For many chefs and their brigades, curry is the ultimate family-style staff meal--the proud product of a cook’s cultural heritage. Recently, eight Vancouver chefs competed in the city's fifth annual Curry Cup to battle it out with creative curry dishes.
The showdown featured curries created by Shelome Bouvette (Chicha), Elizabeth Bryan (Dock Lunch), Andrea Carlson (Burdock & Co.), Tim Evans (Cascade Room), Karl Gregg (Colony on Main), Mark Hills (Hills Foods), Alana Peckham (Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver), and Alessandro Vianello (Gooseneck Hospitality).
Vianello, who supervises the culinary teams at Gooseneck's restaurants (Bufala, Bells and Whistles, Lucky Taco, and Wildebeest), won for his Lamb Belly Rogan Josh. Evans nabbed both the Peoples' Choice and second place, and third place went to Bryan.
The eight tempting dishes were expertly judged by last year's Curry Cup winner, chef Felix Zhou of Heritage Asian Eatery, alongside restaurateur Vikram Vij, food and wine writer Tim Pawsey (aka the Hired Belly), TIME Winery owner Harry McWatters, and inaugural Curry Cup winner chef Taryn Wa.
The Curry Cup is also a fundraiser for Project Chef, a program which teaches Vancouver elementary school students about healthy food. The sold-out event brought in $1500 for Project Chef.
For those interested in replicating Vianello's champion Curry Cup dish, Gooseneck Hospitality has graciously shared the recipe, and the beauty of a curry recipe is that it is fairly flexible and straightforward to make, so this isn't one of those restaurant dishes that is too complicated to pull off for a home cook. (If you are feeling brave, though, hit up our archives for this recipe for the 3rd annual Curry Cup's wining dish, a Balinese Chicken Curry from Chef Roger Ma.)
Lamb Belly Rogan Josh
By: Chef Alessandro Vianello (Wildebeest, Lucky Taco, Pizzeria Bufala, Bells and Whistles)
- 1 kg boneless lamb belly
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 thumb of ginger
- 3 onions
- 4 red chilies
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 60mL natural yogurt
- 1 can of tomatoes
- Cilantro and toasted coconut for garnish
- In a small amount of vegetable oil or ghee, caramelize the onions until very dark brown.
- Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Toast the cumin, coriander and cloves, then crush using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Alternatively, you can use ground spices.
- Add the spices and cook for an additional 10 minutes adding a touch of water if the pan seems dry.
- Dice the lamb belly and add it to the pot. Continue to stir until it’s well-coated in the spices.
- Add the chilies and the tomatoes, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 1.5 hours or until the lamb is very tender.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and add the yogurt. Season with salt to your taste.
- Garnish with toasted coconut and picked cilantro leaves and serve alongside rice, naan and Raita (recipe follows).
1 cup yogurt
1/2 a small red onion diced small
1/4 cucumber diced
1tsp toasted ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 bunch of fresh mint
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.