Spices: A Study in Versatility
Spices make the difference between a bland pot of veggies and a delicious curry. A dash of ground seeds transforms some cooked legumes into a mouthwatering meal.
Many of the common spices found in curries such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric, were brought into American cuisine via the Caribbean, where they were imported by indentured servants transported from India. These nutritionally packed, flavorful and antioxidant rich powerhouses have a fraught history of colonial exploitation. Christopher Columbus encountered the American continent on an expedition intended to explore maritime routes to India and break the monopoly held by Venetian merchants over the spice trade with the East.
In teaching her students about spices, one of our educators shows her students how to make curry powder from scratch, grinding and mixing the various components. She then demonstrates their application by cooking a delicious veggie korma the following week. Kids are always initially skeptical of the korma but they usually come around and even ask for seconds. She likes to make a chai brew as well to demonstrate how a lot of the curry spices can also be used in a sweet application.
KALE & WHITE BEAN KORMA
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional)
4 ounces tomato sauce
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder**
1 13.5 ounce can light coconut milk
2 cups kale, roughly chopped
15 ounces white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1.Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until soft and translucent.
2. Stir in the garlic and ginger, then continue stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sweet potatoes, tomato sauce, and curry powder and continue stirring for 10 minutes or until the potatoes begin to soften.
3. Add the coconut milk, kale, and beans to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and completely cooked through (if using). Enjoy!