This is not a typical post for Sunday Suppers with Pippa (SSWP). For the most part, I avoid most pre-packaged and processed foods, partly because I don't like the additives in processed food, and also because I simply love to cook. However, every now and again we all need what I call a 'cheat day'. This past week was one of those hectic weeks where the days fly by and you find yourself at 7pm with almost nothing left in the fridge and a hungry
boyfriend fiance to feed. What did I do? I threw open the cupboard, investigated the options, and selected a jar of Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce that I had recently purchased for just this type of occasion.
In order to enhance the flavor of the curry, I sauteed onion and garlic in a saute pan, being careful to slowly sweat the onions instead of browning them. After the onions were sufficiently aromatic, soft, and translucent, I added a teaspoon of garam masala (a mix of ground spices commonly used in Indian cuisine), dried curry leaves, the jarred simmer sauce, 3/4 of a cup of dried red lentils, and a cup of water. After that, I was free to wander away from the kitchen. I returned 25 minutes later to discover that my tiny red lentils had transformed into tender and puffy lentils that had sufficiently thickened the curry sauce. Just before serving the curry, I added canned chickpeas, made whole wheat couscous (which takes all of 10 minutes), and set the table.
Verdict? A huge success. In fact, I'm ashamed to say that Brian proclaimed the dish to be "one of my best". When I protested that I make great curries from scratch (I typically do not used jarred curry sauce or paste), Brian quickly retracted his statement and attempted to explain that while my curries are excellent and flavorful, they do not taste like the curries at our local Indian restaurant. I will begrudgingly admit that he has a point. While I can make some delicious chicken tikka and chana masala, it never tastes quite the same as the versions made by our local Indian restaurants. I am inclined to think that it tastes different because I don't use ghee (Indian clarified butter), and I never add cream. While I struggle to find the answer, I'll continue to be satisfied with my own creations (both made-from-scratch and made-from-a-bottle), which are perhaps not entirely authentic, but just as satisfying.
Happy Cooking, Pippa