Did I Make That?

Our edition of “Curries Without Worries” and some other cookbooks in their new locale in the kitchen

When The Lovely One and I were young, I bought a book (actually, of course I bought a lot of books, but for the purposes of today’s post only one matters), a fine and intriguing cookbook entitled Curries Without Worries.* We were way too young and inexperienced to appreciate all that it could teach us, and the ingredients it asked for were well beyond our means of acquisition in those primitive days a few decades back. However ethnic cuisine has only spread in popularity since the late 1980s, and I found out recently you can even buy boiling-bag Indian food at Hy-Vee (and experimentation has shown that grocery-store stuff is good).

I would really like to say at this point that I used that wonderful book, which I did peruse periodically over the decades, when I made us an Indian meal last night. But that would be lying. I didn’t even try to find it from wherever Janet has placed it** since the last time I paid attention. But I did invent my own fish curry.

I had planned on having tilapia for supper on Wednesday, which I usually marinate and then grill or broil in the oven. We’ve found microwavable bagged frozen vegetables that we generally eat as a side with that. However, a week ago on Wednesday, I did find a vast variety of vegetarian Indian-cuisine side dishes, cookable in the microwave just like our usual veggies.*** When, yesterday, I accepted the substitute teaching job I am working today and then e-mailed my beloved spouse about that news, I also mentioned my supper plans and offered her the choice of regular veggies on the side or some of my Indian discoveries. She picked the Indian option, commenting, “Yum!”

And her decision inspired me. I went directly to the kitchen and made her lunch for today and cut our breakfast grapefruit (my regular evening tasks, along with preparing the coffee to start itself while I am out on my run). And then I got creative and invented my fish curry. Although I tried a little internet research, I only skimmed a couple of recipes and then pursued my own already seething ideas.

First I marinated the fish, cut into chunks, in curry powder (I kind of dredged my fish chunks in the powder to begin), lemon juice and lime juice (maybe a teaspoon of each; I squirted from our plastic containers), and some ginger-sesame dressing (available, at least at one time, from Aldi). I think I also added a dollop of tomato-and-onion salad dressing that I enjoy on my salads for lunch. And let the chunks of fish rest in that goop for a while.

Then I sauteed garlic, minced, and about half a medium onion (cut into edible pieces) in maybe a tablespoon or two of canola oil, adding after a few minutes my fish chunks and their marinade (which actually was pretty minimal in amount). Then I added more curry powder and because I had glanced at my internet recipes, some additional turmeric and coriander and a shake or three of hot sauce (we had some Thai sauce, so I used that) and some red pepper/cayenne powder.

Once the fish had cooked, I poured in some tomato juice and let it all simmer. The result didnʼt taste so excellent to me, so, remembering that we had used milk to create a curry recently, I thought to add that. Unfortunately, we had only enough milk for breakfast today, so I tried instead some leftover cottage cheese Janet had in a container (I knew cottage cheese had been mentioned as an ingredient in several dishes we ate at an Indian restaurant in Madison with Diane and Steve at Christmastime). It worked — with some additional curry powder and hot pepper to my taste as well as more tomato juice and then more cottage cheese. I continued to add some of the onionʼs other half at intervals to keep the textures various.

I am typing during the wait for Janet to get home after her workout, so I donʼt know her reaction yet, but I like my invention. You might, too!

Wakdjunkagaʼs Fish Curry Ingredients

    In the pan it doesnʼt look like much, I realize, and I intended to shoot a picture of the curry on rice on my plate with a serving of dal lavosh on the side, but I forgot when the time came to eat.

  • 4 white fish filets (I used tilapia), cut into pieces (they cooked into the sauce as tiny scraps, but a better cook could keep the chunks large)
  • Lemon juice (a squeeze or three or seven; our container ran dry as I added some for my marinade on the fish)
  • Lime juice (another squeeze or three or seven)
  • Minced garlic, several tablespoons (you could use a clove or three or the jarred minced stuff, which I used and also used in marinating the fish)
  • Onion, one medium, cut into pieces
  • Cooking oil (canola), less than a quarter cup; two tablespoons perhaps
  • Ginger-sesame dressing (or real ginger)
  • Curry powder (to taste, plenty; I used about half a container)
  • Tomato juice (perhaps 4 ounces); I think using a real tomato or two would be good — we just didnʼt have any on hand
  • Red pepper (one or two teaspoons or less to taste); actual chilis would be excellent, too/instead

Update: the beloved appeared just as I was typing the sentence about when I was typing this article (above). I am adding this addendum just before posting. The curry was delicious (amazingly as it was my invention), even though the fish kind of cooked into the sauce. We served it over brown rice with what the bag called “dal lavosh” (mashed veggies in tomato sauce and spices) on the side and a piece of garlic naan.

Janetʼs observation was that I could have added mushrooms (I cursed myself for not thinking of that) and chopped sweet pepper, green and red.

* Which is really fun to say in your best fake-Indian accent, like, say, Apu from The Simpsons.

** The Lovely One has been up to some kitchen renovations (without the costs and effort of actually, physically renovating anything in particular) lately.

*** I paid attention to these products because last summer, the last time I visited Steve and Diane with Janet, as we just did last weekend, they took us to an Indian grocery store — where we stood out like the sore thumbs the staff thought of us pale Midwesterners as — where we bought a few things, including microwavable bags of Indian dishes. We consumed those things at various suppers during February, and they were both spicy and hot, and delicious.


©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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