Today, the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle is getting a lot of attention in our house. We’ve been sending prayers Thomas’ way for months asking him to look after our nephew, Patrick Anselm Rogers throughout his most recent journey to India.
He departed on New Year’s Day for his second round of study and travel in as many years in that ancient and storied land and we invoked St. Thomas — evangelist to India — in countless prayers as we followed Patrick’s itinerary throughout the subcontinent. Yes, he went to dangerous places like Kashmir even when he said he wouldn’t and we spent the last couple of weeks especially, worried for his safety.
Pat returned yesterday, suntanned and spinning stories that sound like they come straight out of Kipling. We are so thankful that he is back safely and we are confident St. Thomas had a lot to do with that.
I’ve never been to India, but I encountered Thomas on a personal level many years ago when I began interviewing members of the growing community of Thomas Christians arriving in Monmouth County. I warmed to their ways, their food and their traditions quickly and enjoyed their company very much.
Their devotion to Thomas was such that it compelled me to learn more about him and this is a good day to share some of their insight with you by way of a couple of internet sites that are especially interesting: http://www.cnewa.org/ecc-bodypg-us.aspx?eccpageID=2&IndexView=toc offers an overview on Thomas and the traditions that evolved out of his discipleship. This blog, http://konkanicatholics.blogspot.com/2006/07/feast-of-st-thomas-apostle-to-india.html opens a window on how his ministry in India flourishes to this very day.
Through meeting many Indian people and dining with them, I also developed a real taste for Indian food which is shared by many friends and family members. Curry is an obvious choice for recipes here. As friend and fellow foodie Linda Hildebrand points, curry has gone mainstream around the world.
In London where her son, Jake, is reading law, curry “take away” is as popular as Chinese take out over here. Jake is residing in the Whitechapel District of London (yes, that Whitechapel District), one of many areas now largely populated by Indian and Pakistani people.
He was enjoying a dish of chicken curry even as they chatted the other night on the telephone.
Our whole family has tuned into Indian food and enjoys a nice curry now and then. Two recipes follow — one for chicken curry and one for a vegetable curry I’m especially fond of. I hope you enjoy them.
Ingredients: 2 lbs. chicken cut up (I like to use legs and thighs); 1/4 tsp. garlic powder; 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon; 1/4 tsp. ground cloves; 1/2 tsp. ground ginger; 2 tbsp. plain yogurt; 1 cup chopped onion; 2 tbsp. plain yogurt (I use Greek yogurt); 2 tbsp. tomato paste; 4 tbsp. vegetable oil; 2 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. red pepper; 1 box frozen, cut spinach, thawed.
Directions: clean and wash the chicken. In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute til golden. Add yogurt, tomato paste and all the spices. Simmer on slow heat for 15 minutes or until a thick paste has formed. Add chicken pieces and spinach and let cook on medium heat until most of the liquid disappears. Serve with plain rice and flat bread.
Indian Pea and Potato Curry
Ingredients: 4 medium potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes; 4 tomatoes, cut into wedges; 2 cups frozen peas, thawed; 2 1/2 tsp. dry mustard; 2 tblsp. water; 1 medium onion, chopped; 2 green chilies seeded and chapped; 2 tblsp. oil; 1 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced; 1/2 tsp salt; 3/4 tsp. cumin seed; 1/4 tsp. turmeric.
Directions: In a small cup, blend the mustard and water to make a paste and set aside. In a large skillet, cook onion, chilies and ginger in hot oil over medium heat until onions are golden. Add the salt, cumin, turmeric and cook three minutes more. Add peas and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Gently stir in potatoes and tomatoes and cook until heated through. Blend in mustard paste. Transfer to serving dish and prepare to enjoy!