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09 August 2015 @ 09:37 pm
Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries: Week Forty: Matira Curry  
This is undoubtedly the weirdest curry in the entirety of 50 Great Curries of India. softlykarou and I have spent months occasionally mentioning it, wondering how it qualifies as curry, why the author picked it to include in the book, how it could possibly taste any good, and why we were even making it. The last question was the only one we could really answer--because this isn't "Fifty Curries except for that one that looks weird--though the author seems to imply in her curry intro that she included this because it was so strange. And yeah, it was definitely strange.

It also mentions that it's from Rajasthan, where temperatures regularly top 40°C. In that kind of weather and in the historical absence of air conditioning, I can see why watermelon curry would be attractive. But in Chicago today it's 24°C, so conditions are perhaps not ideal.


Minimal ingredients this week.

When I took my first bite, I was struck by how disparate the flavors were. There was the curry flavor, and there was the watermelon flavor, and they were engaging in a full-scale war within my mouth. Sometimes the watermelon won, and I got that watery-sweet flavor of watermelon that leads me to turn down watermelon whenever someone offers it to me (it's not that I hate it, it's that there's not really any "it" to hate). Sometimes the curry won, and I got a spicy, warm taste that actually went relatively well with the flavor of the watermelon, but not with the texture. It wasn't bad, it was just really, really odd.

Then softlykarou remembered that she hadn't added the lime juice, so she got it and poured some over the watermelon, which helped blend the flavors a bit, though still not quite harmoniously. It wasn't until she ate down to the sauce that we found the true secret of the curry. Eat watermelon pieces that were soaking in the juice at the bottom of the bowl and the flavors were actually properly melded.


I'm too apathetic about watermelon to dislike it.  photo emot-effort.gif

Words from the Chef
There's not a lot to say here because this curry was the picture of simple. In a lot of ways that makes me more nervous because when something doesn't have a lot of ingredients, screw ups are more obvious and you have to get everything just right. This curry reminded me a bit of the Mexican fruit salads I've purchased in my lifetime, but something was off. I think it was the warmth, heating watermelon just felt wrong to me. I was worried that I'd break the melon when I tossed it but I managed to be gentle with the warm watermelons. I mean, I liked this curry but I don't think it's one I have a strong desire to make again.

I do want to give a shout out to tropicanaomega and her husband for giving us their Ninja! It made the sauce so much smoother and I want to make both of you delicious curry with it.



The state all watermelon aspires to be--liquid.

Even there, it still never quite came together. I can't pull one of my No True Scotsman fallacies on this and declare that it's not curry, because this fits all the random criteria I tend to set for it. It has sauce, and in fact tasted wrong without the sauce, it's spicy, all that. Maybe it's like softlykarou said and it's because warm watermelon is just too much of a hurdle for my American mind to overcome, which would be pretty embarrassing after going to Japan and eating raw chicken, raw horse, whelk, or yukke, a tasty dish that's made with raw beef, raw eggs, and raw onions.

It was good enough that between softlykarou and I, we finished the entire thing. And I don't mean the entire dish, I mean the entire batch. The recipe really didn't make all that much curry, marking this week as the first and probably last time we ate all the curry in a single sitting. So I suppose it has that going for it at least.



The main thing I'm left to wonder after eating matira curry is whether I would have liked it better if it had involved a fruit that I actually like? If this were made exactly the same but with apples or strawberries substituted for the watermelon, would I be writing a glowing review now? I'm a little tempted to try that, but I think the time for it would have been a couple weeks back when our aircon was broken. In the unseasonably cool summer Chicago has had, it just seems superfluous.

Would I Eat It Again?: No.
Do I Prefer It to the Usual Thai Curry?: Absolutely not.
What Would I Change?: There's not much to this curry other than "watermelon and spices," so any change would pretty much destroy the entire basis for the curry. Maybe I'd try it cold if I actually cared enough to try it again.
 
 
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