Curry

When I was a scrawny little sixth grader taking the bus home, I noticed a girl who, like me, was usually pretty quiet, and like me, usually had her nose buried in a book, and again like me, when riled, didn’t hesitate to brandish that book threateningly and smack annoying, scrawny sixth grade boys across the head. She used to get of the bus a few stops before mine, and then one day she didn’t, and I assumed she had missed her bus stop and helpfully told her so. She gave me a warm, bright smile, and cheerfully exclaimed “No I didn’t, I moved to a new house and my living is hell red, want to see?” and you know what, I kind of did, given that my house, inside and out, was a sort of pale and peaceful yellow. It was as easy as one afternoon to make one of my best friends, and although we have continually moved to opposite ends of the world-when I’m away she’s home, when I’m home, she’s away-we are still thick as thieves.

We’ve shared countless cheesecakes and morning cups of tea before school, had a few incidents concerning pistachio pudding. I’m as comfortable stopping at her house for dinner as I am going to my own. Dibbs was reliable to help eat the food my grandmother would send over in batches, and we created quite a few messes in my kitchen. Her mom single-handedly spoiled me for Indian food, and even now, tells me she has a pot of chicken curry waiting for me whenever I see her, bless her wonderful soul.

I’ve been craving Indian food ever since I left the States. Since most non-Chinese food is on the more expensive side of things, I’ve decided to try my hand at curry. Now, my mom used to make a “Chinese” curry, that is a Chinese brand of pre-made curry sauce pressed into a darkly fragrant and crumbly brick, mixed into six cups of chicken stock or water with onions, sweet potatoes, carrots and chicken, and I’ve made the same thing a few times. Once, I tried to make curry from scratch when I had first moved to Taiwan and was still figuring out how to navigate a grocery store with no English labels, and it was a disaster, as I ended up using sweet yogurt and curry powder instead of mixing up my own spices. Since then, I’ve stuck to going to Dibbs house whenever I could instead. But now, back on the other side of the globe, I’ve got Dibbs’ mom’s recipe and five years more of cooking experience under my belt.

I de-boned two chicken thighs–Dibbs’ mom usually leaves the bone because it’s more flavorful, but the boys always complain how the Chinese never remove the bones or fat from meat. Chopped up an onion, two potatoes and a sweet potato. Heated oil in a wok, added whole cumin, bay leaves and a cinnamon stick to it, along with the onion, softening it and browning it. I couldn’t find any cardamom, so omitted that. Then I added the cut up chicken, with ginger and garlic powder, cooking it for 6-7 minutes. I parboiled the potatoes, worried that they might not cook fully in time. Mixed turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander and red chili flakes into a cup of plain yogurt, then added it into the wok, stirring it up, and then adding about a cup and a half of water, and let it simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for twenty minutes. It could have used a bit more chili to up the heat, but it came out great this time, and the boys were really pleased. I thought a large wok full of curry would be enough for dinner and provide me leftovers for lunch the next day, but no such luck. Every last bit was eaten up.

Chicken Curry

Kitten now has a name, and that name is Hector. It was a long and tedious process of discussion and debate and we couldn’t agree on a name-two of us would love a name and the third would hate it-but we finally decided Hector fits our little guy. About time…I was getting tired of calling him Nom Chompsky and Fuzzball McKittenFace and Baaaaaaaby.

Being in the whole working world is seriously affecting my spending and eating habits. I don’t want to be antisocial, so I go to lunch with the other interns, which is great because there is a plethora of restaurants near us and the food is great, but I really shouldn’t be spending 40 or more on lunch everyday. We went to a Japanese restaurant on Tuesday, where they neglected to tell us for twenty minutes that they had run out of two of our dishes, and then when we reordered ten minutes later again they told us they had run out. I don’t understand why they waited-everyone else had their food and two of us were waiting and miserable. Ridiculous. One of the interns complained to the manager and got them to give us a ten percent discount-oh yay, 3.5 kuai. Whatever will I buy? We went to a famous jiachangcai place called Xiao Wang Fu’s today. The food was pretty good, gan bian dou, gongbao jiding, a basket of spicy fried chicken, and dandan mian.

I must say that I think my boss is a stealth ninja. I sit at a window with my back to the rest of the office, and generally I can hear people approaching. But this lovely, nice woman has this habit of creeping up on me and it’s like she just materializes at my elbow, and startles the crap out of me with a question.

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