Monday, December 26, 2011

turkey curry 2011: turkey curry with butternut squash and green cardamom

 It all began on new years day on my 32nd year of being single. Once again I found myself on my own and going to my mother's annual turkey curry buffet. Every year she tries to fix me up with some bushy-haired middle-aged bore, and I feared that this year would be no exception.

I've decided to start a tradition at Unhip Squirrel. When I was in my late teens, I had my wisdom teeth pulled out. My dad arrived the day before my surgery (yes - they put me under!) armed with supplies to aid my recovery, the most memorable of which was the newly released Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. Little did he know that Bridget Jones would become the bumbling heroine through my late twenties, as I alternated my singleton pride with navigating a sea of lame boyfriends and what she so brilliantly called emotional fuckwittage. Excuse the language.

Don't make the mistake of lumping Bridget in with all the other chick lit out there. Bridget is an original (if I can say that when her story is loosely based off Pride & Prejudice).  Fielding so keenly captured what it was like to be a single girl who regularly faced the question, "How's your love life?" I think that while she is an exaggeration of all of us girls, each one of us can find something to relate to in Bridget. Even now that I'm what she would consider a smug married. She's universal.

What does this have to do with turkey curry? Well, early on in the book (and in the opening scene of the movie) we are presented with a family tradition that Bridget is forced to partake in each year - the turkey curry buffet. It's a gruesome fix-up affair that inevitably ends in Bridget's humiliation (see the above link). Given that even the name of this blog is an obscure reference to Miss Jones herself, it feels appropriate to pay homage to her by doing an annual turkey curry, without attempting to fix anyone up.

This year, I went with a recipe posted by Marie-Therese Faidherbe on the Bridget Jones Facebook page (yeah, that's me. I run that). Next year, I'll try something different. So I'll do a different turkey curry recipe every year and post it. Fun!

This is a pretty simple curry in terms of work and the vegetables required, but it packs a lot of punch. It is quite powerful flavour-wise. There's no 'curry powder' here - you add the spices individually. The combination is lovely, accented by lightly crushed and fragrant green cardamom pods. I was lucky enough to have all the spices on hand (I'm a big fan of authentic Indian cooking) but if you don't, what you can't find at your grocery store will be easily available at an Indian market.

Even though this list of ingredients is long, don't be discouraged. I didn't find it to be very labour intensive, nor did it make a huge mess. Also, the amount of turkey to add is just a guideline. I didn't even measure... I just used the meat I had.

turkey curry with butternut squash and green cardamom
Adapted from BBC Food 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1" pieces
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1" pieces
2 1/4 cups turkey or chicken stock
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used 2.5%)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 large handfuls of leftover turkey (or chicken), skin removed and boned
as much chopped cilantro as you can stand!

  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Sautee until the onions begin to soften and are translucent. 
  • Add the cardamom pods, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and ground coriander. Cook for another minute or two, but don't allow the spices to burn.
  • Throw in the potatoes and mix together well, coating them with the onion and spice mixture. Let them sautee for a bit, but don't be afraid to add a little splash of water to help things move along and loosen the good bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • When the potatoes are beginning to soften, add the butternut squash and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the stock and bring it to a boil. Season to your taste with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes and squash are cooked through and break apart easily.
  • Add yogurt and cream and stir well. Squeeze in lemon juice.
  • Fold in the turkey (or chicken - if it's tender enough, it'll break apart, so be gentle!). Serve with chopped cilantro over basmati rice.

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