Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Do you like a little curry in your chilli, lentil soup, tuna salad, fish, vegetable stew, or other dishes?
The first time I tried curry tuna salad, I was impressed. Just a dash, so it's barely noticeable, is a good way to use it. This pungent herb is potent, so a little goes a long way.
An article in USA Today, "Tasty Curry Might Have a Fringe Benefit", cites the researched benefits of curry. It begins by telling about an arthritic woman who stumbled on curry as an intriguing ingredient.
She began to whip up an Indian dinner once or twice a week — and soon she noticed she wasn't always looking for a late-night snack. And the curry in the food offered her a bonus: It seemed to ease the pain and swelling in her joints.
"I have arthritis," says Jayne, 55. "But I'm moving better now."
Preliminary research suggests Jayne may be right. A study in the November issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism suggests turmeric, one component of curry spice, almost completely prevented joint swelling in rats with arthritis.
Other studies have suggested that the spice could protect against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's, a degenerative brain disease that afflicts nearly 5 million people in the USA.
Rates of Alzheimer's in India are about four times lower than in the USA, says Gregory Cole, a researcher at the University of California-Los Angeles. His studies suggest that curry contains a powerful substance that might protect the brain from damage that leads to Alzheimer's.
Surprising findings in mice
Can scientists prove curry wards off such diseases as Alzheimer's or cancer? Not yet, says Bharat Aggarwal at the University of Texas-Houston. But he says the growing file on curry includes compelling evidence gleaned from animal and human studies.
The findings from Western science fit with what traditional Indian healers have long said about turmeric. "They call it the spice of life," says P. Murali Doraiswamy, an Alzheimer's expert at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
For centuries, doctors trained in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional medical system in India, have turned to turmeric to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, says Janet Funk, a researcher at the University of Kansas. In the USA, many people with arthritis take over-the-counter supplements that contain curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric.
In the November study, Funk and her colleagues gave rats that were bred to develop rheumatoid arthritis injections of turmeric. "The turmeric almost completely prevented the onset of arthritis," Funk says. The spice also seemed to help stop joint destruction in rats that had already started to develop the disease, she says.
Curry also may offer some protection against cancer. "Indians eat from 100 to 200 milligrams of curry every day, and that might be enough to prevent cancer," says Aggarwal of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
The curcumin in curry seems to shut down genes that trigger the development and the spread of breast cancer, animal studies in Aggarwal's lab suggest. And a preliminary human study suggests curcumin supplements might — in a handful of cases — be able to stabilize pancreatic cancer, he says.
Epidemiology studies in humans also have linked frequent use of turmeric spice to lower rates of breast, prostate and colon cancer, he says.
The BBC reports that "Curry May Slow Alzheimer's". As does ABC News. And the US Department of Health and Human Services ("Tapping into Curry's Health Benefits"). I quote very mainstream, conservative sources just to show you how the powers of curry are being accepted widely, not just by those opposed to the Big Pharma, junk food, allopathic, or orthodox medical worlds.
What makes Steak & Shake chili so unique and, for some folks, downright addictive?
I can't prove this, but the tightly guarded recipe for Steak & Shake chilli seems to include curry as one ingredient. Their chili is shipped to restaurant locations in bags, pre-mixed, so even the managers of Steak & Shake don't know what's in it. I know this because when I was a younger, I went through the Steak & Shake manager training program.
In my opinion, it's got to be curry that gives it that delicious, mild zing that makes it stand out from all over chili blends.
When I did a search online a moment ago, one allegedly authentic recipe is this, from The Recipe Link:
STEAK AND SHAKE CHILI
(the original recipe)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (10.5 oz) can condensed cream of onion soup
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, undrained**
1 cup coke cola (not diet type)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
You'll find this recipe repeated all over the internet, for example, at eHow "How To Make Steak & Shake Chili".
Recipe Zaar says this: "Steak and Shake was a franchise started in the Midwest. My father would take me there on special occasions. I loved their chili! This is a chili which would be ideal for children. It is very mild with a slight sweetness."
But look at all the comments posted under this recipe at Recipe Link. Many people are disputing the recipe as a fraud, some saying "not even close". One person stated that Steak & Shake does not use any tomato products in their chili.
I've added some curry to my own homemade chilli, and several times I've almost exactly duplicated the distinct flavor of Steak & Shake chilli. Try it yourself and see. Go slowly, adding just a teaspoon of curry to a 2 quart pan of chilli. Taste that mixture and see what you think. I myself will add from 3 to 6 teaspoons of organic curry, fresh from Naturally Yours bulk herb section, to my homemade chilli.
If you put too much curry in, it can tend to taste sort of bitter, sharp, too strong. But the right amount can propel your chilli, tuna salad, and other dishes to a whole new level of awesomeness.
Indian Curry Recipes
Classic Organic Eggplant Curry Recipes
Panang Tofu Curry Recipe
Indian Vegetable Curry Recipe
Naturally Yours carries organic curry powder in the bulk herb bins. Get some today and start adding this marvelous herb to your diet.