Blog 5: 1970s Indian Curry Versus New Millennium Thai Curry
Do you ever feel nostalgic for the 1970s? Whether you lived during that decade or you wish you did, it does hold a certain quaint charm. Back then, many Asian cuisines were only just finding their way to our shores. The 70s were a time when Vietnamese and Lebanese refugees found safe harbour in Australia, escaping from turmoil back home. It was also when Aussie travellers discovered India as a vibrant, colourful destination and they started bringing back recipes for curries. Ok, ‘their versions’ of recipes for curries! Hands up if you’ve eaten a 1970s Indian curry that had banana chips, diced apple, sultanas and desiccated coconut in it? And for sure, you can bet it was made with that good old pantry staple, Keen’s Curry Powder! It was served alongside boiled-to-smithereens white rice.
“Life is full of Vesta situations”
In 1976, food manufacturers Vesta jumped on the meal bases bandwagon of the day and turned out an Indian curry. The above is the ad slogan. Known as ‘boil-in-the-bag’, a Vesta curry was a box containing two separate bags – one with rice, one with the curry – and you would literally pop the bags in boiling water to heat through. (SO ahead of their time! Now MasterChef has introduced us to sous vide!!)
1970s meal staples
It was the era of ‘meat and three veg’. Mum would have a hot meal on the table when Dad walked in and everyone would gather, probably with the news on the TV. A seersucker tablecloth would grace the table and upon it would be proper place settings. There was usually white sliced bread on a plate accompanied by butter on a ceramic dish. Many Aussie families would have a cup of tea – on a saucer – with dinner, and there’d always be tomato sauce and maybe even brown sauce on the table. The standard repertoire of meals would include sausages, mashed potato, peas and carrots or a stew with the vegetables already in it. You might have roast lamb with baked potato and pumpkin plus boiled beans and mint sauce or a pork chop with – again – potatoes and maybe broccoli and cabbage.
Home cooked food still easy but not basic
Today, with products like Latasha’s Kitchen meal bases, you can prepare spectacular meals very easily. And they have all the exotic flair of a sultana-studded curry but with authenticity that can’t be disputed.
Cooking in a tiny house
Recently, I had my twin nieces over for dinner in my tiny new apartment. I’ve downsized so I have very few of my usual appliances and gadgets and I tend to get very creative with my cooking for practical reasons. I also don’t have much room for storage so I like to use up whatever’s in the fridge and pantry where I can, before buying more. And, I eat Low Carb High Fat so what I cook has to tick a lot of boxes. I had some beef mince and I wanted to use a Latasha’s product so I dreamed up something quick, easy and mighty tasty and it turned out fantastic! Meatballs are a bit of a throwback to the 1970s but they were never this good!!
Thai Green Meatball Curry
Serves 2 or 3
- 500g beef mince
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and cracked pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs oil
- Half a leek (discard tough, dark green ends)
- Half a jar of Latasha’s Kitchen Thai Green Curry Paste*
- Good handful of green beans, cut into smaller lengths as desired
- 500mls beef or vegetable stock
- 200mls (half a can) of coconut cream
- Half a head of broccoli, tough parts of stalk discarded and cut into smaller florets
- 4 asparagus, sliced as desired
- Good handful of baby spinach leaves
- 100g egg noodles, cooked as per pack instructions
- 1 lime, quartered
- Handful of coriander for garnishing
- Instead of using a bowl to mix the above ingredients, I mixed them right there in the pan I was going to use to fry the meatballs! Mix all ingredients together then roll into ping pong ball-sized meatballs. Put on a plate until ready to fry.
- Heat the pan, add the oil then fry the meatballs, turning to seal all over. They don’t have to be 100% cooked through. Remove from pan and put on a plate, leaving the juices in the pan to fry the next ingredients.
- Slice the leek thinly and add to the meat juices in the hot pan. Stir and cook until soft and sticky, gathering the juices in the leeks. Add the curry paste and allow to warm through to release the aromas. Add the meatballs back to the pan and coat in the curry paste.
- Add the beans to the pan then add stock and coconut cream. Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer. Add broccoli and asparagus and simmer for 10 minutes then add zucchini to cook for another couple of minutes. At the very end, before serving, throw in the spinach leaves and stir through until wilted.
- To serve, add cooked noodles to each bowl (I skipped the noodles in mine) then simply ladle curry into a bowl, being sure to create a good balance of meatballs, vegetables and liquid. Garnish with lime wedges and coriander so each person can add to desired taste.
*NOTE: I prefer my dishes with tons of flavour so I use quite a lot of Latasha’s pastes in my cooking. For those who prefer a milder taste, simply use less paste. Latasha recommends 1 tbs of paste for a dish that feeds two people and contains 500g of your preferred protein.
Work with what you have on hand
Food wastage is a huge problem in the world and it’s also a big problem for your wallet! Before you go to cook something, pull out what’s in the fridge and pantry and create something yummy with your on-hand ingredients. If you really need to buy something else, take a list and don’t grab a trolley or a basket. Walk in, walk out and be proud of yourself!
When you have a Latasha’s Kitchen product in your pantry or fridge (after opening), all you need to make a brilliant meal is a protein such as meat, fish, chicken or tofu, some vegetables and maybe a can of coconut milk or cream and, if you like, rice or noodles. If you prefer quinoa, use that!
Tips on cooking great food at home, easily
- Don’t be trapped into thinking you can’t make a dish just because you don’t have all the exact ingredients in a recipe.
- Wing it! Try mince instead of chicken breast, lamb cutlets instead of a pork chop, or calamari instead of prawns.
- Improvise and reduce washing-up by doing whatever you can in fewer dishes and pots and with fewer gadgets.
- Make extra so you can enjoy it the next day. Curries are always better the next day!
- If you need to make a recipe go further to feed unexpected guests, add either more carbs (rice, pasta, noodles, potato) or more vegetables. Do you have frozen vegies you could throw in? Is there a pumpkin you could chop up?
- Tone down heat with coconut cream or milk or by adding yoghurt or even sour cream when serving. (Dairy products contain casein which goes to battle with the fire-causing capsaicin in chilli, binds to it and washes it away, easing any discomfort from the heat in the food.)
If you love a home cooked meal, take a leaf out of the 1970s playbook and those old school family values. Greet loved ones with something tasty and comforting, and treat yourself to some really delicious, easy food that you can make in minutes.