Currying Flavor

A friend gave me a copy of the new Gourmet cookbook as a Christmas gift, and it took me back to my childhood when my mother used the first edition as her cooking “bible.” In the latest edition, Ruth Reichl, former New York Times food critic, writes about the incredible changes in food with regards to availability of more exotic ingredients and new equipment. While delving into the Gourmet cookbook, I started thinking about The Plantation Cookbook, published in 1972 by the Junior League of New Orleans. It was my first real experience with a cookbook and I’ll never forget the summer we basically hugged the Mississippi River in a 10 hour tour of many of these houses. I learned so much about plantation life and Creole cooking, but I was only 15, so I didn’t take too much in. Now that I care, The Plantation Cookbook is my “bible” for Creole cooking. The curry sauce (while not Creole) for meats, chicken or seafood is one of my favorite recipes. I love curry, and even though I have tried many more exotic versions at Thai and Indian restaurants, this curry remains my favorite because it was my first … and I love to add condiments.
RECIPE
old-fashioned southern curry
An updated version of curry sauce for meats, chicken and fish from The Plantation Cookbook, Junior League of New Orleans, 1972, Doubleday & Co.

1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
3 tblsp. butter
3 to 4 tblsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
3 tblsp. flour
2 cups coconut milk
Salt, to taste
1/8 tsp. mace
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 green apple, chopped
5 cups cooked lamb or chicken, cut into
bite size pieces; or 5 cups of cleaned,
boiled shrimp
2 tblsp. currant jelly
2 tblsp. chutney, chopped

Cook onion, carrot and celery in butter until soft. Add curry and chili powder and cook for 5 minutes. Blend in flour. Add coconut milk and stir until just boiling. Add salt, mace, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and apple. Simmer 1/2 hour, then process in a food processor before straining. Add the chicken (lamb or shrimp) to the sauce and refrigerate overnight. (The dish freezes beautifully
at this point.)

When ready to serve, heat mixture slowly over a double boiler. You will need to add some chicken broth if the mixture is too thick. Before serving, mix in currant jelly and chutney. Serve with basmati or jasmine rice and any condiments you like. My favorites are: bacon, pineapple, minced jalapeños, cilantro, chutney, peanuts, coconut and chopped egg. Serves 6.