NATHALIE GASS lives in Kathmandu with her husband, a Swiss diplomat. She has traveled extensively with her family over the last 23 years. She has many different passions in life, and cooking is one of them. Growing up, she remembers watching her mother prepare meals for the family. Today, her cooking reflects both the familiar flavors of home and the taste of many places that have become her home over the years.

My Easter ‘Curry’ Version

An Easter experiment with curry – find out about the essentials of traditional curry and interesting Easter traditions from around the world.

April is my favorite month of the year for many reasons. Here in Nepal it is the beginning of a New Year and in Europe, it is the beginning of spring and life after a long winter.

My recipe this month is a new one that I learned only a couple of months ago. It was my sister who shared it with me last December as we were talking about fusion cuisine and what I would cook for Easter this year. For us, leg of lamb was always cooked with wine or herbs and a lot of garlic, but never with honey and curry... and I really wanted to try it. So I did, and it was a real success! I loved it and I hope you will enjoy my Easter experiment as well...

First, I had to decide about the curry:

Curry is one of those words like salsa; it means different things to different people. At its most basic for Europeans, like me, curry refers to a spicy dish of vegetables or meat served with rice.

But, did you know that curry is derived from the Tamil word kari, which means sauce? You probably know that there are different types of curries and that each use very specific spices, and that it is composed largely of four spices: coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and turmeric. However, nearly 30 additional ingredients appear in countless curry powder formulations that vary in flavor from hot to mild. Curry is really healthy at the base and does not have to be spicy or hot to deserve the name of curry. Let us look into it more closely:

Coriander: a foundational spice in curry powder is a seed from the Coriandrum Sativum plant which means ‘cultivated buggy-smelling plant’ in Latin. Coriander has a strong flavor and is closely related to parsley. It is rich in fiber, iron, and magnesium. It is used to aid digestion, relieve gas, lower blood sugar and bad cholesterol, and works as an anti-inflammatory.

Cumin: Curry powder’s next base ingredient comes from a plant that grows well in the heat of the Mediterranean and India. Used regularly in Mexican and Indian cooking, cumin has a brownish color, and a distinct, savory aroma and flavor. It is regarded as an antioxidant, immune system booster and digestive aid.

Fenugreek: This spice, a plant whose leaves are harvested as herbs and whose seeds are used as spice, has a maple syrup-like flavor. Another main ingredient of curry powder, it has many applications, including as tea, condiment, and seasoning as well as medicinally. Fenugreek, considered to have estrogen-like properties, has long been used to treat not just an array of reproductive and hormonal disorders but also induce labor and reduce menstrual pain.

Turmeric: Turmeric, which gives to the curry powder its golden appearance, is a yellow spice from a tropical Indian plant. Related to ginger, turmeric is often used in dyes and coloring condiments. Turmeric, with its active ingredient curcumin, is considered a powerful healing agent useful for everything from disinfecting cuts to detoxifying the liver.

Other Ingredients: In addition to the four main ingredients, curry powders include other spices that enhance the flavor in different ways. Cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg give sweetness to curry powder, while anise and fennel add a slight licorice flavor. Ginger, onion and garlic are often added for a more pungent taste, and black pepper, chilies, and cayenne are used for a hotter, spicier blend.

In many parts of the world you can buy a prepared blend of spices known as curry powder that is used to make a dish of curry and is adapted to the taste of the people. I choose a mild curry but you can use the one you prefer for this recipe.

Leg of lamb is a traditional Easter dish. In my family, lamb is always on the table for Easter.

The first reference is of course the biblical reference in the Old Testament where Abraham sacrificed a lamb instead of his son.

The lamb symbolizes perfectly the notions of innocence and obedience: The lamb is the symbolic representation of the sacrifice made by Abraham at the request of God, and it represents its submission to the will of God because he was willing to sacrifice his own life if God required it.

Lamb is traditionally invited to the Easter table because it is the memory of this sacrifice and this obedience to God. Depending on the country and the traditions, the consumption of lamb is more or less important and more or less integrated into the ritual of Easter.

As I said before, I always get my leg of lamb from the supermarket and most of the time it is frozen. It is important to defrost it before cooking: take it out at least 24 hours before you intend to cook it, and leave it in the fridge to defrost.

1 leg of lamb – 1.5 kg
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp mustard
1 tsp curry
6 garlic cloves
20 gm butter
Salt and pepper

Remove as much of the fatty skin of the lamb leg as you can.

Peel garlic with a knife or alternatively, separate the skin from the individual cloves by placing a clove with the smooth side down on a cutting board and gently tapping it with the flat side of a wide knife. You can then remove the skin either with your fingers or with a small knife. If there is a green sprout in the clove’s center, gently remove it since it is difficult to digest.

Cut the cloves into 4 pieces (lengthwise) and with a knife, pierce the garlic cloves into the entire area of the leg

Salt and pepper the lamb
Mix in a bowl the honey, mustard and curry
Cover the lamb with this mixture and place it in a baking dish.
Spread the pieces of butter on top of the meat and pour a little water in the dish (2 cm).
Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 200 ° C. During the cooking, you may turn the leg at least 3 times so that it will cook perfectly all around.

Preheat oven at 200 ° C at least 5 minutes before cooking
It takes about 15 minutes per 500g of lamb

You can also place some red onions and spring vegetables around the leg but not from the beginning. Place them at least 20 minutes after you place the dish in the oven, and then place the spring vegetables and red onions around the leg. Do not forget to salt and pepper them.

Other Easter traditions:
Easter Bunny
The traditional Easter bunnies are not found in all European countries. It is more a tradition from Germany and later from the USA. The bunnies do not have a real connection to Easter, but rather with spring and fertility. According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration, and the origin of the Easter Bunny, can be traced back to the 13th century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

Easter Fish
In a marked deviation from Easter festivities elsewhere, Easter celebrations in France incorporate the Easter symbols of fish. The French Easter fish are called ‘Poisson d’Avril’, which means ‘April Fish’. The Poisson d’Avril makes his appearance on the 1 April, as French children delight in playing a kind of ‘April Fool’s’ trick. They stick a paper fish onto the back of as many adults as possible.

Flying Bells
Cloche Volant or Flying Bells are another important part of the Easter traditions of Europe. Catholics believe that on Good Friday, all the church bells fly to the Vatican in Rome, carrying with them the misery and grief of those who mourn Jesus’ crucifixion on that day. These flying bells return on Easter Sunday morning and bring with them lots of chocolate and eggs. In keeping with the tradition, church bells do not ring from Good Friday to Easter morning.

Easter Eggs
The contest of rolling raw eggs down a gentle slope is an old custom, on the ceremonious occasion of Easter. As per the legends, the surviving egg was the victory egg and symbolized the stone being rolled away from the tomb of Christ. For kids, playing with eggs is one of the favorite pastimes during the holiday season of Easter. The little ones play a game in which the players have to throw their respective eggs up in the air and catch them. The first one to drop his/her egg loses the game. On Easter Sunday, the children wake up in the morning to find eggs scattered in their rooms. They then head towards their yard or garden to retrieve beautifully decorated Easter eggs, hidden in nests. !