For the last several weeks I have been a madwoman running all over town trying to submit applications for my culinary internship, researching recipes for my catering class at school, and trying to catch up on anything that I may have forgotten along the way in my chaotic daily routine. Some of the highlights of these days include the success of my vegan zucchini bread among the Le Cordon Bleu students who couldn’t eat enough of it and successfully cooking cashew korma! It was a big night for me last night because I have been trying forever to achieve the perplexity of flavors that are found in Indian food. Don’t get me wrong, my attempts at curry are indeed delicious, but I don’t think they would be called Indian per se (until last night of course)!
It all started this past weekend when I went out for some lunch with a dear friend of mine. We ate at a local restaurant that offered a delicious starter plate called the “Tour of India”. Imagine the excitement!! Both my friend and I are absolute fans of Indian cuisine, so this was definitely a “must try”. The appetizer was delicious and exquisitely flavored with a tangy curry flavor followed by a punch of spiciness. This got me thinking it was about time that I tried another one of my curry concoctions in the kitchen.
There was cauliflower in the fridge that needed to be eaten along with a big container of cashews and I instantly remembered a korma dish that I usually eat at my favorite Indian restaurant. Before embarking in the adventure tho, I had to research a bit about what korma really is and where it comes from.
I discovered korma is an Indian dish that is prepared with coconut milk and a nut based sauce like cashews. Mixed together the nuts and coconut milk help balance out the heat of the curry and make a milder dish. Other versions use yogurt (at very low heat) or cream and bechamel based sauces
1 c raw cashews
2 tbs canola oil
1 m onion
1 inch size piece ginger
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbs coriander ground
1 ts ground red pepper
1 tbs curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbs tomato paste
1 can coconut milk
3 chopped carrots
1/2 c peas
1 caramelized red onion
1. Soak the cashews in enough warm water to cover them up completely. Set aside.
2. Cut the cauliflowers into 2 inch florets and chop carrots into 1 inch rounds. You may choose to steam the vegetables or even roast them in the oven to give more flavor. I roasted mine at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Make sure that you check them constantly to avoid burning or overcooking. To check for doneness, stick a pairing knife into the vegetable, if the knife comes right out without resistance, then its done. Set them aside
3. In another pan, pour 1 tbs oil and slice red onions. Using low heat, slowly saute onions until they turn a light brown color. This will take about 25-30 minutes. Caramelization must be done at low controlled heat and additional oil must be added from time to time throughout the cooking process to keep the onions from drying. With the heat, the starches of the onion turn to sugar and caramelize to give off a rich sweet flavor.
4. Make a puree out of the ginger, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
5. In a large pot heat oil and add puree. Saute puree until it turns a slightly golden color.
6. Meanwhile, drain the cashews and puree them until smooth.
7. Once the puree of onions, garlic, and ginger reaches a golden color, add the curry, coriander, garam masala mix, and ground red pepper. Stir until it incorporates into the puree mix then add the tomato paste.
8. Saute for another 5 minutes, then pour in the coconut milk , cashew puree, and an additional can of water. Blend well.
9. Simmer sauce for about 5 minutes on low heat and you will notice the sauce begin to thicken. The curry will not be smooth like a bechamel sauce because of the cashews and the onion/garlic puree.
10. Season with salt and pepper. Finally add the vegetables, peas, onions and mix well, making sure that the vegetables are smothered in korma.
Serve with white basmati rice.