Ruchikala (The Art of Taste)

Indian Fusion Cuisine in Portland and Tucson

“Go Be Nice To Someone For Us”

Chicken curry recipe

Upon hearing of the deaths of the beloved Bisbee musical duo “Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl” I, like many others in our desert home were reeling with emotion.  Anyone who saw them perform could see the love they shared, for each other and for their craft.  Omnipresent. They were beauty.

“Go, be nice to someone for us.”

Seeing words like that, with something like this, will always stop us dead in a our tracks – and I’m grateful for it.

We’re all hurting in so many ways, and I thank the world and every being in my existence for the love they have shared with me. Each time my partner kissed me lightly on the back of my neck to cheer me up, for the times my friends have stayed awake with me in the middle of odd hours to stave off a panic attack, or the time in 2003,  when my beloved dog Jackie’s love for me was the only thing that saved me from ending my own life.

Photo taken by Courtney Rawls, 2010

These magical moments changed me forever.

As of late, I find myself constantly bombarded with movie reels in my head, vignettes recapping little glimpses of my life. Scenes from the many years I spent in struggle country, adventures in self-harm, and my journey through debilitating pain. I am forever trying to grapple with the understanding of how I survived, how so many people I loved have survived, of the many who did not and how to make sense of it all.  So many of us spend so much of our life in struggle country. I hope to remember all those times when life felt so frail, my soul so dry and withered, health failing to the point of breaking, so that I can remember the good times and lend cover to those in need of shelter.

So with this moment I wonder, can we implore ourselves to spend a few minutes and clear our heads, so that we can be kind to the ones we love, to ones that test us, and the ones who are hurting.  To  go and be nice to someone, to take 10 minutes out of our day and write that letter to the person you love, the one you keep meaning to write to, even if that person is you. Be good to yourself and each other.  Let’s all take a little time to ease the pain of our friends, family, and even strangers, surround ourselves with good music, good food, and just… goodness.

This is a curry for someone who thinks of me, when I’m not. Someone who sees a beautiful me when I see a trainwreck – to let her know just how amazing she really is to me.

Let’s take time to thank one another, for their beautiful song, support the talents that fuel our community, while they’re still here – to tell them that they inspire us and bring joy to our lives, make music from the heart, dance with someone you love and smile at strangers. 

So cheers, I raise my glass to you, Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl.  Thank you for the music.

“Everyday is a song”


Chicken or Chickpea CurryAn approachable masala, to make for someone you love.

This is a suitable recipe for beginners making their first scratch Indian curry. Assemble your mise en place in the order listed below to make the curry easier to assemble.  You can make this recipe vegetarian, as a chickpea curry.  If you’re an omnivore a combination of both is a lovely as well.

(Serves 2)


Spice blend

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

½ stick cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2-3 allspice bulbs



1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp fennel seeds

1 bayleaf

1 large red onion, finely diced

¾ tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 jalapeno (sub ½ habanero for belly fire)

2 free-range organic chicken thighs. Seasoned lightly with salt.


2 cups of cooked chickpeas

1 large tomato or 3 medium tomatoes, diced

2 teaspoons of the spice blend (above)

½ cup (cream, or coconut milk)

a handful of cilantro leaves for garnish.

1) In a small skillet toast all the spices individually.  Start on low to medium heat, keeping a close eye on the spices to ensure they do not burn. Bring the skillet to your nose frequently to ensure the spices do not burn.  Reserve and let cool. Grind the spices with a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.  Reserve two teaspoons for the curry, store the remaining in a airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.


2) In another large skillet on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and add the whole cumin and fennel seeds.  Allow the spices to sizzle just slightly, frying for about a minute, and then add the onions and bay leaves. Raise the temperature to medium high heat and fry onions, stirring frequently, with ½ teaspoon of salt until the they are lightly browned (about 8-10 minutes).

3) Bring temperature back down to low and add the turmeric, garlic, and ginger and chilies.  Stir to combine and lightly fry the turmeric, ginger, garlic mixture. (about 1-2 minutes).  Then add tomatoes.  Bring the head back up to medium-high, stirring, and scraping the bottom continuously to ensure the masala does not burn.

4) Once the mixture has thickened to a paste, add chicken (or chickpeas if vegan), and add 1 cup of of water as well as ½ teaspoon of salt.  Simmer the curry, covered, for about 20 minutes, keeping an eye on the pan and checking frequently to ensure nothing stick and burns to the bottom.  Add another ½ cup of water if necessary if most of the liquid has evaporated.


5) Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a cutting board.  Dice the meat into smaller, bite-sized pieces and return to the pan.  Simmer for another 10 minutes, until enough of the liquid evaporates to make a nice thick curry. Season to taste. If adding cream, simmer for a little longer (again, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning).  If you are adding cream or coconut milk, allow the mixture to thicken a little past where you would want it. Bring the heat to low and then add cream/milk.

Season to taste once more.

Or be good to yourself – Serve with naan or rice.


Or pour into a jar for someone you love…


Recipe for the pomegranate avocado riata to follow.

7 comments on ““Go Be Nice To Someone For Us”

  1. Lilly
    October 17, 2013

    I needed your words today my sweet friend. I love you Kumi.

    • Ruchikala
      October 17, 2013


      How are you beautiful friend? I’ve been thinking of you so much over the past few weeks. I miss you so much friend and have been having the best time reading through your blog posts. I can’t wait till I get to see you again. ❤

  2. Victoria Martin
    October 17, 2013

    Thank you for the lovely words and the yummy sounding recipe. I am eager to hear how to make the pomegranate raita as well.
    I would also love to have the recipe for the orzo salad/side dish you made at the Westmoreland Farmer’s Mkt. It may have been one of the very best things I have ever eaten.

    • Ruchikala
      October 17, 2013

      Hi Victoria! Oh yes! That orzo salad, so glad you liked it! I was supposed to post that recipe ages ago. Thank you kindly for the reminder.

  3. Tammy
    October 22, 2013

    Beautiful. Really beautiful.

  4. megan
    January 26, 2014

    this is so beautiful. I met you tonight at the pdx foodswap (lots of your bread for pink grapefruit marmalade). Your food is awesome, but your writing – thank you. I rather needed this tonight.

    • Ruchikala
      January 26, 2014

      Aw, Megan – it was so good to meet you today! I was so happy to have your marmalade! Grapefruit puts me in the happiest of places.

      Thank you for your kind words and support. Wishing you a lovely evening and a peaceful night.

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