oil

350 grams dried Puy lentils

250 grams frozen petits pois

1 bay leaf

1-2 tsp curry powder, or to taste

10ml fresh lemon juice

20ml fresh orange juice

20ml aged balsamic vinegar

60ml extra-virgin olive oil

70 grams whole milk yogurt, preferably Greek

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Put eight unpeeled garlic cloves on a sheet of aluminium foil, drizzle with 10ml of olive oil then wrap them loosely with foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the garlic is soft (about 45 minutes). When the garlic is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin then shred the cloves into smaller pieces.

Put the lentils in a medium-sized saucepan and rinse with water, checking carefully to make sure there are no small stones. Cover the lentils with fresh water and add a little salt, the bay leaf and two garlic cloves. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, partially cover the pan with the lid and simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Add the peas and simmer for 30 seconds then drain, discarding the bay leaf and garlic.

Whisk the balsamic vinegar with the curry powder, lemon and orange juices and extra-virgin olive oil. As soon as the lentils and peas have drained, mix them while hot with the dressing, the roasted garlic and salt and pepper. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Cool the lentils slightly before gently folding in the yogurt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Styling Corner Kitchen Cooking School