Vij’s Ground Fennel Seed Curry

I make a lot of curry.  Many of you know that.  Some of you have even told me to not post so many curry recipes.  That is probably good advice given we aren’t really an Indian/Asian food blog, but I can’t help myself.  I find comfort in curry. My kid adores curry.  And I know how to make curry.  I know how to modify a curry recipe to make it work like magic, so you are stuck with another curry recipe.  Except this is a damn good one.

It’s the Ground Fennel Seed Curry from Vij’s Restaurant’s cookbook (Vij’s at Home. Relax, Honey: The Warmth and Ease of Indian Cooking).  Vij’s is in Vancouver and is one of my favorite Indian restaurants on the world.  We were there years ago, before we had our little cutie and my judgement might be partly clouded by the fact that it was one of our best vacations ever.  At Vij’s the food is outstanding, good old-fashioned Indian, but brought up to date and a little fancier  (all in a good way).  The service warm and welcoming – while you wait, literally forever for a table, they bring you delicious free nibbles (I still dream about the masala spiced fried potatoes they served).  I long to go back, I am wistful for that trip and I wish I could cook like the folks at Vij’s.

Here’s my attempt at recreating a time past and a meal never forgotten.

Ground Fennel Seed Curry adapted from Vij’s at Home

Fennel is wonderful spice that is used quite liberally in Northern India.  I am an enormous fan and even stick it into recipes where is doesn’t quite belong.  This curry is quite delicious and works well with sauteed vegetables but also served over just about any seafood (pan seared crispy halibut/trout, prawns or even mussels).  I made it into a paneer curry, at the request of my hubby.

Ingredients – serves 6

2 Tbsp fennel seeds

1/3 cup cooking oil

2 cups pureed tomatoes (do not use crushed tomatoes but canned is fine, I used fresh)

1 tsp tumeric

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds (optional)

1/2 to 1 tbsp cayenne

1 cup water

1/2 cup heavy cream

Method

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, dry roast fennel seeds for 2-3 minutes.  Pour on a plate and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Grind on coffee grinder.  Feel free to make more and store the rest since you only need 2 tbsp for this recipe
  2. In a medium pot, heat oil for about a minute.  Add ground fennel and stir continuously for 30 seconds or until fennel seeds begin to foam lightly.  Add the other spices and then shortly thereafter add the tomatoes and keep stirring
  3. Saute for 8-10 minutes and if the masala sticks, add more oil
  4. Pour in water and cream.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately. (I added pan fried, salted paneer while the curry was simmering)