curry, you’re close to my heart !


Curry, you’re close to my heart!
Well, let’s hope you’re not too close to my heart
But you know what I mean, you play a special part.
You mess
With my excess
But all in all you make me whole,
Curry, you’re close to my heart!
But curry, you sure make me…
from “Curry – The Musical !” by Tim Riley

I have a live-long love affair with curry. It started during my years as an apprentice in the city of Vienna, which saw at the time a rise in Indian restaurants. Little did I know then, that my life will take me into kitchens where I will actually befriend some of these masters of mixing spices.

This is an image of my own actual recipe of spice mix


Curry is a generic term primarily employed in Western culture to denote a wide variety of dishes originating in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Thai or other Southern and Southeastern Asian cuisines, as well as New World cuisines influenced by them such as Trinidadian or Fijian. Their common feature is the incorporation of more or less complex combinations of spices and/or herbs, usually (but not invariably) including fresh or dried hot chilies.

Curry was adopted and Anglicised from the Tamil word kari meaning ‘sauce’, which is usually understood to mean vegetables and/or meat cooked with spices with or without a gravy.

This mixing and stirring, frying and cooking, …. and mixing and stirring, always felt like alchemy rather than cooking. The smells coming from these huge pots, the steam rising, and eyes watering, fascinated me. …. and I was not shy trying my hand in this myself, …. and feel like an Nobel-laureate in chemistry.

But, even more than cooking, I loved eating, and experience the variety of scents and flavours of the orient. There where

  • Chef Ahmed, cooks Brunei-Malay in Bandar Sri Begawan (Brunei)
  • “Uncle” the Thai Chef in Kuching,  (can’t remember his name any more)
  • Chef Mohamad, cooked Malay Sarawak, Malaysia
  • Chef Reza (I think), used to cook Persian in Dubai
  • Chef Sunil, cooked Indian in Abu Dhabi, and probably still does
  • Chef Mahindra, is from north India and cooked in Dubai

…. happy to indulge my need for spice, my love for food and almost daily dose of “tickle on the tongue”.

So, yesterday I decided, like so many times before, to be an Alchemist in my kitchen. Shrimps this time, with lots of sauce, and unorthodoxly a baguette to dunk  with.

Crevettes au Curry (Malagasy Prawn Curry)

a traditional Malagasy (from Madagascar) recipe
for a classic curry of prawns (shrimp) in a spiced tomato base with chilli.


  • 500 g peeled prawns
  • 12 strands Iranian saffron
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves grated garlic
  • 5 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 tbsp. ginger cut into fine stripes
  • 2 hot chili, finely chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk (800 g)
  • 200 g chopped, fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 250 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • a good handful fresh coriander

  • Marinate the peeled shrimps with the saffron and lemon Juice
  • Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot
  • Add the onions and cook until glossy
  • And the garlic and stir for about a minute
  • Add all the dry spices
  • Stir for another minute over low heat
  • Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil
  • Let reduce for about two minutes over medium heat
  • Add the marinated shrimps, ginger strips and cherry tomatoes
  • Bring back to a boil
  • Dilute with vegetable stock if you prefer the curry to be a bit more liquid
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper if required
  • Pick the leaves of the coriander and stir in just before serving

eh Voilà!





Published by ChefThomas

… born in Upper Austria’s Wels, I have done most of my growing up in Vienna. Only by sheer accident did I fall into the trade of Pâtissier. After a short apprentice ship at a Viennese Bakery, I was accepted for apprentice ship, at "K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Demel’s Söhne", one of the oldest patisseries in Vienna. Learning the trade from the very basics, as the Emperor two Centuries ago would have expected from a "Pâtissier to the Royal and Imperial Court" (That is what the older Pâtissier still calls himself). I soon took to travel the world. From patisseries in America, to hotels in the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, did I accumulate a wealth of experience, ranging from bakeries to first class restaurants in major hotels to banquets for Presidents, Sultans and Heads of States and other famous, infamous and not so famous people. But the true excitement for me is in the "Viennese Café". Not just as an occupation, but as an institution in it own right.

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