Mark Ishige served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Afghanistan: Peace Corps Afghanistan: The Peace Corps In Afghanistan: Mark Ishige served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 1:09 am: Edit Post

Afghanistan RPCV Mark Ishige's Curry in a Hurry makes Indian Food

Afghanistan RPCV Mark Ishige's Curry in a Hurry makes Indian Food



Beacon Journal food writer

Curry in a Hurry Address: 8210 Macedonia Commons Blvd., Macedonia Phone: (330) 468-1110

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday Entree prices: $1.95 to $4.95 Reservations: No

If you must buy fast food, what a way to go. Instead of chicken nuggets and fries, a tiny restaurant in Macedonia sells speedy New Delhi chicken curry, Bangalore curried potatoes and other boldly flavored Indian dishes for diners who are in a rush but still care about flavor.

Mark Ishige opened Curry in a Hurry in Macedonia Commons in September as an alternative to regular fast-food restaurants. He is able to compete timewise with the big boys by making the curries in big batches, and warming individual portions in a microwave on order.

The quality of the food doesn't suffer from reheating. Anyone who has eaten curry knows that it always tastes better the second day, anyway.

Ishige was an accountant at Cuyahoga Community College before deciding to turn his hobby into a profession. He had cooked Indian food for years for his friends, who invariably urged him to open a restaurant.

"I guess it was in the back of my mind for a long time to start something like this," he says. "I figured if my friends enjoyed it, other people would, too."

How Ishige got hooked on Indian cooking is a tale in itself. Of Japanese-American descent, he had never tasted Indian food until becoming friends with a few Indians while serving in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan. They not only taught him to love Indian food, but how to cook it.

Ishige was so entranced that he took a break from the Peace Corps to tour India and collect more recipes.

"I was something of a food fanatic," he says.

Most of the recipes he uses at his restaurant are from those days in Afghanistan and India.

In addition to the chicken and potato curries, he also offers Kashmir eggplant curry, lentil curry, shrimp and coconut curry, beef curry, lamb curry, Indian fritters (pakoras), turnovers (samosas), soups and salads.

Ishige's luncheon buffet, served from noon to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, is a good introduction to his spicy cooking. For $5.75, diners can sample three or four curries and an Indian soup such as his full-flavored mulligatawny with lentils and tomatoes in a mild curry-flavored broth. Go-withs include rice, papadams (crisp, paper-thin bread), a fiery hot sauce and a mellow pineapple chutney.

Although Ishige's food is deftly spiced, none of it is as spicy-hot as the food he eats at home and that he ate in Afghanistan and India. He toned down his recipes to appeal to all tastes and provides hot sauce that the brave can add at the table.

"We've made it milder without losing the taste of the food," Ishige explains.

The food can be carried out or eaten at one of the six tables in the pleasant dining room decorated with quirky modern art. Plates are paper and utensils are plastic, in keeping with the modest prices. Customers order at a counter in front, and carry it to their tables on plastic trays.

Making the switch from counting beans to cooking them hasn't been easy. Ishige has no intention of returning to accounting, though. In fact, he hopes to expand his restaurant into a chain of Curry in a Hurrys.

But that's in the future. Because he makes all of the food himself, he already is working 70 to 80 hours a week.

"But there's no tax season," Ishige says, laughing.

He shared his recipe for Bangalore Potato Curry, a mildly spiced dish of potatoes in coconut curry. It would make a fine side dish for a picnic. The recipe was tested by Karen Uber, a student in hospitality management at the University of Akron.



4 tbsp. butter 1/2 tsp. mustard seed 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp. ground tumeric 1 tsp. ground cumin 2 whole green chili peppers (jalapenos are OK), split in half, seeds removed 1 tbsp. minced green chili peppers 4 tbsp. minced shallots 1 tbsp. fresh minced garlic 2/3 cup canned crushed tomatoes (undrained) 1 tsp. salt 1 cup canned coconut milk 3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 cups frozen peas

Preparation Instructions:

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mustard seeds pop and pepper flakes discolor.

Uncover and add tumeric, cumin, split jalapenos, minced chili peppers, shallots and garlic; saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and salt and cook 1 minute to reduce liquid. Add coconut milk, potatoes and peas. Stir and simmer over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and sauce is reduced at least by half.

If possible, cover and chill overnight to allow flavors to blend. Reheat before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

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