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Greek Flavor and Indian Flair

Posted Apr 14 2010 7:06am

Curried Halloumi

I love Indian cuisine — it’s pungent and earthy, aromatic and exciting, and turmeric is a darned handy 100% natural yellow dye.  (Worth remembering come Easter-egg-dyeing time!)  And since India is home to many clusters of traditions and beliefs, there’s also plenty of culinary variety between various regions.

The only thing I wish Indian food included more of is cheese.  Paneer is about as cheesy as you’ll get, and while it is indeed a delicious creamy cheese with a pleasantly firm texture, I’m a big fan of powerful cheeses like Feta and blue.  Granted, the equally-powerful spices used in Indian cookery could easily clash with the wrong kind of cheese, but to my happy surprise, I found that going Greek — after all, Greece isn’t too terribly far away from the Indian subcontinent — was a wonderful complement to curry.  Halloumi is an especially good match seeing as you can sautée it the way you’d sautée paneer; besides, the faintly wild flavor of the sheep and goat’s milk pairs well with the aromatic curry powder.

Curried Halloumi

This recipe serves 2 and can be easily doubled. If you’d like to make a meaty meal out of it, add 1/2 lb. ground lamb to the onions and proceed as directed.

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, chopped or sliced into rounds
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup peas
1 tsp. curry powder (or more, depending on how spicy you like your dishes)
Halloumi, evenly sliced into rounds (they’ll cook more evenly if they’re the same size)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, sautée the onion in a pat of ghee or butter for about 3 minutes or until the onion is soft. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and zucchini. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent garlic from burning. Add tomato, corn, peas, and curry. Turn heat to medium-low and let mixture simmer for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.

While the veggies are simmering, set another saucepan over medium heat. Let pan warm for good 3 minutes or until the pan is decidedly hot. Slide cheese slices onto the hot pan, being careful not to get too close — cheese will begin to sizzle the second it hits the pan’s surface. Shake the pan to make sure that the slices aren’t sticking, then let them cook for 2 full minutes. You’ll see them go through a texture transformation: first they’ll look watery and will sizzle around the edges as the liquid cooks off, then they’ll start to look more firm and the edges will turn golden brown.

Use a spatula to lift up a slice and make sure that they’re not burning. When the bottom side is a lovely golden brown (which will probably happen between the 2- and 3-minute mark), flip each cheese slice and repeat the browning process. The second side will probably take a bit less time.

Serve curry fresh out of the pan and topped with the sautéed halloumi.


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