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By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Ram Arora stirs a batch of the chicken curry served
at his restaurant, India House.

Good curry
needs good spices

Gyouza Iluvramen has found his ultimate curry, at India House. He'd like the recipe, and restaurant owner Ram Arora has no problem sharing.

But there is a catch.

Arora flavors his curry with a masala mix prepared for him at his family's restaurant in New Delhi. It's made of 20 to 25 spices - among them cloves, cinnamon and cardamom -- that are dried whole in the sun, then ground.

"A lot of labor and time are involved," Arora says.

Masala spice mixes are available at specialty cooking stores and health food markets, but the chances that you'll hit on the Arora family's precise mix are slim. Follow this recipe, though, and you could get close to the intensely flavored curry served at the restaurant on South King Street (call 955-7552 for the real thing).

Just keep in mind that good curry is dependent on good spices, Arora says, so seek out the freshest and the best.

He also offers this tip in the way of technique: His curry is finished at low heat, after a quick combining of all the ingredients in a hot pan. "If you cook at low heat the natural juice comes out and that's where the good taste is."

Arora arrived in Hawaii in 1971, bringing along a tandoori oven to make naan bread at the Third Floor in the Hawaiian Regent Hotel. The French restaurant wanted to add a touch of the exotic, Arora says, and he ended up making 400 to 500 pieces of naan every night.

He also offers his recipes for Puri Bread and Raita, two of his restaurant's staples. Puri is a simple fried bread that puffs up when it hits the hot oil. Raita is a yogurt-based relish traditionally served with Indian curries to cool the palate. Arora's version is another of Iluvramen's favorites.

Arora suggests customizing Raita at home with the addition of diced pineapple, potato or onion, and chile pepper.

Chicken Curry

1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 tablespoons masala spice mix
Salt and red chile powder to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons yogurt
2 small sticks cinnamon
2-3 bay leaves
3-4 cardamom seeds
Pinch ground ginger
5-6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 4-pound chicken, skinned, boned and cut in bite-sized pieces

Combine turmeric, masala, salt and chile powder to make a paste. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok and fry onions until light brown. Stir in yogurt, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamoms, ginger and garlic. Cook until onions are completely brown.

Add chicken and enough water to partially cover. Bring to a boil and add masala mix. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until chicken is done. Stir occasionally so mixture doesn't stick. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving (not including salt to taste): 560 calories, 35 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, greater than 200 mg sodium.*


1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
4-5 mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. Makes 2 cups

Approximate nutritional information, per per 2 tablespoons (not including salt to taste): 12 calories, 0.5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, greater than 10 mg sodium.*

Puri Bread

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup water
Vegetable oil for frying

Combine dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Add water gradually, using only as much as needed to make a firm dough. Once dough "cleans" the side of the bowl, it is ready. Knead on a floured board until elastic.

Pinch off 8 pieces about the size of golf balls and place on a buttered pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit 1 hour. Dough may be refrigerated at this point.

To cook, pat dough balls into thin circles, about 6 inches in diameter. Heat a pan filled with oil at least 2 inches deep. Fry dough piece by piece until golden brown, turning occasionally to brown evenly. Bread should puff up evenly very quickly. Drain on paper towels. Makes 8.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 170 calories, 6 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 200 mg sodium.*

Food Stuffs: Morsels

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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