South of the Orient: Part I

KashmiriCurry1You have probably read about my various trysts with international cuisine before – to be fair, I can’t necessarily deem any of them as being truly “authentic” dishes, seeing as how I’ve only been to a handful of countries outside the U.S. Then there’s my boyfriend: a guy who has traveled across the globe, seeing and experiencing a number of cultures and cuisine. When it came to food, India left an especially strong culinary impression – he says of the place:

“You can be sitting in restaurants perched on the sides of cliffs, while eating Northern curries and enjoying vistas that extend all the way from the Himalayan foothills to the smog of Delhi.”

KashmiriCurry5Tom cooks Indian curries unlike any I’ve ever tried…and I have been dying to showcase his food on my blog for quite some time. His recipes from regions southeast Asia are especially intriguing, so I’m introducing a miniseries called “South of the Orient” (and to finally get his recipes online!) This Kashmiri Chicken Curry seemed like an apt introduction to what is arguably an authentic take on Indian cuisine.

KashmiriCurry6Tom spent a total of 6 months in India during his travels, one of which was spent in Dharamsala: a small city in Northern India that is home to the exiled Tibetan government (and the Dalai Lama). It was here that he first experienced a Kashmiri curry. Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, and has been called “Heaven on Earth” given its incredible natural beauty. Kashmiri traders venture south from Kashmir by way of treacherous mountain paths into Northern India to sell the flavorful spices and colorful clothing from their homeland. The need for discretion is due to the volatile relations between Pakistan and India over the Kashmiri region. As a historically disputed territory, its resources are all the more precious.

KashmiriCurry4This recipe calls for ingredients that Kashmir grows in abundance, including saffron and pistachios. After being introduced to this curry in Dharamsala, Tom has apparently made this curry upwards of 30 times – the trick is to not dump everything in all at once. The key to getting the depth of flavor is to allow each ingredient to “bloom” – Tom will toast the spices individually, before grinding them for the curry paste. The added patience yields remarkable flavors. Click HERE to learn how to make this irresistible dish!

KashmiriCurry2The appeal of India is understandably intoxicating, and many a musician have fallen under its spell. A prime example was classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who was constantly seeking new life experiences and cultures to inform his art. India left an indelible mark on Menuhin, and he became fascinated with its cultural practices. He was one of the first advocates for yoga, having befriended world-renowned yoga instructor Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (B.K.S.) Iyengar long before he had reached international prominence. The following quote gives some insight to Menuhin’s view of India:

“Delhi was an absolutely incredible place, teeming with life. There were hardly any cars, so women in beautiful saris spilled out on to streets filled with monkeys and oxen. Exotic birds flew among the trees. It felt so different from what we experience today, when most of us seem to live in a submarine where there is barely enough oxygen for everyone. In Delhi, years ago, we were enchanted. Both of us wanted to learn more about the culture, the way of life, and, of course, I was interested in the music.” – Menuhin

Menuhin and Shankar

It was this interest in music that led to a collaboration with the celebrated teacher Ravi Shankar. The duo helped bring Indian music to an wider audience, and has become one of THE albums of cross-cultural music. Menuhin wrote an article about their collaboration which you can check out HERE. As for the music, the link below include the entire album – enjoy!

Sources Cited
“Kashmir,” Wikipedia.com
“Yehudi_Menuhin” Wikipedia.com
The photo of Menuhin and Shankar is courtesy David Ferrell/Getty images

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