Baba’s Meat Curry Powder Is My Pantry Secret Ingredient

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Each time a cousin, auntie, or uncle came around us from Malaysia, they’d carry an extra-large designated suitcase rigorously stuffed to the brim with asam laksa–flavored Maggi prompt noodles, vibrantly coloured jelly cups, pandan extract, and different goodies we couldn’t discover in suburban Minnesota within the ’90s. Prized above all was Baba’s Meat Curry Powder, a heady and aromatic mix of floor spices, which included cinnamon, star anise, fennel, nutmeg, and coriander. It might be packed into their baggage, layered like lasagna sheets between snacks and clothes. As quickly as our customer landed and settled in, the ceremonial unpacking of meals treasures would ensue, and the deep inexperienced packages would reveal themselves and make their method into our pantry. Each time my mother made goat curry, she would retrieve a packet and spoon out a treasured portion of Baba’s curry powder, perfuming the entire home with the spice mix.

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How did Baba’s curry powder turn out to be such an important a part of our household’s culinary historical past? Again within the ’60s, when my mother was a teen, vans began making the rounds within the residential neighborhoods of Kuala Lumpur promoting numerous pantry staples like rice and roasted, milled spice mixes to native housewives. Earlier than this, my Didu—or maternal grandmother—and my great-aunt must toast and grind the spices themselves, and these cellular spice outlets supplied comfort and the promise of time saved. The Baba’s model began identical to these different vans, and it turned so common that the spice blends may finally be present in typical grocery shops. Like with many Malaysian households, that’s when Baba’s turned a part of our household pantry. Didu changed her small-batch spice mixes with Baba’s to make her goat curry. Years later, when my mother moved to America, she took Didu’s recipe—and packages of Baba’s—along with her. 

For me, the curry powder has turn out to be a pantry staple that goes past the meals I discovered from my household. Obtained some hen you wish to roast? Add Baba’s to the marinade. Need to make ribs? Incorporate it right into a espresso rub. Though the package deal says “meat curry powder” and sports activities pictures of goats and chickens, it’s nice for extra than simply meat dishes (it’s vegan). Coat potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, or butternut squash with a mixture of Baba’s and melted ghee earlier than roasting. You’ll get a nutty, savory, and barely candy style that’s tremendous satisfying. Due to its delicate sweetness from the fennel and star anise, I like utilizing it as a popcorn seasoning on film night time.

Experimenting with making Baba’s my very own makes me really feel extra linked to Didu and my household in Malaysia. I used to ration each spoonful, cautious to verify my provide lasted till the subsequent auntie resupply. Now that I’ve found that it’s only a click on away on Amazon, I’m utilizing it with reckless abandon and discovering much more methods to make use of it in my every day cooking.

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