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Curry favor with shrimp or chicken

Most home cooks shy away from curry for fear it is too time consuming. If you have your curry powder ready to go, however, and your ingredients at hand, it can be done in less than an hour. In the recipe here for curried chicken and shrimp with grapes I use homemade curry powder.

It is made by combining the following in a spice grinder: \ cup turmeric, 3 tablespoons ground coriander, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 tablespoon white peppercorns, 1 tablespoon whole cloves, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground cardamom, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon ground mace, 1 tablespoon dried fines herbs, 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds. This will last indefinitely if kept in an airtight container.

Apples, bananas and grapes provide the counterbalancing sweetness. Total cooking time for the chicken and the shrimp is about seven to eight minutes.

Curried Chicken

and Shrimp

With Grapes

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound

1 pound medium-size shrimp

2 tablespoons butter

{ cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

{ cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 small ripe plum tomatoes, cut into small cubes

1 small banana, cut into {-inch cubes

1 cup peeled and cubed apples

1 bay leaf

2 cups fresh or canned chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup seedless white grapes

4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh coriander

Cut the chicken breasts into 8 to 10 strips about 1{ inches long.

Shell and devein the shrimp. Rinse well and drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Cook briefly and add the celery. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Do not brown. Sprinkle with curry powder and stir. Add the tomatoes, banana, apples and bay leaf. Stir and add the broth, salt and pepper. Stir well to blend. Simmer 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining butter in a non-stick skillet and add the chicken, stirring. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the bay leaf and pour the curry mixture into the container of a food processor or blender. Blend to a fine texture. Add the grapes to the chicken mixture. Pour the curry sauce over it and blend well. Bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the coriander, stir and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.