Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recreating Goa

I was excited when, while exploring a bookstore in Delhi, I found an Indian cookbook for only Rs. 250 (about five dollars). It included gorgeous photos, and by the end of the trip, I had eaten or had at least heard of many of the dishes featured in the book. I was happy about the idea of bringing the flavors I'd tasted in India home to my own kitchen.

Because I had loved it so much at the beachside hotel in Colva and at the restaurant with the poor service in Old Goa, I chose Goan fish curry as the first recipe I would make. I was hoping for a real winner of a meal; however, that was not meant to be.

The first thing I should have noticed, which would have told me the recipe was not going to turn out the way I expected, was that the curry in the book was a golden color. Every curry I'd eaten in Goa was red. I didn't really question this, though, and dutifully followed the directions, starting by sauteeing the onions and adding turmeric, ginger, cumin, and coriander to the pan.

It's the spices that make the curry, and the ones I named above are generally included in the "curry" spice mixes that one often finds at the local grocery store. (I also know this because I usually make my own curry spice mix, but that's another post.) Which should have also clued me in to the fact that I wasn't really making the Goan curry I knew and missed. It was really just curried fish.

And that would have been fine, too, but for some reason, it tasted pretty bland. So for dinner I had bland curried fish. Not really what I was hoping to sit down to.

I researched Goan fish curry recipes and discovered what my recipe was missing: tomato and tamarind, to be precise. In making the Goan curry the first time around, I also opted to omit the green chili, simply because I didn't have one on hand. Would three ingredients elevate the flavor to true Goan fish curry status?

Stay tuned for round two...

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