I love curries! Note the plural. Lots of folks think there is only one type of curry and it’s labeled “curry powder” in the spice aisle of your grocery store. Wrong! Curry blends originated in India and Pakistan as a way of preserving meat. In the oppressively hot weather, meat would spoil almost immediately, even if cooked. The resourceful natives of India and Pakistan learned that meat would keep longer if it had been cooked in spices such as coriander, cumin, hot peppers, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, paprika, turmeric, cloves, fennel, fenugreek, anise seed, cardamom, mustard seeds, allspice, curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass. Different curry traditions started to emerge around the world as families started developing their own secret blends.
When Savory Spice Shop, a company based in Denver, Colorado that sells spices online, offered to send me a bunch of their curry blends, I jumped at the opportunity to try their products as several friends in Colorado had mentioned them to me before. Savory Spice Shop sent each member of the Virtual Potluck gang products from different areas of their store; check out our host blog for this party, Cookistry, to see the fabulous dishes everyone created. Each VP blog is featuring a different spice set, so be sure to enter all of the giveaways (including mine below).
So which curry blends did I get?
- Vadouvan – a smoky French curry blend containing onion, salt, shallots, cumin, turmeric, garlic, black mustard seeds, cardamom, black pepper, fenugreek, sugar and hickory smoke. Featured in the recipe below.
- Thai Green Curry – a spicy Thai blend containing galangal, cumin, coriander, lemongrass, red Thai chiles, Lampong peppercorns, cilantro, Kaffir lime leaves, jalapeño, shallots, garlic and mild green chile powder. Featured in Green Curry Chicken with Mango.
- Zanzibar – a sweet African blend containing coriander seeds, cumin seeds, yellow mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, turmeric, brown sugar, paprika and cayenne. Featured in Zanzibar Carrots.
- Ras el Hanout – meaning “top of the shop,” this Moroccan blend contains nutmeg, sea salt, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, mace, cinnamon, allspice, turmeric and saffron. Featured in Zanzibar Carrots.
- Baharat (salt-free) – slightly spicy Middle Eastern blend containing paprika, Lampong pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger, cayenne, cardamom and nutmeg. Will be featured in Sweet and Spicy Mini Meatloaves sometime in the future.
- Chat Masala – Americanized version of an Indian blend containing mango powder, sea salt, cumin, black pepper, ajowan, guajillo chiles, peppermint, garlic, onion and citric acid. Will be featured in a recipe to be named later, probably a vegetarian one.
- Harissa Spice Mix – a fiery North African blend containing japone peppers, cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, salt and caraway. Will be featured in a recipe to be named later, but I have used it mixed with oil and water to create a paste for marinating beef. Yum!
Now it’s time to talk Vadouvan curry blend. And scallops. And apples. Vadouvan is a French-inspired curry powder with a bit of a hickory smoked-onion taste. It’s milder than a lot of curries and marries well with seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes. I just checked the Savory Spice website and they say not to use Vadouvan in a high-heat cooking process, that it’s better in sauces and marinades. It’s a good thing I used medium-high heat for my curry-dusted scallops!
Don’t overcook your scallops or they will be rubbery. Just watch the sides of the scallops as they cook. You’ll see them go from translucent to opaque from the bottom up. When they are opaque halfway up the side, flip them. When they are opaque all the way up the side, they’re done. The broth contributes a very intense apple flavor and the celery and apple chunks lend texture to this mouth-watering dish.
Giveaway Ready to get your curry on? I’m giving away the Curry Lovers gift set from Savory Spice Shop which includes Zanzibar Curry, Thai Green Curry, Medium Yellow Curry and Tikka Masala. To enter, visit the Savory Spice Shop Facebook page, click About, then come back here and leave a comment about any spice in the curry section. I’m sure they would also appreciate a LIKE while you’re there! The contest will run through Friday, April 20, 2012. The winner will be chosen at random on Saturday, April 21, 2012. You must be at least 18 years of age with a U.S. mailing address to win. No purchase is necessary; void where prohibited.
Disclosure: I received $30 worth of spices and the Front Range four-jar gift set free from Savory Spice Shop. I also received a Curry Lovers four-jar gift set to give away on my blog.
- 2 stalks celery, with leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tart apple, coarsely chopped with skin, core and seeds (I used Granny Smith)
- 5 cups unsweetened apple juice
- 2 shallots, sliced
- ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 star anise
- 12 large sea scallops, patted dry
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-1/2 teaspoons Vadouvan curry blend from Savory Spice Shop or curry powder, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped into ¼-inch cubes (I used Granny Smith)
- 1 stalk celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- Place celery, apple, apple juice, shallots, mustard seeds, and star anise in a large heavy saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or until liquid has reduced and is syrupy. Strain and set aside. Discard solids.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Place 2 teaspoons of Vadouvan curry blend on a small plate. Dip both flat sides of scallops in curry; place on large plate.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in heavy large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook until seared on first side, about 2 minutes. (Do not crowd the scallops in the pan or you won’t get a nice sear. You may need to do more than one batch, depending on the size of your pan.) Flip scallops and cook another 2 minutes or so, until seared on second side and barely opaque in the center. Transfer to a small baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet. Add apple and celery. Sauté until apple begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add apple broth and remaining ½ teaspoon Vadouvan curry blend. Increase heat to high and boil until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar, if desired.
- Divide broth mixture among 4 shallow pasta bowls. Add scallops and garnish with chives.