This week I had the opportunity to try a brand new curry involving certain techniques that I'm not at all familiar with. Margie of More Please picked this rather unusual recipe by Madhur Jaffrey who, I am convinced, has a knack for taking a few simple ingredients and turning them into something amazing. Every single time.
This curry uses 'Paanchporan' - a Bengali spice-mix that I have never used before but discovered is the same thing as 'achari masala/spice-mix' which I have indeed used & am very fond of. I made my own 'Paanchporan' since I had all the whole spices on hand (it requires equal parts of cumin, nigella seeds, aniseed, black mustard seeds and fenugreek). I was skeptical about using such a large (seemingly to me) amount of fenugreek because experience has taught me that it has to be used sparingly or it lends a certain bitterness to curries. The recipe also requires the unusual method of crushing the mustard seeds, mixing them with water along with a bare pinch of cayenne pepper and simmering the eggplant in this mixture. Atypical as it was I found that this technique lent a wonderful 'mustardy' aroma to the curry and gave it a deep, yet unsaturated, note of flavor.
That said, I had a few minor issues with the execution: I diced my eggplant smaller than indicated, so it cooked faster and turned out a little mushy. In addition to which the yogurt split when added and I found that the fenugreek did indeed make the curry a teeny bit bitter so it did not go down well with the rest of the family. Maybe it's my/our taste buds, or maybe it's that I need to improve on the technique of cooking with this particular spice, but I intend to reduce the amount of fenugreek seeds significantly when I prepare my Paanchporan mix next time. It's a shame about the bitterness because, otherwise, I really like the flavors in this simple and quick-cooking curry.
I know for a fact that the other Curry-Palooza members had no such issues & really enjoyed this curry. The recipe can be found on Margie's blog. Please check out the participants' posts by following these links:
Curry-Palooza is a monthly event. Members take turns picking random recipes each month & next up it's Camille's pick. I'm hoping she will throw a challenge our way!