I can't stop making curry.
It might be because I recently realized just how easy it is to make the spice-filled, usually soup-like concoction from India. And not just make it, but make a very respectable version that is not short on flavor or authentic spices.
That's the secret: the right spices, plus a can of trusty coconut milk, and from there it is a fast train to curry town.
I have started keeping coconut milk in my pantry. For one thing, it makes a crazy good non-dairy milk substitute for certain baked goods (try it in cake). My mom loves to put coconut milk in her coffee instead of regular creamer. And I find it adds just the right fatty element to lots of savory dishes, from soups to rice (replace the water with coconut milk) to all manner of sauces.
And it's absolutely essential for curries, forming the soupy base for meats and veggies.
My obsession with curries has coincided nicely with two recent developments: I have been slightly crazed the past week pulling together the Tampa Bay Times' annual Top 50 Restaurants package, editing our food critic's words while salivating over all the gems on this year's list. Look for the package Feb. 1 at tampabay.com/top50restaurants
I also tried out a new recipe delivery service called Sun Basket. One of the recipes was something called Burmese Chicken Aloo Curry, which was easy to make and so warm and delicious that I made a similar version a couple days later using my own recipe below.
One of my hobbies is trying out new services like these, which serve as a source of cooking inspiration and allow a nice break during which I do not need to think about what's for dinner every night.
For me, the gold standard is Blue Apron, the perfect mix of ambitious and doable recipes, with just enough cooking to enjoy the process but still feel like a convenience. Hello Fresh tends to be similar but with simpler recipes and less exotic ingredients. Then there are services like Green Chef or Terra that come with fully prepped items, so the recipes are a little more dump-and-heat.
What I liked about Sun Basket was that it had elements of both kinds of service: recipes a little more elevated than the home cooking I normally gravitate to, but with pre-prepared ingredients like a lemongrass paste for the curry that contained lemongrass, olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh ginger and turmeric.
Overall, there were more options when it came to the recipes. From about 18 recipes, I chose three that could be sent to my house. It was good and bad; I love the variety but felt a little paralyzed by all the freedom.
Once I opened the box at home, each meal packaged in its own paper bag, I found that the dishes were all pretty simple, with between 5 and 10 ingredients per recipe, and the cooking load was light. I would order it again, especially when I am up to my eyeballs in thousands of words about the area's best restaurants — and especially if there is curry on the menu.