My Favorite Things by Jason Panella

I started cooking curries last spring, a wild idea born from memories of a meal prepared for my family over a decade ago by an Englishman. But that’s another story. I’ve since learned that “curry,” an Anglicized word attempting to lump any spicy Pan-Asian dish together for descriptive ease, is not a type or spice or sauce. But I’ve also learned the joy of cooking in the process.

I stocked up on then-unfamiliar ingredients (tamarind pulp, ground turmeric, ghee, fenugreek) and found new uses for old favorites (cloves, coconut, ginger, cumin seeds). I’ve learned how to dry roast, how to use a pestle and mortar, how to prepare onions and tomatoes in ways I’d never imagined.

Some of these incredibly healthy dishes take upwards of three hours to make, but those hours are never wasted. I feel at ease heating oil up on the wok, a sense of calm as I grind fennel seed and cinnamon together in my spice mill. I’ve learned to relax through cooking, a gift that I hope continues for years to come.

-Jason Panella

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