Recipes @ All-Purpose Kitchen Recipes: Blend a Batch of Homemade Curry Powder and Prepare Yogurt Cheese

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

All-Purpose Kitchen Recipes: Blend a Batch of Homemade Curry Powder and Prepare Yogurt Cheese

Turn to these kitchen timesavers to help you add flavor and interest to your dishes. Find out how to make your own curry powder, yogurt cheese and preserved lemons.

Sometimes when you're in the kitchen, you feel the urge to "cook ahead." If it's the holiday season, you may prepare pie crusts in advance. Or even if you're planning dinner and are streamlining your preparation schedule, you may cut up vegetables or prepare a basting sauce for your barbecue. These little timesavers work well, especially when you're trying to fit everything into your busy schedule. If you do find yourself with a few moments to spare in the kitchen, why not prepare one of the three recipes below?

Curry powder adds zip and zing to almost any dish, but have you ever tried preparing your own? By toasting and grinding a fragrant mixture of spices yourself, you'll have a more complex and flavorful curry powder than the store-bought version. If you like cream cheese, you may want to try yogurt cheese.

Yogurt cheese is a unusual but delicious alternative to cream cheese. You can season it with herbs and pepper for serving with crackers as an appetizer, or with honey and fresh berries for dessert.

Preserved lemons are easy to make, and they add a slightly salty, tangy taste to salads, fish and chicken dishes.

Curry Powder
Makes about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
  • 2 whole red chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 8 curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  1. In a small, cast-iron skillet, toast the coriander, cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds over a medium-high flame until the spices become fragrant and begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Shake the pan frequently to prevent the spices from burning.
  2. Pour the toasted spices into a spice grinder and add the chiles, peppercorns, curry leaves,ginger and turmeric. Grind until the spices are smooth. For best results, use the curry powder immediately or store it in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.
Sources: Indian coriander seed, yellow mustard seed, and fenugreek seed, $1.25 for each 3 1/2-ounce bag; cumin seed, Malabar black peppercorns, ground ginger, and turmeric, $1.75 for each 3 1/2-ounce bag; whole red chiles, $1.25 for 1 ounce, and fresh curry leaves, $1.25 a bunch, all from Kalustyan's 123 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016; 212-685-3451.

Yogurt Cheese
Makes about 1 2/3 cups
  • 4 cups plain low-fat yogurt (1 quart)
  • Fresh herbs (optional)
  • Honey (optional)
  1. Dampen and wring out four layers of cheesecloth.
  2. Lay the cheesecloth over a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Spoon the yogurt into the center of the cheesecloth.
  4. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth around a spoon and rest the spoon across the bowl, suspending the yogurt over the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. The liquid will drain away from the cheesecloth sack, leaving you with yogurt cheese in the cheesecloth sack.
  6. Remove the yogurt from the cheesecloth, and serve, seasoned with herbs or flavored with honey, if desired.
Preserved Lemons
Makes 16 wedges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice or enough to cover lemon wedges
  • Olive oil (optional)
  1. Scrub and dry the lemons. Cut each into eight wedges. Mix together the salt and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the salt mixture into a pint jar with a nonreactive lid, pack in the lemon wedges, and cover the wedges completely with lemon juice.
  2. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 1 week. Shake the jar every day in order to distribute the salt and juice mixture over the lemon wedges.
  3. To use the preserved lemons, remove the lemons from the jar and rinse them under cold running water, removing and discarding the pulp. Slice or chop the rind according to your recipe. After opening the jar, refrigerate the unused preserved lemons in their pickling liquid in the jar. You can also rinse the preserved lemons, remove the pulp and pack them in a jar covered with olive oil.

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