Ideas for curry are in the air…On an adventurous (pre-Covid19) tour of Morocco last February 2020, as fellow travelers, we befriended a remarkable character, Kip Bergstrom, an enthusiastic foodie who seeks out the absolute “right source” for his gourmet dishes. Diving headlong into Moroccan lamb, he found a local, caring sheep farm (for him Connecticut) and has become online chef for www.wearwoolnewlondon.com!
Curry dishes call for crystallized ginger so my inventive Southwest solution is candied local fruit rinds as “side boys” or toppings!
Tia Marta here to share how Kip’s “LambStand” has inspired me to go local with lamb curry in the Southwest. Being a mindful omnivore, I found Sky Island Brand from the 47-Ranch near Tombstone, AZ, providing lamb at Bisbee and Sierra Vista Farmers’ Markets from their arid-adapted, heritage churro sheep.
My family tradition at Easter has always been to serve lamb roast–then lamb curry soon after, so I’m getting ready. Mom’s favorite touch to complement complex curry flavors was to dress the table with a festive array of toppings all around the main dish–what she called “curry boys” or “side boys.” (Not sure the derivation of this term—like servants long ago around the table offering toppings?) Regardless, these complementary dishes are a visual and gastronomic joy, so I’ve taken it as a fun challenge to create local Southwest curry toppings from local gardens and desert harvests. These flavor combos promise to surprise and delight you in any curry dish–lamb or vegetarian….
In place of regular store-bought toppings called for in typical curry recipes, here are my creative suggestions:
Fresh from the garden, here are ingredients to make Muff’s Chirichurri Mint Sauce.
In place of regular mint sauce, I make a Southwest version of chimichurri sauce:
Muff’s Chimichurri Mint Sauce Recipe:
Ingredients: handful (1/2 Cup) fresh mint leaves from the garden
2 Tbsp chopped I’itoi’s onions (tops and all) from our mini-oasis veggie patch (also available from Mission Garden as starts (or shallots chopped)
3-4 small cloves heirloom garlic (or 2 lg garlic cloves) chopped
2-3 little chiltepin peppers whole (when I can get there before the birds–use sparingly) OR 1/2 tsp chile pepper flakes
1/2-2/3 Cup red wine vinegar,
1 Tbsp olive oil
Optional–up to 1/4 Cup fresh cilantro chopped
Chimichurri Mint Sauce Directions: Blender, chill and serve fresh in a small cruet.
In place of the traditional peanut “side” I like our local bellotas (Emory oak acorn nutmeats) or pinyon pinenuts.
In place of shaved coconut, I purchased jujube fruit from Tucson’s Mission Garden–grown in the Chinese garden section there.
In place of raisins and coconut toppings, try dried jujubes, desert hackberries, or crunchy dried chun (saguaro fruit)!
Chutney is a must as a curry topping! Using a variation on Mom’s recipe, I make a local peach-mango and barrel cactus fruit chutney that should win prizes. You can find a fabulous cactus-with-chia chutneys or barrel cactus seed mustard at BeanTreeFarm ordering online for easy pick-up.
Barrel cactus fruit chutney, garden rosemary-garlic jelly, and Bean-Tree Farm’s barrel cactus mustard make great toppings!
Velvet and screwbean mesquite pods were used in making Tia Marta’s Mesquite/Membrillo Conserve–a great curry garnish!
Another goodie to use as a topping is my mesquite/membrillo conserve that I made using quince fruit (membrillo) from Mission Garden plus a concentrated sweet syrup made by boiling down whole mesquite pods(See last October’s Savor-post.)
With fresh eggs from the Mission Garden “farm” I first boiled then pickled them for another curry complement.
In place of candied ginger, I made candied Meyer lemon-peel and grapefruit-peel from our little huerta trees and the fragrant sweet-lime peel from Mission Garden’s unusual citrus. Click for the recipe in the SavortheSouthwest.Blog archive.
I’m topping off our SW curry meal with Rod’s amazing backyard olives (a future post?), an extra chiltepin hit, then partnering it all with a wee dram of bootleg bacanora mescal.
Your taste buds will be delighted and amazed to discover how all these different flavors blend and complement each other to enhance any curry dish!
In a festive array around the curried lamb centerpiece, the Southwest’s low-desert bounty provides a garland of delectable complementary flavors!
I’m sending thanks to our desert gardens within and beyond the garden wall, for the plenty that our Sonoran Desert provides. Here’s hoping these ideas might inspire you to try your own to dress up a curry dinner– lamb or vegetarian—in whatever habitat you live!