Hey folks, welcome to november! I know that national curry week was last month but I just so happened to come into a whole load of bananas and coconut, recently. Inspiring me to look into one of my mother’s favourite curries: The kashmiri.
A sweet, creamy, fruit-based curry from exactly the region that its name implies.
So it was a simple prospect: Research a real kashmiri, put my own little twist on it and, if all went smoothly, write up my results for all of you. Easy content, right? Well, not exactly
As it turns out, an authentic kashmiri curry is based around mangoes and lychees, not bananas. Still fruity, yet very different from what I had in mind.
So, while today’s dish does take a little inspiration from it, in its spices, it also draws upon the malayan and a whole host of more keralan meals, in order to form a truly delightful, caramelised fruit curry with neither an official name, nor any specific region to call its own.
A pan-indian fusion, if you will, which gets its mild heat from a blend of rich and raisin-like, mexican chillies, in order to best complement the banana without adding any extra sweetness. Because, if I’m going off-script already, I might as well go the whole hog.
There’s nothing traditional about today’s recipe but I’m eager to share it, all the same. It’s too good not to.
To make it, I used:
250ml veg stock
250ml coconut milk
2 ripe bananas
1 medium-sized onion
1 cinnamon stick (I used the standard cassia variety)
3 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon creamed coconut
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons dried curry leaves (or fresh equivalent)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (ideally black or brown)
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon amchoor powder (dried sour mango)
1 teaspoon ancho chilli powder
½ teaspoon pasilla chilli powder
A pinch of salt
And a cubic inch of fresh ginger.
And, while my version was made with vegetable stock, to suit my vegetarian family, you could easily swap it out for a more meaty variety and replace the potatoes with seared chicken. Whatever suits your preference and needs.
Now, to get started, we’re going to warm our stock, if it’s not up to temperature already, and combine it with the coconut milk, turmeric, curry leaves, fenugreek, cumin, amchoor, chillies and salt, in order to create our base broth. The turmeric and fenugreek enhancing the dish’s golden notes, while the cumin and curry leaves should help temper the sweetness and the amchoor is just my little nod to the mango in the kashmiri.
Then, as soon as that broth is properly mixed we’re going to set it aside. We won’t be using it right away but the longer we leave it, the more those flavours are going to infuse.
So next we chop everything, while we wait.
The bananas, onions, ginger and potatoes all need skinning and chopping, though you can get away with chunking the last of those pretty large, so long as you do what I did next:
Microwave your taters.
Yes, that’s right, pre-cook your spuds for three minutes in the microwave, to ensure that they all soften up in a timely fashion.
Is it cheating? Absolutely. But are you really going to tell me that you’d rather spend another ten to twenty minutes over the stove, after all the other ingredients have cooked?
I know I wouldn’t.
So, give your spuds a quick pop in the ping box and then we can get on with cooking the rest.
To do so, we’re going to bring a wide, high-walled frying pan up to heat, filled with our mustard seeds and just enough oil to fry in. I usually like a little extra, since dried spices often absorb some and start to stick to the pan but, in this case, the fats from out coconut will make up for most of that.
Once the mustard starts to pop, chuck in the creamed coconut, cinnamon stick and all of our other remaining spices. You can add the cardamom whole, if you want, but I prefer to crack the pods open and use just the seeds. Since, that way, I don’t accidentally wind up with a mouth full of perfume, later on.
Either way, though, stir the lot gently for roughly two to three minutes and you should get this:
A pan full of golden brown, toasted coconut which will add a distinctive, keralan-style nuttiness to our curry and remove any flavour-based need for the more bangladeshi, kashmiri and hydrabadi use of almonds. Whilst our banana will take its place as the thickener.
And that sliced banana goes in now, alongside the onions.
Then we stir them through, coating both in the coconut spice mix, before quickly adding just a tiny dash of our broth, in order to de-glaze the pan and pick up anything that might still have managed to get caught on the bottom.
After which we can be sure that no spices are stuck, so all we need to do is keep things moving for another five to ten minutes and the fruit will fall apart on its own. Creating this beautiful, golden mush:
The caramelised, winter-spiced heart of our curry. Yet the body still lies elsewhere.
The bulk of this dish is its coconut broth and potatoes. Or the chicken, should you have chosen to make that substitution.
Add both of those in now, stirring to combine them with our banana base, and bring the entire pan up to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for twenty to thirty minutes. Until the sauce has thickened up and potatoes are soft enough to slice with your spoon, spatula or fork.
The perfect eating consistency and a clear indicator that it’s time to serve our wonderfully fruity curry:
One with all the sweetness of a takeaway kashmiri but entirely naturally, from our toasted coconut and caramelised banana. And with a good amount of curry leaf and mustard seed, to balance it out.
Plus, with all of that delightfully creamy coconut, its slightly higher
heat in the throat hits ever so late and is immediately soothed by the very next bite. Great for those who like it mild and, well, doubling the chilli content certainly wouldn’t hurt the flavour, if you wanted hotter.
My raisin-like ancho and pasilla powders really do complement the fruit fantastically, while also bringing the cinnamon and cloves to the fore. They’re the ideal flavour pair for almost any banana dish and they work ever so well in here.
But, at the same time, this curry tastes amazing, as is, and it doesn’t need that extra kick to make it work. Especially not if you’re cooking for family members who prefer milder curries, like I was.
It really does come down to personal preference and who you’re cooking for. Just, whatever you decide, do make sure that you remove the cinnamon stick before you tuck in.