Sunday 10 November 2013

Day 28: Mince Curry And Tropical Clouds

Today saw the first of the tropical sunsets typical of the area that we are traversing. We are about eighty nautical miles from land. In the real humid tropics. We are now seeing tropical thunder clouds on the western horizon every afternoon. This is due to the effect of the warm land mass and the onshore wind. We are sailing on a broad reach with about ten to fifteen knots of wind over the deck. In balmy conditions too, I may add.

The swell is somewhat shorter, so we are having a bit more bumpy ride. But the swell is not that big, making for relatively relaxing conditions for sailing. In fact, the sailing is so good that we need to run the motors only for charging the batteries. Add a touch of ocean current and we are making good miles, with a run of 150 nautical miles for the twenty-four hours ending at noon today.

I am still reading my ghost stories. Quite good entertainment and an easy interlude to my navigation studies. I am beginning to get the feel of the environment again in my dear reckoning judgments. After reducing my sun sights today, the difference between the dead reckoning position, the fix obtained using this and the sun sights, and the ship's GPS differed by less than two nautical miles. No mean feat.

Now the challenge is to keep the statistical variation small. I have ten odd days of celestial navigation left and I still need to do a fix by three star sights. Unfortunately, the weather has not been favourable for this.

Our voyage is now nearing the end. We have just over 2000 nautical miles left. In the next three to four days we shall be crossing the equator right at the Amazon river delta. Then we are entering the Caribbean sea with all the associated history.

Today was my turn at the galley again. After having had fish twice, I decide on a beef mince curry. A solid, homely dish, made in the style of the Hungry Sailor.

This one had some lentils to add bulk, as well as potatoes. We do not have peas on board, not even canned peas, so the dish went wanting for those. I served the curry with brown rice. The sauce was thickened towards the end of cooking by mashing some of the potatoes already in the dish. This means you end up with properly spiced ingredients all through. A can of chopped tomatoes provided the base for the gravy.

Again, like always, the flavours in the dish are enhanced by frying the dry spices a little to get their flavour into the oil or ghee. The dish also need s to repose after cooking. I manage this by starting the rice a little while into the process of making the meaty part. The rice then needs ome more cooking when the meat is done.

In this case I also cut the potatoes quite thin. This makes a huge difference to cooking time, as anything is cooked when the thinnest part is cooked through.


400g lean beef mince

3 small potatoes, peeled and sliced into 10 mm slices

2 medium onions, chopped

½ cup brown lentils

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

small piece cinnamon bark

1 teaspoon masala paste. Our version is red

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon masala powder (curry powder)

3 dessert spoons butter

1 teaspoon garum masala

1 ¼ cup brown rice

Salt to taste


Fry the coriander, cinnamon bark and fenugreek seeds in a litlle butter until their flavours come out, then add the chopped onions. Fry these until the onions turn brown, then add the masala paste. Fry this for fifteen seconds, then add the dry masala powder and the turmeric. Fry this for ten seconds, then add the meat.

Fry the meat until all the meat has been coated in the spices and are turning brown, then add the tomatoes, the lentils and the potatoes. Add some water, else the dish will be too dry and perhaps burn. You don't want his to happen. Ever.

Turn the heat down and let the dish simmer until the lentils are done. Add water as necessary to keep the dish reasonably saucy but not like thick soup. Add salt to taste. When the lentils are done, add the garum masala and stir it through, Douse the flame and allow the dish to rest while the rice completes cooking.

My version had a rest time of about twenty minutes. This provides a good excuse for not dishing up yet.

Bon appetit!

This lot only went one round, then there was a flurry of activity to clean out the pan. Heart warming support and a compliment from my shipmates.

Thank you!



Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2013-10-22

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