Here's what I'm cooking tonight. You can substiture chicken thighs, lamb or beef for the shrimp as desired. Likewise you can substitute tomatoes for the yogurt. Finally you can substitute potatoes, zucchini or green peas for the Indian split peas.
Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen “Curries” episode, 2006
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
1 medium onion , sliced thin
4 large cloves garlic , pureed in a minichopper with 1 tablespoon water (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger , pureed in a minichopper with 1-2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined; or 6 chicken thighs, skinned; or 1 1/2 pounds top sirloin or boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt; or 3 plum tomatoes (canned), chopped, plus 1 tablespoon juice; or 2/3 cup crushed tomato
2 bunches spinach (1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, thoroughly washed, and chopped coarse (optional) 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
2 cups water
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and cut in half through the stem end
1/2 cup Indian split peas (channa dal), or 4 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes; or 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, or 1 cup green peas
2 - 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (use the lesser amount if you've already added the optional cilantro)
1. Heat oil in large deep skillet or soup kettle, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. If using whole spice blend, add to oil and cook, stirring with wooden spoon until cinnamon stick unfurls and cloves pop, about 5 seconds. If omitting whole spice blend, simply add onion to skillet; sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, or browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic, ginger, selected meat (except shrimp), ground spices, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and tomatoes or yogurt; cook, stirring almost constantly, until liquid evaporates, oil separates and turns orange, and spices begin to fry, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on skillet or kettle size. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until spices sell cooked, about 30 seconds longer.
3. Stir in optional spinach and/or cilantro. Add the water and jalapeño and season with salt; bring to simmer. Rduce heat; cover and simmer until meat is tender, 20 to 30 minutes for chicken, 30 to 40 minutes for beef or lamb.
4. Add selected vegetable (except green peas); cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Add shrimp and/or peas if using. Simmer 3 minutes longer and serve.