This weekend I did what any self-respecting foodie would do on a Saturday night: took my family to the grand opening of a new specialty food store called Flavor Specialty Spice (flavorspice.com), located in Santana Row (an upscale village-like shopping center in San Jose). Flavor Specialty Spice offers 200+ spices, herbs and peppers including more than 45 rare and unique salts, as well as extracts, blends and rubs from around the world. It’s a small store – perfect for its purpose – with a large table in the center to offer tastes. For someone who likes to cook and is seeking inspiration, walking into Flavor is a little like an avid reader entering a bookstore stocked with an unending supply of fascinating reads.
On the big table, they offered small slices of baguette spread with butter and 3 or 4 different salts to choose from to sprinkle on for tasting. We tried the espresso salt which they recommended pairing with vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel.
After our senses were awake from the espresso salt, we browsed the store. While I was admiring the black lava salt from Hawaii, my husband was sniffing the curry powder and decided to buy some. We also purchased their house chili powder and truffle salt. We would have bought the espresso salt too but they were sold out.
I was slightly surprised when my husband chose the curry since he rarely chooses Indian Cuisine when we go out for dinner, but far be it for me to hinder his creativity. I asked him if he would cook chicken curry for me and he said he would. I’ve known my husband for 27 years now. We’ve eaten curry together many times but usually the Japanese version of it. I’ve made it at home but again, usually the boxed Japanese curry mix is my starter. My husband is a great cook – possibly way more naturally gifted in the kitchen than I; but he rarely exhibits these skills to us. He’s not one of those people who cooks to relax when he gets home from work. He cooks only out of necessity or for special occasions. But over the years, we’ve cooked together a lot. Never once did he mention this curry recipe. Could this spice store have conjured up a food memory that lay dormant in him for over 27 years??
When I asked him what ingredients he needed, his list included tomatoes, cumin seeds, turmeric, and hot chili flakes for the recipe. I asked what liquid he would use for the sauce – water or chicken broth – he said neither. The tomatoes and chicken would create the juice.
This was nothing like any curry I had ever made. Turns out he learned how to make it before he met me from a college friend/work associate of Indian descent and he still remembered the technique, though certainly not because he had been practicing it over the years! The end result was delicious and authentic tasting, although I will admit I’m no expert. I’m sure the curry spice blend from Flavor helped create the yummy result but I am certain that my husband’s briefly awakened culinary skills were the key ingredient. Thanks to Flavor for inspiring my husband to make his OMG!Yummy chicken curry.
Doug’s Chicken Curry (based on a recipe from Sanjay)
2 tblsp canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp – 1tblsp chili pepper flakes (to taste)
½ – 1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 -3 tblsp curry powder (hot blend)
1 small or ½ large onion chopped
4 medium tomatoes diced
2 – 3 lbs boneless, skinless breasts or thighs, cut in 2 inch chunks
Preheat oil on med high heat. Add chili flakes to oil and cook until fragrant.
To that, add cumin, turmeric, and curry powder and mix it all together until they are combined and fragrant.
Add onion and sauté until transparent and softening. Also add salt and pepper to taste.
Once onion is softening, add tomatoes and combine. Then add chicken, mix, and cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove cover once chicken is almost cooked and let liquid reduce if there is too much.
We added potatoes but pre-cooked them in the microwave. All measurements are rough as he just poured into his hand and tossed it in – testing the amounts by tasting.
Serve with rice, citrus-based chutney, Indian bread (such as naan or chapati) of your liking.