Sunday, February 23, 2020

Madhur Jaffrey's Chickpea, Potato, and Cabbage Curry {Plus a Cookbook Review:From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes From The Indian Spice Trail}

When I first found Madhur Jaffrey's From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes From The Indian Spice Trail, I found myself drawn to the veggie curries and the dals. The first recipe I made was her Natal Red Kidney Bean Curry from Natal in South Africa and it was delicious. This recipe for Chickpea, Potato, and Cabbage Curry was chosen simply because I had all the ingredients on hand, namely, a cabbage that needed using up. Madhur says this curry is a great favorite at wedding banquets in Guyana, India where cabbage is rarely added.

I felt the cabbage was a welcome addition, making the overall curry way more satisfying. Despite the hot curry powder and the blended chile base, I found this to be a rather mild curry. So, if you were looking for a spicy curry, you would need to up the hot chiles. I enjoyed this best with a hearty slice of bread on the side.

Written in 2003, Madhur's book details the history of The Curry Trail, complete with pictures, maps, and images. I was expecting a history of spices and instead received a brief history of Indians becoming indentured servants to what is now known as The Curry Trail. There is no doubt that this is a somber part of Indian history, but Madhur goes on to explain that Indian food is one of the only cuisines that has not changed at its core, it has only been added to. Each region of The Curry Trail has added certain ingredients and spices along the way, including places such as America, South America, London, South Africa, the Middle East, and all parts of Asia. As a result, Indian cuisine, such as curries and kebabs, is now the world's most distinctive cuisine and one that is immersed in global culinary traditions.

With its history of food and global traditions, this book has become one of my favorites. I highly suggest searching for it in used bookstores or going to Amazon and buying a used copy. I have searched and to my knowledge, there are no new copies available. Not only is it full of delicious recipes, but the history of The Curry Trail and the stories sprinkled throughout are compelling to any home chef. For those who might be wondering about pictures, there are some pictures of the recipes, as well as many other images, just not pictures of every recipe.

Chapters in this book are: Introduction of The Curry Trail; Chapter 1: Lamb, Pork, Beef, Veal, and Goat; Chapter 2: Poultry and Eggs; Chapter 3: Fish and Seafood; Chapter 4: Vegetables; Chapter 5: Dals, Beans, and Split Peas; Chapter 6: Kebabs and Soups; Chapter 7: Rice, Noodles, and Breads; Chapter 8: Relishes and Accompaniments; as well as Special Ingredients and Techniques. There is truly something in this book for everyone, those who eat meat and those who do not.

Recipes on my list

Chapter 1: Lamb, Pork, Beef, Veal, and Goat
Meatballs in a Curry Sauce (Kofta Curry)
Goan Pork with Potatoes
Curry Beef

Chapter 2: Poultry and Eggs 
Singapore-Style South-Indian Chicken Curry
Ground Chicken Curry
Silken Chicken "Tikka Masala"
Hard-Boiled Eggs with a British Curry Sauce
Poached Eggs in a Creamy Malay Curry Sauce

Chapter 3: Fish and Seafood
Singapore-Style Shrimp Curry
Kerala Crab Curry

From Chapter 4: Vegetables
Potato and Pea Curry
Potato and Tomato Curry
Potato and Cauliflower Curry

Chapter 5: Dals, Beans, and Split Peas
  Already made from Chapter 5
Chickpea, Potato, and Cabbage Curry* (posted here)
Natal Red Kidney Bean Curry (below)


Chapter 6: Kebabs and Soups
Beef "Kaait" Kebab
Ground Beef "Chappli" Kebabs
Silken Chicken "Tikka" Kebabs
Chicken Satay
Curried Pork Satay
Shrimp with Sesame Seeds
Thai Beef Curry Soup
Malaysian Shrimp Curry Soup with Noodles
Gujarati Split Pea Soup with Pasta (Dal Dhokli)

Chapter 7: Rice, Noodles, and Breads
Tomato-Garlic Rice
Curried Jasmine Rice
Yellow Rice with Peas
Vegetable Biryani
South-African Chicken Biryani
Aloo Paratha
My Basic Naan Recipe

Chapter 8: Relishes and Accompaniments
Peanut Chutney
Spicy Peanut Sauce
Green Chiles in Vinegar
Instant Punjabi-Style Pickle
Gingery Salad Dressing
Ginger Lassi
Nepalese Cinnamon Tea
Saffron Tea
Red Curry Paste
Thai-Style Penang Chili Paste
My Curry Powder
My Mustard Spice Mix
My Garam Masala
Nineteenth-Century British Curry Powder
An Indian Salt Mixture
Curry Sauce

If you're interested in the history of The Curry Trail, or if you simply love curries and/or kebabs then I would very highly recommend this book!

Chickpea, Potato, and Cabbage Curry
Adapted from From Curries to Kebabs
Recipes From The Indian Spice Trail
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 4-6

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 wiri-wiri peppers, 1/8 of a congo pepper 
(scotch bonnet, habanero), without seeds, or 3 bird's-eye chiles, chopped*
4 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds (directions follow)*
3 medium potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
salt and pepper, to taste
4-1/2 cups green cabbage, its leaves cut into 1/2" squares (directions follow)*

*Notes: I didn't have any wiri-wiri peppers or habanero peppers so I used two serrano peppers. I could've used my dried red bird's eye chiles, but the point is to use what you have and I had two fresh serrano peppers that needed using up, so I used those. Madhur's notes about cutting the cabbage are as follows: halve the cabbage, put it flat-side down, and then cut it, lengthwise, into1/2-inch wide strips. Then cut the strips, crosswise, into 1/2-inch squares. To roast and grind the cumin seeds: Put a few tablespoons of seeds in a small cast-iron frying pan over a medium-high flame. Stir and roast for a few minutes or until the seeds area few shades darker and smell roasted. Then grind in a clean coffee grinder or another spice grinder. I used a mortar and pestle. What is not needed immediately may be stored in a tightly lidded jar and saved for later use.

Soak the chickpeas overnight in 5 cups of water. Drain the next day, put in a pan, add 5 cups of fresh water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook very gently for 1 to 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are very tender. If the water in the pan threatens to dry out, add more boiling water. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid. Pour the liquid into a measuring jug and add enough water to make 2-1/2 cups.

Put the onion, garlic, peppers, and 4 tablespoons of water into a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour the oil into a heavy, preferably nonstick, lidded pan and set over medium-high heat. Put in the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes, removing the lid to stir frequently. Add the curry powder and roasted cumin. Stir once and put in the chickpeas, potatoes, salt and pepper, and the mixture of chickpea-cooking liquid and water. Bring to a boil, cover; reduce the heat, and cook gently, stirring now and then, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the cabbage and a further 1 cup of water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cabbage has just softened. Taste and make additions to the flavor base if necessary and serve.


  1. The history of the curry trail is intriguing. That reminds me of my travel to places with no prominent food culture, but we can always count on having a good meal at the local Indian restaurants. Great review!

  2. I'm really feeling like I need to get this cookbook! Sounds like a great mix of recipes.

  3. I've been using this new online online indian grocery store and it's really cool, they hand deliver the grocery to you same day


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