Quel est le plat du jour?

My french speaking associates are cringing whilst reading this article. Well, Good! For the non-francophiles amongst my readers, the phrase roughly translates to “What is the special of the day?”.

The crux of this post is that the special of the day is the special of the day. Before one starts to spin in circular thinking, let me expand. Whence one prepares several basic components, and stores said, one can create fantastic meals very much on the whim of the diner.

As we emerge from our bubbles and move back to lives of travel and in-office work, time becomes a more precious commodity, and as we have been stagnant for many months, health becomes even more precious. Many people find themselves pressed to deliver a varied menu to suit a varied array of dietary requirements.

Enter an interesting set of blogs and blog posts about the British Indian Restaurant, their tricks, tips, techniques, and process. I’ll refer to TheCurryKid and the CurryGuy as specific instances, but many more cover many other cuisines.

One might say my AWS DevOps and Terraform skills are being applied to a whole new realm of possibilities. Let us take a simple Indian Chicken Curry and review the process.

  • Gather components from the freezer.
    • Curry Base.
    • Poached chicken.
    • Stock.
  • Allow Thawing.
  • Gather components from the spice pantry.
    • All-purpose seasoning.
    • Curry Powder.
    • Garam Masala.
  • Gather and Prep vegetables.
    • Peel / Dice Onion.
    • Peel / Dice potatoes (if used).
    • Wash / Dice Tomatoes (if used).
    • Wash / Dice chilies.
  • Gather Miscellaneous items
    • Vegetable oil
    • Rice
    • Diluted Tomato Paste / Diced Tomatoes
  • Start Rice
  • In a skillet over high heat
    • Bring oil to a shimmer
    • Fry spices until fragrant
    • Drop heat
    • Add tomato paste and stir
    • Add onions and chilies
    • Add 1/3 of the curry base, and reduce
    • Add 2/3 of the curry base and the poached chicken
    • Add the final spices, and reduce the gravy.
    • Adjust consistency with stock.
    • Taste, season, and balance the flavor.
  • Serve curry with or over rice.

The process above, (minus the thaw time), should not take more that 20 minutes, the longest components being the thaw time and preparation of the rice. Actual cooking time for the curry should not be more that half of that time.

I have called out Indian cuisine here, but I am sure these techniques apply to many others. Thai, Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Mex-tex all come to mind.

Portioning of prepared components will be crucial to producing good meals, but with minimal left-overs. In example, for the curry base above, one might use 2 cups of base for 2 people, but only one for a single portion, as such the portion for this would be one cup. This will apply to any other prepared components, (proteins, add-ins.)

I will include recipes for the curry base, poached chicken and crispy tofu as starting point. These are based on the blogs mentioned prior, but with a rogue chef twist.

Curry Gravy Base

Basic curry gravy base.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Ingredient
Cuisine BIR, British, Indian, Indo-Chinese
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 379 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lb Onions Peeled, quartered, petaled
  • 8 cloves Garlic Peeled
  • 2 tbsp Tumeric
  • 2 tbsp Ginger Peeled, chopped coarsely
  • 1 pkg Cilantro Rinsed
  • 1 cup Vegetable oil
  • 12 cup Boiling Water
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes 15 oz can
  • 1 ea Green Bell Pepper Washed, Seeded, Rough Chop
  • 1 tbsp All Purpose Seasoning See attached Recipe
  • 300 ml Coconut Milk Full fat
  • 3 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp Curry Powder See attached Recipe
  • 1 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar

Instructions
 

  • Peel and roughly chop the onions, peppers and either grate or mince the garlic and ginger
  • Add the oil and onions to the pot and fry to soften and, start to caramelize for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add in the peppers, carrots, garlic, ginger, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, and all the spices, stir well, then add in the water and sugar and combine
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender blend to a smooth consistaency, the gravy should be the consistency of thin soup.
  • Return to a low simmer and cook until the oil starts to render out ~ 30 minutes.
  • Then portion to 300ml (~2 cups) and freeze.

Notes

Just a curry gravy base.   An ingredient for many curries. 
Do note the various curry powder and All-purpose seasonings.  I am sure, these can be purchased from various online shops, but as I do not advertise said shops, we’ll describe how to create our own.

Nutrition

Calories: 379kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 3gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 29gSodium: 91mgPotassium: 401mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 129IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 59mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Base, Curry, Gravy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Poached Chicken

Pre-Cooked Chicken for fast meal prep
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Ingredient
Cuisine BIR, British, Indian, Indo-Chinese
Servings 4 people
Calories 238 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb Chicken See Notes
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 3 ea Cardamom pods Black
  • 3 ea Cardamom pods Green
  • 10 ea Black Peppercorns
  • 1 in Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 ea Onions Large, minced
  • 1 can Chopped Tomatoes 14 oz
  • 2 ea bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Tumeric

Instructions
 

  • In a medium pot over high heat, bring oil to a spider
  • Add whole spices and bay leaves. Stir until aromatic
  • Add minced onions, stir until the onions soften and turn translucent
  • Add salt and stir for ~ 2 minutes.
  • Add Tumeric and stir
  • Add tomatoes with juice, stir and bring to a simmer; simmer for 5-10 minutes
  • Add chicken and water to cover
  • Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, ~ 30 minutes
  • Remove from heat and cool. Thence portion and freeze.

Notes

Chicken:  One can use boneless, skinless, tasteless chicken breast here, or one can go with bone-in chicken thighs.
This can be thawed, used in Asian dishes, mid-eastern fair, or in good old British Indian style curries.
The poaching liquid can be strained, portioned and frozen, to be used in all the things that require the golden goodness that is chicken stock.

Nutrition

Calories: 238kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 11gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 477mgPotassium: 354mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 214IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Chicken, poach
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Air Fryer Tofu

Crispy Vegetable Protein, ready to use as a meat substitue
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Resting time 5 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Ingredient
Cuisine Asian, BIR, British, Indian, Indo-Chinese, Thai
Servings 4
Calories 101 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pkg extra firm tofu Drained and pressed well
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Corn Starch
  • 1/4 tsp Salt Kosher, of course
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garam Marsala Optional
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder Optional
  • 1 tsp All Purpose Seasoning Optional

Instructions
 

  • Press, and slice the tofu, thence press the slices
  • Cut the slabs to the size desired; I use a ~ 1" cube.
  • Toss all to coat well.
  • Spread on a wire rack so that cubes are not touching, thence rest 5 minutes
  • Oil the basket of an air fryer, place cubes in basket DO NOT CROWD,
  • Air Fry at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Checking occasionally

Notes

If using optional spice mixes, do make sure not to burn them during the air fry.
We are looking for a crispy coat.  Once done, portion and freeze.
This is a great substitute for meat in any number of dishes.
Dependant on the air fryer, one may need to fry in batches, and one may need to flip the cubes and fry for additional time.

Nutrition

Calories: 101kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 8gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 209mgPotassium: 181mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 27IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Garlic Ginger Chili Paste

An essential for many Asian dishes.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Ingredient, Sauce
Cuisine Asian, BIR, British, Indian, Indo-Chinese
Servings 2 cups
Calories 167 kcal

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Garlic Cloves Peeled
  • 3/4 cup Ginger Peeled, minced
  • 20 ea Green Chilies Washed, stemmed. See Notes
  • 2 tsp Vegetable Oil

Instructions
 

  • Place all in a blender jar, and pulse to a fine paste, adding small amounts of water to assist.

Notes

Note:   Choose your chilies well, and according to your taste.  One might start with 10 chilies and add additional to match your tolerance for spice.
I tend to use Thai or serrano chilies, but as mentioned above, choose well…
Portion and freeze.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 167kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 5gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 50mgPotassium: 422mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 6IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 129mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

  Filed under: Cook For One, Cultural-Misappropriation, Indian, Indo-Chinese, Process, Quick

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