Sunday, 17 November 2013

What a Curry On!

Zuppa di Topinambur al Curry
Curried Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

What madness is this, taking a Jerusalem artichoke on a trip to India?!? Oh, but you know me folks- a risk-taker at the best of times! Well- at least in the kitchen- haha! It had been a while since I last prepared then, but when I saw the large, wonderfully magenta-skinned "sun-chokes" at the market hall yesterday, I just had to take a couple with me. 

I really like these things and still, they are not one of the vegetables that I cook very often... nor anyone else that I know for that matter! The great thing about them is that they DO have a taste that is very reminiscent of artichokes, whilst being much easier to cook- and eat for that matter!

But as easy as they may be to cook and eat, these gnarly, twisty roots are real devils to peel! OMG! My advice to you is- don't go for size when you buy them- go for shape! Pick something that is easy to peel for the sake of your own sanity! I am half-kidding here, of course, as they are tricky to peel and though you definitely can try to pick less gnarly examples to take home with you, you do want them to have a certain size... otherwise, frankly- there won't be that much left by the time you have peeled them!

All kidding aside, it is probably best to cut them into manageable pieces first, that you can navigate a vegetable peeler, or small knife, around. 

For this portion of soup, I used 2 large sun chokes. Once they were peeled, I cut them into a rough, large dice and popped them onto a steam rack, together with a small onion and a clove of garlic and let them steam for 20 minutes. And in the meantime, I got a nice broth boiling in another saucepan...

For the broth, I boiled a couple of slices of both celery root and ginger, together with half of a carrot cut into large slices. This simmered away for the duration of the time that the choked steamed away. So, for the moment, I had a basic seasoning going on but no spices in my soup... and it was time to change that!

I decided to take the easy route and use a curry powder that I picked up yesterday- of course you can mix your own blend of curry, but really there is no need for that. Also- unless you are Indian- you will probably be as clueless as I am when it comes to mixing your spices! All I will say is... buy a NICE curry, with a nice blend of flavors and not simply one of those bland supermarket powders, which are basically just turmeric for the most part. The blend that I used was called "Bot Cary" and had turmeric, dried chili, star anise, fennel seed, cumin seed, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom, bay leaf, coriander seed, dried garlic, black cardamom, annato, pepper, szechuan pepper and nutmeg in it! Now try topping that! 

Once the chokes, onion and garlic were steamed and soft, I squeezed them through a ricer and set them to one side. I then heated up a good teaspoon of curry powder in a dry saucepan with a teaspoon of chickpea flour. Once it began to smell nice and aromatic, I began to stir in the broth, little by little until I had a nice paste. I then added the choke paste and stirred everything together. I added 3-4 tablespoons of yogurt and stirred this in too, to give everything a slightly "creamier" flavor- without having to add any actual cream- and that little bit of chickpea flour I added, was my favorite miracle ingredient that keeps yogurt from curdling during cooking... I love that about it!

I added more liquid, the celery/ginger/carrot broth, as necessary until it was a nice, creamy consistency, but not too dense and let it simmer away for a while longer, whilst I quickly caramelized a little red onion to add along with a scattering of chives, for a sweet and savory garnish- perfect! That sugary-sweet onion flavor was great in combination with the hot curry and the distinctive artichoke- and yes, it took things into a whole new direction! But a good one at that! But the only way you will ever know how it is... is to try it and see!

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