Just the other day I was wondering what to cook for lunch. I had spent most of the morning vacuuming and cleaning the house and I wasn’t feeling like doing too much of cooking. My husband was out of town on work and there were just the two of us. I asked Akshaya what she would like and she picked pasta.
As I started checking out what vegetables were in the fridge, I suddenly remembered the pasta meals my friends and I used to share at University. This was a while ago. My parents were then teachers in Nigeria and I was studying at the University there. I used to stay on the campus and a small group of us, all Asian and mostly Indian, often used to get together to study at night. I was the only vegetarian in this group!
We used to get meals at the hostel cafeteria, but it was non-vegetarian. The only vegetarian meal available was rice and a beans (made from dried beans) preparation. For how many days can one eat beans cooked the same way, everyday for dinner?
Of course, I was lucky my home wasn’t too far away and used to go home most weekends bringing back home-cooked food for my friends.
In our women’s hostel, each floor of rooms used to have 2 kitchenettes, one at each end. So on some days, we would get together in one room and take turns cooking meals (usually one dish meals with everything going into one pot). Maybe its was that we were usually hungry, not too fussy or the company, but I remember those meals as being tasty and very satisfying.
One of those meals was a curried pasta which had no name and not too many vegetables in it. Unless we had gone vegetable shopping, we mostly had two vegetables in stock, onions and potatoes as these didn’t spoil very easily. As for spices, it was usually chilli powder and curry powder.
I have to say, when I first saw curry powder, I didn’t know it was supposed to be an Indian spice! It was only much later that I found out that curry was supposed to be an Indian dish, but something I had never seen in India.
I guess it is a bit like the popular Chinese preparation called Cauliflower Manchurian (which a Chinese Indian called Nelson Wang is supposed to have invented) we find in Indian restaurants which the Chinese have never heard of!!
I have not seen curry powder in India so far, so I tried to recreate that curried pasta with the spices in my kitchen. Elbow macaroni works best, though I used a pasta (as I had run out of elbow macaroni) which the packet very imaginatively claimed were “springs” but didn’t look like spiralli.
Using a minimal amount of vegetables also works best. You can add tomatoes and add them after the onions are done, if you prefer. I used ketchup as tomatoes aren’t Akshaya’s favourite vegetable though she will tolerate them if she can’t actually see them in food.
This version came pretty close to the version in my memories and this is how I made it.
Curried Pasta (V)
- 2 cups elbow macaroni uncooked (about 200g)
- 2 onions medium sized , chopped
- 2 potatoes medium sized , peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup sweet corn frozen
- 1/2 cup green peas frozen
- 2 tbsps tomato ketchup
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- to taste salt
- Heat the oil and sautxe9 the onions till translucent. Add the potatoes, sweet corn and green peas. Stir a couple of times and add 2 xbd cups of water. You may need to add a little more water later.
- Add the spices, salt and tomato ketchup sauce. Stir well, bring to a boil and then let it simmer on medium heat till the vegetables are half done.
- Add the macaroni, stir again and allow to cook till the water is absorbed. When done, there should be no liquid in the pan, yet the pasta should be moist.
- Depending on the pasta, you might need a little more of water. Once the pasta is almost done, if it is looking dry or undercooked, add 1/4 a cup of boiling water, stir and cook till this water gets absorbed.
- Take the curried pasta off the heat. The pasta will continue to dry out a little. You may add chopped coriander as a finishing touch, if preferred. Serve hot.
hi i’ve alreadymissed many posts – letme start here – curried pasta reminds me of when i made upma out of sphagetti! well as they say necessity is themother of all inventions. so did your girl like it??
Happy Cook says
Hey i didn’t know you learned in Nigeria. It was wonderful reading your post. Yeah even i didn’t know what curry powder is when i came here, they used to ask me and i was like what is that, then i figured it out.Past looks yummy and colourfull.
The pasta looks perfectly Indian. I love the addition of sambhar powder 🙂
The pasta looks good! I love the addition of Sambhar powder, have never tried it in pasta…..*Lol* about the curry powder….I stay away from it.
Enjoyed the post, Aparna:). Reminds me of a close friend who spent most of her childhood in Nigeria and came to India for higher studies. She used to tell how she and her sister used to wet their hair and plait it in thin strings so that they would look like their friends:).I too make this kind of pasta but not with ‘curry powder’! We love this (not my husband!).I read the manchurian bit the other day on one of the site – quite funny isn’t it, to be introduced to Chinese food that isn’t really Chinese:).
Me again! I noticed the menu card – looks good. Mine is still getting done little by little:)
The pasta looks a picture of colour and scrummy!Rosie x
Fearless Kitchen says
It’s great that you still remember fondly the dishes you made back in the day…
Here we get so many varieties of curry powder especially Madras curry powder, till now i didn’t dare to buy those boxes! I was also puzzled when i heard for first time! Nice spicy twist to pasta!
Aparna, this is the most informative post I ever read about curry powder. Before blogging we used to make curry at home using this curry powder and this was the only “Indian” spice we knew. Reading the blogs and mostly the Indian ones I realized that your curry had nothing to do with what I used to know. I now make curry making it with my own spices. Still it is not very authentic as a lot of spices you use cannot be found in Greece but it’s much better than the other curry. Your daughter is like my son. He doesn’t want to see tomato in the food.
Nice Read Aparna. & I love this pasta. I should give this a try for a change to the relugar italian way. About the karela, the trick I use to feed my husband & kids is to chop them so fine that they cannot separate it out even if they want to:-) they like the taste of the bhaji… but if they cannot take out the karela they have to eat it:-)
Curry Leaf says
Nice post Aparna,Love the twist on pasta.Nice to know you lived in Nigeria.I too wonder sometimes about this currypowder thing.Here we get something known as ‘Madras Curry Powder’ never bght it,but wonder what are the contents 🙂
Red Chillies says
I agree about that curry powder. I had never heard or seen it in India and I don’t even feel like trying it there.Loved your version of pasta and btw the picture looks beautiful.
Agree about the curry powder…the pasta looks yum,loved the addition of sambar powder to it..nice picture !
Hello Aparna,Your blog is not new to me. I have been reading it for a few months now, but first time posting comment.Your pasta recipe reminded me of my days staying with roommate who used to make almost same kind of pasta but it was little more like pasta soup.Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes and memories as well.Collin,
Now isn’t that ironical??It’s what we have been saying to the British all along – there is no such thing as simply “Curry” and hence, no single thing as “curry powder”. But “Curry” is the national dish there right now, so I read.Love the curry pasta- fusion cooking rocks!
tht is a great twist to the traditional pasta recipe. we sure knw how to spice up our dishes. great flavour combinations too. loved the addition of sambhar powder.
Wow… Mouth watering dish. Looks like this is going to be my lunch tomo… I loved the fusion cooking! BTW though I love tomato’s I would still add Tomato ketchup as I love it! Thanks for the recipe ..BTW your menu looks really neat! I am yet to do it..
I used to think curry powder has powdered curry leaves,later I discovered its just a mixture of common Indian spices.Even I like to spice up my pasta with all the masala flavors:)
Hi Aparna, that pasta sounds like something I make from time to time with orzo and leftover sambhar 🙂 I’ll have to try your way! I especially like the corn and secret-ingredient ketchup 🙂
Whoo-hoo! It’s impossible for me to contain my enthusiasm 😀 😀 😀 you dish brings together some of my favourite flavours and ingredients. I love pasta, I love potatoes and I love curry. Big hug to you Aparna for bringing them together 🙂
Yes, Rajani. She did.That’s a funny one, Harini. :)Thanks.That’s ok, Ivy. I do a lot of similar substitution because many things, especially herbs and some flours aren’t available here.If we can’t laways be authentic, we can at least make tasty food.:)I should try your karela trick, Soma.Thak you, Collin. Very nice to see a comment from one of my “Unknown” readers.:)Glad my post brought back memories for you too.Yes, Bharti. Indian “curry” has come into its own in the U.K. and become naturalised there.:)Thanks, Uj.Orzo and sambhar! That’s an unusuyal combination, Linda. I wonder how it was? Good, I guess.My memories and recreation of a pasta dish seems to have got you prtty excited, Lore. :)Give it a try.
my solution for dinner tonight 🙂
Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal says
Aparna,I have a small confusion on the process here as I am trying to make it. I am not clear as to if you cooked pasted separately or with the veggies and spices as you write about cooking pasta and then in the next para again say that add macaroni. Please clarify.
Priya, you are right. Ther is some confusion there and thanks for pointing it out.The macaroni is cooked with the vegetables and spices.What I meant was that one might need to add a little more water later if the pasta didn’t seem cooked.I have updated the post and I think the confusion is gone. Happy cooking! 🙂