A lot of Sedimentality’s posts have been about our time in Southeast Asia, South America, Italy, and France… but going home for the holidays was a gentle reminder that my own family has a plethora of delicious recipes to share with my readers. In honor of my family, I’d like to share a few of our favorite recipes. With the holidays (and subsequent emphasis on family) well underway, I can’t think of a better time to do so, and I certainly couldn’t think of a better recipe to kick off my “Family Recipes” section than with my great-grandma’s turkey curry.
I was lucky enough to have met all of my great-grandparents, and I most certainly remember my Grandpa’s mother, ME. She was tall, quiet, and had impeccable taste: some of my family’s most beautiful heirloom comes from her, including a punchbowl that we use for special occasions (recipe for my Neenaw’s punch coming soon!). One of the most unique things about my great-grandmother was her name: although everyone called her “Emmie”, her name was actually the initials “M” and “E”. I wish she were still around so that I could ask her thoughts on having such a uniquely spelled moniker. It also would have been nice to ask her exactly how to make this dish that is her legacy.
Church was always a bit part of family life, and this recipe actually comes from my great-grandmother and grandfather’s friends who were missionaries in India. Every year, my great-grandmother used the leftover Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey in this dish. When Ryan and I came back from our trip to Thailand and started making all of the delicious curries we mastered in our cooking class, the word “curry” must have struck a chord with my grandpa: he asked us to attempt to replicate his mother’s Indian curry recipe when we visited for Thanksgiving and he promptly dug out the recipe.
I have to admit, this was one of the most daunting kitchen tasks I have had in a while. Cooking for people is always personal, but cooking my grandpa–who I so dearly adore–his mother’s signature recipe left me wanting to master this dish more than any other I had ever tried.
As I cooked down the peppers and added the curry powder, I listened to my grandparents tell the story of the first time they tried this dish: the church missionaries had just returned to California from India and were eager to share their new culinary skills with the congregation, so they cooked a pot of the curry for the entire church. My grandparents cracked me up as they explained just how hot the curry was! I can only imagine…
This recipe is a bit tuned-down, but it is a delicious and simple take on curry and a great recipe for anyone looking to break into the world of Indian cuisine to try. I served it alongside some plain yogurt for a little cooling effect, and, as tradition, also served white rice, boiled potatoes, and boiled eggs. It is delicious, simple, and fun to make… but best of all was the reaction from my grandparents when they tried their first bite. Hearing my adorable Neenaw rave about the dish and my Poppie say, “I haven’t tasted anything like this since my mama passed” was probably my favorite moment of our Thanksgiving week, and although your family might not have these memories to associate with this dish, I’d be honored to know that someone else incorporated a dish with so much of my family’s tradition into their own Thanksgiving customs.
ME’s Indian Turkey Curry
You will need:
1/4 cup butter
6 bell peppers
5 chilies (I used Thai chilies, green or red are fine)
4 tablespoons yellow curry powder
2 cups stock
2-3 cups leftover turkey (honestly, whatever you have leftover will do!)
salt and pepper
boiled eggs (1 per person)
boiled potatoes (1 per person: I prefer starchy Russet potatoes)
plain yogurt (optional)
1. Slice your bell peppers however you like: my Neenaw said that my great-grandmother actually ground them in a food processor to make more of a paste; I cut them into strips about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook down the peppers. This may take 15 minutes or so. About halfway through the cooking process, add the chilies.
4. Add the curry powder and salt and pepper.
5. Add the stock (you could also use water).
6. Let the curry cook down for about 20 or 30 minutes or until it has reached the consistency you would like. The flavors will intensify the longer you let it cook; if needed, add some water or more stock.
7. Serve with the boiled potatoes (boiled with skins on for more flavor), boiled eggs, rice, and yogurt.
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