13 October 2007

A tale of a few substitutes

Some days, I like to experiment. And throw caution to the winds.

Today, I wanted some Thai Curry. I wanted it at once. And went to the one and only place that stocks 'foreign' foods. They were all out of Thai curry paste. None of the supermarkets had any lemongrass. The funny thing is, they've never stocked any before this, but for some obscure reason, I felt the need to make the attempt. Reason takes a backseat when stubbornness takes over.

Back home, I took a kitchen inventory. I compared the ingredient list with the contents of my pantry. Red Chilly, check; galangal, no; garlic, check; ... and finally kept aside what I had.

I started with the chillis. They were rather sad looking. They looked faded. What's a Thai curry without that brilliant fiery red hue?

Reason attempted to take over, but was deflected by skin thicker that the diameter or a rhinoceros. Thai curry I wanted, and Thai curry I'd make.

If I couldn't get red, why not a brilliant yellow. So out came the turmeric (the powder.. not fresh root). Shallots?? Hah! I had just made onion sambar the previous day, and used up all my stock...... and out came an onion. There was ginger (alright, I never get galangal here) and garlic. And then horror of horrors..... no lemon grass. None at all.

That needed some thought. Some rational thought. Some reason in the madness. Remember that rhinoceros I mentioned? That one charged, and drove calm, rational logic away. And convinced that obstinate illogical mind to substitute it with.. hold your breath.. lemon zest.

And ground said ingredients into a paste. And fried said paste. Added a bag of frozen veggies to said fried paste. Seasoned it with a little salt, and let said concoction simmer till the veggies were cooked. And then added a very generous dollop of coconut milk to said mix, and let it simmer a bit, and garnished with basil.

Just then the other half came home for lunch. 'Something smells nice,' he said.

I served up the curry with basil scented rice. And started to attend to the baby's lunch.

OH took a bite. And asked, 'what's for dinner?'

Hmmm... I hadn't planned that far ahead. 'Chappatis, maybe??'

'Great,' said OH. And refused a second helping, insisting he was saving space for chappatis.

After the baby had her lunch, I settled her down for a nap. And sat down to a leisurely lunch, and a good book. I took a bite of that bright yellow curry. And winced.

As curries went, it was not bad at all. It may not have been Thai curry, but was a rather decent curry in its own right. But the lemon zest had made it really bitter. Killed it completely.

I too had a light lunch... saved space for chappatis.

Next time that rhino interferes in the kitchen, I plan to call for pizza... "Sumimasen.... pizza O-hitotsu onegaishimasu" and then try to blunder through my order for a vegetarian pizza, and delivery address in Japanese.


bee said...

lol. vidya, i have a wonderful thai recipe book (vegetarian) and will post recipes for the six basic thai curry pastes soon.

Mythili said...

ROFL !!!! Awesome! You rock!! Totally!


Vidya said...

Bee: I'm looking forward to that!

Mythili: thanks :)

Thinking aloud... said...

ha..ha..u remind me of a dear friend of mine...she would also add what she tought were good substitutes and then wail...'what happened?'...

Cynthia said...

:D That for the good laugh.

Meg Wolff said...

I enjoyed looking at your family photos! Your baby is cute...I like the photo of her with her arms down...then the one after looks like she is ready for take-off!

I will visit again. Thanks.

Miri said...

Great story - sounded a lot like what I do, except I don't have the excuse of the ingredients not being available - they just aren't there at home, but I can't wait till the weekend - I have to make the dish I want NOW!!

I guess if you had added the lemon zest at the end of the curry, instead of to the paste, it would have been fine.

See....I can find a way to do the same crazy stuff all over again!!


Tracy said...

tooth whitening

I love cooking Thai food, but I have a hard time finding the right ingrediants here in the midwest where I live.

Revathi said...

Hi Hi Hi - That makes two of us. I did the exacttttt same thing. I had lemongrass but still opted to use lemon zest, it was not bitter but hubby asked whats the difference between kuruma and yellow curry - No more thai curry at home