Milestone Curry #4: Red Wine and More Cocoa Powder

So my latest experiments led me to the conclusion that a richer Japanese Curry was possible if I used more cocoa powder and some red wine.  The Cocoa powder had already worked wonders and red wine was a known ingredient in some curries (along with fruit juices).  So here’s the latest – and as you may have guessed, it’s a milestone.

  • 4 tablespoons low-fat vegetable spread (I’m just going for this now since the goal is low sodium, low fat)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder. (S&B CURRY)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste.
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth OR replacement broth below
  • 1/2 cup red wine (shiraz and zinfandel are good)
  • 2 1/4 tsp cocoa powder (about 3/4 a tablespoon)

Broth Substitute (I didn’t really change the spice mixture so you may want to tone it down a tad – I used storebought broth this time)

  • 2 1/2 cups water.
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp thyme, ground
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dill weed, ground
  1. Melt the Spread over low heat in a pot of your choice.
  2. When the spread is melted, add the flour, curry powder, tomato sauce, soy sauce, maple syrup, cocoa powder, red pepper and black pepper. Mix thoroughly; I mash, fold, and mix until the color is consistent.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low.
  4. Now, you want to brown the roux, and there’s a bit of an art to it. What I do is let it cook like a pancake, about 20-45 second until one side browns, then mix it up, fold it into a “pancake” and let it cool again. You may have to play with the heat, but the goal is to basically brown it/fry it slowly. This is needed to develop the flavors.
  5. Eventually it will get crumbly and crack – and you’ll see it visibly brown when it’s let to sit.
  6. Add the vegetable broth and wine to the roux. Turn the heat up so the mixture boils mildly. Do this incrementally so you don’t overdo it or underdog it.
  7. While waiting for it to boil, and when it boils, with a whisk, mix the broth and roux. It also helps to use a spatula to crush chunks of roux against the side of the pan. This can take a bit of effort. In general while mixing, I moderate the heat to get the mild boil.
  8. Stir regularly so it doesn’t adhere/burn.
  9. I wait until the sauce thickets – it reduces by about a fifth. The key I use is when it’s not “boiling” but has the bubbly “bloops” of a thicker sauce. This can take awhile – I find it needs a minimum of 15 minutes, though between heat, time, size of pan, etc. it can vary.  Taking time is good as it also boils away the alchohol.
  10. Serve or put in freezer containers.

The result?

First of all, definitely good.  Definitely a milestone.  The combination makes it sweeter and richer, and seems to enhance the spiciness.

After trying it out and having some friends try it, it seems that it’s a bit too sweet.  It’s not bad, but just more than I and my friends liked.  Still good and much richer.

I think I need to tone the sweetness down, and that’s also important as the addition of the wine upped the calories.  This recipe is 188 calories for 3 servings, 140 for 4 servings, which is getting to be a bit much.  The sauce isn’t bad for you, but I think it got to the upper limit of what I’ll accept in my cooking.

However since it’s so sweet, I’m thinking of reducing the Maple Syrup by half, removing one Tablespoon of spread (which may not be NEEDED with all the other ingredients), or reducing the wine.  However I’m leaning towards the Maple Syrup or spread right now since the wine seems to have added a lot.

Still it’s quite a good curry, and especially good if you like them sweet.  I’m also a bit closer to my goals . . .

Of course I also have a few servings of this left so I’m not expecting to make any more for a few weeks.  Maybe time to keep experimenting?  Any ingredients to suggest?

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at