Simple Homestyle Curry: A Cooking Lesson

Food in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE as a whole, is heavily influenced by both its neighboring countries and by the expatriate population (which accounts for approximately 85% of the population), the majority of whom are Indian. That makes for some great Indian cuisine.  Many hotels offer elaborate Indian buffets, small, family owned Indian restaurants are plentiful, and the local markets stock a wide variety of vegetables and spices for home cooks.

On a recent trip to Dubai, I came upon a lovely cookbook, 50 Great Curries of India, by Camellia Panjabi.  The photos and recipes were so tempting that I wanted to start cooking, straight away. But author advised to begin with a simple home-style curry before venturing into the more complex dishes.

So today I took her advice and made my first home-style curry.

All ingredients are prepped
All ingredients are prepped

Frying the onions properly is a very key step in curry making; the key is to not to get the pan too hot as to overly brown the onions.  The goal is to achieve a golden, caramelized color.

Step 1: frying onions to a golden brown
Step 1: frying onions to a golden brown (still need about ten minutes)

After about twenty-five minutes, it was time to add fresh ginger and garlic.  The ginger here is amazingly fresh and moist, not the dried out root I typically found in the US. After a minute on the heat, the kitchen smelled heavenly, but now it’s time to add the spices: coriander, cumin, garam masala, and paprika.

After about ten more minutes, the result was a reduction of Indian goodness of warm spices (not spicy hot), ginger, garlic, and onions.

20150425_130800Now time for the tomatoes.  After a few more minutes, the chicken was added to the party. The result was a rich, flavorful chicken curry that I served over rice with Arabic bread on the side.  A perfect lunch.

20150425_132748While this was a solid first attempt, my husband and I both agreed that next time (and there will be a next time) I will add some “heat” in the way of dried Asian peppers and perhaps a few more vegetables.

Bon Appetit.

Major Sandstorm hits Abu Dhabi

I’ve experienced blizzards, zero visibility, and icy roads, but nothing prepared me for driving in the sandstorm that hit the city this morning. Visibility was under 25 meters (roughly 25 yards) at times! Seeing traffic lights was almost impossible.

The sandstorm came in from Iraq, traveling through Kuwait with wind speeds clocking 25-35 knots. According to the national weather service, the regions experiences 8-10 severe sandstorms each year. In addition to the traffic accidents due to low visibility, health issues, especially respiratory infections, increase due to the storms.

Think I’ll stay in the rest of the day.

Downtown Abu Dhabi. Visibility was better here then on the coast there we live (see below).
Downtown Abu Dhabi. Visibility was better here then on the coast there we live (see below).

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The visibility was so bad, that I nearly missed the turn from my building coming home from tennis.

View from our balcony.
View from our balcony.
Can barely see the apartment building next door.
Can barely see the apartment building next door.
There are huge apartment buildings in this photo...really there are!
There are huge apartment buildings in this photo…really there are!

Tennis Lesson in a Sand Storm

Those of you who know me personally know my passion for tennis.  Cold, heat, sleet, even snow, has not kept me off the court. But today was a first. Gorana, my awesome tennis coach who is getting my game back in form, and I took to the court early this morning before the brunt on a major sand storm hit the city.  As you can see from the photos, sand was beginning to form on the court, which is a hard court by the way, not clay or sand. The balls, our clothes, our hair, everything was covered with a reddish coating of sand by the time we finished. But we had a great lesson. I guess all the years of hitting in the wind in Kansas City proved useful since I was striking the ball really well in the strong wind. If your are going to play tennis in Abu Dhabi, it’s not just the heat you must get use to!

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It's easy to see where your shots land when the court has a thin coat of sand!
It’s easy to see where your shots land when the court has a thin coat of sand!

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