I recently stumbled across a manga titled Addicted to Curry–a long running series that will soon come to an end, yet still hasn’t been serialized in America. The manga is true to its name in that the characters really are addicted to experiencing curry in all its forms. Despite all the various kinds that I read about in the nine volumes I could find of the forty-six, it was the very first chapter that re-energized me. In it, gifted curry chef Kouenji Makito makes Sonezaki Yui, the heir to a declining curry restaurant, a well known Indian dish: keema matar. The ground meat and pea curry revitalizes Yui with its familiar taste and spiciness and helps her realize that she truly loves her restaurant and is not yet ready to give up. What once seemed impossible suddenly begins to look achievable. Given my current situation, I couldn’t help but cling to that vision as well.
As I mentioned, Addicted to Curry has not yet been licensed in America, and so what few fansubbed volumes I could find I devoured in a short period of time. The manga reminds me a lot of Yakitate!! Japan, a similar food-oriented shounen series featuring cook-offs and dishes from around the world. Humor permeates every page, but there are plenty of arcs with more serious vibes. What I really like about the manga is its characters, most of whom exhibit a surprising amount of depth–even the villains are usually given sympathetic backgrounds and motives. Almost every chapter includes a different curry recipe, not only globetrotting its readers with each arc, but also encouraging aspiring cooks to give the meals a try.
Unfortunately with that set up, the outcomes are usually predictable. If the arc features a showdown between main curry chef Makito and someone bent on bringing down Ganesha (Yui’s restaurant), it’s almost guaranteed that Makito will win or that grievances will be settled some other way into a happy ending. Another possible ding to the series is the mangaka’s ecchi streak. Typical panty shots and bathroom encounters aside, there’s a surprising amount of boob-grabbing and sex. The first chapter was fairly innocent, so I was a bit taken aback when a page popped up of one of Makito’s rivals having sex with a woman spread eagled completely nude across the entire top panel. These instances do not occur so often as to bug me, but do seem written in at the most unexpected times.
As for the recipe, I found it very easy to execute and everyone claimed to enjoy it. This is definitely a dish that a kitchen novice can pull off without too much trouble. The serving amount also correctly fed my parents and me, with just enough left over for one more helping. Since my dad can’t handle overly spicy foods, I made sure to remove the seeds from the chili peppers and opted out on the Indian curry powder. Despite that, there was still a bit of kick in the final product, so consider a glass of milk or a yogurt side dish if you want to try this recipe but need occasional relief.
Keema Matar (Serves 4)
Source: Addicted to Curry, vol. 1, ch. 1
- 500g ground meat (preferably either lamb or beef)
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2-3 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 slices ginger
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 tbsp Canola oil
- 2 bay leaves, diced (or crushed)
- 5-7 chili peppers
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- Salt, to taste
- Indian curry powder, to taste
- First pour in the Canola oil and allow it to heat up to medium, then add in diced bay leaves and chili peppers (better to leave the seeds out if you prefer mild) to let it sauté a bit, stirring continuously.
- Add in the already diced onions and let them caramelize on low heat (reach a golden brown color).
- Once the aroma of the onions comes out, add in the regular curry powder and ground meat.
- After the meat changes color (there shouldn’t be any redness left), add in the tomato sauce and peas. Pour in some water as necessary so the meat does not become too dry. Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes.
- Add in the grated garlic and ginger into the pot, then include salt and Indian curry powder to your preferences. Stir the ingredients evenly until you’re ready to serve.